Scripps Hosts Benefit “Remember, Rebuild, and Sustain: ‘Walang Iwanan'” in Wake of Typhoon Haiyan

While many were fixated on their televisions last Sunday for the 2014 NFL Super Bowl, a select group of 5C faculty and students, as well as Claremont community members, were rooting for another team. This crowd, gathered at the Scripps College’s Performing Arts Center, attended “Remember, Rebuild, and Sustain: Walang Iwanan,” a fundraising event to benefit the Philippines as the country rebuilds in the wake of last November’s Typhoon Haiyan. The benefit event consisted of a discussion on Filipino culture, two pre-concerts, and the main benefit concert. 

Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever recorded, was three and a half times stronger than Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina combined. This Category 5 natural disaster took more than 6,200 lives and left more than 6,000,000 people displaced. 

The proceeds from Remember, Rebuild, and Sustain will go to a Phillipines-based relief fund called Gawad Kalinga, a Tagalog phrase that means “to give care.” The organization focuses on sustainability and rebuilding communities. 

The afternoon’s events began in Scripps’ Boone Auditorium with discussions of Filipino culture and history, hosted by guests Annie Cuevas, Director of Tourism at the Phillipine Consulate in Los Angeles, and Tony Oales, Chairman of the U.S. branch of Gawad Kalinga.

Two simultaneous pre-concerts were held after the discussions. One concert featured 5C a capella groups Mood Swing, After School Specials, and Ninth Street Hooligans, as well as rapper/composer and Pitzer College alumnus Gingee. The other pre-concert featured student pianists and singer-songwriters, as well as a spoken word performance. The final act of the afternoon, the main benefit concert, was held in Scripps’ Garrison Theater, and featured 5C students and faculty performances, the 5C chamber choir, the Inside-Out Crossroads Choir, and Friends in Harmony, an LA-based choir from Tacloban. 

Music major and a cappella performer Anna Walton SC ’14, who coordinated the pre-concerts, said that traditional benefit events at Scripps provide opportunities for both music students and faculty members. 

“Scripps has a history of benefit concerts like this one when natural disasters strike,” Walton said. “Scripps always begins events like this with a pre-show. This is tradition. It really showcases and focuses more on independent student music and performances, whereas the main concert is for faculty, too.” 

Walton also attested to the greater role that musical benefit events such as Remember, Rebuild, and Sustain play in bringing communities together. 

“The idea is to show that music isn’t just a hobby. It brings people from all over the world together,” she said. “We were able to have some musical performances from the Philippines, which shows that [music] can really be a collaboration of cultures.”

Student performer Isabella Ramos SC ’17 sang “Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal,” an example of the traditional Filipino song called the Kundiman. For Ramos, the concert fostered deeper connections to her heritage. 

“I’m Filipino-American, but I’ve never had a chance to perform the Filipino arts tradition before,” she said. “I inherited this collection of Kundiman scores from my grandmother when she passed away. I told my previous voice teacher that I wanted to learn this music but she didn’t know the language so she couldn’t teach them to me. I finally had this opportunity to learn them for this fundraiser, which was amazing because it sort of felt like a tribute to my grandmother as well as a tribute to everyone affected by the typhoon. I visited the Philippines this past December and my mother’s hometown is really damaged.”

The Inside-Out Crossroads Choir, a program that supports previously incarcerated women, followed Ramos’s performance with a touching rendition of “Never Turnin’ Back,” and Scripps’ music professor and event coordinator Anne Harley received a standing ovation for her delivery of “Mutya Ng Pasig.” 

The benefit performances, together with Ramos’s anecdote, are reminders that nations struck by natural disasters cannot recover on their own. As guest speaker Dr. Marilou Dichoso said in her introduction at the benefit, the loudest cheers on Sunday went out to those who were at the Scripps Performing Arts Center, as the attendees recognized the importance of gawad kalinga — giving back. 

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