The dumb boy who loved to read PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 00:00

A young couple was one day gifted with a baby boy. Although excited about their first-born, the couple soon enough realized -- with great sadness and tears in their eyes -- that their boy was born quite sickly.

For one, the boy was born premature – just seven months old. He was the size of a rat. He had to be placed in an incubator. The primitive technology then burned his skin, making the color of his tender skin look, well, as black as that of a rat.

The boy proved to be a fighter and survived. Later, he grew up skinny and somehow seen as a slow-learner. Still, the couple was only too happy to see him grow up alive. It helped that a quack doctor advised the couple to make the boy regularly drink a special brew of flying lizards, snakes, iguana and other creepy animals to build his stamina.

Soon, the couple had two more sons. Unlike the eldest boy, the younger siblings were robust, muscular, taller and even smarter. Entering public school in Grade 1 with his second brother, the boy found himself seated in the row of slow-learners. On the contrary, his younger brother was the smartest kid in the class. The third brother also proved to be equally smart.

Having no electricity in the barangay, the parents devised a way to entertain themselves while at the same time teaching their boys numbers and alphabetical lessons by candle light at night. They placed the boys in contest among themselves in reciting the alphabet and doing addition, subtraction and multiplication table exercises. Alas, even at home the younger brothers were beating their elder sibling and the eldest boy would only cry in embarrassment.

Even in reading, the elder boy managed to learn to read well only at Grade 4, far behind his elder brothers. However, it was at this stage when things started turning around. Having discovered the joys of reading, the eldest boy began to see his mind literally sucking up knowledge. There seemed to be no end to his insatiable thirst for reading. He was particularly interested in reading about the biographies of great men – Einstein, President Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Mahatma Gandhi, President Abraham Lincoln, Edison and all the movers and shakers in the world.

He loved so much to read the old encyclopedias and was quite frustrated that his dad – who could afford to have an arsenal of firearms and grenades – did not buy one for the family. Fortunately, an auntie – a librarian – allowed him to borrow and take home volumes of the Collier Encyclopedia from the public elementary school. And those he read from cover to cover. As he was too weak to carry the books physically, he loaded them into the “kariton” or cart that he pulled to and from school as the boy was tasked to mind the small grocery or “sari-sari” store near the school. People were amused seeing volumes of encyclopedia along with jars of Chiclets, Tarzan chewing gums, Hall candies, Champion and Hope cigarettes and local pastries in the kariton.

Needless to say, that “dumb” boy eventually made something of himself somehow. Although born in a province and from a poor family, his readings gave him wings to fly and excel in school; and he managed to land a good job in Manila. Fortunately, his line of work brought him fame, allowed him to go places all over the world, and got him to mingle with presidents, senators, congressmen, mayors, billionaires and all the kinds of people he only read about while growing up in a barrio located close to a terrorist-infested island.

Amused and thankful at how life turned out for a dumb provinciano boy, he decided to give back his blessings to God for introducing him to life-saving books. He started collecting books and educational materials from his influential and rich friends in Manila and distributed them to poor kids in the provincial barrio he left behind. He started distributing the books on Sept. 7, 2001. The books were donated by Sen. Loren Legarda.

He called this project “Kariton Y Libro” (Chavacano for “cart and books”). The movement later on became known as the “A-Book-Saya-Group (ABSG)” and now finally – the “Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (Krislam)” . 

And for 11 years Kris continues to send poor kids to schools, give away books, school supplies, scholarships, computers and building libraries in what is still operated as a family-led endeavor supported by relatives, friends and business clients.

Thanks to the inspiring true to life of the “dumb boy”, who is real life is Zamboangueňo Arrmand Dean Nocum, poor children are given the chance to have a better future. A former journalist of Philippine Daily Inquirer, Nocum is now a legal PR Consultant based in Manila and continues his mission in life to spread peace thru education and equality for his beloved Mindanao as a blogger and social entrepreneur.

(Today, aside in Manicahan, Zamboanga City, there is a Krislam Libray in Quezon City. It continues to share books in other areas and supports several scholars in different high schools and colleges. There is now a move to convert Kris into a full pledged foundation. This will ensure that it will become a strong and stable organization and continue to exist and help poor children.

If you share Krislam dream, please visit and find out how you can help.)

The first library to benefit from the books brought from Manila via the Kariton Y Libro project was Armand Nocum’s old alma mater, the Manicahan Central Elementary School in Barangay Manicahan, Zamboanga City. The date was July 7, 2001. It was also the first time for Kris Administrator Arizza Nocum-- then 7 years old -- to deliver a speech in public and outside of the school campus. Looking on is  Nocum’s auntie and the school principal, the late Nitz Barredo.

By Dante Corteza

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2012 11:11