Manila Cinderella Story Began At Age 10

There’s a real life Cinderella story going on in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and it’s all centered around a ballerina named Jessa Balote, who was chosen to be taken from her dreadful conditions at age 10 by a school to prepare a life to be on stage.

In 2008, she auditioned on stage and since then she has performed in various productions such as Pinocchio, Swan Lake, Don Quixote and a local version of Cinderella.

In August, the Manila Cinderella rode on a plane for the first time in order to compete in the 2012 Asian Grand Prix ballet competition, held in Hong Kong. She competed well and was a finalist.

“I used to tag along with my father and mother when they collected garbage in the evening,” Jessa stated.

Balote, 14, was given this amazing opportunity by Lisa Macuja, the Philippines’ most famous prima ballerina. Macuja has helped the slum kids of Manila by providing some of them with a scholarship and classical ballet training for up to seven years.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has stated, “Lisa is hailed as the ‘ballerina of the people.’ No Filipina ballerina has yet surpassed the recognition and pride Lisa Macuja-Elizalde has brought to the Philippines. She is the embodiment of talent, creativity and imagination, technical proficiency of the highest order, grace, and humanity that makes her worthy of the title of National Artist.”

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