Beauty, Brain, and Heart.

ORMOC CITY – Ms. Netherlands 2006 and Mrs. Globe 2013 Sheryl Lynn Callister showed people of Ormoc City that beauty queens don’t only have a beautiful face, they could also have a beautiful heart.

Sheryl Lynn Callister’s mother is a Leyteño while her father is Dutch. As a DJ, producer, model, and host, she has been based in Netherlands since she won the titles. But together with her family and friends, she spends part of her time doing charitable works for the children in Leyte, recently, in Ormoc City.

The beauty queen is the founder and president of Sheryl Lynn Foundation (SLF) which started during her reign as Miss Netherlands 2006. She recently brought in two valuable friends to help her with the foundation’s projects. Architect Jakob Gate from Sweden and Project Manager Cecilie Wang from Denmark came in to the Philippines on the first week of January and will extend tenure towards the end of their maiden major project — the child-friendly center in barangay Cagbuhangin where 55 families were displaced after typhoon Yolanda.

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(L-R) The author and RDII Staff Jhay Gaspar, Architect Jakob Gate, RDII Executive Director Josefa Pizon, and Project Manager Cecilie Wang. Prior to meeting City Mayor Gomez, the team visited the UNDP relocation center in brgy. Cagbuhangin and checked the site  where the Child-friendly center will be constructed.

In a round-table discussion with Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez on January 13, Callister, together with her colleagues, presented her previous and ongoing projects for the city as well as her desire to further engage for the children of Ormoc. The city mayor, on his part, expressed gratitude towards her and the team.

Mayor Gomez excitedly proposed project partnership with them especially when it comes to designing public infrastructures. The projects he wants to tie up with Architect Gate and the team include an open space, children park, and the conversion of old city hall into a museum. This earned positive response from the visiting architect who has done a wide array of sophisticated architectural designs. Arch. Gate said he’ll be glad and excited to design for such important structures.

The Mayor also vowed to extend all possible assistance the local government could offer as they carry out the projects. Timely that the team is set to visit barangay Mahayag and Cagbuhangin that afternoon, they were provided with transportation and even security convoy.

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Sheryl Lynn Callister, Mayor Richard Gomez, Jakob Gate, Cecilie Wang, City Councilor Vincent Rama, together with  the Varsity Players of New Ormoc City National High School who happened to visit the Mayor after the round-table discussion.

The mayor, who is also an artist himself, asked DJ Callister to grace significant occasions of the city as guest. “Ormocanons will be happy and honored to have you around,” he said. Other officials present during that meeting were City Councilors Hon. Nolito Quilang and Hon. Vince Rama. Executive Director Josefa Roces-Pizon of Rural Development Initiatives in the Islands of Leyte (RDII-Leyte, Inc.), along with her staffs, was also around.

Pizon is also a native from Matalom, Leyte, which is how Sheryl Lynn Foundation partnered with RDII in the implementation of the projects here, considering that both parties have common advocacy for the children.

In the afternoon that day, the team went to Brgy. Mahayag to turn-over sports facilities: 2 basketballs, 2 volleyballs, 2 volleyball nets, 3 badminton sets, 10 soccer balls, and its air pumps. Rice and canned goods were also distributed courtesy of the Mayor’s Office. Afterwards, a Rapid Participatory Risk Mapping was conducted in the elementary school. It will serve as the basis for the school children presentation and validation for risk reduction plan continuation of the risk mapping.

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The members of the Leading Active Youth Advocates in a “joyride” bound to the groundbreaking site. LAYA is a Civil Society Organization composed of young leaders  from different organizations.

The following day, or January 14, they had a ground-breaking ceremony in barangay Cagbuhangin for the proposed child-friendly center together with RDII-Leyte, Inc. and Leading Active Youth Advocates (LAYA), a network organization of RDII composed of youth leaders of Ormoc City. Afterwards, Callister spoke to around 30 children before they were served with nutritious food.

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Groundbreaking the site for the Child-friendly center: This blog’s author and RDII Staff Jhay Gaspar, Cagbuhangin barangay chairman Edward Nazario, Architect Jakob Gate,  Project Manager Cecilie Wang, and Ms. Netherlands 2006 Sheryl Lynn Callister, together with the children and some residents of brgy. Cagbuhangin.

Callister was very aware of the difference between her life in Netherlands and those of her family and friends in the Philippines. When she read an open call advertisement for the Miss Netherlands Pageant, stating that the crown and sash can be used to help others, she decided to join.

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Children enjoying their food after the groundbreaking ceremony.

“After dedicating my reign to several charitable causes, I learned more about starting up my own foundation and realized that with my network, it’s time to start my own and use my title as a platform for my future projects in the Philippines”, Callister said in an interview.

The beneficiaries are mostly school children as the foundation is focused on children and education. Callister believes that while children are vulnerable group of within the society, they are also a good starting point for lasting change. Asked about what inspires her to do all these, she said that “children are source of joy to me. How can you not get a sense of fulfillment helping them or even just spending time with them?” Aside from the children in Leyte, the foundation has also reached out in Mindoro and Mangyan Tribe.

To recall, Sheryl Lynn Foundation managed to raise 30.000 euros in a benefit event and helped over 2,000 affected families and continued long-term rehabilitation work in Brgy. Mahayag, Ormoc City. They also set out to Tacloban, but since they believe Ormoc got less media attention, they decided to return to Ormoc and continued long-term commitment here.

She pooled the said amount from her Dutch TV shows guesting where she raised awareness to the Dutch public on why Filipinos badly needed help. Since then, the foundation started receiving donations and support even from people she has never met but wanted to help.

“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mayor Richard Gomez and his council and I was impressed by their burning desire to bring positive change in Ormoc through the projects they are working on and plan to work on in the future,” shared Callister. During her stay here, she attended a women’s gathering regarding safety after domestic violence. “I saw how passionate City Councilor Nolito Quilang was to hear these women and further assist them,” she said.

Together with Gate and Wang, Callister was toured around the City Hall to get acquainted with offices they will most likely visit in the upcoming months. “All the government officials and staff we met were all accommodating and welcoming,” she remarked. “All in all, we are very pleased to have a good relationship with the local government and I have high hopes for Ormoc under Mayor Gomez’s guidance,” she added.

Callister don’t see helping others as a requirement for beauty queens but rather an opportunity because “you are in the wonderful position to do so.” “As a beauty queen, you are a role model. People will follow and look up to you. This come with certain responsibility of influencing for good,” she said.

Sheryl Lynn Callister is an Honours Graduate of Leidin University in the Netherlands in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology. She also attended UCLA in the states as perk from winning the 2014 National ECHO award given to successful students who make a change in the society. Alongside her studies, she has worked in the entertainment industry as model and host, and eventually, a DJ, which continued until today. “With the platform I have in the beauty pageants and entertainment, I have the opportunity to both help people and motivate them to do good,” she concluded.

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The founder of Sheryl Lynn Fundation, a beauty queen, model, host, and a DJ, Sheryl Lynn Callister, and the author Jhay Gaspar.
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