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The Night We Sang for Heroes

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

By Kristine Leigh G. Domingo

For weeks now, the news has been about the 44 gallant men- heroes who were slain in their line of duty during the dreaded Mamasapano incident on January 25, 2015.

Upon hearing, we take such story of sacrifice with a heavy heart and a shake of the head; we heave a heavy sigh; we refrain from feeling terrible by changing the channel or by turning off the television.

Many of us tried to look the other way for we couldn’t handle the heartbreak, we couldn’t comprehend how and why something so horrid could have happened. Our helpless, powerless selves tend to think that the best thing to do is remain clueless, ignorant. This is my easy way out – my easiest way out.

We keep saying that we don’t want any part of it because we don’t have the power and we are oblivious of the matter. We keep mum as if we never heard of it. We try to remember all those mantras that would convince and console us from the poignant truth. Life goes on. Life does not stop for anybody.

But then we remember, these 44 brave, courageous heroes are fathers, sons, husbands, fiancés, and friends. They are someone to somebody.

Though our sole memory of them is that they bravely sacrificed their lives to fulfill their duties, for their loved ones, they are more than that.

They are so much more than that that the pain they are feeling is beyond our comprehension.

During the necrological services, when the families and friends of the fallen 44 stood by the heroes’ coffins, we witnessed how words are sometimes not enough to show what they feel.

Standing and grieving, they remembered the good times – their last moments together, their promises to each other – the memories that they hold on to. They were bereft of words that could express their agony, emptiness and heartbreak.

As days passed, we learned more of what these men went through that fateful and harrowing day. We knew about the days and events that led to it. We looked for faces to blame, people we could point our fingers at. We needed to be angry because that is how we grieve.

That was how it worked. We masked the pain with anger and searched someone to scream at, to criticize, to lambaste. In our angry search, all roads led to the Commander-in-Chief. It made sense to most – it did seem that he was the one to blame for everything that transpired.

But amidst the harsh and acrimonious words thrown and fingers pointed at him, the requests (or demands) for his resignation, one man decided to give a helping hand.

On the 16th of February, Bro. Eli Soriano tweeted “#NoynoyParin”, which his twitter followers quickly picked up on. Not long after, the hashtag landed on the Philippine trends and peaked at number one.

“Let us support a [government] not supportive of religious caprices! #NoynoyParin,” he tweeted the following day as the hashtag continued to trend on the social media platform.
“Instead of blaming PNoy of an incident beyond his mental & physical control [let’s] help him help our fallen heroes!” he posted on the 19th of February. On the same day, he finally voiced out his plans of launching a charity concert in partnership with Dr. Daniel Razon of UNTV for the benefit of the families of the Gallant 44.

A month later, SM Mall of Asia Arena was filled to the brim with people who responded to Bro. Eli’s call. The benefit concert was entitled, “Songs for Heroes.”

Before the concert began, the families of the Gallant 44 were already escorted to their seats my friend and I sat near them and just observed.

They were quiet. Some were talking to the person next to them. One can sense hint of excitement but at the same time, it felt like something was holding them back. But then, I saw that there were children playing amongst each other, all smiles as they exchanged stories. It was then when I realized and remembered, this is the reason why this gathering is very important.

The 44 brave men sacrificed their lives for the comfort of others—for our comfort—and I feel that the least that we can do is to ensure that their families, especially the children, could live a life that our heroes had envisioned for them.

We can let them know that there are people – strangers and more importantly, fellow Filipinos – who are there for them; we can help them grow up without any bitterness, any desire to revenge in their hearts; we can give them a remembrance, a young memory of an act of kindness where strangers have gathered to help them live better lives.

Even though they lost a loved one, they will be consoled of the fact that they are not alone for during that evening, they were surrounded with people who care for them.
On that night, I was also reminded of the power of music.

Hans Christian Andersen was right when he said that music speaks. Sometimes words are not enough, but we are thankful that there are songs crafted to mend a broken heart and ease a weary mind.

I was taking photos of the performances when I noticed a woman in the front row silently weeping as she sang along. The woman next to her covered her face with a handkerchief and I saw her shoulders shake a little. I, too, had a little lump in my throat, like what I am sure everybody in that arena had that night.

Perhaps, one of the most emotional moments of the night was when Noel Cabangon performed his hit, “Kanlungan”. Joining the woman in front were the people around her –they let their tears stream down their faces, they gave off shaky breaths and at the end of the song, they showed a tiny smile and looked like a burden has been lifted from their shoulders.

During the performance, Noel asked the crowd to light up the dimmed venue with their phones. The audience willingly obeyed and the lights that swayed along with the rhythm of the nostalgic melody added magic to that wonderful instant.

There were many more moments worth sharing but I can’t possible mention them here for the lack of space. But another notable part was when Gerald Santos sang his rendition of Luther Vandross’ iconic song, “Dance With My Father.”

Midway through the song, I noticed a man put a little boy on his lap as he wrapped his arms around him, giving him a warm embrace. Another one who looked much older than the boy on the lap rested his head on the man’s shoulder. They earnestly watched Gerald’s performance.

A few rows behind them was a woman embracing a child as she cried. At times, she would squeeze the child tightly. It was as if it that could be the last time that she could do that. It was as if someone would take her beloved one away.

The concert was indeed a night to remember. It was an evening where everyone who supported played a significant role in making the event a success. May he or she be seated at the very back or near the families of the Gallant 44; may he or she be one of the performers or the crowd who was mesmerized with a PNP member’s performance of The Beatles’ “In My Life” and with an AFP member’s rendition of “Go The Distance”; may he or she be one of those in the remote areas of the country or abroad who joined the event by tweeting about the concert.

Everyone was part of the reason why that little boy safe in the man’s embrace could someday look back and remember that despite a tragic loss, there was a night when he felt sincere care; why that woman in the front row who cried for most of the time was able to put a smile on her face, knowing she has someone by her side.

Everyone was part of the reason why the grieving families and friends have felt that they were not alone in their fight for justice for their fathers, husbands, brothers, fiancés, and friends…for the fallen 44.

Before the night ended, Dr. Daniel Razon went up the stage and gave a little speech to cap off the night. He mentioned how he had troubles finishing the voice-overs for the concert because the whole time, he was thinking of his young daughter and how he was and will continually be grateful for he still have her precious one by his side.

I am sure that the crowd shared the same sentiment. Throughout the evening, one could not help but think of their own loved ones – husbands, brothers, fiancés, friends – and realize that they are fortunate to still have them in their lives…that they, we should be thankful for that.

That night, MCGI and UNTV were able to raise 6 million pesos in total for the families of the Gallant 44 and for the injured members of the PNP, and an additional 1 million pesos from Bro. Eli Soriano for the AFP. The evangelist also awarded the children of the Gallant 44 scholarships to La Verdad Christian School.

Peace is priceless, Bro. Eli said. But this assistance could somehow help them rebuild their lives and attain peace.

On that occasion, Bro. Eli made a promise, a promise that this will not be the last time, the last night where we will sing for our heroes.

To God be the glory.

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La Verdad Christian School delivers first batch of K-12 scholars

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Mrs. Pia Mallari with her daughter posing for a photo on the stage as they were called during the graduation ceremony at the La Verdad Christian School in Apalit, Pampanga.

MANILA, Philippines — Pia  Mallari had experienced difficulty in choosing which private school to enroll her daughter in after the government implemented the K-12 program.

Mallari is a Muslim from Jolo Sulu. She previously thought that La Verdad Christian College does not accept non-MCGI members.

This was until she proved that what other people were saying was false and that she liked the discipline being instilled by the school in its students.

“Para sa puso at isipan ko, number one ang La Verdad. Lalo pang bumabait ang mga kabataan. Lalo pa siyang bumait,” said Mallari.

(I wholeheartedly think La Verdad is the best. The children are becoming better individuals. My daughter has become kinder.)

Honor student Love Jezchem Colis said she will forever bring with her the valuable lessons she learned from La Verdad as she takes up architecture at a university in Manila.

“There are many valuable life lessons na nakukuha mo from the teachers not just the lessons that you need for academics,” said Colis.

(There are many valuable life lessons that you get from the teachers not just the lessons that you need for academics.)

For Love’s mom, Joy Colis, the scholarship program of Bro. Eli Soriano and Kuya Daniel Razon is a huge help to a single parent like her.

“Fair. It’s open for everybody. Talagang yung heart nila to help others. Very proud kami na pumasok dito yung anak ko,” said Joy.

(Fair. It’s open for everybody. They really have the heart to help others. We are very proud that our child is studying here.)

In the graduation of 299 scholars who are part of the first batch of the government’s K-12 program, the Department of Education (DepEd) sees the potential of the school to produce children who can lift their families out of poverty.

“Ang La Verdad Christian School nasa mapa na (La Verdad Christian School is already on the map). Nasa record na ng (It’s already in the records of the) division of Pampanga as one of our best schools, even in the regional and even in the national,” said  DepEd Assistant Schools Division Superintendent officer-in-charge Rowena Tizon-Quiambao.

“I would be ordering Sir Alvin Gozum to give the same awards that we gave to our public schools. We counted the number of winnings and we gave them the achievement award. I’m sure if we count al isl the winning that you had yesterday, you’ll rank one,” said the official.

La Verdad’s founding chairman Bro. Eli Soriano and its president, Dr. Daniel Razon, emphasized to the students the importance of being humble and grateful so they could achieve their dreams in life.

“Una niyong pag-aralan ang tumanaw ng utang na loob. Una sa Dios. Ikalawa sa mga nagpalaki sa inyo. Ikatlo, sa mga tinatawag nating pangalawang magulang sa eskwela, ang ating mga guro, our mentors,” said Bro. Eli.

(The first thing you should learn is how to be grateful. Firstly, to God and secondly, to those who raised you. Thirdly, to those who we call, our “second parents” in school — our teachers and mentors.)

Meanwhile, Razon reminded the students, “Saan man tayo makarating, anuman ang kaalamang ating makuha sa buhay na ito, ay maisip natin, hindi natin ito dapat ipagmalaki. Hindi natin ito dapat ipagyabang, kundi ang ating maalala sa tuwina ay mayroong nagbibigay sa atin nito.”

(Wherever you may end up, whatever we learn from this life, we should remember to stay humble. We should not be arrogant about it but to always remember that it was given to us.) — Jun Soriao | UNTV News & Rescue

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UNTV Cup Season 6 gives away nearly P10-M cash prizes to charity

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

AFP Educational Benefit System Office (AFP-EBSO) receives P1,000,000 cash donation as part of AFP Cavaliers’ winnings after finishing on 3rd place this sixth season of UNTV Cup — the league of public servants. (Marlon Bonajos / Photoville International)

 

MANILA, Philippines — The battle on the hard court between Malacañang-PSC Kamao and Senate Defenders at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Monday was intense during UNTV Cup’s Season 6 Game 2 Finals.

The two teams showed their hard work in an effort to provide huge assistance for their chosen beneficiaries.

The champion, the Senate Defenders won P4-million for their three beneficiaries namely: Kythe Foundation, Tahanang Mapagpala Immaculada Concepcion, and Pangarap Foundation.

Meanwhile, runner-up Malacañang-PSC Kamao bagged P2-million with which they intend to assist around 600 cancer patients of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC).

“Malaking tulong itong premyong nakuha namin at sana ipagpatuloy nila ang magandang hangarin nila sa pagtulong sa mga pasyente,” said PCMC Cancer & Hematology Center Administrative Officer Mercy del Rosario.

(This prize is really a great help and we hope they will continue their advocacy to help the patients.)

“We have partner hospitals where we have our child life program and the amount granted to us by Senate will go a long way in pushing for the medicine, the [transportation] and everything,” said Kythe Foundation Inc. president, Atty. Roy Santos.

The third runner-up, AFP Cavaliers, received P1-million for their beneficiary, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Educational Benefit System Office (AFP-EBSO).

The 4th placer NHA Builders received P500, 000 while the other 10 participating teams received P100,000 each for their chosen institutions.

Members of the Church of God International (MCGI) Overall Servant Bro. Eli Soriano  also delivered a message for the participants.

“We should complete the good works we started because in Galatians 6:10, it says while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men especially to those who are of the household of faith.

“There is special care for the household of faith but the words of God said we must do good unto all men, even to those who do not of the household of faith. It means we have obligation to do good even to those who are not of the household of faith, charitable works which prove ever since we were given the chance to manage the UN Television.

“These charitable works, these are not just for one day, once a year, once a month or once in a blue moon. This will be continuous. One of these is the UNTV Cup, in which the cash prizes will be given to chosen charitable institutions of the teams. If we are commanded to love our enemies, more so we should love those who are less fortunate and being sponsored by the teams through our basketball league,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Executive Face-Off of the UNTV Cup off-season games eye for level-up public service and more camaraderie between government officials and employees.

“Many committed to play for the Executive Face-Off. We’re hoping that our executives will give further participation including various government officials in the executive level because this is their chance as well to share not only the prize they won for their beneficiaries but also to develop camaraderie among the high-ranking officials, to take a break and exercise through the UNTV Cup off-season games, the Executive Face-Off. God-willing, it will be more exciting and more will participate,” said UNTV-BMPI CEO & president, Daniel Razon. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue

Complete List of Prizes for Beneficiaries 

FINAL FOUR TEAMS:

Champion — Senate Defenders — Kythe Foundation, Inc., Pangarap Foundation, Inc. and Tahanang Mapagpala Immaculada Concepcion, Inc. — ₱4,000,000 (beneficiary) + ₱500,000 (team)

Second Place — Malacañang-PSC Kamao — Philippine Children’s Medical Center and Millennium Sports Support System Association Inc. — ₱2,000,000 (beneficiary) + ₱300,000 (team)

Third Place — AFP Cavaliers — AFP Educational Benefit System Office — ₱1,000,000 (beneficiary) + ₱200,000 (team)

Fourth Place — NHA Builders — NHA Provident Fund Association, Inc. — ₱500,000 (beneficiary) + ₱100,000 (team)

OTHER PARTICIPATING TEAMS:

PNP Responders — Public Assistance for Rescue, Disaster and Support Services (PARDSS) Foundation International, Inc. — ₱100,000

Judiciary Magis — Judiciary Employees Severely Affected by Typhoons and Calamities — ₱100,000

GSIS Furies — Kapisanan ng mga Manggagawa sa GSIS — ₱100,000

PDEA Drug Busters — Confederation of Community Oriented Policing System NGOs, (CCOPS-NGOs) Inc. — ₱100,000

BFP Firefighters — Philippine Science High School Foundation Inc. — ₱100,000

DOJ Justice Boosters — Department of Justice Employees’ Association (DOJEA), Silong Tanglaw, Uswag Kabataan Inc., and Nazareth Home for Children Foundation, Inc. — ₱100,000

DA Food Masters  — Don Bosco Foundation for Sustainable Development — ₱100,000

DOH Health Achievers — Dr. Gerry Cunanan Mindanao Heart Foundation, and Kapwa Ko Mahal Ko — ₱100,000

COA Enablers — Caritas Novaliches, Inc. — ₱100,000

Ombudsman Graft Busters —  Ombudsman Provident Fund — ₱100,000

 

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Canadian gov’t finally grants former INC Minister Lowell Menorca asylum

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, February 1st, 2018


Vancouver, CANADA — Former Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) Minister Lowell Menorca should be considered “a person in need of protection from a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment and a risk to his life.”

This has been the decision of the Canadian International Refugee Board (IRB) in the petition filed by the former minister of the religious group INC.

The IRB believes the statements of Menorca are credible. On the other hand, the minister’s counsel of INC failed to submit any evidence disproving the accusations of Menorca.

According to the former INC minister, the supposedly several days of the process of hearing took more than a year due to the many counter-petitions sent by the members of the religious group.

“Actually, kaya tumagal kasi ang aming ipinadala ng INC na iba’t ibang mga tinatawag nila na unsolicited letters. Kumbaga inirereport nila… everything that they can do to convince the board to deny my claim,” said the INC ex-minister.

(The process took longer because INC was sending various unsolicited letters. They were reporting… everything that they can do to convince the board to deny my claim.)

Menorca is worried about the safety of his wife and children.

He is hoping that he can finally be with his family at the soonest possible time.

“Of course having my family here, I’m trying every way na makuha sila. And I know, that ever since na lumabas itong desicion, nag-escalate yung threat, not only for my life, since I am now considered as a person in need of protection, a status given by the Canadian government, my fear now is for my family because they’re very vulnerable,” he said.

(Of course, having my family here, I’m trying every way to get them. And I know, that ever since this decision came out, the threat escalated, not only for my life, since I am now considered as a person in need of protection, a status given by the Canadian government my fear now is for my family because they’re very vulnerable.)

Menorca also has this message to the top leader of the INC.

“It’s never too late. Maging si Apostol Pablo na isa sa mga namahala noon sa unang iglesia, siya nagkaroon ng kababaan ng loob, ng humility na nagawa niyang sabihin na, kahit na ang mga apostol o kahit mga anghel sa langit di ba, magturo ng ibang aral na hindi nila ituro, itakwil ninyo pero sa panahon ng ka-Eduardo ngayon, kahit na mali, basta galing sakaniya, basta itinuro niya, dapat ay sundin ng walang reklamo,” said Mernorca.

(It’s never too late. Even apostle Paul, who was among those who previously led the first Church, he became humble. We were able to admit, that even the apostles or even the angels in heaven, to teach other teachings that are not theirs, renounce them. But during the time of Eduardo, although the teaching was wrong, as long as it came from his, everyone should follow, and no one should complain.)

Menorca, meanwhile, apologized to Bro. Eli Soriano, the host of the program Ang Dating Daan.

The former INC minister admitted that he became part of the detraction against the international televangelist.

“With this, we are extending a sincere apology to all our Christian brothers, especially to the members of the “Ang Dating Daan”, particularly to Bro. Eli Soriano. This is because we believe real Christians do not hold a grudge and do not harm others. I had been a witness of the things that happened to Bro. Eli Soriano because of what the management of the INC did. And I believe that many members so the MCGI are really true Christians. I have met many who are members of your group,” he said.

Meanwhile, the leadership of INC has refused to comment on the issue. — UNTV News & Rescue

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