Renowned for it’s beaches, Boracay’s allure lies in the beauty of its people. Like a kaleidoscope of colorful characters, the community’s unique and eclectic people are a potent blend that embodies the essence of a truly unique place.
By: Amanda Virrey – Boracay Sun
Claus Bauer is known in Boracay’s dynamic society as a grassroots philanthropist and as the ‘big man on campus’ as the founder and president of Paradise English School. This gentle giant gives the word ‘cool’ a whole new meaning: someone who reaps the fruits of life through genuine acts of generosity towards the needy. He has elevated the quality of life of countless people living in impoverished communities in different countries through his developmental programs, including providing shelter, nourishment, reading classes, English classes, and many more means of acquiring life’s basic necessities to make their world a better place to live in.
Claus inherited his nobility from his mother, who was a young widow in her 40s, dedicated her time in helping the poor. He remembers his mother, a petite lady and devout Christian going downtown to the East Side of Vancouver to feed drug addicts and homeless people. He fondly describes his mother, as “someone who preached what she thought was right and doing it. That’s how I’ve always tried to live my life.”
Following his mother’s footsteps, he sets his sights to sustainable humanitarian projects, starting with courses on Entrepreneurial Business, Progressive Developmental Education and International Development in Vancouver.
At the age of 22, he was in Mexico helping to build shelters for the homeless. He later went to Baja region to help in orphanages and community centers there. He also worked with Canadian Crossroads under the Canadian International Development Agency in Southern Africa to develop programs on Developmental Education for children and the youth.
There he met the love of his life, Stephanie, who in 1994 represented her home country, Swaziland in the Miss World Pageant. Aside from her sheer beauty, Claus was drawn by her intellect and her willingness to serve others. Together, they returned to Mexico several times to continue their developmental projects.
In 2002, while they were living in Korea, teaching English and raising their first child, Jordan, they met some Canadian friends who mentioned a white sandy tropical island in the Philippines, called Boracay. “When we came here for the first time in 2002, we thought ‘what an awesome place this would be to live in,” he recalls.
They eventually moved to Boracay in 2005 and set up Paradise English School in Bantud. “We always thought that we were going to stay here for two to three years until the children got older”, he says. Yet despite the massive damage to their school caused by the destructive typhoon Seniang in 2006, they were able to keep their spirits up and rebuild the school. When Brent International School closed, they joined other parents and opened Boracay European International School in 2008, which now shares a campus with Paradise English.
They then helped start the Boracay Education and Development Fund, a non-profit research organization dedicated to improving the quality of education and standard of living in the community. Under the Boracay Fund, as this NGO is also known, they have helped award a scholarship program to a young 3rd Grade BEIS student, have taught many students how to read, adopted two barangays in Antique, and restored the lives of many families that were devastatingly hit by typhoon Yolanda late last year. Now they are adding two new classrooms at the Yapak Elementary School as a venue for them to teach children how to read.
This upcoming school year, the Boracay Fund’s goal is to teach 100 children to read, in these two new classrooms. Claus believes that, “the most life-changing thing for someone is to learn how to read. It’s a basic necessity that can lead to many opportunities. And when you help others, you get more in return. That’s what I instill in my children and that’s what I want them to instill in others.”
In between his humanitarian projects and responsibilities at home and at Paradise English, he takes the time to travel around the country with Stephanie and their three children Jordan, Eve and Shoalan in order to explore the country that has been ‘home’ for nine years. Twice a year he goes on dirt bike trips with a bunch of guys also living in Boracay. “You have to enjoy whatever you do and make time for the things you are passionate about”, he also adds, “Life in Boracay has been fantastic, we have met the most amazing people and are lucky to call many of them friends.”
Claus Bauer Obviously sees the good in any given situation. He is the guy who goes out there and just does it. He also owes his success to his sense of dedication, belief in his capacities and in the enjoyment he finds in everything that he does. “Sometimes it boils down to luck, and I truly believe that I am lucky.”