Mothers are their children’s first storytellers. They describe the world to their children from the time they are in their tummies until they are walking on their own, and even beyond. They give life to characters, both fictional and real life, in the eyes and minds of children.
Get to know 3 unique women, all storytellers in their chosen fields, who found inspiration in motherhood and learned to love their profession even more:
1. Jolizbeth “Teacher Dyali” Justo
Teacher Dyali is a professional storyteller and a Values Education teacher in a public high school in Quezon City. She is well-known for her engaging and lively storytelling sessions with children. Teachers and parents who have attended her storytelling workshops thank her for letting them discover this profession as both challenging and rewarding. Filipino storybook characters come alive and life lessons well-defined through her powerful voice and effective storytelling techniques.
Teacher Dyali tells how Luntian, her only daughter, becomes her instant critic who helps her in keeping the stories she tells more engaging. “My daughter is my audience at home. She tells me what she likes about the story. In that way, I know that my style is kid-tested and kid-approved,” shares Teacher Dyali.
She has met different kinds of children in her various storytelling sessions here and abroad. Recently, she read to children with cancer in a read-along activity at the Philippine General Hospital. She reveals her secret on how she builds strong connections and extraordinary bonds with her audience. “I see the children as my own. God guides me to be the best mom, teacher and storyteller to all of them.”
Asked about her favorite storybook, she says it's Ang Mahiyaing Manok. "There is rhythm in the story's poetic verses. I always enjoy reading this story to children because it is fun and very interactive too. It radiates positivity which helps readers overcome their shyness and other insecurities."
2. Lia Manalac-Del Castillo
Lia is a broadcast journalist, senior news correspondent and anchor for GMA News. She is a new mother to her four-month old baby Aiyah. In her personal blog’s About page, she says that “as a journalist, she has made it her mission to deliver accurate news to help people form informed choices.”
Motherhood has opened a new door to Lia as she was able to publish her first book, Si Aiyah at ang Magic ng mga Bituin*. The book is based on Lia and her husband’s journey as they waited for their own dream to come true. “I was once told that I couldn’t bear a child. At 15, I already knew I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and didn’t ovulate on my own. So I stormed the heavens and prayed, and then my miracle came after 3 long years of trying and waiting and believing. I found out that I was pregnant on the eve of Mother’s Day last year,” shares Lia. She wrote this book for her daughter Aiyah (which means "miracle" in Arabic) and she plans to tell this story to remind her that miracles, like her, do happen.
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Mommy Lia is also a literacy and reading advocate. She started DiksyunaryoAtbp, a non-government organization that distributes dictionaries and storybooks to public elementaries all over the country.
“Motherhood inspires me to continue with my advocacy despite the many challenges because I feel a sense of responsibility in helping raise literate kids through reading. Literacy spells a huge difference in helping kids reach their own dreams,” says Lia.
Her favorite book is The Little Prince. "It has taught me to appreciate the littlest of things and the beauty in everything. As a kid reading The Little Prince, I grew up with a sense of appreciation for every little thing that comes my way, eventually teaching me to always be grateful. Gratitude has made my life more meaningful in the sense that I never let anyone who has done even a little for me go unappreciated or unacknowledged."
3. Ronalyn Olea
Ronalyn is a young, dedicated and fearless journalist for the people. She is mother to Marcelle, 5, and three-month old Veda Olivia. She has been writing for 11 years for Bulatlat.com, an alternative online publication. She writes pieces about human rights, peace and conflict, land reform, and press freedom. She tells the stories of real people and how they struggle to cope with the hardships they face everyday.
She admits how difficult it is for her to share the issues of the marginalized people that she writes about to her children. “How does a mother tell the stories of poor peasants who lost the lands they have tilled for so long and the indigenous peoples who are forced to leave their ancestral lands because of militarization? I tell my daughter how these incidents have affected children like her. I also tell her about heroes and villains in these real-life stories,” shares Ronalyn.
Ronalyn shares her perspective on reporting real-life news stories and how motherhood inspires her to pursue her work and advocacies. “ Motherhood has provided me a new lens to look at life through. I think I have become more conscious of searching for alternatives to the myriad problems the Filipino people struggle with every day.”
Says Ronalyn, "I grew up to Lola Basyang's stories and I love retelling them to my children. They provide a glimpse to the Filipino culture, enhance the imagination and inculcate values. The stories themselves are part of the country's rich history."
A mother’s familiar voice gives a sound of comfort and love to her children, and, with the stories she tells her children, they become timeless tales passed on to future generations. May you be inspired by these three moms to spend more time reading books with your kids and exploring unknown worlds together.