The Birth of Manila Street Love

I did something different on my last birthday. Instead of throwing a party for myself, I decided to throw a humble feast, not for friends or family, but for people who couldn’t feed themselves.

Two days before that we held a charity concert at a sports bar in Makati called Tree House. It was an event organized with the help of other artists namely Q-York, JayR and Shibuya Wolf.

It was actually a last minute idea for a birthday salubong, and to use it to collect donations instead of gifts to fund something I have always wished to do. And for the sake of the event flier, we had to think of a name for that particular birthday activity.

Manila Street Love – two days later. It was the name and it was what the day became about. I got more than enough food and stuff to give away. So off we drove a rented SUV around Manila streets as I had always envisioned – giving food and basic needs on a regular day. Did it with the same friends, with the addition of my kid, Dion, David Kullman from Gawad Kalinga whom I met at my birthday charity concert, and two volunteer photographers Tear Cordez and Khristian Fayloga who volunteered via social media. That was this groups the first time to ever do something together.

Spreading the love around:

First stop was along Roxas Blvd. Service Road in Malate where we found some families just wandering around.

It didn’t take long before others realized what we were doing and they came to our van. We gave out warm burgers, packed bread, and clothes. As soon as I pulled a blanket for the elderly, everybody wanted a blanket. And as we were about to leave, the smiles from the kids were priceless, the gratitude of the adults, heartwarming.

Next stop was by Manila Bay where there were plenty of street dwellers just going about their usual scavenging routine.

It was not Christmas yet. Just an ordinary day and it was drizzling. We really came as a surprise and they were just happy. One kid was even bragging about how he could read, as we also gave away some books. That‘s one thing I really liked that day, those kids, including my son, and how we were setting a good example.  That moment I felt it ain’t too hard to make a difference, and you gotta start it with the youth.

I didn’t expect that old clothes would be in demand, but they wanted them even if some were not their style. Except for one interesting Manong, who were requesting for a pair of Levis jeans. He was just funny, he talked a lot about his good old job as an Estimador and how he lost it from being injured at work. We felt that he took pride in his past and is still full of hopes for the future. We were glad to be part of that hope even for just one day.

It was getting dark and our last stop was at Bahay Aruga – a temporary shelter for pediatric cancer patients. It was situated at the house of Ms. Mayette Bonilla located along UN Ave cor. San Marcelino St. I was welcomed with a sad news that Mokong, one of the patients I met there last time I visited had passed away. We continued with giving away a hundred pieces of burgers and performed a few songs for them. I dedicated my original song Ikaw Lamang to Mokong, who is an angel now looking over all of us.

The biggest birthday gift ever! That overwhelming excitement in receiving, giving, and the joy in between.