From the pageant stage to the library, this charmer speaks the language of books
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
STORIES have always enthralled Rachel Chloe Palang. And such was her fascination with tales that she told the whole world about it as a contestant of the Miss Cebu pageant from not so long ago.
After gliding down the runway in her elegant, all-black ensemble, she charmed the audience with her clear-cut, witty answers.
She told them of her dream: to weave a collection of local folk tales that would capture the beauty of her hometown. Perhaps, that was the answer that clinched for her a runner-up place in the prestigious event.
More than a year has passed since that night and Chloe, who’s always on the go, now works in sales for a logistics company.
Yet she makes time to pursue that storyteller’s dream one step at a time, starting with kids in local communities. She is now one of the volunteers in the Cebu-based reading enthusiasts’ organization, Basadours.
A huge fan of classics, Chloe said her love for reading began when a classmate in grade school “bullied” her into reading what she then described as a “book with no pictures.” She said, “My classmate came from a family of book lovers and whenever we had sleepovers in their house, I’d see tons of books — mostly classics — lying on the floor. That’s how it started.”
Chloe got to know the likes of Charlotte Bronte and Oscar Wilde, and reading them showed her a means of exploring the world. From then on, she was hooked.
“My dad was a pastor, so I didn’t have much financial freedom growing up. Reading was my way of traveling,” she said.
Later in high school, Chloe recalled, she would walk home and always pass by the old Plaza Fair. On the second floor was an entire section full of secondhand books.
“I’d buy one for P10 or P15. It was how I spent most of my time since I couldn’t really go out of the house much,” she said. “It enhanced my imagination, which I think became a good thing.”
Far more than the idyllic verses and poems that Chloe can say in a heartbeat, reading broadened her viewpoint to the limitless possibilities that she never knew she would be capable of.
She said that if there’s one thing she’s proud if, it is how she was able to make her and her family’s situation better, by having worked her way through college with sideline projects here and there.
“I didn’t allow my situation to become a hindrance in making things better,” she said.
Next to reading, hard work is something Chloe wants to encourage in everyone.
She said that many people wouldn’t believe it back then, but she spent most of her free time in college, working — as a call center agent, an English tutor, an event usherette, and at some point, as a clown in children’s birthday parties. Stealing two-hour naps in between classes was all worth it, she said, and that it’s her love and her vision for her family that keeps her going.
“Before I can relax, I have to see that my parents are also already relaxed,” she said.
If her current reading list is any indication — mostly books about the world’s influential personalities — then Chloe is indeed determined to write a story of her own, one page at a time.
She’s open to the possibility of joining more pageants in the future, as well as to continue doing another passion of hers, theater. Several months ago, Chloe starred in the lead role of Little Boy Production’s New Yorker in Tondo.
And amid all these pursuits, one thing that remains constant, of course, is her passion to share the love for reading.
“Storytelling is challenging because everything is now multimedia. Nowadays, people prefer more pictures, or going on the Internet,” she said. “But reading comprehension is important and it’s something that has to be instilled as a child. It should come from homes, from parents and teachers, and that’s where it all begins.”
On Chloe’s reading list
The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
Photography: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Venue: Cebu City Public Library
HMUA: Pearl Sarcauga of Dolled Up Makeup Studio & Supply |Styling: Alexa Martin
Accessories: Sugar Kissed Accessories