Everybody calls her Tita Marie, including the toddlers who eagerly await her weekly story-telling sessions in the village day care center in Barangay Tambak, Pagbilao, Quezon province.
Tita Marie is Ma. Corazon Portes, a retired retail executive/consultant and for a time, a De La Salle University faculty member.
She chose the toddlers from her own barangay (village) as recipients of her good deed; carrying in her bag an animated story book, toys and candies to reward them with later in the session.
The kids chant her name, their faces rapt as Tita Marie enters the pre-schoolers’ room, knowing they are in for a treat.
Before the kids go home, she sits in a corner with the kids (around 20 each for the morning and afternoon session) and reads a story from the story book she fishes out of her capacious tote bag.
She encourages the kids to participate by asking questions, rewarding them with candies, chocolates and toys. Some kids would also volunteer to “read” or make up stories based on the picture book Tita Marie shows them.
Tita Marie started her story telling aessions in January 2016, saying she would like to help build the kids’ confidence by requiring them to speak up once asked and retelling her stories in front of their own peers.
Tita Marie uses her own personal funds to purchase the books as well as the toys and candies she provides for the children.
Her friend Meg Villena who is based in Australia also sends some books and stuff for the kids.
Before the year ends, the kids will undergo an oral exam, wherein they would present their own story and tell it in front of their classmates.
Tita Marie said these kids would form part of the Kids of Readers of Barangay Tambak.
Ma. Corazon Portes is the younger sister of multi-awarded film director Gil Portes.