Movie, stage and television actor Ronnie Lazaro brought 134 Bacolod children into a world of magic and flying creatures, while two other groups took them on an umbrella journey and into the forest.

Lazaro, Dr. Alvin Parreño and his team, and 11 Museo Sang Bata Sa Negros Junior Story Tellers were among the readers at the Philippine Daily Inquirer Read-Along at the SM City Bacolod Event Centre Saturday.

The Bacolod event was held simultaneously with 24 other read-alongs attended by more than 2,000 children nationwide to mark the 25th PDI anniversary.

The Bacolod participants, including children from three orphanages – Haven’s Home, Calvary Kids Home and Recovered Treasures Kids Home, watched in wide-eyed wonder as the readers acted out the stories they read.

Celebrity reader Lazaro who is from Sagay, Negros Occidental, was recently named one of Negros Occidental’s Seven Outstanding Artists and among his latest awards was for Gawad ng Urian 2009 best actor for his portrayal of a troubled father in the movie Yanggaw.

Lazaro, who paid for his own airfare to be in Bacolod for the read-along, said he was happy to have an opportunity to give back to his own province.   
Visayan DAILY STAR editor and PDI correspondent Carla Gomez and Dr. Alvin Parreño,  Suntown Camp Foundation vice president,  acted as hosts of the read-along. 

Parreño also entertained the children by reading The Giving Tree story, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, a tale about a young boy and a tree in a forest. Acting out the story as Parreño read were Suntown volunteers Dr. Emma Tolentino and Dr. Ronel Sario.

Parreño, Tolentino  and Marx Louie dela Rosa also entertained the children in between stories.

The 11 Museo Sang Bata Sa Negros Junior Story Tellers trained by Agnes Diongson, a teacher at Old Sagay Elementary School who last year joined a read-along workshop conducted by the PDI, also acted out the story Up Up Bella Umbrella! written by Celine Diego and illustrated by Lloyd Ybera.

The junior story tellers were Jeane Malou Togle, Johnreb Mermida, Emy Ruth Dipon, Jose Ritchie Balandra, Alexa Grey Maderazo, John Reynald Reyes, Sheilo Espinosa, Hillary Bantigue, Johanna Grace Radan, Daireen Mae Dagatan and Celyn Marie Fuentes.

Their participation was made possible by Sagay Mayor Rafael Leo Cueva and Lilibeth Cordova – museum curator.

The read-along held by PDI was co-sponsored by ShoeMart, McDonalds, Pilipinas Shell, Vibal Publishing and Adarna House.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. also provided additional toys for the participants, and San Miguel Corp. gave all of the children T-shirts with the saying “I read therefore I live” printed on them, and additional t-shirts for the volunteers.

Other volunteers at Saturday’s workshop were Toks Lopez, Mate Espina, Tina Orbecido, Avelyn Agudon, Arlene Gomez, Maja Dely, Weena Magturo and Bro. Jaazeal Jakosalem and his University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos teachers.* Carla P. Gomez, Philippine Daily Inquirer Correspondent - Bacolod