Music and charity

published June 1, 2013, MST page A5

My computer teacher in high school, Mr. Gil Hizon, who was also Glee Club moderator during our time, popped up on Facebook one day. He studied to be an engineer but now plays piano at a hotel in the Korean capital of Seoul.  He said he was busy directing a concert for the Independence Day celebration organized by the Philippine Embassy there, and enlisted my help with the script. The concert will be held tomorrow, June 2.

But there was another concert I might also be interested in, he said. It was one held last May 13 at the famous Myeong-Dong Cathedral to celebrate the opening of a medical clinic, not anywhere near Seoul but in Damayan Community Center, Malabon City, Philippines.

Mr. Hizon also introduced me to Benedict Han, administrative director of Joseph Clinic. The charity clinic was founded by the doctor Sun-Woo Joseph. In 2005, Joseph visited Myanmar and saw the destitution among the people there. He put together overseas medical missions not only in Myanmar but in other Asian countries like Vietnam and the Philippines.

This year's concert was called “Above the Wings of Music”. Initially, Han said, the concerts were some sort of advertiser and fund raiser for Joseph Clinic's various projects. In recent years, however, the concerts have become a way of showing gratitude to the clinic's many sponsors and volunteers.

And because the latest clinic is in the Philippines, the Hyewa-dong Filipino Catholic Community Choir - of which Hizon is musical director and Roger Amboy is stage supervisor - performed alongside the Korean Mixed Ensemble before an audience of 1,400.

The Filipino choir is composed of migrant workers who, despite the backbreaking schedules they maintain in keeping up with the demands of their job, find the time to share their musical gifts for a good cause. 

Hizon and company did not disappoint: After all, they were the grand prize winner in the 2011 talent search for Filipino show choirs in Korea.  They performed stirring renditions of Filipino classics such as Bayan Ko by Jose Corazon de Jesus and Constancio de Guzman; Dahil sa Iyo by Miguel Velarde and Dominador Santiago; Pandangguhan by Antonio J. Molina; and Kalesa by Levi Celerio and Ernani Cuenco.

Han says the highlight of the evening was when the Filipino choir performed Arirang, a Korean folk song, with a Korean trio, showing the meeting of two worlds. The mostly Korean audience sang along and loudly applauded.

Here is the Hyewa-dong performance; that's Mr. Hizon at the center: 

According to His Excellency Ambassador Luis Cruz, our ambassador to Korea, the Malabon clinic, which opened in January, is also conducting mobile missions to other marginal communities five times a week, which includes a feeding program for children.

He thanked the other sponsors of the Joseph Clinic in the Philippines, namely Caritas Seoul, Catholic Medical Center, and Korea Foundation for International Healthcare.
Ambassador Cruz said that the evening was, first and foremost, a celebration of the gift of giving. 

Indeed, migrants taking the time to share their talent and Koreans helping poor Filipino communities gain access to medical services, show us that the gift of sharing knows no bounds.