Monday, January 02, 2006

Another day in heaven for you, me and the singing cherubim

By Rome Jorge

LET their voices lift you up. Let their violins serenade your soul.
Enjoy the world's finest young musical geniuses perform together
onstage for a rare moment. And help hundreds of street children
become skilled, employed and value-oriented adults by simply lending
an ear to their finest songs.

Music this good is another day for you and me in paradise.

The world-famous Loboc Children's Choir and the highly acclaimed
Pundaquit Virtuosi will perform in "Light a Million Mornings"
concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Tanghalang Nicanor
Abelardo on January 6 and 7 for the benefit of the Tuloy sa Don
Bosco Street Children Village.

The concert brings together the talents of former child prodigies
Alfonso "Coke" Bolipata, world-renowned violinist; and Julian
Quirit, conductor of the Australian Pops Orchestra. Quirit's 19-year-
old daughter Eliza Quirit also plays solo violin. Directing them
will be veteran stage and television director and actor Leo Rialp
with Danny Favis as musical arranger. But the true stars of the show
are the children.

The concert is about children helping fellow children. The event
brings together grassroots success stories from Bohol, Zambales and

>From the historic riverside town of Loboc in the island of Bohol,
where musical instruments are much a part of every household as any
plow or boat and where casual melodies often waft with the breeze,
two-dozen local children ages 8 through 14 have gone on to reap
awards and accolades from around the world as the famous Loboc
Children's Choir. They proved themselves to be the World's Best at
the Songs of Europe Festival held in Barcelona, Spain, in 2003. They
garnered the first prize for the National Music Competition for
Young Artists (Namcya) three times before being inducted into the
hall of fame. They tour Europe, America and China as the country's
young ambassadors.

Nestled in the mango orchard of a seaside hacienda in San Antonio,
Zambales, is a brick and glass art center-residency-performance
space of Casa San Miguel, dedicated to teaching the sons and
daughters of farmers and fisher folk the art of the violin. No less
than world-renowned violinist Alphonso Bolipata guides their young
hands. More than a steward of the land, Bolipata uplifts his
community by training a new generation to be world-class musicians.
His most gifted students comprise Pundaquit Virtuosi, which has won
in the Namcya and some have appeared as part of the Promil Gifted
Child campaign. Exemplary among his former students is Zamuel
Mariano who is soon to have his one-man show. Bolipata's protégés
won first, second and third places in a music competition in Subic.

South of the metro in Alabang is a refuge for street children noted
not only for providing them shelter and food but also for
effectively providing them with relevant skills and employment when
they reach the age of 18, as well as value formation to steer them
in the right direction in life. The Tuloy sa Don Bosco Street
Children Village provides 650 disadvantaged youths free shelter,
basic education, medical services, counseling and therapy and
vocational skills.

Fr. Rocky Evangelista SDB, steward of Tuloy for the past 12 years,
deserves much of the credit for galvanizing private individuals as
well as government institutions in providing crucial support for
these proven programs. The Department of Social Welfare and
Development donated property on which Tuloy's Village of 16
residential homes, schoolbuilding and offices, livelihood and skills
training workshops, a recreation and sports center, staff houses,
cafeteria, a chapel, a swimming pool and a football field now serve
the children.

Selflessly sustaining the Tuloy Village is a group of Rotary Club
businessmen known as "Fr. Rocky's Angels: " Polie de los Santos,
Edwin Afzelius, Christian Espiritu, John Kerr, Carlos Pedrosa, Ric
Pascua, David Coyiukiat, Jun Manas, Jun Umali, Johnny Chan and his
sons Ryan and Patrick.

But these "angels," as successful as they are, cannot do it alone.
Every little bit helps the Tuloy sa Don Bosco Street Children
Village. And that's where the musical cherubim from the Pundaquit
Virtuosi and Loboc Children's Choir step in and lend their voices
and strings for the former street children of Alabang. All we have
to do is sit, watch and listen. Another day in paradise indeed.

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