(top) The undoubtedly spectacular Loboc Children’s Choir with one of its amazing songs  (bottom) A truly magical Loboc  performer, 11-year old Julia Marie Mandin (top) The undoubtedly spectacular Loboc Children’s Choir with one of its amazing songs (bottom) A truly magical Loboc performer, 11-year old Julia Marie Mandin

THE LAUDABLE LOBOC CHILDREN’S CHOIR CONCERT TOUR TO REBUILD BOHOL by MARIA SMITH

On June 27 at Federation Square, the Boholanos of Melbourne were undoubtedly excited and proud to welcome their national treasures: the Loboc Children’s Choir members who according to Bohol Governor Atty Edgar Chatto “have brought great pride and honor” to themselves and the whole Philippines through the best use of their “acumen, skills and God-given talents to rebuild Bohol and connect communities”.
Indeed the wintry Melbourne weather was not enough to dampen the excitement brought about by the arrival of this internationally- acclaimed children’s choir with “angelic voices and perfect harmonies” sending awesome spine-tingling sensations among the audience which included Consul Felix Pintado who thanked the tour organisers for bringing the children of Bohol to Melbourne “with their gift of song, to express their yearning for friendship and for peace”.
Most importantly, the Bohol concert musical remembered and celebrated
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the Boholanos’ resilience through coming to terms with two natural disasters that hit the island of Bohol within a matter of two weeks in October and November 2013, one a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and a powerfully devastating typhoon Haiyan, both damaging Bohol’s historic century-old churches and buildings.
What is unique and equally impressive about this tour is the portrayal of the Boholanos’ transformation through these catastrophes. The musical also popularly referred to as Bohol Rising dramatized the whole process of change in three parts. The first, before the earthquake with Bohol pictured as bountiful and heavenly tropical, with the Loboc children singing songs of optimism, faith and warmth.
On the other hand, Part Two was the heartbreaking portrayal of the fateful morning exactly at 8:13 on October 15, 2013 when the earthquake struck the whole of Bohol. Songs were of panic, pain, anguish, confusion and sadness. It was during this part that most of the audience uncontrollably wept with a heavy heart feeling helpless for those in Bohol whose lives had been changed forever.
For the final 30 minutes, songs of renewal, creative energy, love and wisdom filled the concert hall with the Dulaang Kasing Sining performers portraying “a new realm of possibilities to create a much more prepared, stronger, creative Bohol”.
There are a few things worth mentioning during this event however one of the most significant would be that the awesomely impressive Loboc Children’s Choir has been considered by Bohol “as one of its important national cultural treasures”, established in 1981 by a team of teachers from the Loboc Central Elementary School, led by its deeply passionate and dedicated musical conductor Alma Fernando Taldo.
The choir, composed of children aged from nine to fifteen, has performed in Europe, the United States, China, Korea, Vietnam and Singapore, also having performed before dignitaries “with no less than Queen Sofia of Spain and the late beloved Pope John Paul in attendance”.
The Loboc Choir came to Melbourne to help raise funds for the restoration of Bohol’s churches, schools and homes wiped out during the 2013 back-to-back calamity. They have also toured Canberra, Sydney and New Zealand, welcomed by the Strathewen community to share devastating stories of their own 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
So a big thank you to the sponsors and donors, and particularly to the Melbourne Organising Committee: Jose Roberto Guevarra (Chair) from RMIT University; Marianne D. Sison (RMIT University); Raul Hernandez (Australian Centre of Further Education); Paul Hopcraft (Leaders for Change); former Consul Gigi Kalong (Philippine Tours); and (ad honorem) Consul Felix Pintado for giving us the opportunity to also witness the impacts of Bohol’s devastation and while sharing this experience do our bit to contribute wholeheartedly to rebuilding lives in Bohol. On the other hand, the impressively unequalled cultural performance is absolutely delicious icing on a huge cake!
And in return, the amazing Musical Director Alma F. Taldo reiterated: “We also celebrate with deep gratitude the trust, generosity and solidarity of the Filipino and Australian communities in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney for being very gracious hosts, committed organizers and appreciative audiences. We cannot thank you enough.”

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