October 2015, Philippine International Convention Center – After seven days of intensive coaching and clinics, the Plan W Philippines scholars demonstrated their learnings through song.
The thirty-four scholars of Plan W Philippines performed at the Philippine International Convention Center as a culmination of their choral conducting seminar, under Sing Philippines. Plan W is part of Diageo’s global community investment strategy, which aims to build thriving communities. Through Plan W, the goal is to empower women by giving them opportunities to learn and develop skills to be able to influence society and the economy.
The Philippine program of Plan W aims to upskill women choir conductors and vocal ensemble teachers. Outside of the few urban centers in the country, there are limited opportunities and venues to be trained in these professions. Being largely self-taught and experience-honed, grassroots choir conductors and music teachers struggle to raise the standards and quality of the singing arts. Plan W Philippines recognizes this and thus, in cooperation with Sing Philippines, provided female choir conductors and music teachers with the proper training in organizing and nurturing choirs.
“Last month we launched Plan W Philippines because we want women choir conductors and music teachers to have the skills and resources to build a better future for themselves and for their respective communities,” said Jon Good, General Manager of Diageo Philippines. “I am happy to say that the program has empowered the thirty-four scholars by not only nurturing their soul and boosting their confidence, but also by giving them the economic opportunities that are only available when one has a formal music education.”
Plan W was delivered by employing both immersion-type and experience-based training, supplemented with practice through coaching, clinics, and demonstration. Thirty-four women aged 18 to 60 from 12 regions in the country were chosen to be scholars of this program: already leading their own choirs, these women were selected based on their leadership and musical potential, their commitment to develop ensemble music, and their economic need. Seen with the potential to conduct purpose-driven choirs, they are hampered by their limited opportunities, resources, and access to formal training and education.
The program is divided into two stages. During the first stage, which began on October 24, 2015, the scholars attended a seven-day, experience-based immersion program that covered essential skills. The workshops and coaching covered five core competencies: musicality and musicianship, choral conducting, teaching techniques, people skills, and organizational management skills. These topics introduced participants to the key critical skills needed to empower them to organize, lead, and develop purpose-focused and culture-building vocal ensembles in their community and schools. They were taught by notable people under Sing Philippines’ faculty, among them, Sing Philippines Artistic Director Mark Carpio, UP College of Music keyboard professor Ena Marie Aldecoa, and theater actress and former Miss Saigon cast member Isay Alvarez.
To provide more practical training, the participants also rehearsed as a women’s chorus. Their performance serves as the culmination of the first stage, and is witnessed through the one-night concert at PICC.
“This has a multiplier effect – from a few conductors, to many singers,” said Mark Anthony Carpio, Artistic Director of Sing Philippines. “The scholars will become the educators that will spark the love for singing to both the young and the old. Exposing singers to a choral experience develops in them a life-long passion for it. These passionately-engaged singers will, in turn, become the future conductors and music teachers – sustaining the culture of singing that is at the heart of the country.”
After the concert, scholars will be sent back to their communities to begin the second stage: the developing or enhancing of their own singing groups. The program’s trainers will visit the participants to observe the application of their learnings and to provide guidance as the women work with their choirs in their respective localities. As in the first stage, this phase will culminate in a local concert, thus introducing the outcome to the local community. This reinforces the goal of empowering women to make a difference by nurturing the Filipino culture to their communities through the inclusive nature of ensemble music.
Additionally, the distinction of having been trained by Sing Philippines will build the scholars’ reputation and assure employers, patrons, and sponsors of their real and sustainable abilities. Their certification will have a direct impact in uplifting their social and economic status.
“We at Diageo know that when women have access to learning and have an opportunity to pursue their passion, it creates a powerful ripple effect that positively impacts the society around them, builds thriving communities and progresses society.” said Georgie Passalaris, Diageo’s Skills and Empowerment Manager for Sustainable Development.
Plan W globally aims to empower women across all socio-economic profiles. Diageo believes that if women are empowered, they have more access to opportunities, thus their incomes increase, their families become healthier, and their children have greater access to education.
Diageo is the first beverage alcohol company to sign the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles globally. To date, Plan W has empowered more than 115,000 women across 16 countries, impacting more than 575,000 people. In the Philippines, it was launched by Corporate Relations as part of the business’s priority initiatives.