Box Filled with Dreams – Our 1:4:1000 Book Drive

Yesterday marked the culmination of months of hard work and preparation for our GatheringBooks 1st Year Anniversary.  Iphigene, Fats, and I have decided that one of the ways through which our Blogiversary could be rendered more meaningful is through some form of community service through our website (see here for our announcement post).

And so my family and I traveled yesterday from Tacloban Leyte to Calbiga Samar to finally bring the boxes of books to a disadvantaged public school in Sabang, Calbiga, Western Samar.

The famous San Juanico Bridge connecting the cities of Leyte and Samar together
Our Boxes of Dreams - the ones from the States are still on their way

We met up with the Barangay Captain (who also happens to be my cousin) at 8 in the morning. He acted as our guide to the remote area of Sabang – the roads are almost impassable and to say that we were going through rough roads would be a severe understatement.

On our way to Sabang/Barobaybay
Our rickety van was literally swimming along the path

While there are a few paved roads going there, a large part of the journey consisted of rocky paths filled with brambles and dried fish dotting the sides of the road.

the path gives a new meaning to 'rocky road'

My husband commented that anyone who would wish to donate books would certainly think not only twice but countless of times since the school is in the middle of nowhere (limited celphone signal), the roads are difficult to navigate, and it is even doubly difficult to find a van/driver who would be willing to go through what we did yesterday.

My ever-supportive husband and my sister-in-law who traveled all the way from the States - we are all spending our vacation the best way we know how.

Here are some more photos I took from our journey:

Despite the difficulties, it brought our heart so much pleasure to finally carry the books over to the school. Made everything all worthwhile.

One of our recipient schools for the 1:4:1000 Book Drive
My sister in law, Asela (a Nurse in California) and my husband

I would also like to say a special thanks to my sister in law, Asela Bacsal Bayaua, who shouldered the shipping expenses of the books from the United States to Manila, and from Manila to Tacloban. And for braving the rough road to join us in distributing the books in Sabang, my mother’s hometown. We knew yesterday when we saw the faces of the children and the teachers that it all meant something. No gesture wasted.

Opening of the boxes.

Here are some of the children’s photos:

The children were expecting us.

Here are some of the photos taken with the teachers:

With the teachers in the school and the Barangay Captain on the farthest left. My nine year old daughter is beside me.

When the box opened, some of the children ran to the books and avidly grabbed those which caught their interest. This was the first time they received such goodies I suppose. They were hungry for it.

And so we take our final photos and say goodbye to everyone:

With my daughter, my sister in law, and my cousin the Barangay Captain of the town
With my husband this time around
The school's makeshift 'stage' - this has only been created several months back.
I have also asked the school to sign this document so that there would be transparency and accountability in all that we do.

Since I am now back in Manila, my husband and sister-in-law would be the ones responsible to bring the other boxes to the school in Eastern Samar, while my Aunt who is now a retired school teacher based in Calbiga would be the one to distribute the remaining books to the other two schools.

With Auntie Mally, retired school teacher (my husband's aunt). She would distribute the books to the two recipient schools in Calbiga (Central School and Macaalan). Hopefully, they would also be able to take photos.

As we left the school, my daughter said that she has a warm feeling in her heart knowing that she has done something good.

Many thanks to my dearest husband for creating and designing these shirts for our Blogiversary.

I shared with her that one of the great things I value about what we are doing is the quiet knowledge that we should never take anything for granted – the clothes in our back, the coffee cups in our table, the poetry that we are privileged to read each day. GatheringBooks is also blessed to have wonderful friends and readers who wanted to share this journey along with us (click here to see all our donors and all who have given their time, effort, energy, resources). This would not have been made possible without all of your support.

I also realized that no matter how much we give the schools, it shall never be enough. I know that others would still prefer cold hard cash over books – what are these books for anyway?

But perhaps, giving enough or having enough is not the point.

What matters is our choice of giving what we can – and sharing that which we value over everything else: education, love for the written word, literacy, empowerment. It is never meant to be enough. While the books would not be able to feed hungry stomachs, these shall feed their minds and expand their consciousness. And hopefully, these boxes of dreams would show them that there is a life beyond that which they know – allowing them to think past today and the next day in some kind of microscopic myopic tunnel vision – and enliven them to dream of something bigger than themselves. It is enough that a spark be kindled, that there is a glint of excitement in their eyes, and that their fingers would hungrily clumsily flip through the pages reading things they may not understand now, but will, soon.

If anything, I pray that the right book would find the right child – and a dream will begin.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

10 comments on “Box Filled with Dreams – Our 1:4:1000 Book Drive

  1. My favourite blog post so far! You can’t beat seeing those appreciative faces, old and young, and being part of opening up the world to these wonderful children.


  2. Your gift was certainly appreciated. My wife, who is a Cebuana, periodically sends books, especially children’s books, to the Philippines. She’s always on the lookout for books (and other items) when we go to yard sales.


    • Hi Steve, thank you for visiting our site. I also went to yours and found it fascinating.

      I suppose that no matter how far we roam the ends of the earth, we get pulled back by things that we value, things we love and matter to us. And so we give what we could. Kudos to your wife who also sends children’s books to her hometown in the Philippines. =)


  3. Seeing the books in the hands of the kids, makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over! Thanks for doing this book drive Gathering Books Team. It’s awesome. This post made my day! 😛


  4. Pingback: A New Home for our Boxes of Dreams: Our 1:4:1000 Blogiversary Project |

  5. Thanks for making us a part of this project 🙂 Kudos to you, Dr Myra!


  6. Pingback: Here Comes the End of July: A Round Up |

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