Bikes for the World

Friday, December 23, 2016

Music Makes The World Go Round

“Music is the strongest form of magic,” Marilyn Manson. Bono says it like this, “Music can change the world because it can change people.” No matter your preference in music, band, or quote the message is the same. And no single act says it better than the collaboration between Canadian musicians from the band Unsung and the Orchestra from Regional Lead School of the Arts (RLSAA).

Music Makes The World A Better Place.

On December 21st students from the Philippines took the stage with students from Canada in a tribute concert affectionately named Musikleta. This effort was the brainchild of Christine Adela White, a Filipino-Canadian music director overseeing CW Music

Christine is also an avid cyclist and on a visit to the Philippines she met up with Bikes for the Philippines Director Joel Uichico who invited her to a graduation ceremony where some of our recent bike beneficiaries were being honored. She noticed that not many graduates were crossing the stage. Joel told her many students risked dropping out due to family financial burdens coupled with long commutes to walk to school. 

But Joel had a solution: bikes. And Christine wanted to help. She took all this back with her to Canada and introduced this struggle to her young music students, many of whom are also Filipino. They too wanted to help. So they did what they do best, played tunes.

They started doing benefit concerts to help the students Christine met during her visit to the Philippines. That's when Christine got the idea to do a collaborative concert with the students at RLSAA.

Why not just raise funds at home? Well they did. When the young Canadian musicians learned that the orchestra members they would be playing with didn't have money for fresh strings, they hit the stage. They held a benefit concert at a local restaurant to help buy new strings for their instruments.

"The orchestra has been using the same strings for 10 years. Some kids even used fishing line to practice." So new strings were purchased and delivered to the RSLAA orchestra members. "Their reaction to hearing the new sound of their strings was absolutely priceless."

And Christine wanted her students to see that joy for themselves. "For kids to actually be here (in the Philippines) to witness where their efforts are going, who is benefiting from it? It's gonna open their eyes."

"It feels good when you help somebody especially when you help them to get better education," Max , 12 year old guitarist for Unsung.

"Most importantly I'm looking forward to seeing all the smiles on the kids faces because they deserve these bikes," Aldrin, lead singer of the group.

The main objective of the concert was to raise funds for the bike program, but it became apparent early in the planning that both groups wanted to share this musical gift with everyone, especially students. They implemented a ticket purchasing program which would provide free tickets to school kids with the purchase of bulk ticket sales. 

“In the end, the purpose of raising funds for the foundation played second fiddle to sharing this concert performed by children for children. We had public and high school children watching as well as a group from an orphanage,” Joel Uichico, Director of Bikes for the Philippines.

The money raised during the benefit concert will go to help bike coordinators increase their impact on the program. The geographic challenges of operating a program in a country comprised of smaller islands with limited internet has been a consistent obstacle, but not one insurmountable.

Director Joel Uichico has added bike coordinators in the schools to monitor the bike beneficiaries who are also trained in safety, maintenance, and safe riding skills as part of the program. His goal is to supply phones to the coordinators for better communication and to also provide a travel stipend so they can visit other school programs to learn best operational practices.

Currently Bikes for the Philippines has donated bikes to 18 school districts on all three larger regions of the Philippines. Four schools remain actively involved in the Bikes for Education project. RSLAA, Concepcion Integrated School, Fatima, and Lourdes make up those four school districts and support hundreds of students enrolled in the program struggling to stay in school and graduate.


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