More than 7 million Filipinos continue to suffer from the after-effects of three major tropical storms which hit the Southeast Asian country and caused massive floods, landslides and extensive damage killing more than 700 human lives.
In Toronto, various groups came together and issued a call to help raise funds for the countless victims of the worst disaster in Philippine history. As organizations pitched in, professional singers and performers volunteered their talents and precious time and resources. This paved the way to a special concert coming from the generous support of a united community. This is the unfolding story of a community united in the spirit of giving from the very heart of a multicultural city.
“Unity Concert: Rebuilding People’s Lives 2009”, to be held on December 13, 2009 at the University of Toronto, MacMillan Theatre, Edward Johnson Building, 80 Queen’s Park in downtown Toronto, is such a story.
“ It is inspiring and heartening to know so many people and organizations from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are selflessly sharing their talents, resources, time and efforts to help the needy victims of catastrophic floods in the Philippines,” writes Hon. Florfina Marcelino, Manitoba’s Minister for Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Multiculturalism and Member of Legislative Assembly from Winnipeg. Hon. Mable Elmore, MLA of British Columbia, also wrote and endorsed this project saying, “Through your Unity Concert, you demonstrate that our warm bayanihan spirit lives in even the coldest of climates. Thank you for undertaking this effort and for inspiring other Filipinos and concerned Canadians to respond concretely to the urgent needs of our kababayans. I applaud the many organizations that have already signified their participation and I hope many more organizations and elected officials will continue to support this worthwhile project.”
The concert will showcase the musical talents of Filipino artists in the GTA. It is a three-hour musical extravaganza showcasing: Special guest, Ma-Anne Dionisio,Canada’s Miss Saigon lead star; professional and popular accomplished Filipino singers: Lilac Cana, Emilio Zarris, Karen Tan, Josie De Leon, Vonnie Beltran, Chyrell Samson, Jiva Andola, Belinda Corpuz, Levy Abad Jr. John Flores, Cast of Angels, Melodious Vibes, Panyolito, Philippine Heritage Band, Myk Miranda and Santa Gerilla, Out of Luck and Da Barkadas, AJ. Recana and MFFC Youth Performing Arts Group. Over-all directors will be Karen Tan and Randy Muerre with segments coordinators Tess Toralba and Paulina Corpuz.
Typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma) which hit the Philippines on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, respectively, devastated houses, schools, villages and parts of towns and cities in the Philippines and brought untold suffering to the Filipino people in those areas. The death toll from the two storms reached more than 700 and the number of affected people is now 7 million, many of them have lost their homes, belongings and livelihoods. Another typhoon recently hit the Philippines and has further worsened the already miserable existing condition of the victims, thousands of whom are still in the rehabilitation centers.
This unheard-of tragedy in the Philippines has also brought about sympathy and generosity of countless people from all over the world to help the typhoon victims, many of them governments, charities, private individuals and overseas Filipinos, including those in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario. Our kababayans, fellow Filipinos, Canadians and other communities have also donated goods and money for the victims.
The administrator of the funds of this project is the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC), a 25-year old non-government organization that pioneered and continues to promote community-based disaster management in the Philippines. CDRC operates nationwide through a network of regional centers and through people’s organizations. Organized in 1984, CDRC has touched the lives of more than three million of the most affected, least served and most vulnerable victims of disasters through preparedness and mitigation, emergency relief, and rehabilitation programs. It has worked with the United Nations and has received assistance from foreign governments and various international charity organizations. A full report will be made by CDRC (http://www.cdrc-phil.com/) on the relief program that will be assisted by the net proceeds of the concert.
The Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC), a non-profit organization advocating community-based disaster management, is pushing for a comprehensive disaster management in the Philippines. Besides providing relief goods, CDRC also conducts free play, feeding and arts workshop for children, and psychosocial therapy and acupuncture for the affected families as part of its comprehensive approach to disaster management.
“CDRC is not only giving-out relief, but also helping communities become more resilient in the face of disasters that are becoming more and more complicated by the day.” For 25 years, CDRC has been conducting trainings on disaster preparedness and putting up disaster preparedness committees (DPC) all over the country to minimize, if not to eradicate, the adverse impact of extreme events.Poverty alleviation projects, environmental preservation programs and disaster preparedness trainings are some of the programs that CDRC conducts to help recipient communities become more resilient in the face of disasters.
Unity Concert Organizing Committee consists of:
Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ)
Philippine Advocacy through Arts and Culture (PATAC)
Santaginians Association of Ontario Inc (SAOI)
Filipino Migrant Workers Movement (FMWM)
The Philippine Reporter
Kababayan Community Centre
Kapisanan Philippine Centre for the Arts
Philippine Heritage Band
Labour Education Centre (LEC)
Organizing Committee: Ben Corpuz of Community Alliance for Social Justice, Hermie Garcia and Mila Astorga-Garcia of The Philippine Reporter and Community Alliance for Social Justice, Flor Dandal of Kababayan Community Centre, Helen Reyes of Santaginians Association of Ontario Inc, Bert de Lara of Philippine Heritage Band, Jonathan Canchela of Filipino Migrant Workers’ Movement, Karen Tan of Markham Federation of Filipino Canadians, Mon and Teresa Torralba of Making Waves Festival, Edwin Mercurio of MercuryNewsOnline, Jojo Geronimo of Labour Education Council, Paulina Corpuz of Philippine Advocacy Through Arts and Culture, Markham Federation of Filipino Canadians Youth Performing Arts Group and the MFFC .