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December 21, 2013

Borongan

Day one performances

After a long day in the heat, performing and sharing joy with around 700 children and locals, the crew is enjoying a group dinner with our Plan International colleagues. The day has left us all quite happy and completely exhausted. The first performance had roughly 350 children whom laughed and bombarded us with love at the end of our hour long show. It was very beautiful and also extremely hot. All of us were soaked with sweat and filled with joy. From the moment we entered their school till we left, it was very obvious of the positivity that we were helping create for not only the children but for the adults as well. The kids were very excited for high fives and thought our clown shoes were hilarious! Many of whom asked for photos and followed us all the way out to our transport laughing, smiling and touching our big floppy shoes. We then continued on our way to another audience of roughly 200 children whom were having a dance party when we arrived. The 4 of us just joined right in the fun, dancing, playing and then performing our show under a make shift  tarp structure. The laughter was contagious and it attracted local workers whom watched from the side with huge smiles. The high fives afterwards were filled with love and joy! Some of the children were asking me where we were going to next because they wanted to follow us to the next place. It was clear our silliness was a welcomed break from the heavy days that have occurred since November 8th when typhoon Yolanda had devastated region. Our 3rd show of the day took place on a beach that had no buildings left in tack. The devastation was clear on the ground but not in the faces of the 150 children in attendance. They were very happy to see us and very well behaved. The audience was filled with mostly little girls. They were all well-mannered and quite shy which made it difficult to get any audience participation, but it did give us a great opportunity to bring up some plan international volunteers to participate. They loved it, the kids loved it and the clowns were glowing from all the fun that had taken place. Briar, or also known as “Molly”, our hula hooping New Zealand female clown, became a huge star for all the little girls! It was very obvious that she had really touched them with joy and inspiration as they erupted with cheers when she overcame the odds by hooping with some 15 hula hoops. When the show ended most of the children burst into a dance party yet again, and then came to our transport to give us clowns all Christmas cards wishing us well and thanking us for our performance. All in all the first day of performances were a huge success! More to share soon. Joy to you and yours! ~The CWB team

December 22, 2013

Bagtong, Jagmaya, Asgad: Eastern Samar

Day 2 performances

Another great day for the CWB team! Three wonderful performances for over 800 people that were all full of laughter and gratitude for us coming to share happiness. Our first performance was accompanied with a down pour of thick drops of rain which added to the excitement for everyone. Partner pass juggling in the rain can be done! At the end of our first performance of the day we were mobbed with love, joy and hands in the shapes of hearts. These children had been through a lot as at one time they lived in a jungle of coconut trees which are now all flattened. Yet the joy they radiated was very bright and their laughter was even louder. As we continued into the forest that was no more, we found ourselves in two coastal villages that were hit very hard by the storm surge. These audiences had a mixture of age groups from the smallest muscle man volunteer to the hard working rebuild crews. One village had prepared the most adorable native dance performance to give us thanks for our show! The children were very happy to watch, play, and enjoy something out of their own reality even more so since Typhoon Yolanda (Hayian) has affected their lives so strongly in such a short time. Not just the little children either, but the child in everyone including grandparents, uncles, aunties, tough guys and the whole village. Everyone was smiling and thanking all of us clowns. It seemed our silly ways had touched more than just the surface of these remote villages, but more to the inner joy that everyone’s hearts long for in times of need. All the joy ~ The CWB team

December 23, 2013

Balangakaya, Eastern Samar

Day three of performances…

The CWB team is doing well, a bit tired and sore but we are holding it together as a team. We had the pleasure of Plan International Asia organizing our 3 shows of the day into one giant show of 800+ in attendance. There were people of all ages in every direction. Behind us, a military guard with a fully automatic rifle, smiling children in front of us, a handful of people that had climbed up on to a big pile of rubble in the back, and children that were watching from up in the rafters so they could see us clowns work our magic. We could see smiles and hear the sounds of joy radiating through the hearts of the survivors echoing thru the crowd. To make the stakes even higher, as we started our show, a sideways rain poured down creating a flood of children moving even closer in to avoid the storm. We were  completely surrounded! Not knowing what to do with the limited space, the clowns regrouped and carried on with the task of creating laughter in the face of disaster. The show went really well yet again and it feels like it just keeps getting better and better. The children had a mob like feel after the show wanting high fives and photos with the whole crew. We formed up with the children and our Plan colleagues in front of the town of Balangakaya’s giant Christmas tree which was made of a bunch of plastic bottles and decorations. It was truly a wonderful site to see! The Filipino spirit is still alive and well, standing together as one! After our performance we all headed back to get some much needed relaxation and prepare for the long day that was to come in the morning.~ The CWB team

Guiuan, Eastern Samar

December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

The CWB team started their day bright and early at 5am driving south to the devastated peninsula of Guiuan where somewhere between 150 to 200 families are living in a displacement camp filled with rows and rows of tents in a big open field. On our way to Guiuan it was quite clear how hard this area had been hit. One example is Eastern Samar State University, a large campus next to the encampment field that had no roofs left on any of its buildings. Only twisted metal and piles of debris were left among the remaining walls of this once beautiful university. By the time we started our show, the audience had grown from the five or so children that were playing in the field to 500+ smiling people. They were a bit quieter than other audiences at first but quickly became more and more jubilant. The children cheered and laughed together as one, continuing to loosen up to the joy we were there to share as the show went on. Towards the end of our show an audience member who had recently graduated from a circus school came up, and asked politely to share some of his gymnastics. Naturally we said yes and watched him bend and flip across the stage for everyone to enjoy! It was amazing and it got even better! When the show ended a handful of dancers joined together and presented one of the wildest dance  presentations any of us ever had seen! They moved together as one with the crowd cheering and clapping very happily. One older gentleman was ecstatic with joy declaring to me “Thank you, thank you so much for your gifts! This is what we needed to relieve our stresses!” as he jumped up and down next to me glowing with smiles from ear to ear. It felt as though we were witnessing the healing of this torn community directly in front of our own very eyes! It felt amazing! Unannounced to us till we were done with the show, one of our colleagues from Clowns Without Borders Belgium was in attendance and came to say hello. The random yet beautiful moment of distant clown families coming together was really cool! We chatted with her  and exchanged our contact info before we were off to our second show of the day. Our second show is one none of the team will ever forget. When we arrived kids were already swarming the van trying to get a peek at what was inside. It felt like us clowns were fish in an aquarium! Our plan leader Phillip, whom has been amazing at taking care of our needs and random questions, hopped out to go organize the children. Once we got the sign from him, we clowns exited the van as normal.  Things after that got a little crazy! After the third act of the show, the sky opened up dumping toe sized rain drops! The 400 or so children all scattered about, some finding shelter, others enduring the enormous drops of rain with their umbrellas. Which was quite fitting as our clown mime superstar, Matt McCorkle was just about to start his amazing umbrella piece where he is thrown around and teased by his enormous umbrella. The show must go on! And it did! The site of Matt’s umbrella piece and the smiles being generated gave the show the momentum to carry on in the face of the rainstorm! Our awesome team leader, Michael O’Neil, pulled out his spinning balls and nailed a behind the back! As well as “Molly”, in the face of grave odds, completed her epic hula hoop act while being soaked to the core! We ended the show with us clowns together as one in a super fun and exciting dance party in the pouring down rain! The kids and adults went wild for us, cheering and filling the air with thunderous laughter. As we loaded into our van, clown shoes soaked and all, it was obvious they were not the only ones filled with joy! We hit the road to the plan office so we could change our drenched clothes before we make the 4hour trek thru the devastated valley towards our new home base of Tacloban. With all the love and enjoyment ~ Team CWB

December 25th 2013

Christmas in Tacloban

Tacloban is one of the largest cities in the Philippines that was directly affected by typhoon Yolanda (Hayian). The destruction here is very intense. Debris, rubble and devastated buildings line the streets in every direction. There are a lot of displaced families who have lost everything, yet it’s obvious that their Christmas spirit is still alive and well. Myself and the rest of the Clowns Without Borders team set out to do two performances in displacement camps. The camps were lined with rows of relief tents as far as we could see. Our driver was having problems finding our show locations due to the destruction that littered the streets and the down pour of rain that has been flooding parts of Tacloban for the last 24hrs. When we arrived at the first encampment we were greeted by 200+ children. For the duration of the show I forgot about the situation outside the tent. The amount of joy and laughter was enormous from people of all ages. It seemed that everyone’s spirits were very high and full of life. Everyone thanked us and cheered with joy.  As we drove away to our next performance it was very clear that the hard times of the city are long from over. Looking through the van window on our way to the next show the harsh reality of the relief tents, flooding, and the worn faces of the survivors were everywhere the rain had not let up and continued to dump from the dark skies above. We made our way to our second performance space which was a makeshift structure made of bamboo, lashed together with fishing line and topped with a huge tarp. It was barely tall enough for me to fit under and it had ankle deep standing water covering most of the dirt floor. The tent quickly filled in around us with 200 or so eager children leaving the team even less room to work our magic. After the show, all of the children followed us out to the van, excited and happy: it was quite a sight to see the triumph of joy even with such grave conditions Our show helped bring happiness but the fact is Taclobans strong will to survive and Christmas spirit was the vital ingredient of this glorious day which has left us clowns with warm hearts and fully inspired to share more love. Merry Christmas everyone! With love~ Team CWB December 26th

Marabut

As the team arrived at our first performance of the day there was a large sign that read: Welcome to the most devastated town of Samar province. Help is badly needed. Marabut proper is a small coastal town that had been hit very hard by the typhoon. The people were very grateful for us clowns and were very helpful in creating a safe place out of the elements for us to perform for the children. 300 children crowded into a tent to enjoy what we had to offer. The sounds of their laughter radiated thru the structure bringing even more of the locals to witness our show. It was very hot and muggy inside of the tent but the joy and laughter fueled our spirits to continue performing our hour long show even in the harsh conditions. Yet again we were mobbed with love afterwards, with the children following us out to our van giving us high fives and hugs. The people all kept thanking us and one child even asked me if we would be back tomorrow. Our second performance was more of the same. When we arrived we were surrounded by little ones trying to catch a glimpse of the clowns thru the tinted van windows. The rain started to lighten up and we moved into a large tent to begin our show for 300 or so which quickly grew to 500+. There wasn’t enough of room for everyone in the tent and with the rain letting up we moved the show outside half way thru our performance. These kids were a joy to witness as they all seemed to have an ever bright glow in their shining faces. At the end of our performance the girls mobbed our hula hooping superstar “Molly” and surrounded all of us as we made our way to the van. It was a bit over whelming for all of us and we quickly retreated to the safety of our van, having to ask kids to back up and not push each other. They all were very excited for the fun that had ensued. Our day was a powerful one. The fury of Mother Nature’s power in full force was ever clear and so was the human spirit as it continued on in the pursuit of joy and happiness in the lives of the survivors. All the best~ Team CWB

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