TUCKED somewhere in the faraway town of Tuburan in northwestern Cebu is a small public elementary school where the pork adobo can be a cause for wanton abandon of dietary restrictions and health concerns.

It is the kind of pork adobo that you exchange for the stewed manok bisaya in Catmon town and the kind that makes you love Insoymada for his dedication to have impoverished kids appreciate reading. It is the adobo that you eat with freshly cooked rice, leftover rice, kamote, spaghetti, pansit, mais, lugaw, sampo-rado, pan elorde or with more adobo.

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We found this adobo at the Colonia Central Elementary School where Smart’s Atty. Jane Paredes, Tsinelas Association Inc.’s Lorenzo Niñal and I turned over copies of Sun.Star Superbalita-Smart’s Bisaya storybook, “Matod Pa Sa Lola Ni Noy Kulas,” last week.

We went to the school primarily to visit its reading center that Tsinelas helped put up. The reading center, which is not a library, is modest but stuffed with picture books of all kinds. A bunch of them is a donation from Sun.Star Cebu columnist Melanie Lim.

The dinosaurs are here, so are Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan and many other fairytale characters. Even young sleuths Frank and Joe Hardy are here. No Nancy Drew, no Bobbsey Twins. Who else are here? Oh, the governor and the Capitol officials. The reading center keeps a file of the Sugbo newsletter.

The Bisdaks like Maria Cacao, Leon Kilat, Carmen Rubia and Kan the agta arrived at the school with us and were welcomed with a special place in the reading center. The students of Colonia Central Elementary School now have a Bisaya storybook that they can read and understand without need for translation.

Principal Leonora Nengasca was only too happy to have Maria Cacao and company around in the school. The children will find it so easy to read the storybook, she said.

The reading center is open during class hours, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but there is no reading hour allotted. The children come here only at noon break or after class and can’t bring out the books, whose titles come in one copy each. We gave the school 25 copies of “Matod Pa Sa Lola Ni Noy Kulas.”

In “Matod Pa Sa Lola Ni Noy Kulas,” one story of Maria Cacao is situated in Tuburan. The townsfolk know about the marble cliff or Bukid sa Marmol and the river Langoyon, where Maria Cacao was said to have frequented. Here is one story where the children of Colonia Central Elemetary School can find association with the character and the setting.

Re-reading the story by Judith Abellanosa, I felt sad for Maria Cacao because she didn’t have our adobo experience. If she had, Maria Cacao wouldn’t have been as forlorn as she was.

As mere bearers and escorts of these Bisdak folklore cast, we didn’t get top shelf honors, but we found gustatory comfort in the adobo of teacher Nerecita Flores. If not for the constraint of time, we would have wanted a reading of “Kasugiran ni Maria Tang-an o Maria Cacao” as a subtle way to give Ma’am Nerecita enough time to wrap some adobo for us to take home.

Fortunately for us, Ma’am Nerecita knows telepathy. Or maybe we were not subtle about wanting to take some adobo home. Whatever. She wrapped us some and we were profuse in our thanks. It was a good exchange. Adobo for the Bisaya storybook and the stewed manok bisaya from Catmon.