Philippine Consul General Henry Bensurto, Jr. (center) and his wife Madame Mariza Bensurto (2nd from right) are joined by ABS-CBN Foundation International Managing Director Jerry Bennett (2nd from left) and his wife Marcelle Bennett (left) and Hero Donor Rod Mercado of Financial Rescue. (Photo courtesy of Jean Jade Van Possel)
You know the saying, “Throw kindness around like confetti?” That is exactly how it felt like during the TFC Unity Cup Gala and Awards Night recently held at the South San Francisco Convention Center.
Around 300 people – community leaders, golfers, donors and friends came out to support the fundraiser for the children of Bantay Bata (Child Watch), a child rescue program under the ABS-CBN Foundation.
ABS-CBN Chairman Emeritus Gabby Lopez was pleased with the incredible show of support from the community and partners. He expressed that “The Bantay Bata kids really thank the Filipino-Americans for the outpouring of support that they’ve shown us. We can see the Filipino American in America has really come of maturity. There’s a lot more of them now than there used to be, and there are a lot of them that are very successful, and they’re looking for a way to give back to the motherland.”
(L-R) Chairman Emeritus Gabby Lopez, Karen Coloma, Digital Partnership & Integration Head Connie Lopez, and ABS-CBN Corporation Chairman Mark Lopez at the TFC Unity Cup Gala. (Photo courtesy of PLCarrion)
The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco came out to support Bantay Bata in full force. (L-R) Consul Jed Martin Llona; Deputy Consul General Raquel Solano; Consul General Henry Bensurto, Jr; Madam Mariza Bensurto; Consul Carlyn Monastrial; Consul Andre Estanislao; and Joy Estrella Calunsag, Secretary to the Consul General. (Photo courtesy of Charles Vilale)
ABS-CBN Corporation Chairman Mark Lopez (center) is joined by his wife and Digital Partnership & Integration Head Connie Lopez (left), Executive Office Liaison Officer Jay Lirio (2nd from left), Executive Assistant MJ Beggs (2nd from right), and Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Managing Director Susan Afan (right). (Photo courtesy of Jean Jade Van Possel)
(L-R) Managing Director for North & Latin America Jun Del Rosario, ABS-CBN Foundation International’s Office & Development Manager Alma Magsambol, AFI Managing Director Jerry Bennett, and Regional Marketing Head for North & Latin America Pam Castillo. (Photo courtesy of Jean Jade Van Possel)
It was an incredible evening of dinner, raffles, awards, and a show headlined by the Philippines’ Concert King Martin Nievera. Adobo Nation’s Ginger Conejero and Global Business Unit Head for TFC.tv/TFC Online Enrique Olives, who was also lead for the golf tournament hosted the awards portion, with Lee Robin Salazar joining Conejero for the main show.
ABS-CBN Foundation International Managing Director Jerry Bennett says that “For the 2nd TFC Unity Cup, we hope to raise $150 thousand and break it down to $50k for scholarship for 23 senior high school students; $50k for life-saving medical assistance for kids who have serious illnesses; and another $50k for the four-month feeding program of 833 kids. That’s money that will go to the children who need help.”
Bantay Bata is now celebrating its 21st year of existence, and with the funds raised they hope to dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of children.
Celebrating the Champions
Winners of the inaugural TFC Unity Cup Golf Tournament were also awarded at the gala.
Global Business Unit Head for TFC.tv/TFC Online Enrique Olives, who was also lead for the golf tournament, shared that strategy for this year’s tourney was to go for quality and not quantity. “Green Hills is limited to a field of 110 players. Hopefully next year we can hold it in a 36-hole course and have 250 players and they’re out for a good cause and we can raise even more funds for the ABS-CBN Foundation,” said Olives.
Father-and-son team, Renato and Michael Fortaleza, won in the Best-Dressed category for the second year in a row. Their yellow shirts were purchased in the Philippines when they travelled on the PAL ticket won at last year’s raffle. The shirt design honors Michael’s mother’s side who is Igorot, and it was made by Easter Weaving in Baguio, in the northern region of the Philippines.
Renato jokes that since they are not likely to win at playing golf, they might as well arrive as the best-dressed.
Impressive Performances from Talented Entertainers
Aside from the awarding ceremony, there were performances from local Bay Area performing group Noriel Adricula, Janelle Feraro, and the Bantay Bata Voices. Adricula himself is an ABS-CBN Foundation International community ambassador for the Bay Area. He says that his favorite advocacy is Bantay Bata, “it is a cliché, but the children are the hope of the world and they deserve better treatment than what they are getting.”
Adricula started Bantay Bata Voices, a church-based children’s choir who shares their gift of music trough worship and by performing in benefit concerts for Bantay Bata.
Ellona Santiago, from “The X-Factor” show also wowed the audience with her show-stopping front-act performance.
Throughout the evening, the Foundation expressed its gratitude and appreciation to their generous donors by awarding them certificates of recognition.
Donors included Philippine Airlines, Jollibee, Megaworld, Unilever, Pass-It-Forward, Seafood City, Alphagraphics, Insperity, Remitly, South Main Rejuvenation Center, Martin Purefoods, the Law Offices of Michael Gurfinkel, Financial Rescue, Goldilocks, Jazzy France, Flowers & Events by Dani, South San Francisco Conference Center, Noriel Adricula, Maribeth Lalongisip, and Chris Grande.
The headliner of the evening, Philippine Concert King Martin Nievera, gave a delightful performance to the gala attendees. Nievera regaled the audience with his beloved songs and took time to go to the crowd and oblige them with some selfies and sing-alongs.
Nievera is a long-time believer and supporter of the Foundation. He shares that, “I believe in all of the ABS-CBN Foundation advocacies. I’m very passionate about them like Bantay Bata (Child Watch) and Sagip Kapamilya (Save the Family). Wherever there’s a need, I think we artists have a responsibility to be ready and willing when the call comes. I’m proud to help draw and encourage people to give.”
Hope for the Children
The gala proved to be a very inspiring evening for the organizers and the attendees.
Susan Afan, Managing Director of Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, recounted that “Gina Lopez started Bantay Bata 21 years ago. It started with a young boy, Jessie, who she found living in a box. Since that time, the Foundation has transformed the lives of thousands of children who were helped by Bantay Bata, that is now on its 21st year.”
They have Bantay Edukasyon scholars like John Paul Moreno, who recently graduated from the University of the Philippines, despite their unfortunate circumstances where his parents never even imagined they could afford an education for their son. Moreno was able to realize his dream through the Foundation’s kindhearted donors.
ABS-CBN Foundation Chairman Raffy Lopez also narrates the story of Cristel Nicolas. “She was rescued and provided scholarships through Bantay Bata since second grade. Cristel is now 25 years old and is a registered nurse who serves at a local hospital in the Philippines. She is able to pay forward to others the good deed that she received from Bantay Bata.”
The evening’s merry festivities were matched by the generous deluge of additional on-the-spot cash donations and pledges that raised the amount collected that evening. Bennet proudly shared that “We raised more than 200K for both the golf and gala events.”
Lopez said, “Good begets good, and that’s what all of you are doing here tonight. I join the hearts, minds and the souls of all our children whose names you probably don’t even know, but whose lives you’ve touched and changed for the better. From our hearts, thank you to all of you.”