The charity concert, the first of its kind held in Tantzu, raised NT$236,000 for the Ugnayan Migrant and Immigrant Center, said the Reverend Joy Tajonera, the spark plug of Ugnayan.
The community event was conceptualized, produced, and directed by Filipino volunteers led by Ugnayan's Leonie Estevez, Shirley Castillo, Donna Fortu, Gerry Petremetre, Ricky Taccad, Maria Adel Tolentino, Cheng Lagman, Tess Trinidad, Grace Tsai, Gina Nicdao, John, Randy de Guzman, and Annabelle Chen. The Ugnayan Migrant Choir, Band and Dance Troupe; Singles and Couples for Christ; the El Shaddai Community; and Filipinos Married to Taiwanese all chipped in to make the event a tremendous success.
"I had nothing to do with this major production," said a beaming Tajonera.
"Credit should go solely to those tireless workers who gave up whatever free time they had to rehearse, set up the stage, prepare the food, and promote this event. They should give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done. I'm extremely proud of them."
Mounting a six-hour entertainment program and fundraising is no mean feat - especially if you are a "baby" ministry with no money, no full-time staff, and no major institution to back you up.
Ugnayan however proved last Sunday that it could be done provided that you had dedicated individuals who were willing to forego sleep, sacrifice their leisure hours, and slave away for nothing.
"We never had anything like this in Tantzu before," an exhausted but happy Ricky Taccad said.
"We owe it all to Father Joy. He inspired us; he believed in us. He told us we could do it, and we did," the Ugnayan choir director continued.
The workers did not only stave off feelings of isolation, loneliness and homesickness by participating in the Ugnayan charity fundraising; they were also able to expand their social networks by being active members of the communities that they live in, Tajonera said.
By doing so, they were able to empower themselves, he continued.
The party kicked off at around 4 p.m. with various Filipino dance groups and aspiring singers from the Tantzu Export Processing Zone prepping up the exuberant crowd for a night of music and fun.
At 6 p.m., four priests - Tajonera, Father Bud Humphrey, Father Benny Garcia, and Father Jimmy Cabuntucan - celebrated the Holy Eucharist.
In his homily, Tajonera thanked all the volunteers, performers, religious leaders, and businesses that supported Tantzu's first New Year's Day charity concert.
"Those volunteers had been preparing for this event as early as last Friday. The moment they got off work, they headed straight for Ugnayan and the auditorium to install whatever needed to be installed. Many of them had been denied their sleep," the priest said.
Last Sunday, Ugnayan's team of cooks had been chopping, braising, marinating, and frying vegetables and meat as early as 4 a.m., he added.
"They cooked pancit (stir-fried noodles with vegetables) and two types of pork adobo for you. The food is free," Tajonera said. The center prepared 500 food boxes. "After the mass, you may drop by Ugnayan and get your free dinner."
The priest also thanked money transfer specialist Western Union for sponsoring the party. The financial services company spent nearly NT$120,000 for the concert, he said.
"Western Union paid for the auditorium and the sound system, and donated the cash prizes," Tajonera said. "Without this company's help, we would not have been able to hold the show."
The priest also singled out the Reverend Bud Humphrey for donating his own money to Ugnayan. The priest, who has been based in Taiwan for 52 years, contributed NT$100,000 to the migrant center.
Ugnayan, housed in a six-story building, welcomes migrants from all walks of life. The center is located near the Tantzu Export Processing Zone and the Tantzu Train Station. Approximately 3,000 migrants live and work in the said area.
The groundfloor, christened "Grace's Place," is a 24-hour chapel and prayer room. "We are dedicating this to the pioneers, and that includes Grace Tsai who has been supporting us from Day One," Tajonera said in an earlier interview.
The second floor is a multi-purpose hall, and is ideal for Bible studies, birthday parties, and migrants' social activities. It has been named "Bing Go Hall" in honor of Filipino entrepreneur Bing Go, said the priest.
The third floor features a common kitchen and dining room. Christened "Ely's Place" in honor of Ely and Cora Vidal Gonzalez, this area now boasts an industrial-sized stove. The fourth floor, dedicated to Father Bud Humphrey, will serve as a computer room and library.
"Father Bud Humphrey is now 78 years old, and age has not stopped him from providing assistance to migrants. Remember, he even took money out of his own pocket so that we could rent that building. He is an amazing individual," Tajonera said in an earlier interview.
The fifth floor is the Women's Hall, and the top floor is named "El Shaddai Garden." The latter features a brand-new barbecue grill.
"We can truly call Ugnayan the Migrant and Immigrant Center in Tantzu. (Migrants) can come visit, relax, pray, and use the center for their programs and projects. The center is not just a place where they can socialize and pray, it's also a place where they can learn. We will have computer lessons, Chinese classes, and soon, a lecture series," he said.
The entertainment program at last Sunday's Ugnayan New Year's Day fundraising featured El Shaddai, the Ugnayan Migrant Music Ministry, and the Ugnayan Band Music Ministry (Erwin, Marvin, Nestor, Raymond, and Vergel). Filipino groups from Wintek, Spil, and Linsen, and aspiring singers Helen Geralde and Sharon Rose dished out wonderful performances. The Reverend Benny Garcia also impressed the crowd with his vocal prowess.
The party was hosted by Donna, Gerry, and Western Union's Eduardo Cobangbang.
The grand prize winner of the lucky draw (NT$20,000) was Pham Thi Hao of Changhua. Juliet L. Martinez of TEPZ and Maryjane C. Marientes of TEPZ won NT$10,000 and NT$5,000 respectively. The cash prizes were donated by Western Union. Vangie Casero of TEPZ, Bunso of Changhua, Marilou Ramilo of TEPZ, Marvie de Guzman of Tantzu in Taichung, and Aldwin Madriaga of Yuanlin won gift certificates from Bighanin Beauty Parlor.
Rommel of Mingyang, Joey Holgado of FT. Tooling, Ma.Cecille Eudela of Tanfu 1 Dormitory in Tantzu, Lowie Ngayodan of Singiin Foods Corporation in Nantou City, Marianne Lim of Shulim in Taipei County, Vernalisa Salvador of SPIL PanAsia, Romy Padolina of Minyang, Ruth A. Yang of ASE Line K5, Paul Pascual of Nantzu District in Kaohsiung City, Diovinia Castaneda of TEPZ, Sheila Anne Serense of TEPZ, Irene T. Garcia of TEPZ, Myra Huang of Hukun in Hsinchu, Willy Nemenio of F.T. Tooling, and Alvin Perez of Tali City won gift certificates courtesy of Citibank.
Winners may claim their prizes at the Ugnayan Migrant Center located at No. 390, Chungshan Road, Section 2, Tantzu, Taichung County. For inquiries, call 0930-44-6060 or 04-2534-4046.