What’s more inspiring than a music volunteer on our Philippines program? A music volunteer on our Philippines program who raised money to purchase dozens of ukuleles to bring to the school where she is volunteering because their entire musical instrument…
Share your craft by teaching music to Filipino children in Tacloban City. Volunteers teach music at a community center offering a multitude of programs in order to empower the entire community, at a youth rehabilitation center, or in local schools.
Your music classes will give children an artistic outlet as well as self-confidence. Volunteers are needed throughout the year, but especially during the summer months when students are no longer in school and spend most of the day at the community center. The minimum volunteering requirement is 10 hours per week for one week, but PAA strongly recommends two weeks.
“The volunteer program in the Philippines was a very meaningful and enriching experience.”
Performing Arts Points of Interest
Topline Music and Bar
Topline Music and Bar is a local bar that has become a frequented music venue in Tacloban city after renovations to their stage which has brought them to the high level of quality music. Topline Music and Bar is one of the best local bars and the community’s premier music venue capable of hosting rock-n-roll shows for a large audience.
PAA Home Base
Our headquarters in Tacloban City is in the offices of our onsite partner, who helps coordinate a wide variety of volunteer programs in the area. The office offers tutoring to local children, as well as language courses in the local dialect of Waray Waray for international visitors. It is one of several buildings that form one side of a huge enclosed courtyard that is surrounded on all sides by homes and businesses. Most of our homestays are in this same neighborhood, making it easy to drop in and say hello or find a staff member if you need anything.
About the Location
Find yourself surrounded by breathtaking ocean and bright green landscape in Tacloban City, the capital of the island of Leyte. Nearby Sohoton National Park is home to amazing caves and intricate rock formations. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan—one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded—tore through Leyte and completely destroyed the entire area. Tacloban was leveled and most people lost their homes and their livelihoods. More than 6,000 people lost their lives. The Performing Arts Abroad volunteer programs in this beautiful city were shut down for over a year, but are now open and running in full force, ready for volunteers to bring their love of the arts to a resilient people working hard to rebuild from almost nothing.
With over 7000 islands, the Philippines boasts white sand beaches, coral reefs, and beautiful mountains. Performing arts flourish throughout the region helping give this island nation its rich culture. With a long history, many Filipino dances have been passed down through generations.
Music is an integral part of the lives of most residents, from gong music to the lyrical Harana and Kundiman to Filipino pop songs (called Original Pinoy Music or OPM). Choral music is also very prevalent in the Philippines and traditional ethnic music has become more popular in recent years.
Based right outside Tacloban City, you will live with a Filipino host family in a housing area within a one-minute walk to the community center and other volunteers. Homes are basic yet comfortable, and volunteers are fed breakfast and dinner and have access to free drinking water. You will stay in a single room, or a room shared with another volunteer, and will be provided with a mosquito net and electric fan.
In most cases you will have your own room in a homestay shared with other volunteers, but when space is limited, your roommate would be another volunteer of the same sex. Performing Arts Abroad usually has one or two volunteers on site at one time, who join a group of a dozen or more international volunteers in other areas such as health, education, and business development. During the busier times (May to August), this number may be slightly bigger.
A Day in the Life
The Participant Experience
You wake up to the irresistible smell of your homestay mother cooking breakfast. After eating with your Filipino family and the other volunteers staying in the house, you walk across the courtyard to the program headquarters for your language lesson in the local dialect Waray Waray before going down the street to jump on a jeepney and head to your volunteer placement. You bump along with fields and the ocean zipping past and arrive to find your students waiting eagerly to see what you will teach them today. For many, this is their favorite part of the day, the time when they get to express themselves fully. And you remember that this is why you are an artist, and this is the power of arts education…
On this program, you will work with your Program Coordinator and our onsite volunteer managers to find a placement that best fits with your music interests and background / skill level. You will have plenty of time to explore the area and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world!
Upon arrival at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport (TAC), you will be picked up by a member of our staff and taken to your homestay where you will unpack and settle in, getting to know your new Filipino family and your neighborhood. In the following days, you will receive a full orientation to the area and your project, including a tour of the city center of Tacloban and visits to several community projects.
A Typical Day
You will start your volunteering, and will arrange a schedule with our volunteer coordinator that fits with the community center, rehabilitation center, or local school and meets your needs and desires. There are usually a handful of other volunteers on this program at any given time, and many more during the summer months. Other volunteers may be focusing on arts, but many will be helping in other areas such as teaching English, tutoring, community development, infrastructure, public health, etc. You may be able to get involved with these initiatives as well, depending on your background and interests.
Volunteer with a local community center that provides programs and support for people of all ages, at a youth rehabilitation center, or in a local school. While you teach a child in a music class, his or her mother could be attending a mothers club, the younger sibling could be in a playtime session, or the entire family could be benefiting from free medical services. In your music classes you will make a difference in the lives of children who live in poverty by giving them a space for creativity and self-expression. While space in the community center is basic, the children are very passionate and you will have access to acoustic guitars and a keyboard.
The youth rehabilitation center is a facility for minors who have been accused of committing crimes. Many of these children have been here for a year or longer awaiting a trial that may still be far in the distant future. These children have been forgotten and left as victims of circumstance, and they are eager to participate in constructive positive activities such as music and other arts.
Volunteers must commit to a minimum of one week working ten hours per week, but PAA strongly recommends two weeks or longer.
Founder and Executive Director
Reynolds graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008 with a degree in Theater and African and African American Studies. For an honors thesis Reynolds filmed, edited, and produced a full-length documentary in Kenya with Haba na Haba, a group using performance for education and social change in the slums of Nairobi. This project earned him the Forum on Education Abroad Undergraduate Research Award. A year later, Reynolds organized a trip to bring Haba na Haba to the United States for a tour of St. Louis and Washington University. Immediately after graduation, Reynolds worked in Rwanda as a filmmaker for Millennium Congregations, an interfaith organization connecting communities of faith in the United States with development projects in Rwanda’s Bugesera District. Reynolds then served two years with Teach for America, teaching in the South Bronx and receiving a Masters Degree in Education from Hunter College. He completed a second graduate degree in African Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington, and his Masters thesis focused on the impact of donors on the creative process of Theatre for Development (TfD) groups in Kenya.
Reynolds has traveled extensively in Africa, spending time in Ghana, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also studied acting, voice, and movement at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Reynolds is a two-time Rhodes Scholarship finalist, the inaugural recipient of the Dred and Harriet Scott Award for the Advancement of Human Rights, and the winner of two research fellowships. He was also a Dialogue Fellow for the Xenia Institute, has twice served as the co-director for the Roosevelt Institution’s International Diplomacy Center (Washington University branch), and was president of the Graduate Students of African Studies (GSAS) at Indiana University.
Reynolds lives in Northampton, MA with his wife Julia who is a professional costume designer and all around wonderful person. In his free time Reynolds likes to play his guitar, go hiking, act in local productions, hit the karaoke bars, sing with his dog Captain (the best doggy singer in the universe), and play various yard games such as KanJam, cornhole, “cups”, and Kubb.
Ester Yao Costim
Philippines Site Director
Ester supports all participants on our Philippines programs, acting as the main point of contact throughout their stay in the country. She coordinates airport pickup, arranges housing by vetting homestay families and building relationships, leads cultural excursions, and manages the 24-hour onsite emergency phone.
Ester Yao Costim holds a Bachelors Degree in Biology from the University of the Philippines. Previously, Ester conducted research on the aquatic flora and fauna of local Philippine lakes and coordinated with local government agencies to help a local volunteer project expand its environmental programs.
Ester loves photography and hiking, and prior to her current position she was an administrative staff at a local university. Today Ester is responsible for helping to look after as many as 200 annual volunteers, as well as assisting in researching new projects and placements in need of both international and local volunteers.
Ester’s down-to-earth yet professional and friendly nature makes her well-liked by fellow staff and volunteers, and helps her successfully coordinate programs for Performing Arts Abroad.
“Being able to spread the joy and appreciation of dance to another culture is incredible. There is no language barrier, dance and the arts are universal! It was the perfect fit. I absolutely loved it and I plan on going back to volunteer again.”
“The in-country staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and supportive. Just great!”
“The volunteer program in the Philippines was a very meaningful and enriching experience.”
From the blog
LeeLee Hunter was a PAA Music Volunteer in the Philippines. While there, she organized the donation of dozens of Ukuleles to a school whose entire musical instrument supply had been destroyed by a typhoon, and taught the students how to play. She…
Philip Northington is a professional musical theatre actor and dancer with credits including the National Tour of the Wizard of Oz, performances at the Paper Mill Playhouse and Jacob’s Pillow, and training at American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and…
Olivia Kapell is a musician and English Literature student at Columbia University-Juilliard School Exchange. She participated in the Music Volunteering in the Galapagos Islands program. Upon signing up to be a music volunteer in the Galápagos Islands, I had no idea…
Summer 2019 (other start dates may be available, please contact us if none of the start dates below work for your schedule)
|Session||Application Deadline||Start Date||Maximum Duration|
|Session 1||Feb 26 2019||May 05 2019||12 weeks|
|Session 2||Mar 12 2019||May 19 2019||12 weeks|
|Session 3||Apr 02 2019||Jun 09 2019||12 weeks|
|Session 4||May 07 2019||Jul 14 2019||7 weeks|
|Session 5||May 21 2019||Jul 28 2019||5 weeks|
|Session 6||Jun 04 2019||Aug 11 2019||3 weeks|
Important Summer 2019 (other start dates may be available, please contact us if none of the start dates below work for your schedule) Dates
Apply today — How the process works
Submit a simple online application
Schedule a live video interview with a Program Coordinator
Upload program specific materials to an online portal
Receive your aceptance decision and begin your journey!
How the Process Works
To apply, click the “Apply Now” button below. You will fill out a simple initial application online and pay a deposit that is refundable if you are not accepted, and will be applied toward your overall program cost if you are accepted (not an additional fee). At this point, we will ask you to send us the following materials:
- Your resume/CV
- A questionnaire about your interests and goals for the program
- An academic or personal reference
- A sample dance lesson plan
- Music video (optional)
- Your availability in U.S. Eastern Time for a 30 minute video interview with your Program Coordinator.
- Be clear in your interview about your goals for the program. We work hard to prepare your hosts and give them the chance to design an experience that is customized to you as much as possible. To do this, we need a clear picture of who you are and what you want out of your time in the Philippines (and don’t want!).
- The Skype interviews are our first face-to-face impression of you. Show up on time, dress well, and be personable.
- If you choose to submit a video, you should highlight the musical style you do best, and should choose a high quality video with a strong opening. Videos with other musicians are fine, as long as you clearly identify yourself. We prefer videos to be uploaded to an online platform such as YouTube to allow us to easily share with our partners in the Philippines.
Participants must be 18 or over the day they begin the program.
GPA / Student Status
There is no GPA requirement for this program, students and non-students are welcome to apply.
There is no foreign language requirement for this program, local staff and some locals speak English.
We give preference to applicants with at least one year of music experience, although all are welcome to apply.
We are looking for open-minded, flexible applicants who can clearly convey their passion for music and an acute interest in international travel and exposure to new ideas.