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WATCH: Celebs read stories for non-profit

Listen to a live story reading or volunteer to read, fostering a sense of community well being with the non-profit Mano Amiga Academy

Photos courtesy of MANO AMIGA

The social entrepreneurship model of Mano Amiga is all about empowering low-income families. Since 2008, the K-to-12 school has provided over 1,000 scholarships to young students and engages their families in community development programs. The holistic learning environment is all about creating a safe space and uplifting entire communities.

While schools have shifted to online learning, Mano Amiga has taken it a step further. They understand that it is not just the teaching environment that needs to be replicated remotely, but also the sense of community that schools provide.

Mano Amiga Philippines founder Eleanor Pinugu‘s favorite children’s book is Isang Harding Papel by Augie Rivera. “I believe this is a book every Filipino child should read,” says Eleanor. “It tells us what happened during the Martial Law years, told through the eyes of a child whose mother had been incarcerated.”

“We wanted to come up with different programs that will not only encourage our students to keep on learning during the pandemic but also activities that would promote community well-being,” Mano Amiga Philippines founder Eleanor Pinugu, often called Lynn, shares with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.

Conceptualized by academic systems manager Anne de la Cruz, Mano Amiga began inviting their students to read to each other through live Facebook streams. This replicated the physical storytelling that often occurred at the Mano Amiga Academy.

Incoming second grade Mano Amiga Academy student RV Gesmundo reading Are You My Mummy? for online storytime.

“I believe in instilling a love of reading early because of its ability to develop a child’s imagination and to expand their understanding of the world. When a child falls in love with reading, you also nurture that child’s curiosity and sense of wonder, which translates into a strong desire to learn,” says Lynn. “Reading children’s stories, in particular, is very enriching not just for a child but for adults as well, because these stories often exist in a universe where goodness and kindness reign. I believe this gives anyone listening to or reading these stories a renewed sense of hope, something we all need right now in the face of challenging times.”

Soon, Mano Amiga started getting inquiries from people who volunteered to read their favorite children’s books. Along with the students and other teachers, previous storytime volunteers include host and model Bianca Gonzalez, Happy Skin founder Rissa Mananquil-Trillo, actress Judy Ann Santos, and actress and author Rita Avila.

Just Add Dirt

Do you like taking a bath?This afternoon, Ms. Bianca Gonzales-Intal will tell a story about a boy who doesn't like to take a bath.Ms. Bianca is a co-founder of SheTalksAsia, an actress, a wife, and a mother to her two adorable daughters.Let's listen to her as she tells the story "Just Add Dirt".Come join us for another Live Facebook story adventure later!Online Storytelling happens every 4 PM.Invite your friends to watch with us from Mondays to Fridays!See you in a bit! Feel free to share this post.#ReadingIsFun #ManoAmigaPH #EveryChildCan #WereAllInThisTogether

Mano Amiga Academy 发布于 2020年7月7日周二
Host, model, and SheTalksAsia co-founder Bianca Gonzalez is a mother to two daughters. She read Just Add Dirt for Mano Amiga’s online storytime.
Mano Amiga Academy's Online Storytelling

Tomorrow, a chef, a mother, an actress, a wife will be our storyteller. She graced the invitation as she believes that reading is really important to teach our children. This opens the mind and critical thinking of children.Ms. Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo will read a story for your children!Sit back, relax, and see you tomorrow at 4 PM for another Mano Amiga Academy's Online Storytelling!

Mano Amiga Academy 发布于 2020年6月2日周二
Actress, chef, and mother Judy Ann-Santos reads May Higante sa Aming Bahay for Mano Amiga’s online storytime.

“To date, the activity has attracted volunteer readers from all ages and backgrounds and now become a way for us to raise awareness about Mano Amiga and the needs of our scholars for this school year,” Lynn adds. “Our greatest challenge right now is to look for scholarships for our students. Like other non-profit organizations, we lost a lot of funding sources. Our other challenge this year is providing Internet and gadget support for children who really lack Internet connection and cannot participate effectively in online learning opportunities.”

During the enhanced community quarantine, Lynn and the Mano Amiga team took the time to identify areas of improvement and areas of immediate concern. They were able to develop appropriate programs and interventions, but are still hoping to find support. Last month, Mano Amiga launched the Connect the Gap campaign. It encourages people to donate their second-hand tablets or laptops or to donate ₱7,000 to sponsor the Internet connection of a child for one whole year.

Mano Amiga Philippines has provided over 1,000 scholarships to young students from low-income families.

“This year has been incredibly tough for us, especially because we see firsthand how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting the poor and widening further the education inequalities we’ve been trying to address through Mano Amiga for more than a decade now,” says Lynn. “But seeing the generosity and the willingness to help so many people gives my team and me the courage and grit to take on these challenges in stride.”

If you would like to volunteer as a storyteller or find out other ways to support Mano Amiga, e-mail or visit 

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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