After flying 3 hours from Bangkok, I arrived at 4am in Manila where Marie and her friends picked me up in her minivan. Off we went on our Grand Adventure. I had no idea what was in store for me. We drove 3 hours to a port, where we boarded a ferry for an additional 2.5 hour ride. Once we landed in Marinduque, we drove another hour or so to the Malindig Institute where I was greeted by the students from the music department. I played a little and and the school band conducted by Joewel Catahan, performed for me. But most importantly, I met the Directress, Mrs. Divina Reynoso Preclaro or “Mamalove” as she is affectionately known, the beneficiary and curator of the Malindig Institute, a private school in Marinduque, Philippines.
Then I was whisked onto a tiny motor boat with our gang, PPO members Marie Poblete, Ernani Pascual, Jerry Samonte, Ariel Sta Ana, Ding Dong and the Directress’ family, Ramfel & Dianna Preclaro and her beautiful teen daughters Ylyzza & Jieanne. We spent two stunningly gorgeous days on a very remote island off the coast of Marinduque which is home to 130 households. Early in the morning at 6am, Ramfel took us to the “sand bar” which is only high enough to receive visitors in the early morning during low tide. This exquisite white sand beach with crystal virgin warm waters was the highlight of my year. It was paradise found. I wanted to stay forever on that sand bar. We took pictures and swam in the invitingly warm, clear waters, but the tide was rising.
Our hosts made sure we were well fed at all moments of the day and all the delicious meals were fantastic. Marie and I rehearsed for our upcoming presentations. It was a gorgeous time of complete “relax” before heading back to the busy life in Manila. Sadly, we had to leave our paradise isolated island. On the Tuesday morning we left, Ramfel saw on his phone that a typhoon was scheduled to hit on Friday. Little did it sink into any of us what an understatement his prediction actually was.
After the 45 minute boat ride back to the island of Marinduque, we went back to the school. Upon arriving, I noticed that the students had all gathered…. to greet me! OMG! It was quite the amazing reception. They made me feel like a Queen! The band was playing and all the 300+ students were waving Chilean and Filipino flags…. that they had made themselves! This was so special for me. I was tearing with joy. They made me feel so special and so welcome. Ramfel had even scheduled a massage for me as he knew how much my body craves a healing touch. But how could I get a massage when I could be teaching music to the children?! I held a short convocation for the student body that poured out of their main double classroom. Marie and I performed and I played and showed my Flutes of the World. After this presentation, I decided to hold a Flute Sectional. The kids lined up for miles just to get my autograph. It was so sweet. Thank you Malindiq Institute for making my visit to the Philippines so special.
We spent the entire Tuesday traveling back to Manila. Wednesday, the Ambassador of Chile, Mr. Roberto Mayorga took me to the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage for Girls, where I presented a short music program with Marie. Here, again, the students made me feel so special as they sang and danced for us. Again, the reception was so warm and generous. Then, a few of the English students, read out loud their impressions after having attended my concert 6 weeks prior when I played as a soloist with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in Manila. I felt ever so touched by their kind words, that I decided to donate a NUOVO flute that I had purchased in Bangkok to them.
It was the resounding beauty and generous spirit that the PPO musicians, Marie, Ariel, Hernani, Ding Dong, Bilog and then the Malindig Institute founder Mamalove and her children Ramfel and Dianna to my Manila friends, the Ambassador of Chile in the Philippines who is so committed to the people of Philippines and the Sisters at the Orphanage and all the wonderful, beautiful and smiling faces of the Filipinos, that I will be performing two fund raisers for the Victims of the Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). I will be performing in the San Francisco Bay Area in Milpitas on November 29th and then in Los Angeles area on December 6th. It is with a very heavy heart that I witnessed the horrors of the aftermath of the Super Typhoon. The Filipino people have won my heart and I have no other option but to try to offer what I can in return. Thank you Philippines, from the bottom of my heart.