On the rainy evening of August 6th, 2016, Edward Barber, a normal 16-year old Filipino-English schoolboy, born and raised in Germany, entered the Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) House in Manila. The first person he met there was Maymay Entrata, then 19 years old from Camiguin, Philippines. The story of how their unlikely friendship developed while inside PBB House and has continued since their return to the “real world” in March 2017, of how together they became the phenomenal love-team known as “MayWard” and of how they recently starred in their first movie, Loving in Tandem, is well-documented (to learn more about MayWard, please visit www.maywardonline.com).
During his time in PBB, Edward talked a lot about his sister, Laura, also 19, who was then studying chemistry in the United Kingdom and on October 26, 2016, the three of them met for the first time when Laura entered the PBB House to join him for the Big Jump Challenge. Even though Maymay and Laura had never met, their connection was obvious from their first meeting.
When he originally agreed to join PBB, Edward could never have imagined that things would turn out this way and, after the show, he was fully expecting to return to Germany to complete his last two years of high school. When PBB finally ended in March 2017, the magnitude of the popularity they had attained during their time in the House soon became clear to him. He had already been planning to set up a foundation in the Philippines as a lasting tribute to his time in the country, even if he was not expecting to stay, but when McDonalds, one of the biggest fast food chains in the world, chose him and Maymay as their endorsers (McDo Cool Summer Ad) he decided this was the perfect way to invest his first professional pay-check. He knows how blessed he is to be in this position and he is aware that all of this was possible only because of the opportunities and support given by people who believed in him. In return he wants to show his gratitude by making sure that other children who are not so fortunate as he is, should also have the opportunity to achieve things they did not dare to dream of.
While the original idea did not actually come from Edward himself, but from his father Kevin, he immediately fell in love with it and there was no question who he wanted to be involved in the foundation with him – the two people he is closest to, Maymay and Laura, who share his desire to help others less fortunate than themselves.
Where did the name "ELM Tree Foundation" come from? The word ELM is actually a combination of the initials of Edward, Laura, Maymay and an elm is also a kind of tree, which has big branches to protect and deep roots to support. The strong emotional bond between the three of them is clear for everyone to see.