Successful fund drive

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Friday, December 13, 2013

IT was meant to be one among the many fund-raising events for the victims of Yolanda organized by Filipinos in Auckland, New Zealand. But when Ferdie Esclamado volunteered to direct it, he asked only for one thing, “Let’s make it big.” He explained that we needed to raise more donations considering the vastness of the damage wrought by the super typhoon.

In two weeks’ time, we got for free the venue –Victory Convention Centre – which, if rented, would cost between $8,000-$15,000; convinced some of the finest Filipino artists and their friends to perform “gratis et amore”; and even had New Zealand beauty titlists and models in a fashion show-for-a-cause all in one event.

GigAlive--Thank You New Zealand was a combined effort of various Filipino organizations not only to raise funds for the victims of the calamity but also to express the gratitude of the Filipino community on the generosity and empathy of the people of New Zealand.

As early as 9 in the morning of Nov. 30, volunteers set up the Giant Pinoy Garage Sale while food stalls offered Filipino dishes.

By 11 a.m., the performers trickled in to rehearse while the audience began to build up.

By 2 p.m., about 100 people formed the message “TY NZ (Thank You New Zealand) as photographers Ed Ong and Cyril Bas climbed on top of the convention center.

People then signed a giant thank you card at the entrance, as volunteers ushered them towards the spacious and modern performance hall.

By 3 p.m., the gig started with two invocation songs, “Heal Our Land” and “Magkaisa” followed by Gap5, a popular all-girl group in New Zealand. As envisioned by the production staff, the program was alternate singing and dancing, done at a pace that wasted no time.

By 4 p.m., I delivered a message on behalf of the organizers thanking New Zealand, its government, its people, its children and its media as well as all Filipinos who did their share in raising funds. I also sang “We Shall Rise Up” to bring the message of hope.

By 5 p.m., all the performers had given their tribute and a candle lighting ceremony followed with children bringing roses, as leaders carried a big candle. When this was lighted on stage, representatives from three religious groups delivered a most meaningful prayer.

When the audience thought it was over, 14 beauties marched on stage to show four collections from up-and-coming designers in New Zealand.

Less than an hour later, spectators exited the building all bearing smiles – entertained by the performers and happy that they were able to help.

One observer said that she was amazed how well the event turned out despite the limited time. I responded that it was because people believed in the project and committed to making it succeed. We raised more than P200,000 that day, and that should reach very soon our kababayans who need help until this time.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 14, 2013.


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