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First person: Books bound for Albay

Michelle Baltazar

Call it the Filipino breakfast of champions: fried rice with a touch of crispy garlic, a choice of longganisa or tinapa, topped with egg, sunny side up. On the side was a big bowl of arroz caldo and a mug of kape mixed with coffee creamer imported from the Philippines.

Or you can call it a form of clever bribery. For it was this kind of hearty and traditional Filipino breakfast that coaxed a group of volunteers to get out of bed on the very early hours of a winter Saturday morning and drive to the residence of the Musa family.

Decked in their winter garb – beanies, scarves, cardigans and all -  the volunteer radio hosts behind non-profit media group ADHIKA (Filipino word meaning ‘aspiration), set about for their own version of ‘Boxing Day’.

Not the Australian version of Boxing Day, which is a public holiday shortly after Christmas, but a day to “box” a record number of books donated by various Sydney libraries to Josie Musa’s latest cause: to help fill up the shelves of the municipal libraries in the towns of Tiwi and Malina, located in the Philippine province of Albay.

The books were varied across academic and contemporary: novels you read for leisure, maths and English books for young adults, and university books for nursing students.

The project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of a host of people: those who attended the ADHIKA fundraising event in March, the libraries that donated books (see list below) and the volunteers who then helped pack them in all 33 boxes (see list below).

Somewhere out there, thousands of kilometers away, a group of young Filipino kids will come to know and love writers and novelists they wouldn’t have otherwise discovered if not for the ADHIKA book collection and fundraising efforts.

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Volunteers from Radio Kawayan, Radio Dalisay, Radio Sandigan and Radio Rizal:

Gerry Musa, Josie Musa, Mon Carpo, Nilda Carpo, Violi Calvert, Charles Chan, Michelle Baltazar, Jake Lapuz, Cecille Lapuz, Nic Sode, Girlie Sode, Hazel Urqueza, Reianne, Rommarie and Kenken Urqueza

 

Donated books are from UTS, St. Clair High School, Lindfield Primary School  and St. Spyridon College and some Fil-Oz community members.

Special thanks to LBC for discounted cost on 33 boxes.

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