Super VIP Project
“I want to sponsor some kids (from disadvantaged background) to see Charice in concert the next time she is in the Philippines. Can you facilitate it for me?”
I got an enthusiastic yes and so began a three-month partnership between us. The many Chasters who assisted with the project and me. The journey would play out in several parts of the Philippines; intersect with Charice’s widely reported invitation to Arjohn Gilbert to perform with her in her solo concert and culminate in the kids meeting Charice in person.
In February of this year I began to compile a bucket list. People compile bucket lists for any number of reasons; some use it as a ‘places to go on holiday’ list. Some people use it as a tool for self improvement or for a bit of fun. I don’t quite know how to define my bucket list other than to say that it is filled with lots of items which I simply feel are the right thing to do. The first bucket list item I came up with: give 5 kids in the Philippines (who due to their life circumstances would have great difficulty in meeting the costs of concert tickets and associated expenses on their own) the chance to watch Charice live in concert. I drew inspiration from this YT video of some kids who came to watch Charice during a mall show in the Philippines in 2009.
Once upon a time Charice’s circumstances as a child would have been similar to the children featured in this video from 2009. I always remark to my friends and family that Charice’s success is a mark of how the world occasionally gets it right. To go from a kid being raised (along with her brother Carl) by a single mother in Laguna, Philippines to become an International Star beloved by Oprah and legendary music producer David Foster…it’s an impossibility that the forces of good have made possible. Self belief must have sustained her prior to the success, but I think she also held on to a very powerful commodity: hope! So back in February I said to myself why not give some children a little bit of hope that they can reach for something better, by giving them a chance to see Charice live in concert; and to show them that a stranger cares. Charice after all, has walked in the same shoes as many of these kids and if she defeated the circumstances she was born in, then who’s to say that they cannot. My purpose back in February was clear. I let someone know my intentions back then. All we needed was confirmation of a Manila Concert date.
Several months passed, then in July, yes – confirmation that Charice would be with the David Foster & Friends Asian Tour with the Manila Concert slated for October 25. This is when the million and one emails and instant messages between us began. That one person was the driving force behind the whole project and I can’t thank her enough for the effort that was put in this. The task I set wasn’t an easy one, but was remarkably fulfilled the whole way through. The first question asked was about what tickets I had planned to get the kids. I wanted the kids to get the very best tickets: Super VIP. I made it clear that funds would not be a problem throughout the project. I was committed to the kids getting the very best if it was in my power to give it to them. Whether it was transport, food, accommodation, clothing or additional concert tickets for 1 guardian – I was committed to giving it to them.
It was suggested that the candidates for the Super VIP tickets have a musical ability of some type so she started to scour Youtube, to look for Filipino kids from poor backgrounds with singing/musical ability (of which there are plenty in the Philippines). One of the first vids sent me was of a kid called Arjohn Gilbert. I was asked what I thought and I told said that I thought he was brilliant and gave the go signal to look for him. The email exchange between us regarding Arjohn occurred a week before Charice posted a link of Arjohn on her Twitter and Cha’s subsequent request for Chasters to look for Arjohn. We thought it was funny that Charice wanted to find Arjohn too. They found him and met with Arjohn. They invited Arjohn to the David Foster and Friends Concert to watch Charice in the Super VIP section. It was at this meeting that Arjohn accepted Charice’s twitter invitation (via a video response) to perform at her solo concert in the Philippines slated for December. I was quite amused that our little project had criss crossed with events featured throughout the entire Philippine media, with Charice and Arjohn’s exchange receiving wide coverage.
The Manila team would eventually make contact with 5 kids in total, whether the contact was made through a third party or by actually travelling to the homes of the kids, the team put in an amazing effort. The invitation to attend the concert was extended to the kids and a guardian. The five kids chosen were: Arjohn Gilbert from Marcos Village in Mabalacat, Pampanga; Joan Cosme from Botolan, Zambales; Rod Jhone M. Erejo and his brother Roland from Concepcion, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija; and Tonton a streetkid who was found at Sto Domingo Church. All these kids have experienced a life of hardship. Tonton for example, sleeps under a bridge at night, and yet when you look at them the first thing you notice is their beaming smiles. They serve as an example to all of us of how to never let life get you down.
We eagerly waited for concert day October 25, 2011 and then finally it arrived. I texted on the afternoon of the 25th to see how things were going. The text back to me put the biggest smile on my face: “Kuya, the kids met Charice in person this morning…now taking the kids shopping before the concert!” I was so happy to hear that the kids were able to see Charice at the Meet & Greet organised at the Sachi Restaurant. I was so energized by it for hours afterwards. My excitement really brought home to me how much the project had grown in my heart and how much affinity I had now developed for these five kids I had never met. I learnt later that it was at this same meet & greet that Charice formally invited Arjohn to perform at her solo concert on Dec 2nd at Newport Performing Arts Threatre in Resorts World, Manila. I was doubly excited!
Then finally, concert night. David Foster and Friends, Manila 2011 featuring Charice, rocked! From what was reported back to me the kids had a great time and were a great help to her when it came to distributing glow sticks in the floor section before the start of the concert. During the concert, Rod Jhone got a kiss from Charice as she walked through the crowd while singing ‘Louder’. It was a very special moment for Rod Jhone. I was so happy for him. Then finally the concert was over and three months of making “my organizer” run around doing my bidding came to an end. That person was my rock throughout the whole project. I cannot speak highly enough of that special someone that Chasterworld is truly blessed to have..
The question that has been posed to me has been: why did you do it? Why commit the amount of time and resources that I did? I simply say that it felt like the right thing to do. Every now and then we feel a great pull towards a cause, but sometimes sadly, we don’t act on it. I’m happy I acted on this one. The Super VIP Project had been an obsession of mine since February of this year. It has been a truly enriching experience for me, as it has been for both of us and the Chaster team involved; and hopefully the experience of a lifetime for the most important people involved in all of this – the kids.
I would like to extend a big thank you to all involved in the project, but most especially a big thank you to the organizing Team and the kids. You made it an amazing experience for me, even though I was not there to witness what happened personally, I felt like I was with you every step of the way. Thank you!
Why do we do what we do?
Author: In behalf of all the moderators
A lot of people have been asking me this. Actually, almost everyone around me are asking me this (chasters and non-chasters). What’s the point they say? As my friends would point out to me… She does not even know you: Organizing Meet and Greet for fans, sponsorships, distributing tickets, running around in general. Every time I get so stressed or have too much on my workload, I would always say, this is the last one.
And then something happened, someone whom I never met suddenly told me they want to sponsor five unpriviledged kids to a Charice concert. And this someone whom I or any chaster have not met before. Who could say NO to that? The reason why I became an active chaster in the first place was because I believe that Charice and her music could change and inspire people; To bring positivity to this world in these uncertain times. As she inspired me to be the best that I could be, I always hoped that by helping promote her to other people, they would be inspire other people as well to be the best that they could be.
I know that other chasters have been sponsoring other chasters to go to events like this. But this one is different. Very Different. It is a chance to actually change and inspire a kid’s life. So I also got hyped up with the idea. It is easy to just go to a charity group or organization and get some kids there. It is less time consuming. However, I thought it would be special if these kids get handpicked by Chaster themselves. So I asked around who their suggestions are. And chasters came out with their own suggestions.
1) Arjohn Gilbert (from Pampanga)- found in Youtube
This was the video message we got
2) Rod John Erejo (From Nueva Ecija)- The kid with a cleft palate whose YT vid of pyramid got him an Operation Smile sponsor.
3) Roland Erejo (From Nueva Ecija) – brother of Rod John
4) Tonton (From Quezon City) – found begging in Sto Domingo Church. Referred by
a Chaster. He assists in backing up cars and selling Sampaguita to church goers.
5) Joan Cosme (from Zambales) – found in Youtube. Contacted through the Facebook of Raffy Tima, a reporter from GMA
And Yes, I was surprised that they actually replied through facebook. Mark Zuckerberg rock! There were Chasters who literally went knocking on the doors of ABS-CBN and GMA just to get in contact with some of these kids, which was really awesome. They pretended to be students doing a research paper about the kids. I think they got busted at some point.
Anyway moving forward, now it’s the time to organize a Meet and Greet and a Chaster gathering for October 25. I can’t say thank you enough for the chasters who volunteered so much of their time, resources and money to put things together.
Fast forward from all the meetings and preparations, Meet and Greet time. October 24, we were trying to follow up if Charice could have time to meet with some lucky chasters and of course the kids while she is here in Manila. The experience for the kids would not be special if they would not be able meet the reason why they were there. Alas, there was no confirmation. There was a confirmation though that time that chasters were invited to welcome Charice in the airport when she arrives.
Could this be the Meet and Greet already? I was saddened coz the kids wont be arriving until the next day. We rushed all the welcome banners the night before Charice arrives. Special mention to Java for not getting enough sleep just to finish the design and print the tarps. It was a fun experience though for chasters who cancelled all their plans to welcome Charice back to her home country.
October 25. The day of the concert! We picked up the kids early in the morning. At exactly 10 am, her manager confirmed that there was going to be a Meet and Greet at 12 noon! In two hours!!! My heart suddenly leapt out my car window coz I was driving at that time. There was no venue. I don’t have enough internet access. Not even a list of chasters who would be able to make it to Cubao (Take Note: It was a workday, Tuesday). Not all of the kids have arrived in Manila yet. I know that a lot of chasters are goin to be saddened, not to mention some of them would be furious, if I won’t be able to contact all of them on time. Of course, I want every chaster to have equal opportunity to meet her. So I decided to keep the Meet and Greet for the kids only since there was not enough time to organize everything. Considering the traffic in Manila, chasters won’t be able to make it to the venue by 12 noon if I contact them at that time. At 11 am, I just arrived in Cubao! I asked Bluemax, who fetched the other kids on the terminal to go directly to Cubao. They found a venue which was a bit pricey and according to their specifications: Near Araneta and private. And then, something amazing happened. Charice herself is willing to move the time to 1 pm. (which is actually a conflict with their rehearsals inside Araneta) and she is willing to accommodate every chaster she could.
So text blast galore! Everyone forwarded the text message. Honestly, I was a bit nervous if a lot of people would ever show up. The venue is not even fit for a M&G coz its a restaurant. Good thing the tarps for the CHaster Gathering just arrived and Beda was ready with her scotch tape! Hahaha. So we just sticked it to the wall just to make it look good in the pictures. And by 1 pm, voila! 36 chasters showed up. Some have not even taken a bath yet just to be able to arrive there in time.
After the Meet and Greet, we went straight to the mall and bought some clothes for other kids. They are going to sit in a VIP seat afterall, so they should look like one. By that time, Arjohn and Joan had a manager already so there was really no need for us to buy them clothes. As for the rest of the kids, we bought everything from head to toe. We had a blast doing a makeover for them. At 4 pm we rushed to their hotel and asked them to take a bath. And they made a swimming pool out of a bath tub. They were excited to see their rooms since they got a bed by themselves. We did not have time to linger that much so when everyone is dressed up and ready to go, we went straight to the Chaster Gathering.
We were a bit late. Everyone was eating already by that time. The kids were briefly introduced to the other chasters. We rushed to the venue since it was almost 8 pm already. But of course, the concert started a bit late too which was a good thing since chasters had time to distribute glowsticks. We let them settle in their seats and bought them snacks and after a while, after they saw chasters distributing glowsticks, they volunteered to help out themselves. Cute little chasters trying to promote Charice to people who paid 15K for their tickets.
I went back to my seat and sat from a distance. And it looks like they were having a blast. At one point they were even standing up and dancing to the music. As we went out of the Coliseum that night, head was aching. Stomach grumbling (I couldn’t even remember if I have eaten that day), I thought to myself, why am I doing this again? Seeing the kids’ faces, remembering how their faces lit up when Cha walked in the room, recalling how giddy they all were in meeting Charice, seeing their smiles were from ear to ear when Charice was hugging them. After seeing this, I thought to myself, that this is the reason why I do what I do.
Just like previous moderators and organizers made a way for me (a complete stranger for them at that time) to meet Charice, I wanted to “Pay it Forward” to other people as well, both chasters and non-chasters alike. That way, Charice’s reach and inspiration would be more extensive. “Pay it Forward” is an old concept and it seems to be a utopia dream. It has been criticized by many because not all people would be essentially good and would pay it forward to other people. Promotes free riders. I would like to believe though that Paying it Forward or rather Paying “Charice” forward would help change someone’s life in a positive way. And the more it would be put into practice, more people would hear the voice of Charice. Paying It Forward relies on cooperation, so I intend to do my part – and I have done it. I hope you will too.
By Team Charicemania, Charicemania.com
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