Earlier this year, 44 soldiers of the Special Action Force were killed by muslim rebels during a mission in Mamasapano, Mindanao. When Televangelist Brother Eliseo F. Soriano of the group Members Church of God International (MCGI) heard of this great casualty, he no sooner proposed that a Charity Concert be launched to commemorate the so-called Gallant 44, and provide help to the families they left behind.
With the efforts of Mr. Public Service Kuya Daniel Razon and UNTV: Your Public Service Channel, the ‘Songs for Heroes Concert’ was arranged and set on March 19, 2015 at the SM Mall Of Asia Arena. The concert venue was easily jam-packed, and it was a total success. At least 7 Million Pesos was raised for the families of the Gallant 44, members of the Special Action Force who were killed. It was amazing to see a lot of people come together to support the event, and a lot of famous people who helped sponsor the event. (See: Brother Eli Soriano’s Call on Twitter Produced Full House Songs For Heroes Concert)
Being able to partake in this moving event, I feel quite inspired and uplifted. I feel happy and just thankful to God for these families, despite the heartache they have recently suffered. And with regards to the concert, here are 3 wonderful facts that it has taught us:
1. Officers are tough-looking, protectors of society who can sing.
In this heartwarming event, we were able to witness performances not only from renowned musical artists, bands and YouTube sensations, but from AFP and PNP’s very own. A notable performance by 3rd Class Officer Lorly Diatras with his rendition of the song “Go the Distance,” sung with the AFP Combo, was well-loved by the audience. The Philippine National Police’s very own Major Allan Cabanlong also sung the tear-jerking interpretation of “In My Life” together with the PNP Combo.
And the AFP and PNP Chorale in their uniforms were admirable as they sung the Nationa Anthem, standing alongside artists Jayson Fernandez, Miro Valera, Jeck Manuel and Mcoy, when they later performed the Medley songs “Salamat” and “Iisang Bangka” which emphasized how life may not always be a smooth-sailing voyage, and that true friends are needed during times of the rough waves.
As Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, AFP Chief of Staff, later mentioned in his speech, “While you may see us as tough-looking individuals displaying no emotions, as what our duty requires, we also have lighter sides which we are so willing to display especially tonight. We in the Armed forces of the Philippines are very much privileged to join our celebrity entertainers, as well as our talented singers and musicians in performing for tonight’s benefit concert.”
2. You can bring the starry night sky to people who need them.
All the performances were very heart-warming and tear-jerking. Some songs were about patriotism; others poked through hearts and made to reminisce the happiest moments of the families of the SAF 44 before their tragic deaths.
Some in the audience were in tears as they listened to the duet performances of Faith Cuneta and Bo Cerrudo, performing the songs “Dakilang Lahi” and “Iisang Lahi.” The group 5th Gen performed “One Sweet Day” which, on a positive light, brought a message of hope that they would one day see their loved ones’ smiling faces again.
“These people are very simple people who died na wala silang naiwan sa pamilya nila kundi yung pagmamahal nila sa bayan… in this way malaking bagay itong magagawa dahil itong benefit concert na ito ay makakatulong lalo na sa family ng mga naulila ng ating mga heroes.” (“These people are very simple people who died leaving nothing to their families but love for their country… in this way, it is a great contribution because this benefit concert will help especially the families left behind by our heroes.”)
– Jeck Manuel, Artist/Performer
You wouldn’t exactly be able to choose which performance stood out because all were lovely and special in their own way, with each performer really pouring their sympathies for the families. But when Noel Cabangon took the stage to perform “Kanlungan” and asked the audience to ‘light up’ their cell phones, it sent a beautiful message that I wished could’ve wipe the tears of the grieving family members. Because when there’s rain pour, it’s quite hard to see the beautiful stars in the night sky.
These families were grieving, yes, but after the rain has passed and dark clouds lifted, it would be wonderful to see the countless stars that are perhaps willing to guide the way to a peaceful heart—reminding them that there are so many people who sympathize with them. And I learned that if you can’t be under the starry night sky because of the dark clouds, you can still light up the dark MOA Arena during a mesmerizing star-light performance.
This brings me to my third point.
3. There are people who genuinely care.
When some families were interviewed and asked about their thoughts regarding the benefit concert, one of them, Nicky Nacino, Sr., father of late SAF member, PO2 Nicky Nacino Jr., honestly replied that he at first doubted the gesture by UNTV saying, “Kasi marami ng gumamit ng [nangyari sa] SAF para lang mangalap [ng pera]. Iyon po yung una kong reaksyon, pero sa nakita ko po ngayon parang nagagandahan naman ako kasi pag pasok palang namin iba yung tumanggap. Habang hinahatid kami, iba ng iba. ‘Uy okay ata ito’ sabi ko” (“Because many are using the SAF [incident] to garner [money]. That was my first reaction, but with what I have seen now, I found it pleasing because even when we first came here, the welcoming was different. As we were escorted, it was improving. ‘Oh, I think this [event] is okay,’ I told myself.”)
We admire your sincerity and believe that you also found it in your heart the sincerity of this event that was meant especially for you.
Brother Eli Soriano, the proponent of this Benefit Concert, through live-streaming, spoke at the event, reminiscing how he thought of the idea in the first place. “Karangalan para sa kanilang pamilya na sila’y sumuong sa mapanganib na lugar para lamang ipatupad ang batas, to serve the warrant of arrest of some suspects of criminal acts; na aking naisip ang bagay na ito na ‘papaano kaya matutulungan?’ Kasi I want to sympathize with these people, yung kanilang mga naiwang pamilya… (It is an honor to their families that they infiltrate into a dangerous place for the sake of fulfilling the command, to serve the warrant of arrest of some suspects of criminal acts; then I thought this, ‘how could [we] possibly help them?’ Because I want to sympathize with these people, the families they have left behind…)”
Brother Eli Soriano also offered free scholarship at La Verdad Christian College Caloocan for the children of the Gallant 44, and thanked all those who supported and graced the event, acknowledging Atom Henares, president of the Progressive Broadcasting Corporation who so willingly donated an additional 500,000 php for the families.
PNP Officer-in-charge Police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, through Police Superintendent Nestor Quinsay said, “On the part of the PNP, we will always be here for the families and loved ones of our brave 44. While we move forward from sadness we felt in their tragic death, bilang kinatawan ng PNP, lubos po ang aming pasasalamat sa lahat ng nakiramay at patuloy na tumutulong sa pamilya ng ating magigiting na pulis.”
The outpouring love and support was plentiful. Being able to witness such an event take place for the benefit of these families, to help them in the process of grieving, letting them know that a lot of people cared enough about them and that they are not alone in seeking justice for their loved ones’ deaths, it was just such a worthwhile experience.
Thanks be to God. May God bless us all.
“Nakita ko na marami pala kaming kasama na lalaban para sa hustisya.” (“I see [now] that many are actually with us to fight for justice.”
– Erica Pabalinas, widow of Sr. Insp. Ryan Pabalinas
Kuya Daniel Razon, in agreement with Brother Eli Soriano, plans to make a second Benefit Concert dedicated to the other 77 injured SAF 44. Everybody is waiting for it to come to fruition.