His name is Mico. Mico Esquillo.
He’s actually the smallest in my class, and one of the non-readers at the beginning of the year. I actually figured that out during our oral exam in English in which he could not even pronounce the first letter of the word.
I listed him as a participant of the Tutok Basa program in school. I was actually the one in-charge of him.
He could not recognize some letters, so I started with naming. What helped me was the Marungko approach that Ms. Amcy handed talked about during the First Super Saturday. I bought him a notebook where I had to write words in which he could read every day. Well at least as an assignment. Teacher Carlo gave me a handout so I photocopied it, and gave it to Mico and told him to read it at home.
During our first days of the Tutok Basa program, his voice was so soft, like a whisper. I assumed he was embarrassed that he didn’t know how to pronounce these letters.
We started with A, M, S, L, T and H, until a student of teacher Carlo gave me a reading handout. He told me that I could use it to teach Mico.
Two weeks ago, I started to teach Mico using that handout. And again, he was whispering. I told him that E was not I, B was not D and vice versa. Honestly, I had a hard time. For the two days that he had been absent, I picked another nonreader in my class. It was only today that I picked him again to read outside.
AND, I WAS SURPRISED.
He read fast like “aba” not “a-ba” anymore! Well, there were some exceptions like he kept on forgetting the sound of ‘G’ and ‘Y’ but he could read sentences anymore, and he could even comprehend a sentence!
Example, “Kay papa ang pata”. I asked him, “Kanino daw yung pata?” During the first days he would just nod, but today he was like ‘kay papa’. I shouted out of joy.
Another trophy, I thought.
I walked Mico to his house. When he entered, he shouted to his mother “Ma! Nakakabasa na ako!”
Such a lovely entrance message I would want to hear!
Really, I witnessed how happy he was. And not only him, but his mother saying “Salamat Ma’am!”
I congratulated her, and of course Mico in front of his mother. I could feel them celebrating. Well, I celebrated on my own when his mother said, “Nagbago talaga siya ma’am. Dati, palaabsent yan. Ngayon, kahit umuulan gustung-gusto pumasok!”
AAAAAH! I could not help but shout out of joy deep inside. I deserve a burger steak today! I told myself.
Mico walked with me towards the highway. I asked him, “Nagpractice ka ba?”
“Hindi po, magic!” He replied.
I know that he could not read in English that quite, but syllabicating Filipino terms was a jump. A high jump for nothing.
“Anong gagawin mo sa bahay pagkatapos?”
I smiled and thank him. He would not understand why I thanked him, but you know. He gave me hope.
One student at a time.
Student number 9, check.