By Edward Lao, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
LONDON — Pinoy performers from across the United Kingdom combined forces in London recently for a fundraising event to help the children of Abra, Philippines.
Bands, solo singers, musicians and comedians entertained Filipinos who packed a bar in the area of Kings Cross, London, on June 22.
The One Love Abra charity concert was organised by the UK branch of organization the European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD).
The event was inspired by Jomel Anthony Gutierrez, a former ABS-CBN Europe correspondent, who now works as a Social Welfare and Development Officer for the DSWD in the Philippines.
Gutierrez accompanied DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman last April on a visit to the municipality of Tineg, which is among the top three poorest communities in the Philippines.
Home to some 4,500 people, Tineg became a municipality in 1958, but still has no electricity or access to proper sanitation and clean water.
While viewing school classrooms and daycare centers, Gutierrez was shocked by the poverty and dire conditions faced by children.
He reported rubble floors, ripped educational posters, no ceilings, no books or notebooks, no pens, no bags to carry their things in, and only one old blackboard.
“They just lacked so many basic things. So the question was can we do something about this and of course we said yes,” explained ENFiD European and UK Chair Gene Alcantara.
“Today, we have about 30 performers, 20 groups and individuals, and they’re all giving us their free music, free talents. They wanted to perform and show that they care about the Filipino children in the Philippines.
“For me it’s not just about the charity per se, but also the fact that they are UK based Filipinos thinking about the motherland back home,” Alcantara said.
British Pinoy electro-pop band Ooberfuse was one of the first acts to open the evening.
“Music is an amazing vehicle to amplify voices that can’t ordinarily be heard. We’ve been hearing about the situation over there and feeling the pain that people are going through,” said songwriter Hal St John.
“It’s a way of using music to show that we stand united with the people in Abra and we’re doing our little bit to help the situation as well,” commented lead-singer Cherrie Anderson.
“I just think it’s great. It’s largely a Filipino thing but I think it’s not only Filipinos around. You’ve got people from all walks of life chipping in. At the most part it’s a human thing,” added guitarist Nico Cox.
For the band Anino, performing at the event was a way of spreading awareness and giving something back to the community.
“There are problems in Philippines that seldom people here in London don’t really know and they should know,” Clark Racho said.
“Yung blessing natanggap natin, sa maliit na paraan sa pagbibigay ng talento natin sa pagtugtog, maka-earn kami konting fund para masuportahan ang mga nangangailangan,” Ordep Resplandor said.
“As a band it’s a win-win situation. We play our original songs and at the same time we help,” commented Darwin Ardales.
Stand-up comedian Jon Jie Mirabona, also known as Mudak, donned a giant afro wig for his act. He said: “It’s really nice because you give them [the kids] the opportunity to reach their goal in the future.”
Transgender solo singer Ruvic Rea traveled 210 miles from York to London just to support the fundraiser. Rea added: “I believe that sharing my talent, sharing my effort, is the only thing that we can contribute for this project. This is a very, very important event.”
Headlining the showpiece was 2013 Britain’s Got Talent finalist Arisxandra ‘Xaxa’ Libantino, who performed an English and Tagalog song.
“It’s really important for them to have the money. I just wanted to sing in front of people so I could raise money to go back to the Philippines,” the 11-year-old told ABS-CBN Europe.
“It really means so much to them and I really want to do something like this,” Xaxa said.
ENFiD-UK says it has raised £1,400 for the children of Tineg, which is approximately P92,000. Rather than sending the money directly, it will be used to purchase materials and equipment that will then be delivered by an ENFiD representative.
The One Love Abra concert was ENFiD-UK’s first project since the group’s inauguration last year.