The Straits Times
Published on Dec 27, 2012

Photo gallery: From a Manila slum emerges an unlikely ballerina


The ghetto called Aroma reeks of putrefying trash collected by its residents for recycling. Half-naked children play on muddy dirt roads lined by crumbling shanties. From this Manila slum of garbage collectors emerged an unlikely Cinderella: ballerina Jessa Balote who at the age of 10 was plucked out of her grubby life by a ballet school to prepare her for a life on stage.

The 14-year-old Jessa’s unlikely success is as much a celebration of a unique effort by the Philippines’ most famous prima ballerina, Lisa Macuja, to help slum kids by providing them a scholarship and classical ballet training.