Ner De Leon on sax, Dexter on base, Tateng Katindig on keyboards and Paul Aguas on drums playing "Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang", an Ogie Alcasid original, at Sining Para sa Bayan concert on January 21, 2012 at Noypitz Bar and Restaurant in Glendale, California. Photo: Phillip Ner

’Twas an SRO Sining Para sa Bayan concert at Noypitz 

Nimfa U. Rueda

LOS ANGELES – Filipino American journalists here have raised $9,000 for media colleagues who were among those who died and lost their homes when typhoon Sendong struck Northern Mindanao last month.

The media practitioners spearheaded a benefit concert and art auction, dubbed Sining Para sa Bayan, in Glendale, California last Jan. 21. The two-part event featured top-notch performers, musicians and artists, including Pinoy folk rock pioneer Florante and Emmy-award winner Jess Española, a visual animator for the cartoon series “The Simpsons”.

Proceeds will go to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) fund for media workers who were among the victims of the deadly typhoon that left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced around 330,000 residents in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

“Fil-Am media professionals in the Los Angeles area have come together to show support for and solidarity with colleagues in the Philippines who need help,” said Myrna Aquitania, president of the Filipino American Press Club of Los Angeles (FAPCLA), which organized  the event in collaboration with NUJP-US, Frontliners Media Group, F7 Media and Philippine Press Photographers-USA.

Other performers included the Fil-Am back-up singers of Justin Bieber, Legaci, singer and songwriter Becca Godinez, internationally acclaimed tenor Jonathan Badon, Louie Reyes, Paco Arespacochaga, and  jazz musicians Tateng Katindig and Ner de Leon and Philippine folk legend Florante.

“This event is our way of reaching out to colleagues who need our help,” said Jannelle So, host and producer of KSCI 18’s Kababayan LA, the first and only Filipino talk show on a mainstream broadcast station. She co-hosted the three-hour concert with well-known thespian Bernardo Bernardo.

Among those who participated in the art auction was Texas-based artist Glenn Bautista, who created the Jorge Bocobo mural at UP Diliman, and painters Vics Magsaysay, Rafael Maniago, Mat Relox, Boi Sibug and Magoo Valencia. Participants also included top-notch photographers Phillip Ner, Benny Uy, Joe Cobilla and Noli Yu.

“We have come together to offer our talents for kababayans who need our support,” said Española, who won an Emmy for his work in the cartoon series “TheSimpsons” as assistant director for animation.

The organizers initially targeted to raise $5,000, but the “overwhelming support the event received from the community” raised the amount to $9,000, said FAPCLA treasurer Lydia Solis.

Both Solis and Aquitania thanked all the sponsors who donated handsomely and to all those who purchased their tickets for the show that lasted more than four hours.

Highlights of the show included Jo Awayan getting the crowd to sing with her with 80s hit “Always Something There To Remind Me” while April Velasco rocked Noypitz with her songs backed up by the foursome of Katindig, De Leon, drummer Paul Aguas and bassist Dexter, so did Malou Toler and the Friends of Mine Band that got the crowd dancing on their feet late into the night.

Guitarist and songwriter Mon Concepcion rendered original songs while another guitarist Alan Del Rosario jazzed up the night with bossa nosa hits from Jobim.

Other artists who wowed the crowd included the youngest performer in Sam Santiago, Alex Arrieta who sang movie hits, while Annie Nepomuceno, Lianna Gutierrez and Janine Bernardo and Joni Villamil sang familiar pop hits.

Bob Schroeder played the flute, while Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) co-founder Andy Tecson brought back memories with his traditional Filipino folk music. Paco Arrespacochaga of the former Introvoys sang original hits of the band.

Not only did  Vicoy BagongSigaw rap his way on stage, he wrote his own music about the typhoon and the calamities it brought as his way of paying his respects to the victims. Balita editor Rhony Laigo also played the guitar and sang Joey Ayala’s “Bathala” and Agila” that spoke of the destruction of forests by illegal loggers fueled by greed.

Last month’s typhoon killed at least 1,200 people in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, who were either buried by mudslides or swept away by flashfloods into the sea.

At least 35 journalists from Cagayan de Oro and Iligan were affected by the storm. Two Iligan-based journalists died while others lost their homes and belongings.

Among the journalists displaced by Sendong were newspaper correspondents Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales, Jigger Jerusalem, Bonita Ermac and television correspondent Merlyn Manos. Iligan City radio reporter and news anchor Michael Kundiman was swept away at the height of the storm. His body is yet to be found.