Day 25 – St. Leon’s Church (Paris, France)
May 27, 2016 – Today marks the last day of performance for the Masaya Choir. It was a little bittersweet for the children, knowing that they are also now on the final day of their tour. After lunch at a park, the children then visited a school where they joined a class and learned more about the Philippines as a nation.
They talked about food, flags, and history before having a music class together with the school’s choir – which included children that would sing with the Masaya Choir for their last show.
Then, after a quick snack and some running around in the playground, the kids took the Parisian metro going to their final vanue in Saint Leon Church, close to the Eiffel Tower. Here, the children wow’ed their audience yet again, and had the pleasure of singing with a French children’s choir called Le choeur des Polysons. It was an emotional night.
Their dinner was prepared by the Filipino community, and everyone went home smiling, with warmth in their hearts. Thank you for following the adventures of the Masaya Choir on their 3rd European Spring Tour! We hope to see you again next year, and we will never forget your gigantic hearts.
Thank you for welcoming us, and helping us bring back the smile to street children!
Day 24 – St. Bernadette’s Church (Paris, France)
May 26, 2016 – Today turned out to be a very special day for the Masaya Choir. After receiving an invitation from the Department of Foreign Affairs (thanks to Mr. Jean-Marc and Mrs. Brigitte Ayrault!), the Choir was able to showcase their talents in this picturesque and iconic building.
In addition to receiving a few words from the Minister of Foreign Affairs (what a privilege this was for the Choir!), they also met and sang for the Filipino Ambassador to France, H.E. Ambassador Ma. Theresa Lazaro.
After this historic visit, the Choir then enjoyed lunch at Palais-Royale, where they took time to eat, take pictures, and play with the former and current volunteers.
Afterwards, it was time to ride a boat along the river Seine. This boat ride took the children the many different sites of Paris, including the Notre Dame and the Louvre.
Finally, it was time to get ready for their full concert at St. Bernadette’s Church, where they sang with well-loved French singer Hugues Aufray, who also wrote the song that they had sung. Mr. Hugues was very impressed with the choir, and he was the first to always stand up to give them standing ovations.
Here they were once again joined by Mrs. Ayrault, the Filipino Ambassador to France, and consuls.
We thank you for making this evening such a special night for the Masaya Choir! It was such a memorable night for the children.
Day 23 – Church of the Holy Spirit (Paris, France)
May 25, 2016 – In the morning, the Masaya Choir walked to a nearby Mediatheque, which is a particular kind of library that doesn’t just lend books, but movies, music, games, TV series, and the like! The children had a great time getting a quick tour and watching some short films. They also learned that the city government subsidizes this place, which means that anybody can come and enjoy its benefits. It was a time of entertainment and learning for the children.
After this trip, lunch was served at a nearby park by our amazing volunteers. They prepared sandwiches and shared chips with the children.
Finally, at around 6:00PM, the Choir headed to the Holy Spirit Church where they had rehearsal for their first full concert in Paris.
Bernard De La Villardiere, a well-known reporter in M6 channel, graced us with his presence after featuring the Choir.
You can look at the clip HERE. Congratulations to the Masaya Choir! Your first full concert in Paris was full of success!
Day 22 – Paris, France
May 24, 2016 – After sharing breakfast with their host families, the Masaya Choir had a small show to perform in Air France’s Forum Des Associations, where Virlanie Foundation was featured alongside other notable humanitarian organizations.
A lot of employees from Air France gathered around and said, “Bravo!” to the children multiple times. Thank you, Ingrid, for making all of this possible, and for giving the children a beautiful view of airplanes taking flight while eating a healthy meal!
Afterwards, the Masaya Choir took a trip up the Eiffel Tower. This is definitely a highlight for a lot of the children, especially since they spontaneously sang two (2) French songs on the tower and gathered a crowd of tourists who took videos and photos of them.
This very productive day could not have been possible without the help and generosity of volunteers.
Thank you Kuya Gwenaël for showing us around the Tower and for showing that individuals can really make a difference in the lives of others!
Day 21 – En route to Paris, France
May 23, 2016 – In the morning, the Choir bid Mulhouse goodbye and stayed on the road for most of the day. An interesting event to note would be the quick bus-and-driver switch. The kids all gave Kuya Pascal a group hug for accompanying the Choir the past two weeks and making sure they all got to their next destination safely.
At around 6:00PM, the Choir was happy to sing for 30-minutes for the French Adoption Agency.
Finally, at around 9:00PM, they were able to meet their host families in Paris, and are looking forward to their final week for their 3rd European Spring Tour.
Day 20 – St. Francis of Assisi Church (Mulhouse, France)
May 22, 2016 – The days have been going by very fast, moving from one place to the next. The Masaya Choir is now on their final week in Europe and the children have been so excited because they will be going to Paris very soon. But before that, they have one final stop in Mulhouse, France. In the morning, the children sang in a Catholic Mass at St. Francis of Assisi.
This would also be the same venue for their full concert at 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon. Thanks to the generosity of the community, the Choir was able to have their lunch here, and were given time to learn a new French song which they will be singing with famous French singer Hugues Aufray.
Their concert was a great success, but not without the love and support given by the Nancy families! We would really like to take the time to honor these families!
THANK YOU so much for helping the children and for giving out flyers and for going above and beyond what was expected of you! You were really involved in the overall success and possibility of this tour. We could not have done it without you.
Day 19 – Don Bosco Church (Basel, Switzerland)
May 21, 2016 – The Masaya Choir gathered to a meet-up place where the bus was, and said goodbye to their host families. All wished that they had more time to spend together, and even in the short time of knowing each other, gave each other gifts and hugs.
After about an hour on the road, the Choir then arrived in Basel, Switzerland where they were welcomed by a Filipino community. This is the Choir’s first time to be in Switzerland, and just before their concert they were able to visit a zoo and take a stroll in a park and enjoy the sun.
Many of the Filipinos who were part of the audience were in tears and were absolutely delighted by the Choir’s repertoire.
We were also able to meet the volunteers and people behind Virlanie Switzerland, so thank you very much for welcoming the Choir! In future tours, we definitely hope to return to Switzerland!
Day 18 – St. Joseph Church (Belfort, France)
May 20, 2016 – Arriving just in time for lunch, the Masaya Choir was generously hosted by Saint Marie school in Belfort where they enjoyed a nutritious lunch. To show their appreciation for the school’s generosity, the children sang some songs for both the staff and students.
After this school visit, the Choir then visited one of the iconic places in the city, where the famous sculpture The Lion of Belfort stands.
Towards the end of the day, the Choir performed a full concert at Saint Joseph’s Church, where they also shared the stage with the Glorious Gospel Choir. The reception of the audience for both Choirs were very warm, and the children enjoyed being part of the audience for a change while the Glorious Gospel Choir was singing. For their final song, both Choirs asked the audience to join them in singing, “Predre l’enfants par la main” which was a winning and apt song to close the evening.
Thank you very much for the host families that took in the Choir for one night before they head of to Bale, Switzerland the next day!
Day 17 – Strasbourg, France
May 19, 2016 – With all the moving around and performing, the Masaya Choir deserved a nice free day to just enjoy the beautiful city of Strasbourg. Today, they visited some of the attractions in Strasbourg that keep tourists coming back for more: the famous Cathedral in Strasbourg, a walk around Petite France, and a historical, educational tour on a boat.
After a hefty lunch together, with their tummies full, the Choir requested to take some time to sleep and rest.
It’s nice to have a free day just to sleep, when most days all they have are activities lined up! Thank you so much to our organizers from Virlanie France who are doing such a good job taking care of the Masaya Choir! They need to be up early tomorrow for another bus trip to Belfort!
Day 16 – Saint Pierre-le-Vieux Church (Strasbourg, France)
May 18, 2016 – Another long bus-ride awaited the Choir in the morning, this time back to France, in the beautiful and historic city of Strasbourg. After a quick (and celebrated) lunch stopover at a Mcdonald’s, the Choir arrived in Strasbourg at around 4:00PM, unloaded all their costumes and materials in Saint Pierre-le-Vieux Church, and rested a little before their concert at 8:00PM.
Right before gates opened, the children of the Masaya Choir had the opportunity to meet the children from the Sing’n Joy Choir lead by Ms. Elena. The children from this Choir opened for Masaya Choir’s concert, and sang the final French song together.
For this concert, some of the host families from Nancy actually came to surprise the children with a visit! This surprise brought great happiness to the choir, and they performed so well – receiving multiple standing ovations on several songs.
It’s good to be back in France! What a welcome! We’ve only got ten (10) more days left to continue advocating for street children back in Manila!
Day 15 – Dr. Hoch’s Conservatory (Frankfurt, Germany)
May 17, 2016 – After saying goodbye to their host families in Voerde, the Choir took about a 4-hour drive to Frankfurt, Germany.
Upon arrival, they were met with friends who have been staunch supporters of Virlanie such as EurHope and No More Slums, and they were taking the Masaya Choir to visit the European Central Bank!
EurHope is actually composed of the employees of the European Central Bank, while No More Slums makes it possible for interested supporters residing in Germany to give support to Virlanie Foundation so much easier. Virlanie Foundation is grateful to partner with these organizations! After a short visit inside the European Central Bank (what a great experience for the children of Masaya Choir!), they then performed for a private audience in Dr. Hoch’s Conservatory, which is a stone’s throw away from the ECB.
The audience members were made up of personal friends and employees of the Eurhope, No More Slums, and the European Central Bank. Afterwards, they enjoyed dining in a restaurant in Frankfurt.
A big thank you to Ms. Laurence (Eurhope) and Ms. Ehra (No More Slums) for all your love and support to the children!
Day 14 – Voerde, Germany (Free Day)
May 16, 2016 – After singing in an ecumenical service at around 9:30AM in St. Peter’s Church in Voerde, Germany, the children moved to a Protestant Church where they had lunch with their host families, played board games, and played football outside with the other children. It was also surprising to see them already on the local newspaper the next day!
Also, as a token of their appreciation to the host families, the Choir sang two (2) songs, which was received with much delight. In the afternoon, some Choir members spent individual time with their families, while other families met together for a game of bowling with the other children. They also spent dinner together before an early goodbye the next morning.
Thank you to Ms. Ruth and all the host families for making the Masaya Choir’s stay in Germany so heart-warming and memorable!
Day 13 – Saint Peter Church (Voerde, Germany)
May 15, 2016 – After a delicious Filipino breakfast (rice, longganisa, tapa – yummy!) thanks to our Filipino friends in Belgium, the Masaya Choir said goodbye and took a 4-hour drive to Voerde, Germany.
Upon arrival, they met their new host families and were able to settle down for a while before their show at St. Peter’s Church, 6:00PM. The church had great acoustics, and the Masaya Choir once again roused a standing ovation from an audience of more than a hundred and fifty (150) people.
After the show, the Choir was happy to discover that the Filipino Ambassador to Germany Ms. Melita was part of the audience. In addition to this, a lot of the audience members took the time to give their donation to Virlanie Foundation in order to support more children in the Philippines. The children were also treated to a Filipino dinner together with their host families.
Heaping their plates with pancit, dinuguan, rice, lumpia, tocino, and other Filipino favorites – the children of the Masaya Choir felt very welcomed on their first day in Germany!
Day 12 – Domaine de Lovie (Ieper, Belgium)
May 14, 2016 – The Masaya Choir took a short trip to Belgium today for a show in Ieper, Belgium. But before they got into their costumes, Virlanie friends and supporters Johanna and Brigitte invited the Choir to a restaurant where they could eat lunch.
We’d like to thank them for making the show in Belgium possible, and for providing for the Choir’s food and lodging.
In the afternoon, the show started and there were not enough seats! The children also displayed great pleasure in meeting other Filipinos in the Belgian community, and were even visited by the Philippine Embassy to Belgium’s Cultural Attachee, Ms. Faith.
What a privilege to be advocating not only for street children, but also sharing about the beauty of the Philippines!
Day 11 – Tourcoing & Roubaix
May 13, 2016 – What a very educational day for the Masaya Choir! After visiting two (2) schools (College Charles Peguy in Tourcoing and Marie Auxiliatrice in Roubaix) where they were able to share some facts about the Philippines, sing, and interact with the students, the Masaya Choir also visited two beautiful parks where they spent time lazing around in the sun and taking selfies.
The parks are always a great way to see how the children of the Masaya Choir are still really normal kids who love to play and run and laugh. In addition, they were able to pay an educational visit to a Cinema and New Technologies museum where they were able to do some really cool things related to movie magic. (Look at Gweneth going into that green light!)
The kids had a lot of fun today!
Day 10 – Espace Gerard Philipe (WASQUEHAL)
May 12, 2016 – This day was very busy for the Masaya Choir, after visiting a school called College Prive Catholique Saint-Exupery. They performed three times for three batches of students! Kuya Dominique Lemay was also able to interact with the students to advocate for the rights of street children in the Philippines.
We hope to have more of these interactions, as they continually open the minds of both the children from the Choir and the children from the French school. After each session, the Masaya Choir was able to practice their English along with the French students.
At 8:00PM, doors opened for another full-length concert of the Masaya Choir at Espace Gerard-Philipe. Here, they impressed audiences with all their great costumes, accompanying videos, and well-timed choreography.
Thank you for always wishing the Masaya Choir success wherever they go! CLICK HERE to watch a video of one of their songs!
Day 9 – Chateau de Biez (BELGIUM)
May 11, 2016 – After breakfast and a scrumptious home-made lunch by Ate Elodie, the Masaya Choir spent most of their time practicing their songs, choreography, and blocking. Interestingly enough, the Choir also takes time to practice their costume changes!
They are definitely dedicated to give their audiences the best show. Then, they took a quick bus ride to Belgium where they prepared for a private show for Mr. Jacques, a very good friend, admirer of the Choir, and private donor of Virlanie Foundation.
We hope to have more nights just like this one, cozy atmosphere and intimate friendships. The kids were very happy to sing tonight.
Day 8 – Sainte-Marie School (BEAUCAMPS-LIGNY)
May 10, 2016 – A quick trip on the bus took the children to the school of Sainte-Marie in the city of Beaucamps-Ligny, where they had two performances for the younger children studying there. The Masaya Choir’s visit there was largely to show appreciation for the school’s generous donation to Virlanie Foundation.
The Masaya Choir proves that their music and showmanship crosses not only language barriers, but age differences as well – the children from the school were so amazed by the Masaya Choir, they also gave a standing ovation!
The children from the school and the children from the Masaya Choir had a great time interacting with one another during lunch time. And, after their little performances, they were able to exchange social media accounts and take lots of pictures together. We could learn a thing or two from the children on making fast friends!
Day 7 – WASQUEHAL
May 9, 2016 – After an emotional morning of saying goodbye to their host families, the Masaya Choir started another 5-hour bus journey to the North of the France to Mouvaux, a city near Lille. Our fantastic bus driver, Pascal, gives us a big smile for the road!
They had no performances lined up today, since most of the day was dedicated to traveling and resting. The children were excited to find out that they were all sleeping in the same room again, and enjoyed some down time together playing games, sleeping, and sharing stories.
Tomorrow will be another day of singing!
DAY 6 – Château de Lunéville (NANCY)
May 8, 2016 – With their hearts full from the Choir Festival, the Masaya Choir had the great pleasure of singing “A Song of Hope and Light” to the three organizers of Festival International de Chant Choral de Nancy outside the Cathedral. This was a bittersweet moment for the children, since they also had to say goodbye to the friends they made from different choirs. It was also Mother’s Day in the Philippines today, so some of the children missed their homes.
Afterwards, the Masaya Choir enjoyed a lunch picnic with their host families in the stunning Château de Lunéville, a short drive away from Nancy, France.
During this time, we saw that that Kashmir and Cherry Mae were featured in the local newspaper! 🙂
Château de Lunéville was also the venue where they performed for an hour and a half to almost 300 people. There were some audience members who enthusiastically shared that they only heard the Choir during one of the days in the Festival, and were so impressed with the children that they followed them all the way to Château de Lunéville.
Knowing that they were about to leave Nancy the next morning, the children and the families made sure to spend quality time together in the evening. Cyrusbelle, one of the girls in Masaya Choir, said, “I’m so sure there will be tears tomorrow.”
Thank you, Nancy, for all the great memories!
DAY 5 – Festival International de Chant Chorale de Nancy
May 7, 2016 – We’ve reached the final day of the festival! Today, the Masaya Choir finished rehearsal in the morning before performing three (3) times in one day in Place Stanislas, a public square that has been on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
First, they sang outdoors (porte Héré), with a French Choir called the Mirabells, and the Estonian Choir for 10 minutes. Next, they sang indoors in the very impressive Grands Salons de l’Hôtel de Ville for around 25-minutes, where they received a standing ovation from the audience. Finally, at around 8PM, Place Stanislas transformed into the concert ground for the culminating concert where all fifteen (15) choirs were given 7 minutes to perform.
Before singing two songs, Dominique Lemay, Mrs. Ma. Lourdes Hermo, and choir member Khasmir Gella were able to say a few words about Virlanie Foundation and the Masaya Choir. One of the children listening to the concert said, “Did you hear? The applause for the Philippines is much stronger and much longer than the rest!”
At the end of the concert, the voices of the 15 participating choirs joined to sing the official song of the festival called “Chanter” (Sing) before more than 3,000 people. This moment is going to be a definite highlight for the 23 members of the choir throughout their Spring Tour!
DAY 4 – Festival International de Chant Chorale de Nancy
May 6, 2016 – After a very successful first night, the Choir was able to have a full day’s rest before their call-time for rehearsal at 3:00PM in two of the rooms owned by the Cathedral of Nancy. During rehearsal, Choir Directress Mrs. Ma. Lourdes Hermo was able to congratulate the Choir for a job well done. She told them that their performance yesterday was very well-received, but that she knows that each Choir member still has so much more to offer.
She then asked the Choir members where they can still improve, and what they can do to give a better show to their audience. The children readily gave answers, showing their dedication and love for what they do, and how they want to improve.
The event venue tonight used to be an old Roman Catholic Church before it was transformed into Salle Poirel, a beautiful events place for concerts and special events. It lent great ambiance and acoustics for the show, and several audience members were shouting “Bravo! Bravo!” after each song number. The Masaya Choir is usually a crowd favorite, but tonight’s crowd proved to be exceptionally good supporters. After their performance, they were followed by the Macedonian Choir.
Aside from all the incessant clapping, audience members would also flock to the IGP (Income Generationg Project) booth after the show to purchase products that help support the smiles of the Filipino children.
If you have friends in France, do let them know to drop by and enjoy a night of excellent performances from choirs around the world!
CLICK HERE for a video of one of their songs!
DAY 3 – Festival International de Chant Chorale de Nancy
May 5, 2016 – At around 10:00am, the Choir rode on their tour bus going to Nancy’s Sacred Heart St. Leon Church where they attended a French Mass and sang mass songs for the Church. Ms. Marie-Pierre Bonnefoi, Vice President of Virlanie France, was able to share with the congregation a little information about Virlanie Foundation, and told the Masaya Choir that “we are very happy to pray for all the children in the Philippines”.
After mass, it was time for lunch. The Girl Scouts of Sacred Heart St. Leon Church invited the Masaya Choir for a meal together. Before eating, the scouts taught the Choir a popular French prayer that children sing before meals. Once their tummies were full of good food, the Choir and the scouts proceeded to the playground where all the children played together. It was great to see how games could bring people who don’t speak the same language together.
All the smiles of the children were very refreshing.
Finally, at around 5:00PM in the evening, they sang their first 40-minute concert for the Festival International de Chant Choral de Nancy. This is a great honor for the choir, being the only Southeast Asian country represented in Nancy, France.
They received rapturous applause from the audience, and caused some of the audience members to say, “I was crying. It was magnificent and so, so moving!”
DAY 2 – Dancing in Nancy
May 4, 2016 – After getting enough sleep from their long travel, the Masaya Choir enjoyed spending some time with their host families and eating breakfast and lunch together. At around 2PM, everybody gathered in San Sebastien Church for a scheduled rehearsal. Even though it was just a rehearsal, some visitors of the church still took photos and videos of the Choir’s run-through of the songs.
Afterwards, the Choir visited a place where they gathered together with other Festival International de Chant Choral de Nancy representatives (from countries like Ukraine, Russia, Poland, China, and more!) where they listened to a local choir sing French songs.
Finally, a group of young dancers and ballerinas from the dance school called ACADANSE performed several adorable numbers for the Choir, and in turn the Masaya Choir shared three (3) of their songs to the dancers.
The French community in Nancy continues to be an inspiration and a joy for the Masaya Choir. They love performing, singing, and dancing in front of an audience – and it matters so much that the audience in Nancy appreciates them a lot.
DAY 1 – The Masaya Choir has landed in France!
May 3, 2016 – After a warm welcome in the airport by Ate Pauline and Ate Elodie from Virlanie France, the Masaya Choir boarded a bus bound for Nancy, France, a good five hours away. The staff and Masaya Choir felt immediately welcomed and excited to once again embark on their 3rd Spring Tour in Europe.
After arriving in Nancy, the Masaya Choir was introduced to their host families who generously welcomed two to four members of the choir into their homes. These host families offer their food, their beds, their resources, and their time for these children to make sure they are comfortable – the Masaya Choir is forever grateful.
Filipinos are normally famous for their superb hospitality in welcoming guests, but their first day in France proves that the French have legendary hospitality skills, warm welcomes, and bright smiles.