In photo are, from left: PLDT ComRel Division Officer Alice Tuazon; PLDT ComRel Division Associate Irene Esquibel; “Lost and Found, a Song of Marawi” illustrator Tristan V. Yuvienco; “Lost and Found, a Song of Marawi” author Randy M. Bustamante; PLDT ComRel Division Head Katherine Diaz P. De Rivera; and PLDT ComRel Division Associate Lyslie Ferry.
Fueling the sparks of hope, PLDT was recently recognized as one of the pioneer sponsors of the Marawi Storybooks Series during its launch at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Manila. An iRead4Peace campaign, the Marawi Storybooks Series is a project initiated by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) in partnership with Filipino publishing company The Bookmark Incorporated (Bookmark).
The Marawi Storybook Series is part of the Give-a-Gift of Reading Project of PBSP for the young survivors of the 2017 Marawi conflict. The series include four storybooks that narrate stories of love, healing, and resilience which are based on real-life experiences of Marawi siege survivors. The four storybooks revolve around various themes including family, unite, and youth. Aiming to inspire and help heal the wounds of the war, the Marawi Storybook Series hopes to promote peace and development. The books also inspire to promote greater consciousness on the Maranao identity, culture, and community values.
“I feel like this worthwhile endeavor of PBSP and Bookmark is one concrete action towards healing and resilience. These storybooks will continue to tell the story – the story of hope, survival, and resilience,” said Department of Education-ARMM Assistant Division Superintendent and Marawi siege survivor Ana Zenaida Unte-Alonto.
PLDT Community Relations Division Head Katherine P. Diaz De Rivera is joined by Department of Education-ARMM Assistant Division Superintendent and Marawi siege survivor Ana Zenaida Unte-Alonto for a photo.
PLDT, through its Community Relations (ComRel) Division, sponsored 5,000 books with the PLDT 90th logo from one of the four storybooks series entitled, “Lost and Found” which was written by Randy M. Bustamante. For this batch, 4,500 will be personally turned over by the PLDT ComRel Division to Marawi students while 500 of the copies will be introduced to PLDT employees, partners and friends to generate more support for the iRead4Peace campaign.
“PLDT will always stand with Marawi. It is a privilege to witness the bravery and resilience of every Marawi siege survivor like Ana Zenaida Unte-Alonto whose story continues to inspire us to give our best efforts for our Maranao brothers and sisters,” said PLDT ComRel Division Head Katherine P. Diaz De Rivera.
“In celebration of PLDT’s 90th Anniversary, our support of the Marawi Storybooks Series is just one of the many roster of activities that are lined up to pay homage of the nine decades in which the company has continued to enrich the lives of every Filipino. In line with our 90th theme, “It’s you that counts,” the communities we serve are truly the ones that matter most,” Diaz De Rivera added.
Lost and found
Written by Randy M. Bustamante, “Lost and found, a Song of Marawi” is a narrative poem about falling back on family through the kindness of strangers during the Marawi siege. It is translated into Maranao by Zaman Macapaar-Guinar and illustrated by Tristan V. Yuvienco.
The poem features two personae who tell two parallel stories that meet at the end. One persona is six-year old Ana who is stranded in Marawi with her pregnant mother. The other one is husband and father named Amin who is trying to get to Marawi to rescue his elderly father. The stories complete each other and reveal the power of kindness to help find what is lost.
“The notion of family is so strong. Families are larger than blood-kin. Sometimes, tragedies such as the Marawi siege turn strangers into family and that’s really what happened in the story. In all these chaos, these strangers have to be connected somehow. Every child is everyone’s child. Every old man is everyone’s father,” said Bustamante.
Authors of the Marawi Storybooks Series and their translators and illustrators are joined by executives and representatives from the Philippine Business for Social Progress, Bookmark, and PLDT for a group photo.
The three other books included in the Marawi Storybooks Series include “The Day the Typhoon Came” written by Carla M. Pacis, which is a story of care and concern for others despite one’s differences; “Marawi, Land of the Brave” written by Melissa Salva, which is a story inspired by the accounts of fourth to sixth grade evacuees in Saguiaran and Capitol, Marawi City during interviews by the PBSP; and “Water Lilies for Marawi” written by Heidi Emily Eusebio-Abad, which is a story that shows how, in the tough times, children sometimes have the better judgment on how to cope with the realities of the war.
Every Filipino will never forget the five-month long armed conflict in Marawi, Lanao del Sure which began on May 23, 2017. Known as the “Battle of Marawi”, the armed conflict happened between the Philippine government security forces and militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi jihadist groups.
While the horrors of the battle will forever be a part of the lives of the Marawi siege survivors, the people of Marawi continue to anchor themselves in hope. They move forward with hope in their hearts, courage and resilience in their spirits, and bravery stitched in their souls.
“I am a living witness to the rubbles but more than that, there were friendships formed, alliances strengthened, struggles endured, generosity kindled, hopes spring, and desire for a better Marawi to continue to grow and return back better and far more beautiful,” Unte-Alonto said.