Kennedy Center benefit for PH a huge success
• Star-studded entertainment for post-Haiyan rebuilding
• “Filipinos’ resilience” praised by diplomats, US officials, celebrities
WASHINGTON, DC—A hugely successful “After The Storm,” the star-studded benefit concert for the Philippines held here on Sunday, June 15 drew a diverse crowd and called attention to the post-Typhoon Haiyan recovery and rehabilitation efforts.
Young and old, Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike, members of the US Congress, American government officials, diplomats and many others filled the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to watch an all-star lineup led by Filipina Broadway artist Lea Salonga and Hollywood star Lou Diamond Philips.
The Philippine Embassy described the concert as a tribute to those who lost their lives in Typhoon Haiyan and to those who helped in rescue, recovery and rehabilitation efforts. It also honored Filipinos and their resiliency as the country rebuilds after Typhoon Haiyan.
Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., who initiated the concert with his wife, Maria Victoria, after Typhoon Haiyan struck in November, thanked those who lent a helping hand to the Philippines during the difficult times following the typhoon.
“I am truly heartened by the compassion and kindness shown by the American people and other friends throughout the world, who rallied to come to the aid of those in need. I hope this spirit of solidarity will persist long after we overcome this adversity. I look forward to continue working with you all and contribute to rebuilding the lives of our brothers and sisters in Central Philippines,” Cuisia said.
President Benigno S. Aquino III, in a video message, also thanked the US government and the American people for their assistance to typhoon victims in the Philippines. He also congratulated the US-Philippines Society and the Philippine Humanitarian Coalition for organizing the concert.
Vice President Joseph Biden, in a message read for him by his daughter in law Kathleen, reiterated the commitment made by President Obama when he visited the Philippines in April. He said the US will continue to stand by the Philippines not only during troubled times but also as the country gets back on its feet and rebuilds after Typhoon Haiyan.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his video message said: “I visited the Philippines after the typhoon. But there was a little something that kept the people going.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario also sent his greetings to the artists and concert attendees.
Ambassador John Negroponte, co-chair of the US-Philippines Society, said he was delighted to see how effectively Americans and Filipinos joined in making the benefit concert such a success.
“Performers and presenters, sponsors and patrons all pulled together to send a ‘message of hope,’ assuring people in the central Philippines that they can succeed and are not alone in rebuilding their lives after Typhoon Haiyan,” Negroponte said.
Ambassador John Maisto, president of the US-Philippines Society said the concert featured an exceptionally broad repertoire that included Broadway tunes, hip-hop, ballet, opera, contemporary and classical music in a spectacular display of entertainment by world-renowned artists from the Philippines and the United States. Everyone left wanting more.
“Despite the seriousness of the occasion, let’s all have a good time,” said Salonga, a Tony Awardee, before she sang a medley of “I Dreamed a Dream” and “On My Own” from the musical Les Miserables and a duet of “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin with Filipino-American singer and songwriter Darren Criss, who is best know for his role in “Glee,” the television musical.
Members of the audience danced to “We Can Be Anything” sung by Arnel Pineda Lindo, more popularly known as Apl.De.Ap of the Grammy Award-winning group Black Eyed Peas, as well as his rendition of “Where Is the Love” with Criss.
Other artists who performed were Charice Pempengco, violinist Philippe Quint, ballerina Christine Rocas and tenor Rodel Rocel. Filipina fashion designer Josie Natori was among the presenters.
Other artists who shared their music that evening were soprano Melissa Mino, Kennedy Center’s principal cellist Amy Frost Baumgarten, concert pianist Lisa Emenheiser, the Broadway Community Chorus, the National Broadway Chorus, and the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra conducted by Luke Frazier under the direction of Christopher Zimmerman.
Those who sent their messages included Gloria and Emilio Estefan, James Caan and Suze Orman. Vice President Biden’s second son, Hunter, a representative of the World Food Program, also went on stage to tell the audience how impressed he was with the resilience of the Filipino people. He said he was particularly amazed at seeing typhoon victims, among them children, welcome him with smiles along the roads of typhoon-devastated Tacloban.
“After the Storm: A Benefit Concert for the Philippines,” was produced by Emmy Award nominee Robert Pullen and directed by Baayork Lee, was also made possible through the help of generous sponsors from both the US and the Philippines.
Sponsors included the Philippine Nurses Association of America, Primescape Solutions, SM Investments Corporation, and the Manuel Pangilinan Group of Companies, which includes Meralco, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and Smart Communications, Ayala Corporation, Banco de Oro Foundation, Fluor Corporation, Gawad Kalinga USA, International Container Terminal Services, Jollibee Foods Corporation, Philam Foundation, Philip Morris International and Procter & Gamble.
June 12 at Embassy
Meanwhile, on June 12, the Philippine Embassy paid tribute to the United States and the American people for extending a helping hand in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
“As our government and people buckle down to this task, we are uplifted by the support and generosity of our friends: from the US government, which has committed more than US$ 86 million for Haiyan related efforts, to US businesses and NGOs, who have pledged approximately US$ 60 million,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr., said.
“We are particularly touched by the many American men, women and even children, as well as our kababayans in the US, who have reached out to us to donate their resources, time and energies,” Cuisia added.
Two people who donated their resources and energy towards recovery in typhoon-affected areas were honored that evening–the armless pilot Jessica Cox and performer Allan Pineda Lindo, more popularly known as apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas.
The Embassy presented Cox with a plaque of achievement for her excellence as a motivational speaker and advocate for the disabled. Cox’s family is from Guiuan where Typhoon Haiyan first made landfall. She has partnered with Handicap International to provide support for those who were disabled as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.
Apl.de.ap received a plaque for his achievements and valuable service to the Philippines and the United States, and for making significant contributions in building the image of Filipinos and the Philippines in the US. Apl.de.ap has done philanthropic work in the Eastern Visayas after Typhoon Haiyan and is set to conduct a music and arts camp for children affected by the typhoon in the near future.
Among the dignitaries who attended were US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel , Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, Co-Chair of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus at the House of Representatives; and Ambassador John Negroponte, Co-Chairman of the US-Philippine Society. Also present were members of the diplomatic corps, US officials, businessmen, and the Filipino Community.
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