Giving Back The Smile to Street Children

Virlanie Voices: Our 2018 European Tour Diary

Posted on 04/17/18 in General News

DAY 1: April 2 – Arrival

After a 14-hour flight with a stop over in Dubai, we have safely arrived in the land of chocolates.

It was 11 degrees out, but we were met with a very warm welcome by the Virlanie Suisse team. After some brief introductions and catching up from the last time we were here. We were off to a one-hour drive to our lodging.

For 12 days, the peaceful town of St. Maurice will be our home; and for 12 days we are going to regale this city and its sweet people with our songs, starting with a short thank you performance for the organizers and the volunteers. We are oh so grateful for all the support.

The temperature may be low, but our spirits are in an all-time high.


DAY 2: April 3 – Prep Day for The Big Day

Still adjusting to the time difference, some of us woke up at 2 AM, with our body clock still ticking with Philippine time. But we were quick to go back to bed because today is the big prep day.

After breakfast at 7:30, we started rehearsals at 9 AM and we didn't stop until lunch time. It was some serious business, so we were so glad to see rice in the lunch menu.

We took a short rest afterwards and restarted practice again at 2:30. While we were singing, we had a surprise visitor. Ate Gay, an avid Virlanie supporter from the Philippines arrived. She was one of the foundation's first board members, and she flew in just for us; to cheer for us and help us win.

With all the flowing support, we can't help but feel the love.


DAY 3: April 4 – Montreux Festival Opening

Today is the opening of the competition series. We drove for less than an hour from St. Maurice to Auditorium Stravinski, Montreux, the venue.

It was our time to feel the stage, adjust our blocking, as well as our voicing.

And because we only had a few minutes to wow the audience, we made sure that we are giving the audience nothing but the best.

The clapping from our entry to our exit was encouraging. We are excited to present more songs tomorrow.


DAY 4: April 5 – First Day of Competition Proper

Here we go! The day of presenting the competition pieces we have wholeheartedly rehearsed for months. We were all a bit tensed, so we started the rehearsal with some good old exercise.

We didn't notice how time went by as we continuously prepared. Then, it was show time. There are three judges and an auditorium we need to impress. We sang five songs including Agnus Dei, one of the contest pieces, and Pong Pong Piyangaw, a play song we have been singing even before.

We hope that we left a great impression with our utmost performance.


DAY 5: April 6 – Le Chateau de Chillon

Today had been an exciting day. We did rehearsals, competition performance of non-obligatory songs, and went on a field trip to Le Chateau de Chillon.

The Chateau is a medieval castle, standing since the 12 century and restored to splendor for tourists to see. We were so excited to see its inside and feel the life of the lords and ladies of the old days.

We also got to see the tranquil lake that surrounds the castle. It was so beautiful. But the best part of the day, was our wholehearted performance. We’re very glad the audience seemed to have enjoyed it. Hoping for the best announcement tomorrow.


DAY 6: April 7 – 2018 Montreux Choral Festival

What a Day!

Such a jam-packed day it was, yesterday. We woke up early, prepped, and went to Nestle Head Quarters for a post-lunch performance. We met the English group, Cantamus, there. They are also contestants in the choral festival, under the all-female children’s category. We chat and sang some songs with them. We were instantly friends.

Afterwards, we went around the Nestle museum and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We found out the company’s history, its present, and what it has in store for the future. It was a very interactive experience.

But the most important part of the day, is the Montreux Choral Festival Grand Prix. The choirs were gathered in the Auditorium Stravinski in Montreux for the awarding. We sat there, tensed as we waited for the announcement. Finally, after the break, Virlanie Voices was mentioned.

Represented by Teacher Malou, our choir master, we received the Award of Participation with judges’ remarks of “Very Good” (tres bien).

We were finally able to breathe. Now the competition’s over. We’re both happy and sad. We may not be bringing home the grand prize, but we’re bringing home something more valuable. New friends, new experience, and new hope for the next competition we will join.


DAY 7: April 8 – Our First Concert

 As today is a Sunday, we started the day by attending a mass ceremony at the abbey nearby, the Basilica de St. Maurice. It’s just a 3-minute walk from our dormitory. Afterwards, we went home to rest and prepare for our evening concert.

By 5 PM, we regaled the St. Maurice crowd with our songs in a 3-part concert at the Theatre du Martolet. We really enjoyed our performance as the pressure of competition already left us with the end of the choral festival.

And the crowd also loved us. We can tell by the warmth of their reception after the show. We can’t be anymore blessed.


DAY 8: April 9 – First Field Trip

Happy Monday! As we have finished the competition and our first concert, the Virlanie Swiss team decided to take us to the mountains to see snow. We were so excited, since it will be the first time for many of us. We couldn't wait.

And the Swiss Alps did not disappoint. The view from up there was magnificent and snow under our feet, on our palms, and even on our hair makes being away from home for a while worthwhile.

Then, we ended the day with a short film viewing of the long history of where we are staying, St. Maurice.


DAY 9: April 10 – Acquaintance Day

We had a mini concert at Vouvry High School today. Our audience are the high school students who are also within our age range. We're amazed at how much taller they are than we are, but we were not intimidated. We proudly presented our culture through our songs, and they really enjoyed it.

After our performance, they let us play in their amazing gym. Some of us played basketball, while others played volleyball and badminton.

On the way back, we stopped by a farm where we were up close and personal with farm animals. We also had some snacks with the farm owner's family.

When we arrived back at St. Maurice, we met the St. Maurice choir and had some time to bond with them. We also had a jam session in the afternoon and another meet up with St. Maurice students in the evening.


DAY 10: April 11 – Mini Concert and Mass Celebration

Today, we had a full house. Students of St. Maurice came to see our morning performance and listened to our founder, Mr. Dominique Lemay's description of the foundation and our country.

After our show, we had lunch, rested for a while, and then we visited the historic museum of the St. Maurice Abbey.

Before dinnertime, we sang for the Wednesday mass celebration in St. Maurice Basilica.


DAY 11: April 12 – Sweet Farewells

Today is our last full day in St. Maurice. We will be leaving the historic city early tomorrow morning. Thus, we made sure to maximize the day.

On this fine spring day, we went to a museum in Martigny, the Fondation Pierre Gianadda. We saw contemporary sculptures, vintage cars, and classic works of Toulouse-Lautrec.

We also gave a short performance for the other museum guests.

By noon time, it was time for the farewells. We sang songs for all the Virlanie Swiss volunteers who assisted us in our stay. Words are not enough to express our sincerest gratitude.

We won't ever forget all their kindness to us. We hope to see them again another time.


DAY 12: April 13 – Hola, Geneva!

Today, we left St. Maurice early for a concert in Les Alambic, Martigny. This is our last performance with the St. Maurice volunteer team. We had to say our thanks and farewells to them. Then, we left for Geneva.

Upon arrival, we checked in a youth hostel near the UN Headquarters. It will be our new home until our bus to France arrives to pick us up.

A l’arrivée, nous nous sommes installés dans une auberge de jeunesse près du siège de l’ONU. Ce sera notre nouveau domicile jusqu’à le bus pour la France vienne nous chercher.

After we saw our new accommodation, we went to the UN Headquarters to perform back to back with the UN Choir.

Après avoir vu notre hébergement, nous sommes directement allés au siège de l’ONU pour donner un concert avec le choeur de l’ONU.

This is such a bittersweet day. Bitter as we left our old home and other friends, but sweet as we meet a new team to support us in our remaining days in Switzerland.

DAY 13: April 14 – Ode to Lake Geneve

Our whole day happened around Geneva Lake. Right after breakfast, we took a walk around the lake to see the iconic sites. Our hotel is smack in the middle of the city, so it was easy for us to get from point to point.

First we took a boat to cross the lake. Then, we took photos at the famous fountain, the flower clock, and the port.

We had our lunch at the shore. We shared pizza, water, and some fruits for dessert. It was a great day to be outside.

And we’re so grateful as we had our concert outdoor too. It was spectacular. The famous fountain was behind us, and before us, the people of Geneva. Such an unforgettable moment.


DAY 14: April 15 – Bozel

We had left Switzerland and moved to Bozel, France. We will be staying here for three days and two nights; in the homes of kind people who agreed to accommodate us.

We were divided into different groups to go with different families. They welcomed us warmly with some snacks and souvenirs.

Tonight, after two weeks, we had dinner with a small family circle that made us feel right at home.

DAY 15: April 16 – Concert Success in Bozel

It’s our second day in Bozel. Today, we had the traditional Savoie sausage and pasta. Then, we went to Courchevel to enjoy snow once again. This time, the mountain was higher, so was colder, but hotter at the same time.

After some fun time, it was time to sing again. We sang in the Church of the village that stands right in the center of the village. Many people came to see us perform. It was a full house, and we were glad to give them a full concert.

They even asked for an encore. Thank you everyone for coming.


DAY 16: April 17 – The Art of Lyon

We have said goodbye to Bozel to say hello to Lyon. It took us around three hours to arrive. And the first order of business after lunch was to visit Taverne Gutenberg, a popular art gallery, to enjoy various works like installations, paintings, and woven works.

Then, we were on our way to Salle Paul Garcin, which was where we had our concert.

Just like in Bozel, many people came to see our full concert. And we were glad to perform for them. It’s always exciting to showcase our talent and to meet people who appreciate them.

Thank you very much for always supporting our shows. We’ll never stop singing for you. 


DAY 17: April 18 – Off to the Countryside

Maximizing our short stay in Lyon, we all woke up early to meet at the famous Notre Dame de Fourviere. It’s such a lovely cathedral with magnificent gothic architecture.

Then we walked around the city to see the Place des Terreaux and to the venue of Kuya Leeroy’s exhibit of installations.

At lunch, we were able to eat Ate Pauline’s adobo and rice. Then, we relaxed a little before we left for Craponne.


DAY 18: April 19 – Craponne

Our whole day in Craponne started with a hearty breakfast, some play time and picnic at the yard of one host family. It felt so good to have been able to relax and just enjoy the scenery of the countryside.


And the people of Craponne were so accommodating. They made us feel like we’re really part of their family.


By evening time, we started our preparations for the 8 PM concert at the Mediatheque Odette Thomas.

Everyone was there, our host families and other members of the community. They congratulated us for our performance and we felt so proud of ourselves; because we know we gave our best for them.


DAY 19: April 20 – To Vendee with Love

Our day was mostly a bus ride to our next destination. From Craponne, we had to travel eight hours to Vendee. But before we left, we said goodbye to our host family with a thank you song.

Then, we got on the bus for our very first long ride in this tour. We played games, slept, sang songs.

We also had a picnic in one of the rest stops.

Long rides aren’t so bad if you have good weather and good friends.


DAY 20: April 21 – Small town in Vendee with Rich History

We arrived late in the town of Fontenay-le-Comte the night before. So, our host families gave us options on whether we wish to go around town in the morning or over sleep. Some of us have chosen to go around town, while others stayed in their pyjamas and played games at home.

After lunch, we met at the town museum to for our short town tour as a group.

We visited the museum and met the town Mayor, who gave us some presents. So, we sang thank you songs for him.  

Then, we went around town to know the history of the town, see Renaissance homes and just have a feel of the old world.

Our final tour spot was actually our concert venue, église St. Jean. Once we arrived, we rested, rehearsed and got on with what we came there for; to sing for the people.

It was amazing as the place was full of people and the acoustics of the venue were perfect. Thank you, Vendee, for having us.


DAY 21: April 22 – Moving on to Nantes

We left Vendee very early to get to Nantes. We were worried that the marathon happening today may lead to not being to get into the city in time for the mass we needed to sing in. It was less than two hours away, but we needed to make sure.

When we arrived at the Notre Dame de Bon-Port, the mass was just about to start. We only a few minutes to practice. But we still nailed our songs.



DAY 22: April 23 – The Mechanical Elephant

Our day started at 10 AM. We took a bus to the city’s opera house. They let us in to have a feel of the place. It’s unlike any other opera house as it maintained its teal motif even as all other opera houses in the world changed into red.


Then, we walked a bit more to La Cigale, a historical restaurant in the middle of the city.

We also visited the shopping area of the city and the Passage Pomeraye, which used to be a gallery in the 18th century.


Then we walked to the castle of Duchess Anne, the wife of King Francois II.

After lunch, we went on with the main mission for the day, Les Machines de L’ille. It’s like a world of giant mechanical animals. And we got to ride some of them.

We were not able to ride the mechanical elephant, but we got to try the famous heron and the branch. We also got to see the other inventions in this amusement park.

We are so lucky. Thank you to all the organizers and supporters in Nantes. :-) 


DAY 23: April 24 – School Visit and Concert

Meeting new people is always a good opportunity, and for this day, we met students of St. Louis College in St. Nazaire. They are around the same age as us, so we really enjoyed their company.

They gave us a tour of their school, shared lunch with us, and played games with us.

As their school is just across the beach, we also dropped by to relax a little more.

Afterwards, we proceeded to the small room to perform thank you songs for sharing their school and their day to us.

Finally, we went back to Nantes, to Eglise San Nicola for our full concert. This venue was gorgeous. The acoustics are spot on too. We really had a great time performing. We hope everyone did too.


DAY 24: April 25 – Bonjour, Paris!

Today’s plans before leaving Nantes were trampled by the weather. We woke up early to go to a tree-top adventure. Unfortunately, it was too rainy to do the activity. Our picnic plan was also cancelled; we ended up eating our picnic food while on the bus. Afterwards, we went straight to Paris. We just played on the bus and enjoyed the 5-hour ride.

When we arrived in Paris, we checked in, rested a little and went straight for dinner. What is always the best part of the day? Food. We ate at a Chinese restaurant near our hotel and eventually went back to rest.

Even with a not-so-perfect weather, we still find it a perfect day. After all, we are already in Paris. 


DAY 25: April 26 – #Eiffelforyou

It was a really exciting day, and we’re so amazed that everything fit in just one day. First, we celebrated our beloved teacher’s birthday. Teacher Marga usually celebrates her birthday on tour, and she cries from appreciation whenever we surprise her.

Our next stop after breakfast was, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Paris is such a sight to behold from way up the there.

We got to see the Champs Elysees, the Notre Dame, and the Louvre through huge binoculars. We’re so lucky have been able to have that view.

But what made us feel even luckier was our concert. We sang with the famous Hugues Aufray. What a privilege! Thank you so much, Paris. We really had an awesome time.

DAY 26: April 27 – The Palace of Versaille

Our second day in Paris was a total surprise. We thought we were leaving for the next town today. And we did, but only to go to the romantic town of Versaille.

Whoever knows Marie Antoinette from history books and the movies was surely entranced by how surreal this day was. We visited the palace of her husband, the last king of France, Louis the 14th.

Standing just outside the gates already enthralled us. So, when we got inside it our jaws just dropped.

Everything was grandiose: gilded doors, expensive tapestries, gold and velvet furniture. There was nothing simple in that palace. It was the epitome of royalty.

After a walk around a gorgeous royal home, how else can you end a day? By going back to simplicity and eating pizza of course! 

DAY 27 & 28: April 28 to 29 – Rainy Lille

We arrived in Lille around dinner time. It was rainy and cold, so we stayed in to rest. It was the same situation the next day. We were not able to go anywhere but our room. We just enjoyed ourselves with chit chats.

By the afternoon, we went to the performance venue for our concert. It was the beautiful Cathedral of _____. We were glad that many people still came to watch despite the moody weather.

Thank you so much, Lille, for having us. We hope to see you again in the next tour.


DAY 29: April 30 – Welkom to Belgium

So we arrived in Belgium and it’s 10 degrees cold. We wrapped ourselves in two jackets and and went on with our agenda.

First in line is lunch at Pacific Eiland, the most expensive restaurant in Ieper, Belgium. We were joined by some friends we have met in our previous tour. As it was a welcome event, we sang a few songs for them.

Then, we were allowed to play in the playground for a while before we went to our first performance.

Our first performance was at a home for the aged where Ate Vanessa works. It’s such a good feeling to have brought some joy to the older people in that home. We enjoyed our short performance.

For tomorrow, we’re hoping to have a good weather, so we can enjoy a tour in the area.


DAY 30: May 1 – Belgian Amusement Park

If you hope strong enough, you are bound to get what you one way or the other. For today, we wished fervently the night before for the sun to come out and let us enjoy a full day outside. We were not disappointed at all as the moment we woke up, we already could see that today was a good day for Bellewaerde, an amusement park here in Ieper.

And we did not fail. It was the best day we’ve had in Belgium so far and it’s only our second day. We can’t wait for what the two remaining days have in store for us.


DAY 31: May 2 – Concert in Belgium

So after a day of so much fun, it’s back to singing. Today was our concert day. We started with a very good Filipino breakfast of rice, eggs, and sausage. Then, we had to move to a new place nearby.

We rested after getting settled and at around 12:30, we left the dormitory for lunch.

We had the American favourite for lunch. We were so full with the awesome combo of burger and fries.

After lunch, we went back to the dorm to rest and at 4:00 PM, we were at the venue for rehearsals. We prepared a lot for tonight’s gala concert and we are so glad that everyone loved our performance.

Ate Joana even said that she received verbal applause until 2 AM on her phone. We are so glad that everyone loved our performance. Thank you so much, Belgium. See you next tour.


DAY 32: May 3 – Hello, Germany

We are now in Voerde Germany, and we are to stay here for 5 days and 4 nights. Our first day was really warm, both because of the weather and the reception of the host families. It was a five-hour ride, so we’re glad to see smiling faces ready to have us in their homes.

After having lunch, we went straight to our home families’ homes to rest. We only met again for dinner at 6:30.

They said we were going to a Chinese restaurant, so we couldn’t wait to feast, which was good, because we weren’t disappointed at all.

But first, we sang for the customers of the restaurant to give them a preview for tomorrow’s concert. Then, it was food time.

For the finale, the restaurant had a surprise for Gwen, who was celebrating her birthday today. They had a musical candle that blew her away.


DAY 33: May 4 – Concert in Rathaus

Today was our concert in Rathaus. Before we performed, we advertised our concert first. We went to the Friday marketplace to do a flash mob song to the market goers. It was something that we did for the first time in this tour, so it was very exciting for us.


By lunch time, we went back to our host families to eat and rest. We went to Rathaus at 3 PM to rehearse.

By lunch time, we went back to our host families to eat and rest. We went to Rathaus at 3 PM to rehearse.

At 6:30 we were on stage for our full concert. We’re so happy that some of the faces who received our flyers in the morning were there. We hope we didn’t disappoint them.

DAY 34: May 5 – Concert in St. Peter

As we finished quite late the night before, we were given the whole morning of today to relax. Some of us chose to go see the shopping district, while others went around some of the farms.

It was only at three in the afternoon that we gathered for rehearsals and preparation for our concert.

The venue for our concert is a small church here in Spellen, but its acoustics were very good that even us had the pleasure of listening to our own singing. We confident that we would deliver a good performance.

And we didn’t disappoint indeed. We gave our very best and we thoroughly enjoyed singing for our audience. We had a full house and we are very thankful to all them.

DAY 35: May 6 – Nature Trip

After two consecutive days of concert, it was high time that we explore the area and appreciate the beauty of nature around us. Thus, today we went to the zoo and the Tiger and Turtle Magic Mountain in Duisburg.

The zoo was amazing as there are a number of animals that we only see on the internet. Today, we were able to have a closer look at them. There was a red panda, a kangaroo, a wombat, a crane, and a Tasmanian devil.



We had a lunch picnic near the sea lions’ pool, so we were able to have easy access to the sea lion show.



After we watched the sea lions, we went to see the dolphins. They were amazing. Such smart water animals. We were awed at how good they were trained.



Our nature trip did not end there, though. We went straight to Magic mountain afterwards. We hiked for a few minutes to get to the installation that looked like a roller coaster. Then, we climbed the installation itself. It was a bit scary, but the view was worth it.



As we return to St. Peter hall, we were welcomed by our host families. Yes. It was time for farewell, for we are leaving for Nancy, France tomorrow.


We enjoyed dinner with them; then we sang them our thank you song. We hope to see you again next time our German families. Danke!

Virlanie Virlanie Foundation

Virlanie Foundation is a private, non-profit organization reaching out to street children in the Philippines. Virlanie cares for children in need of special protection – those who are abandoned, abused, exploited, neglected, orphaned, and among the poorest of the poor.

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