Philippine Scholarships Sponsors Association (PeSSA) is a non-profit organization which aims to provide need-based scholarships to academically qualified Filipino students pursuing university education.

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2019 – Have you eaten yet?

Join us in an evening of good food and live acoustic music set in a cosy café. Tickle your taste buds with dishes from the Philippines and Mexico served on a buffet. For the rest of the evening, relax and enjoy a concert from our lovely guest singer. Vegan food will be available and whenever possible, organic ingredients will be used.

Begleiten Sie uns auf einem Abend von lockerem Essen und akustischer Live-Musik in einem gemütlichen Café. Kitzeln Sie Ihre Geschmacksknospen mit Gerichten aus den Philippinen und Mexiko, die als Buffet serviert werden. Für den Rest des Abends können Sie begleitet von Musik unserer liebenswürdigen Gastsängerin Ihren Relax genießen. Vegan-geeignetes Essen wird verfügbar und beim Kochen werden Zutaten aus biologischen Anbau bevorzugt.

  • Date and time / Datum und Uhrzeit: December 5, 18:00
  • Venue / Veranstaltungsort: Café Prisma, Rauracherstrasse 3, 4125 Riehen
  • Entrance fee / Eintrittspreis: 40 CHF (drinks at additional cost)

Doors open at 18.00, buffet will be served at 19:00, and concert starts at 20:00.

Die Türen öffnen um 18.00 Uhr, das Buffet wird um 19.00 Uhr serviert und das Konzert beginnt um 20.00 Uhr.

how to register / WIE MAN SICH REGISTRIERT

Seats are limited so register now via Meetup, by sending a mail to or by reserving a spot via our Facebook page. Walk-ins are welcome but your registration would help us ensure there is enough food for everyone and that none will be wasted.

Die Plätze sind begrenzt, also melden Sie sich jetzt über Meetup an, indem Sie eine Mail an oder RSVP über unsere Facebook-Seite senden. Walk-Ins sind willkommen, aber Ihre Anmeldung würde uns helfen, sicherzustellen, dass es genügend Essen für alle gibt und dass nichts verschwendet wird.

Payments can be made at the event through cash or card or in advance to our bank account below. Please put your name in the Payment Reference field.

Zahlungen und Spenden können im Voraus auf unser untenstehendes Bankkonto erfolgen. Bitte geben Sie Ihren Zahlungen können vor Ort in bar oder per Karte oder im Voraus auf unser untenstehendes Bankkonto erfolgen. Bitte geben Sie Ihren Namen in das Feld Zahlungsreferenz ein.

IBAN : CH60 0900 0000 1520 0757 2
Account Description: Philippine Scholarship Sponsors Association Basel
Bank: PostFinance
Account No: 15-200757-2

about the singer / ÜBER DEN SÄNGER

Kyra Cabrera was born in Italy to Filipino parents. She moved to Milan in 2013 where she studies linguistics and occasionally performs in events around the city. Kyra sings an array of musical genre but her favorite is acoustic. She speaks Tagalog, English, Italian and currently learns French and Spanish.

Kyra Cabrera wurde in Italien als Kind philippinischer Eltern geboren. Sie zog 2013 nach Mailand, wo sie Linguistik studiert und gelegentlich an Veranstaltungen in der Stadt teilnimmt. Kyra singt eine Reihe von Musikrichtungen, aber ihr Favorit ist die Akustik. Sie spricht Tagalog, Englisch, Italienisch und lernt derzeit Französisch und Spanisch.


Bespoke Biscuit Co

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PeSSA finds its first grantees

Meet Kayla Solis and Ricci Mae Margallo – the first students selected to receive scholarship grants from PeSSA. Kayla and Ricci Mae are freshman BS Mathematics students at the University of the Philippines Diliman (AY 2019-2020). They each will receive PhP 35000 per semester to spend on food, accommodation, transportation, and other university needs until … Continue reading PeSSA finds its first grantees

2018 Calendars for a Cause Raises CHF 7950

With the help of 35 donors, we are proud to have raised CHF 7950 (PhP 420 000) during our first fundraising activity. That’s enough to support 6 years of university education in the Philippines. We are currently working with UP Diliman OSSS to legalize our donation and choose the two deserving students who will be PeSSA’s first scholars. Our … Continue reading 2018 Calendars for a Cause Raises CHF 7950

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Who we are

Vanessa Rose Castro, Founder
LinkedIn   Website   Instagram

Vanessa Rose Castro, or Vanie to family and friends is a software craftswoman living in Basel, Switzerland. Although programming is part of her daily job, she would do it any day for fun. Hiking is a hobby she recently acquired. She can spend hours on end taking pictures of nature and architecture or simply looking at them. Her favorite places to hang out in a city are libraries. 

“The truth is, with hard work and dedication, dreams do come true.”

Zuzana Filková,  Treasurer

Zuzana Filková works as an economist and statistician. She loves music in any form, be it recorded, her own amateur performance or the sound of the city and the nature.

“Vanessa introduced me to PeSSA scholarships at work and immediately got my support: students should get a chance to change their lives, so more people around the globe can have their Vanies working with them!”

Miriam Ling, Secretary

Miriam Ling, a nature lover, never gets bored of wonderful landscapes and what mother earth has created. She likes hiking and cycling in summer, and enjoys places where there are snow in winter. She embraces new experiences and exploring the world is her passion. Her father once told her, “Always be helpful to others”, and that is why she is part of PeSSA.

“Be kind. When there is kindness, there is goodness.”

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Why we are here

slums to scholarships 

I grew up in the slums of Cavite and Manila in the Philippines. My parents worked odd jobs to provide for their five children. When I was 8, they were both “magbobote”: pedalling from house to house on bicycles with sidecars attached, collecting metals and recyclables to sell on to junk shops. At one point, my mother washed other people’s clothes, while my father worked in construction. My paternal grandmother, a public school teacher for 40 years, would fill the financial gap whenever she could.

When I was 11, my mother left to work as a domestic helper in Singapore. She worked there for the next decade, coming back only for a few weeks per year in between contracts. At that time, my father worked putting up electricity poles in the nearby provinces. He would leave us kids to take care of ourselves during the week. My youngest sister was 4 years old. We cooked on a fire that my brother was tasked with starting. We washed our clothes by hand and ironed them for school. School was only half a day, so my siblings and I alternately took care of the youngest so the rest could go to school. We had no hobbies. There was no concept of holidays.

I realized at an early age that we were poor. And as the eldest, I realized that I would be the first to have an opportunity to change our situation. My parents, although without college degrees themselves, instilled in us the value of education. From primary to high school, I tried my best to finish every school year with honours – ranking between first to fifth in the class.

Graduating with relatively good grades paid off. In 2004, I was accepted into the national university, the University of the Philippines, in the flagship campus at Diliman, Quezon City. I studied Computer Science. It seemed like a timely course. Information technology was booming even in developing countries, so I was sure to get a job after graduation.

My parents couldn’t pay my university fees. But a friend’s mother helped me apply for a scholarship funded by the Department of Science and Technology’s Science Education Institute. I took the five hour exam and passed. The monthly scholarship stipend, combined with my mother’s remittances from Singapore and part-time jobs helped me survive my four years in UP Diliman.

In the financial world, 2008 is associated with the global recession. For my family, it was the start of a great new chapter. I received my bachelor’s degree in March and by 1st of April, I was part of the workforce as an associate software engineer. I was 21. For the first time in our lives, my family had a decent stable income. An amount my parents combined could not have earned before. We moved from a one-window ~15 sq metre home beside a basketball court to our first apartment. It was small, less than 30 sq metres, but it had 2 bedrooms and a terrace, and most importantly – running water from a tap. The first appliance I bought after getting a job was a refrigerator.

Life started to get better. We were making ends meet and were no longer just ‘surviving’. But for me it was just the beginning. The next goal was to make sure my siblings also got bachelor’s degrees. The most we could afford for my younger brother was a vocational school where he studied electrical technology. It was clear, however, that even with this certificate he wouldn’t find a professional job. My younger sisters were about to finish high school, but my Philippine salary was not enough to send them all to university.

Three years after graduation, I took a job with a French bank in Singapore. I was not happy to leave the country and my family, but this was the only way to send my younger siblings to college. In March 2011, I boarded my first plane and moved to a new country. By May of the same year, my brother and a sister enrolled in the school where they would eventually get their degrees. A few years later, my family moved to the first house under our name – my name – with three bedrooms and a separate kitchen and living room. Hopefully, my youngest sister will graduate college in April 2019.

I worked at two investment banks and an oil company in Singapore as a Business Intelligence developer. In 2015, I was invited to apply for a job in Switzerland at an international institution. I went through a series of interviews, and was soon planning to move again. This time, to a new continent, with four seasons, a completely different culture and an array of other differences from the world I knew before.

Founding PeSSA is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but didn’t know how. As a product of the the Philippines’ public school system, I saw with my own eyes how much was missing. One sunny day in Basel I had an idea about how I could finally make it happen, even as an individual far away from home. I would raise money to help educate more Filipino youth by setting up a foundation and selling posters and calendars using my own photographs. My desire to take pictures started at my first job in a Japanese camera manufacturer and had been useful during my travels. I picked my favourite shots to share with you all. 

I have been fortunate to see a bit of the world. My favourite places, however, are still the beautiful islands of the Philippines. The white sand beaches, crystal clear water and perfectly blue sky simply make coming back home something to look forward to. A better quality of life – among other things my family can now enjoy – are the result of one person receiving a university education. My degree changed my life and my family’s. Hopefully  it can also change the next generation’s.

Vanessa Rose Castro
Founder, PeSSA