2015 marks the 25th anniversary of Stairway Foundation, which was celebrated on June 5 with a large, classical concert in Manila. Two orchestras - The Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and the Manila Symphony Orchestra - played for more than 700 people in The Fine Arts Theatre at the International School in Manila, a perfect venue for the occasion.
The idea of a symphonic concert had arisen as a result of Stairway’s long collaboration with Harvard University, in which several students from the renowned university have visited Mindoro to be part of Stairway’s Youth for Change Camps. The overall objective of the concert was to bring together all of Stairway’s partners and supporters, old friends and new friends, to celebrate shared accomplishments and to commit to our continued collaboration in protecting and promoting children’s rights.
Belen Calingacion, head of the Deparment of Speech Communication Arts in the University of the Philippines Diliman, decided to write her PhD dissertation on Goldtooth, a Street Children's Musical , a project which Stairway had mounted with 17 children from the streets of Manila. As the documenter of the musical, Belen managed to capture the entire recovery and rehabilitation process of the children. Now after nearly 12 years, she has returned to Stairway in celebration of its 25th anniversary. Read her insights below.
It has been 12 years since I have been to Stairway Foundation Inc. in Puerto Galera in Mindoro. The place has changed so dramatically, it is almost unrecognizable. The resorts dotting barangay Aninuan, where Stairway is located, have transformed into a concrete jungle of high-rise buildings owned by one resort after another.
Rolly, Maricel and Shallah were some of the earliest residents in SFI during the initial stages of development. Read how they have contributed to Stairway and where they are today.
Living and making a difference, was my Stairway experience. We (I together with my then a year-old daughter, Shallah and musician partner, Rolly) joined and lived in Stairway Foundation for a good seven years (1993 to 1999).
Change for Children 2015 got underway last May 4, with SFI kids participating in an exciting surf life saving and first aid training facilitated by father and daughter team, Elise and Greg Foot-Connolly.
Over the past week, Stairway children and scholars participated in numerous sessions facilitated by Change for Children Event winners that included, first aid, water and basic life saving skills, reef biology and of course the children had a go at scuba diving through PADI's Discover Scuba Dive experience.
Young musician from the Manila Symphony Orchestra Academy enjoyed a 4-day music camp at the SFI organic farm in Baclayan. The back-to-nature experience turned out to be a the experience of a life time. Read their poetic comments below.
"Going up to Baclayan mountain was like taking a stairway to heaven. The ambiance grew stronger as I heard angelic music coming from the peak and I couldn't help but think, 'Did I die on the way here?' As I reached the wooden house, I saw them. I wasn't wrong. They were angels. Not because they're dead but because they can perform miracles. they fumed plain pieces into sound, sound into music, music into beauty and beauty into art." --Marc Daniel U. Marque
Last May, SFI children in the Family Home Program completed their 10 month stay in Stairway. Now reunified with their respective families, most have adjusted well. Read below some of the anecdotes from the children's experiences back home.
Jerry shared there was a class activity where the students had to share their life stories. He was the first in class to share his story because he felt it would be beneficial for the students to understand about street children and children’s rights. After sharing, he gained popularity in class and many of the students were amazed by him. He was nominated as class PRO (press relations officer).
Scuba for Change has come up with a wonderful initiative to give back to developing communities where they enjoy their scuba diving activities. A world first, Stairway Foundation will be the beneficiary of this creative and inspiring enterprise.
Last February 27, Stairway attended the official opening of the first Scuba for Change dive shop located at the Aninuan Beach Resort, a stone's throw from SFI, Scuba for Change will donate a portion of its profits to help support SFI's programs and services.
Click here to learn more about Scuba for Change