French circus aims to help change the lives and give hope to abused girls

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Circus artists perform at a benefit show celebrating 20 years of French NGO, CAMELEON, at MOA Arena in Pasay City, May 29, 2017. Photo courtesy of SM.

Nine French and Canadian circus artists kept the audience in awe with their heart-stopping acrobatics on Monday afternoon at SM Mall of Asia. But what made this amazing show even more impressive is the participation of nine Filipino girls from a home for abused children.

The circus show, called Metamorphosis, is organized by CAMELEON in partnership with SM Mall of Asia and with support from SM Cares, and the Zonta Club of Makati Ayala. It served as a benefit show to support the beneficiaries of the organization based in Iloilo City.

Under the French National School of Circus, the show was led by Luc Richard (stage director) and Patrick Mattioni (circus teacher) and had celebrity advocate KC Concepcion as host. Filipina singer and France Got Talent 2016 third placer Alienette Coldfire and renowned French actress Sabrina Ouazani also took part in the show.

Foreign circus artists and girls from French NGO CAMELEON perform at a benefit show celebrating 20 years of CAMELEON on Wednesday afternoon, May 29, at the MOA Arena in Pasay City. Photo courtesy of SM.

Applause and thrills kept flowing as the professional foreign artists kept the audience in awe in their cyr ring, aerial ring, aerial silk, Chinese pole, hand-to-hand, acrobatics, tight wire, and Hula hoop acts.

The CAMELEON girls, who have gone through months of training under the professional circus group, received overwhelming cheers when they presented their talents in contortion, diabolo (a juggling prop), and unicycle.

Circus as therapy
Event organizer CAMELEON, a French-Filipino NGO, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the country. The organization has been working for the protection and rehabilitation of young Filipino girls who have suffered abuse and for these girls to be able to realize their dreams to go to school and enjoy a brighter life ahead.

CAMELEON was founded in 1997 by Laurence Ligier, a French National, and is based in the province of Iloilo in Panay Island. Through Metamorphosis, the public also learned how circus can serve as a tool for therapy and professional integration.

CAMELEON founder Laurence Ligier and Shaline Gamala, one of CAMELEON Association’s success stories. Photo courtesy of SM.

Through the guidance of the French Zanzibar Circus since 2004, circus has been integrated into the rehabiliation program of the CAMELEON girls. This form of therapy was made possible through a partnership with the French National Circus School (ENACR) and worldwide circus companies from Peru, Canada, and Cambodia.

Besides the physical benefits of circus training, the girls also gained more confidence and a sense of achievement. According to organizers, it has also encouraged the girls to be more hopeful and emotionally stronger as they pursue their goals.

A circus artist performs at a benefit show celebrating 20 years of French NGO, CAMELEON at MOA Arena in Pasay City, May 29, 2017. Photo courtesy of SM.

CAMELEON believes that for the past 13 years since the introduction of the program,  circus has served as a “school of life” for the girls. “Circus promotes physical wellness; it increases body awareness, circulation, focus, balance, strength and flexibility. On emotional health, circus promotes turn taking, leadership, communication, empathy, self-expression and trust. Engagement to circus activities also provides distraction from one current state of stress or mental instability,” a handout on the event shares.

As a tool for professional integration, CAMELEON said that some 15 girls/beneficiaries  have already become circus trainers and now give circus training sessions every weekend in the center in Passi (Iloilo) for 60 girls. One of them even became its official circus teacher.

Four of the girls also had the opportunity to travel to Peru and France for a 1-year training.

To learn more about CAMELEON, visit CAMELEON Philppines’ Facebook page To learn more about SM Cares partnerships, visit the SM Cares Facebook page.