REDWOOD CITY, California – A group of young Filipino performers from the Smokey Mountain in the Philippines was robbed of their belongings while in the United States for a series of shows.
Aluna Villacorta, one of the dancers of the group called "Mga Anak ni Inang Bayan" of Children of Mother Earth, said they are dismayed, but they leave it all up to God.
"Of course we are all sad but what we can do for them is to pray and continue our goal,” Villacorta said.
The incident happened while they were taking a break from rehearsals. The group was being treated to a shopping spree at one of the discount stores in Daly City by Filipino community leaders when someone broke into their van, took away what little money they have, as well as the cellphones, laptops and iPads they borrowed from friends for the trip.
Even their passports were taken. The group has since reported this to the police.
Despite the incident, the show must go on for the group.
"Yung pagsasayaw po naming buong puso po namin yung inihahandog para sa mga kababayan nating naho-homesick po," added Villacorta.
In the Bay Area, they will perform for kababayans on October 12, Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Skyline College Main Theatre in San Bruno, California.
They will showcase traditional music and dances from different parts of the Philippines. Proceeds from the show will benefit the group and their projects, which include providing scholarships to poor children still living in Smokey Mountain, as well as planting trees in different areas in the Philippines.
The group features young people and children who were born and raised in Smokey Mountain, a large landfill in Tondo, Manila, which was home to some 30,000 people who made a living from picking trash. Smokey Mountain operated for more than four decades and consisted more than two million metric tons of waste. The slums have been cleared since. But many poor people still call it home.
Marciano Viri, artistic director of the group, said the performing arts has helped their members survive their tough life.
"Napakalaki po ng naitulong ng disiplina ng performing arts sa mga kabataang ito. Unang-una po hindi po sila naligaw ng landas tulad ng ibang kabataan nakatira sa Smokey Mountain. Naging priority po nila ang kanilang pagaaral at nalaman po nila ang halaga ng buhay," said Viri.