• Turning challenges to triumph

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    Ambassador Cristina Ortega, Unesco Assistant Director Gen Wendy Watson Wright, with Cecile Guidote-Alvarez and the Earthsavers Dream Ensemble PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

    Ambassador Cristina Ortega, Unesco Assistant Director Gen Wendy Watson Wright, with Cecile Guidote-Alvarez and the Earthsavers Dream Ensemble PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

    Earthsavers Dream Ensemble inspires challenged individuals through art
    In celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) invited the all-Filipino group Earthsavers Dreams Ensemble to perform at the Unesco headquarters in Paris, France on December 3.

    Earthsavers Dreams Ensemble is composed of physically and mentally challenged individuals.

    The 10-member group led by acclaimed theater artist Cecile Guidote-Alvarez flew to France through a “fly now, pay later” program, with hopes that public and private corporations would support the resiliency of handicapped individuals

    No less than Unesco Director General Irina Bokova graciously welcomed Earthsavers to the invitational event. She lauded the group which was designated as Unesco Artists for Peace in 2003 for its vision that “Every human being has the potential to create; to express feelings and aspirations.”

    Alvarez for her part reiterated that Earthsavers members are not handicapped but “handicapable” artists. According to the current president of the Philippine Center for International Theater Institute, handicapable artists are those whose “talents can really shine if given the compassion, the equity of opportunity and the support.”

    Alvarez expressed this in her opening speech before the much-awaited Earthsavers show in which the nine performing members danced, sang and acted. The inspirational numbers that called out for the protection of the environment, to stop violence and peace, and for understanding amongst nations.

    Members of the group come from impressive backgrounds, starting with keyboardist Rico del Rosario who turned blind at the age of 8. Maricor Book, a dancing soprano, was born blind in the absence of maternal care. Polio victim Edgardo Sision lost his capacity to walk at age 2, but was able to perform while in a wheelchair, with the assistance of out of school youth choreographer, Wally Tuyan. Raquel Arica who was diagnosed with Downs syndrome continually works with economically handicapped persons representing other vulnerable groups. Edmarie Inda, is a real Manobo tribe from Mindanao is part of their indigenous community. Included in the group is a street child—a garbage picker from Smokey Mountain who is now an acrobat.

    Alvarez also took time to acknowledge survivors of the recent Super Typhoon Yolanda that affected millions of Filipinos in Central Visayas. The dedicated their special performance to “people affected by Climate Change disasters and to all those who had supported us with compassion by addressing relief and rehabilitation needs.”

    “In our country, all the survivors now are handicapped; physically, those who were injured and those who were traumatized psychologically,” Alvarez said.

    “The Earthsavers are here to give the face of courage, of strength, of hope and inspire people that we don’t have to be in the depths of despair amidst the crisis. We can rise, like the phoenix. Certainly, we can triumph over adversity,” she added.

    In the spirit of Christmas, the Earthsavers Dream Ensemble is asking for help from business firms in the public and private sectors to sponsor their travel fare amounting to about P300,000.

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