Teacher behind Donsol's floating library asks for Adarna books for kids

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – A public school teacher who launched the Balsa-Basa (floating library) initiative a few years ago in a remote Sorsogon village wants to expand his reading crusade to the entire Donsol town.

To do this, Ryan Homan is asking for books published by Adarna House to help him entice children to develop a love for reading.

Homan, teacher in charge of San Jose Elementary School in Donsol town, told Rappler that Adarna books such as Tiktaktok and Pikpakbum, Emang Engkantada, Si Pilong Patago-tago – which provides both Filipino and English texts of the stories – are the preferred reading materials of children in the villages.

A few years ago, Homan introduced the Balsa-Basa initiative along the banks of the river flowing through Donsol. Balsa is Filipino for raft, while basa means read,

He picks up his students from their homes, and once all gathered at the riverbank, he and his students would board the bamboo raft that functions like a school bus. That is where the story telling is held.

Aside from Balsa-Basa, Homan also launched the Kariton Donsol Edukador. Pushing carts with reading materials and other teaching aids, volunteer teachers roam various villages to teach and encourage children to read during weekends and holidays.

Homan said that most of the donated books at the San Jose Elementary School are from the United States and are not usually preferred by young students. He said children like books that have both Filipino and English texts, particularly the Adarna books.

Help needed

"We don’t have budget to buy it so we’re soliciting at least 50 or so books to educate children,” he told Rappler.  

Homan is expanding his reading and teaching advocacy for free in the whole of Donsol. He is targeting 500 to 800 children to develop the habit of reading.

LITERACY ADVOCATE. A young volunteer teacher from San Jose Elementary School in Donsol town, Sorsogon, teaches children to read a book on the street. Photo by Rhaydz B. Barcia/Rappler

LITERACY ADVOCATE. A young volunteer teacher from San Jose Elementary School in Donsol town, Sorsogon, teaches children to read a book on the street. Photo by Rhaydz B.

Barcia/Rappler

"We’re expanding our crusade. But our problem is the sustainability of the program. We need help,” he said.

Homan has trained advance learners as "little teachers" and he also has other volunteer storytellers.

“Some of my co-teachers do the volunteer job but we need more volunteer teachers in this project to educate the children,” he said.   

In his Balsa-Basa program, Homan uses colorful visual aids and interactive games to draw children into the program, and help them develop a liking for books.

Homan's passion and crusade for reading earned him numerous awards.  In 2016, he was one of the honorees of The Many Faces of the Teacher (TMFT) of Bato Balani Foundation Incorporated and Diwa Learning Systems.

Homan was also chosen as one of the finalists for the top 50 Global Teacher Award for his walk for knowledge advocacy. – Rappler.com

Those who would like to donate books can send them to:

Ryan Homan 
Balsa-Basa Program
San Jose, Donsol, Sorsogon
4715 Philippines