ABS-CBN strengthened the bridge between Manila and San Francisco last Friday, February 12, with a star-studded night showcasing Filipino music and culture.
The network's Studio 10 was witness to the gracious welcome extended by ABS-CBN executives to members of the San Francisco-Manila Sister City Committee (SFMSCC), and guest of honor Hon. Willie L. Brown.
Brown, a former mayor of San Francisco who served in office from 1996 to 2004, accompanied the committee to Manila for a series of meetings with Philippine government officials. The committee also donated to ABS-CBN $10,000 to help in the network's efforts to clean up the Pasig River.
In a pre-show speech, ABS-CBN Foundation Managing Director Gina Lopez thanked Brown and the committee for the donation.
"Mayor Willie Brown has always been an ally... an advocate for Filipino-Americans," she told the members of the committee.
ABS-CBN President & COO Charo Santos Concio, meanwhile, praised Brown for his help to TFC (The Filipino Channel) in its efforts to reach Filipinos in the U.S. The American politician was instrumental in the success of TFC in the United States.
"This would not have been possible without Brown... he lobbied to put TFC in cable homes," the host of Maalaala Mo Kaya said.
PERFORMANCES. In gratitude, ABS-CBN hosted a a luscious all-Pinoy dinner for Brown and his company, complete with a mini-concert featuring some of the network's brightest stars.
In the pre-dinner show, the guests were treated to the live shooting of a documentary titled Harana. Directed by San Francisco-based director Benito Bautista, Harana aims to immortalize the traditional Filipino serenades.
Master haranistas Felipe Alonzo, Celestino Aniel, and Romeo Bergunio made the foreign guests swoon with classic Filipino love songs "O Ilaw," "Dungawin Mo Hirang," and "Kay Lungkot Nitong Hating Gabi."
For dinner, 9501 Restaurant served guests Pinoy dishes like Lechon de Leche sa Ensaladang Pinakbet, Sopas Munggo, Kalderetang Baka, and Pastillas de Leche.
Bureau of Immigration and classical guitarist Marcelino "Nonoy" Libanan also entertained the audience by playing popular tunes like Santana's "Game of Love" and "Smooth."
Shortly afterwards, hosts Ricky Carandang and Nikki Gil introduced the first production number, a dance showcase featuring a fusion of modern and classical dance. Dancing mavens Vhong Navarro and Maja Salvador traded energetic moves with ABS-CBN's sultry dance divas, Saicy Aguila, Gem Ramos, and Nina Dolino. Also in the same number were dance groups X10 and the Philippine Ballet Theatre.
The production number that followed was a fashion show featuring Filipino beauty queens Ruffa Gutierrez, Lara Quigaman, Miriam Quiambao, Karla Henry, and Sandra Seifert. Martin Nievera and Richard Poon serenaded the ladies with popular big band tunes like "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Moon River."
Next up was a medley of OPM songs by Pop Princess Sarah Geronimo, Little Big Star alumnus Rhap Salazar, and the Hail Mary Children's Choir. Their rousing finale featuring Ariel Rivera's "Tunay na Ligaya" elicited cheers from the audience.
The last production number featured distinguished Pinoy artists Lea Salonga, Dulce, Bituin Escalante, Michael Williams, and Robert Seña performing the greatest songs ever performed on Broadway, including "At The End of the Day" and "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables.
The finale brought all the artists back to the stage singing "Heal The World/We Are The World."
Truly, the evening not only aimed to honor San Francsico Mayor Brown and the San Francisco-Manila Sister City Committee, but also to showcase unique Filipino culture through music and dance.