by Martin Nanawa, ChildFund Philippines
Children in ChildFund Philippines’ programs and a few of their school peers received a special treat last Sunday when David Archuleta made a surprise appearance at a ChildFund gathering held at a local school.
Children from the Teatro Bu-bot [arm-in-arm] Children’s Advocacy Theater had prepared all week to mount their much-touted “Many Faces of Poverty” performance for ChildFund Philippines National Director Katherine Manik, and her unspecified guest.
Little did they know that the special guest would turn out to be none other than recording artist David Archuleta, who is in the Philippines filming a television miniseries.
Archuleta, now 21, who finished runner up in the seventh season of American Idol in 2008, teamed with ChildFund for his 2011 My Kind of Christmas tour. He is also sponsoring a child from Honduras, his mother’s native country.
Archuleta has developed a large fan base in the Philippines since his American Idol debut and through his three previous visits to Manila. Filipinos are highly anticipating the upcoming miniseries Nandito Ako, starring Archuleta and local talents.
His unannounced appearance on Sunday caught the children by surprise. Thrilled and starstruck, the children quickly recovered to deliver the program they’d prepared.
Archuleta fell silent during the troupe’s simple performance, which the children themselves conceptualized, articulating the different faces that poverty and disadvantage assumes in their community. The 10-minute skit is wordless, preferring to describe exploitation, vice and neglect through music, movement and expressive dance.
Masks partially obscure each of their faces as they depict society’s fevers, which are shed finally through the expression of children’s growing cognizance and assertion of their rights and responsibilities. The skit illustrates how children, their community and ChildFund help foster an environment conducive to the totality of each child’s life and identity.
Moved by the performance that he described as “amazing” and “powerful,” Archuleta took the floor in turn, regaling the children with an a capella rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water,” followed by an encore of Robbie Williams’ “Angels.”
Archuleta then spent time meeting the children in small groups. Though he currently sponsors a child in Honduras, Sunday’s gathering was the first time Archuleta had the opportunity to interact with children in ChildFund’s programs.
The theater troupe, sponsored children and even the school’s marching band had time to ask Archuleta questions and share stories of what sponsorship means to them.
With translation assistance by ChildFund Philippines Program Director Mark Dasco, sponsored children told Archuleta: “Please help us share the privilege of sponsorship with others, by inviting more people to sponsor [children].”
As the event came to an end, many children said they would long remember this exciting day. As he departed, Archuleta expressed his happiness at meeting the children: “Gosh, I feel so good today! Thank you so much for this experience!”