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Born to Be – Learning grant from Deutsche Bank enables children’s choir to pursue better lives through education

July 2014 │ Philippines

The Deutsche Bank-Philippine Christian Foundation (PCF) Children’s Choir, comprising 22 members between six and 16 years old, was formed in 2012. Members were selected from PCF students who auditioned for a slot. Deutsche Bank has supported choir members’ education since December last year as part of the bank’s corporate responsibility programme and under its Born to Be campaign.

Choir members live on dump sites in Tondo, Manila and a public cemetery in Navotas. Like the rest of their peers at PCF, the children do not have means to change their future. Through Deutsche Bank’s support, they get a chance to pursue better lives.  The majority of the children aim to be teachers and doctors someday. The grant is helping them become who they want to be.

In the current school year, there was a zero drop-out rate among choir members, with all achieving at least a passing grade in their academics, and an overall grade average of 82.5. Choir members are encouraged to pursue their studies and improve their talents by attending voice, guitar and dance lessons provided by PCF.

Choir members also have many opportunities to perform in big events. This year, they performed at an Australia Day celebration organised by the Australian embassy in Manila and were guests on a television show, ‘Every Happy’, which plays on Philippine television channel GMA 7. Experiences such as these, which boost self-esteem, are important for a happy and normal childhood. Membership of the choir keeps children away from the streets and gives them purpose to inspire their peers.

One little girl’s voice stands out from the group of nightingales. She is Anna Erica Bautista. Anna Erica, a bright, lively girl in fifth grade, grew up in Sitio Damayan, in the slums of Tondo, Manila.

Anna Erica’s family is very poor and is one of the many residents of the dump site that have been relocated. She is living temporarily in a boarding house rented by PCF for students whose families are relocated outside Manila. Their new place in Bulacan, where she stays during weekends, has cleaner air and surroundings that make her cough less. Diagnosed with primary tuberculosis, she always has to pay meticulous attention to her health. Her teacher and choir mistress, Angela, makes her drink organic medicinal tea to help her condition.

Anna Erica considers herself blessed for getting the chance to be in the choir. Her parents and family are also very proud of her. Sharing her experience, Anna Erica said, “In the choir, we are all friends. Sometimes, there can be envy and rivalry, too. When I was in grade 3, I used to get into a lot of fights with the other choir members, but we would always say sorry for our faults and we will all be friends again!”

Anna Erica puts her heart and soul into her songs. For someone her age, she is a professional. Her present health condition causes her to tire easily, especially if the song numbers require a lot of movement and dancing. However, she belts through the songs and her performance always gets an encore.

Not all children with Anna Erica’s background have a chance to have their talent discovered. Through Deutsche Bank’s support, each special little voice gets a chance to become who they are born to be.

Whenever the choir performs, it is a celebration of every PCF child’s effort to reach for their dreams amid the odds.

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Last Update: September 12, 2014
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