One of the amazing things about the Love146 safe homes: There is music everywhere. The kids seem to always be singing, dancing, listening to music, and making it themselves, learning instruments and singing together on the bus on their way to a weekend outing. Given their histories, it wouldn’t be surprising if life experience had robbed them of the song and dance that ought to live in the hearts of children.
BUT LOVE HAS GIVEN THEIR MUSICAL SPIRITS BACK TO THEM.
The children in the Round Home and the White Home perform in a rondalla, a traditional Spanish musical ensemble now adopted into Filipino culture. (See their recent holiday concert here — you’ll be very impressed!) In March, they surprised Dr. Gundelina Velazco with a special birthday song. They had practiced it in secret to celebrate “Mommy Doctora” on her special day and thank her for all she does as the director of Survivor Care in the Philippines. And the Love146 Rondalla has a growing fanbase: This spring, the administrator of a local elementary school invited them to perform at a student awards ceremony. The audience loved the music, and many of the children are already excited for their next concert.
Some of the older clients have started to play drums. Of course, this means the littler ones want to learn, too! Peggy, age 7, got to practice some basic patterns with her friend. And Lucia may only be one and a half, but that didn’t stop her from rocking out!
EVERY CHILD IS INVITED TO BRING THEIR TALENTS TO THE MUSIC SCENE.
Bandurria, voice, lute, and guitar (even plastic ones) are important parts of life in the safe homes.
As much fun as it is to perform, it’s also great to just listen and enjoy other people’s music. On a recent outing, the Love146 staff took the children to a restaurant for lunch. To everyone’s surprise, a group of singers and guitarists came to play for them as they ate! They even took requests and performed the children’s favorite songs. The best moment, though, was when the band started to play “Sway,” the 1954 Dean Martin song. It was actually the three youngest girls — 6-year-old Julieta, 3-year-old Yamile, and baby Lucia — who got up to dance together. And Love146 works with some amazing dancers. Really amazing dancers.
There are moments when you can glimpse music working its magic on a person or a community. A shared drum set means inclusion; songs on the bus mean childhood; learning to read music means agency; an evening of silly dancing means freedom. And holding your friends’ hands while you listen to live guitar: That means that there are good and beautiful things in this world that we can hold close and sway with.
MORE OFTEN, THOUGH, MUSIC IS SORT OF A MYSTERY. WE DON’T QUITE KNOW WHY IT HAS THE POWER THAT IT DOES.
But it does change things. The kids we work with know it well. “The Round Home didn’t just give me food and education. They also filled my life with music. I feel good every time I hear music,” said Jasmine, aged 9. And 10-year-old Crystal agrees: “Music itself can make a person happy.”