ARANETA COLISEUM, Cubao, QC. (August 29, 2005 / 7PM) The lights turned dim, signaling that the show was about to start. Then the standard voice-over announcement cautioned the audience, majority of which were church of God members, "Bawal pong manigarilyo sa loob ng Araneta Coliseum… alinsunod sa anti-smoking law. Hindi naman po sa kayo'y pinipigilan ngunit mas maganda po na sundin natin ang batas ." Ha! Ha! Ha! Nearly, everybody in the fully-packed Araneta Coliseum (aside from the vo announcer or player it would seem) noticed the unintended irony there and that, awkwardly, set the hilarious mood for the night.

This is the first concert of bro.Eli Soriano that I actually see since I joined the church last year. Naturally, I was looking forward to enjoying the evening but I was not prepared to have a really great time instead.

"Kalinga ng Isang Dukha" it was entitled; an unusual title for an unusual concert. It was in fact a benefit show in support of the feeding program of the Bro. Eli & Bro. Daniel Foundation now being done for the benefit of the malnourished school kids in Payatas, Quezon City and soon also in Baseco Compound in Port Area, Manila.

Pop quiz! How much would it take to feed a malnourished child for a day? How about feeding him everyday until he fully recovers from malnutrition? How much would it take? How about feeding an entire school of malnourished kids living in a place like Payatas? Make that two schools, to duplicate the same feat in Baseco, and we are already talking of a staggering amount of money.

To say that the feeding project is ambitious or idealistic would be an understatement but it's worth a try. Indeed it's worth a try for someone who feels for the poor like bro. Eli. What is a religious leader's worth, after all, if he won't try to make a difference in the life of the poor by catering not only to their spiritual needs but also to their physical necessities?

Incidentally, part of the proceeds will also go to the Ang Dating Daan Dialysis Clinics, where poor kidney patients (regardless of religion) can go for free dialysis treatment. Bro. Eli already ordered additional dialysis machines to be used in the existing clinics in Metro Manila and Apalit Pampanga.

But how can a poor preacher help the poor? He does it the poor man's way, the bro. Eli's way, which is to gather people with similar desire to help the poor, including media and showbiz celebrities, and inspire them to willingly give a part of themselves for the cause. The result is a celebration of love. Or to be more specific, a delightful evening of music, fellowship and an unusually high level of hearty laughter, which no amount of money can buy.

The opening number was an enlivening dance performance courtesy of bro. Eli's multi-talented granddaughter Den-den. Then a special rap dance number was presented by bro. Dinky Doo, bro. Hamilan and Isko Salvador (a.k.a. Brod Pete of Ang Dating Doon fame). To see Dinky Doo dancing was already a bonus in itself but to see Brod Pete in hip-hop outfit, rapping and dancing his heart out on stage? That, you just have to see for yourself to believe, brother! It was curious enough that the rap sounded like it was biblically-inspired and mixed with famous Ang Dating Daan lingo like "Basa!" What turned out to be really cool was that the rap was taken from a yet-to-be-screened Ronnie Ricketts movie starring “Lagot Ka Sa Kuya Ko” starring bro. Dinky and (what is this?!) bro. Hamilan too in a supporting role!!! True enough direk Ronnie confirmed it on stage. Hanep naman! :-) Abangan!!!

Then came the Bentot and Bentong classic slapstick act with Bentot junior's famous line "Heto mga kapatid, yung matagal na nating hinahanap! Nahuli ko na ang tiktik!!!"

Brother Eli followed and captivated the audience with his favorite songs like Un Historia de un Amor and "...Kiss The Day Goodbye...". When he sang "Hello Dolly!...” bro Eli just can't resist dishing out his own version to the song and half-way through the song he belted… " well, hello Garci!… well, hello Garci!..." (someone should send me a copy of the lyrics!)

Like all the rest of guests who performed without talent fee, The Company graced the concertand true to form, serenaded the brethren to some of their loveliest songs on record. Although I am a true blue sentimentalist, I guess their most memorable song of the evening was their intriguingly awesome rendition of Ereaserheads' "El Bimbo". I have just one word for that. Wow! For more of The Company, watch our for their 20th anniversary concert very very soon! And check out their website too!

Shortly, the loud speakers exploded to the tune of the lively UNTV37 daystarter "Pilipinas Gising ka na ba???..." and pretty soon the faces on stage were replaced by the hosts of the best alternative morning show on Philippine TV. What on earth will they do in a concert? Yes they all sung! After much cajoling that is. Jay Sonza belted his rendition of "What a Wonderful World"… the pasaway queen "Gandang Jaya" did all sort of things including sing Abba's "Dancing Queen"… could you believe "Mr. Bitag" Ben Tulfo danced? Yes he danced while trying his best to come out with a few lines of a song! And who in his right mind could forget the Atty. Batas Mauricio's Tagalog version of "What I did For Love"!!!? And this was sung side-by-side with bro. Daniel Razon's English version. Yes, ala Dolphy and Panchito!

Then the MLIG moment came. Guest performer Angelica Jones sang her signature song " Miss Flawless". It was a big hit. (what is MILG? well of course, Minsan Lang Ito George! its a private joke, can't explain here... sorry.)

Then the singing punchline, K Brosas (of K and the Boxers) took over the stage and everything went really wild from then on. I have seen comic singers but I did not know that someone could actually sing so well and do a sensational standup comedy at the same time but K surely can. She was a smashing, stirring, riotous punchline all to herself I hope she never tires of helping bro Eli and bro Daniel. Her brand of comedy was so unpredictable it was patently irresistible. Yes. It's confirmed. I am now officially a fan.

I hope the brethren in the provinces or abroad could get a VCD copy or something. No one deserves to miss a concert like this. It was for a good cause and yes, for a good laugh!

Having said all this, my only question in mind is, when oh when will the next concert be?

(This post originally appeared in Newsdrive)
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About the Author BAGWIS VIZCARRA Google+

Joe Vizcarra is a Manila-based independent writer. With an A.B. degree in Communication Arts, his professional background includes writing for local TV news channels, a PR & marketing agency, and a national government agency.


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