Just like everybody else, RnB singers Jay-R and Kris Lawrence were also deeply affected by the devastation in central Visayas, brought about by tropical cyclone Yolanda, which made landfall in the country on November 8.
In an interview today, November 18, at Dayrit’s Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City, both Jay-R and Kris reflected on the heartbreaking images they saw from news reports about the typhoon.
Kris tells PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other media: “Sa SAS [Sunday All Stars] kahapon, nagulat kami because the opening of the show was a VTR.
“Ako, then katabi ko si Kyla, and pinapakita nila iyong mga clips ng GMA News sa Tacloban. Ako at saka si Kyla, hindi namin napigilang umiyak talaga.
“Kasi ako, bilang tatay na, bilang daddy na, isang… There was one clip where the mom was holding the baby, and [the baby] was dead. She was just holding her, and parang it hit me agad.
“As soon as I saw that scene, umiyak na ako. ‘Tapos narinig ko si Kyla, parang, ‘Oh, my God. Oh, my God.’ Nakita ko sa peripheral vision ko [lumuluha] na siya.”
As father to one-year-old Katrence Lawrence, his daughter with actress Katrina Halili, images of perished children easily break Kris's heart.
“Ako, same din,” Jay-R says of his reaction to the montage of pictures and videos that showed the tragic aftermath of the calamity.
“Actually, I don’t really like to watch the news kasi puro negative, e. Ano, e, nakakasakit talaga [ng damdamin]. I just like to read about it na lang.
“Pero noong nakita na namin iyong intro talaga, hindi ko napigilan, e. Hindi naman ako naiyak, pero lalabas na siya talaga, e. It’s very sad.”
Kris adds, “’Tapos, meron ding isang video doon, there was a girl being interviewed, sabi niya, ‘Huwag na kayong pumunta dito kasi ako na lang iyong buhay dito. Lahat sila patay na, ako lang [ang nabuhay].’”
“‘Si Nanay, si Tatay, iyong anak ko, iyong asawa ko, patay na sila lahat.’ Iyon, kaya nakakaiyak talaga,” Jay-R continued.
SOUL BROTHERS. The two artists, who have known each other since their high school years, are now banding together to stage a charity concert at the Music Museum on Friday, November 22.
The show is dubbed Soul Brothers, a fitting title that actually means three things for both Kris and Jay-R.
One, the concert serves as a celebration of their “brotherhood,” which started almost 16 years ago at the St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City, California.
“I think now is the perfect time, kasi we’ve been in the industry for years na, and we’ve been working on our profiles each.
“So, now that medyo ganito [pantay] na kami ni Kris, you know, it’s the perfect time to do a concert and not, you know, iyong… he’s helping me or I’m helping him, ganoon.
“Ngayon is the perfect, perfect time na both our followers can just come and watch.
“Kasi dati, medyo we’re still working on our careers pa and our following, e, ngayon medyo okay na, like we have 50 fans na each, so puwede na kaming mag-Music Museum,” jests Jay-R.
Also, the title Soul Brothers takes a literal meaning, as the word “soul” stands for their favorite music genres: soul and RnB.
The concert’s theme is inspired by the Hollywood film The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann.
“What we came up with is iyong theme niya is big band, so iyong mga songs namin, it’s gonna be converted to big band.
“So, kahit na RnB siya, kahit na bago, it’s gonna be twisted to big band style, and also the old songs we’re gonna modernize it.
“Big band na modern din, kaya we’re trying to capture the young and the older market as well,” Jay-R explains.
Lastly, the concert title reflects their shared passion to help their countrymen, their “soul brothers” in need, through the power of music.
Jay-R explains, “Gusto naming pumunta, actually, to really help people, give food, and help clear the roads, mga ganoon.
“But, we think it will be more effective talaga if we do it through music and raise [funds].
"We’re going for 1 Million pesos and then we’re gonna donate that.”
Jay-R says he would be personally monitor their donation to assure that it goes to their intended recipients.
“Gusto ko ngang i-monitor, e, kasi I want to allocate it sa mga towns around Tacloban, because Tacloban is getting ano, e, their the most… saturated na sila, e, kasi they’re the bottleneck na.
“Lahat ng mga pumapasok doon, it just stops there sa Tacloban, and it’s not spreading to the other towns.
"So, I wanna encourage the Red Cross to really help out the surrounding areas din, hindi lang Tacloban.”
Tickets for the concert are now sold out, according to Jay-R.
However, interested donors are still welcome to drop by the Music Museum on Friday night, as volunteers from the Philippine Red Cross will be stationed at the venue to collect additional donations.
REMEMBERING TACLOBAN. Kris and Jay-R also told PEP.ph their fond memories of doing concerts in Leyte.
Both have been to Tacloban before, and they clearly recall the warmth shown to them by the locals.
Kris says he was really saddened when he saw, on the news, a post-storm image of the hotel he used to stay at in the city.
“It’s barely unrecoganizable,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jay-R could only think of the people he met during his time there.
“What I can’t forget talaga is pag nag-Tacloban show kami, it’s always a big venue, e, so there’s always thousands of people there.
“Paglabas namin, they always show us love. Siyempre, ano, sigawan, palakpakan… That’s what I can’t forget.
“Kasi, di ba, ang dami nang namatay doon, mga pamilya, so the last thing I remember was super saya, 'tapos ganito iyong nangyayari.”
Jay-R was referring to the Tacloban City Astrodome, which served as an early evacuation center for residents, who lived in danger zones.
Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be a safe haven as the astrodome got flooded when the storm surge came, therefore drowning a number of evacuees inside.
A MESSAGE FOR SURVIVORS. Both Kris and Jay-R realize how particularly difficult the coming Christmas will be for the entire nation.
“Ang hirap sumaya,” says Kris.
“Kahit sa instagram ang hirap mag-post ng masayang picture, di ba?”
But Jay-R believes this is the perfect opportunity for people to rekindle their relationships with their families.
“I really wanna go home this Christmas na talaga, kasi this tragedy, it makes you really appreciate life, kasi ganoon, e, split-second lang talaga pwede kang mawala, e.”
Jay-R will be spending Christmas in Los Angeles, California, while Kris will be staying in Manila with his partner Katrina and their daughter Katrence.
As a parting shot, Jay-R and Kris leave these messages for the survivors of Yolanda:
“Like I said in my song ‘It’s Not The End,’ this is a new beginning. You just have to pick up the pieces and glue them back and do whatever it takes to get back on track.
“Just never stop believing because this is not the end,” says Kris.
“Tama. Sa lahat ng mga victims, sana you don’t lose hope kasi ang daming tao talaga na tumutulong sa inyo and hindi kayo pinababayaan.
“Nandito kami talaga, nagtatrabaho para makabigay sa inyo ng mga pagkain, mga tubig… So, don’t lose hope. Nandito kami, and konting struggle na lang mag-okay din iyan,” ends Jay-R.