Philippine performing group stays positive after belongings were robbed in the SF Bay Area

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

October 10, 2013

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Living a tough life is nothing new for the members of the environmental performing arts group called Mga Anak ni Inang Bayan or Children of Mother Earth. The group features young people and children who were born and raised in Smokey Mountain, a large landfill in Tondo, Manila, which was home to some 30,000 people who made a living from picking trash. Smokey Mountain operated for more than four decades and consisted more than two million metric tons of waste. The slums have been cleared since. But many poor people still call it home.

More than a dozen members of Mga Anak ni Inang Bayan are now in the U.S. for a series of shows. Here in the Bay Area, they will perform for kababayans on October 12, Saturday, 2 pm and 7 pm at the Skyline College Main Theatre in San Bruno, California. They will showcase traditional music and dances from different parts of the Philippines. Proceeds from the show will benefit the group and their projects, which include providing scholarships to poor children still living in Smokey Mountain, as well as planting trees in different areas in the Philippines.

Marciano Viri, artistic director of the group, said the performing arts has helped these young people survive their tough life. “It has taught them discipline and has given them drive to succeed,” he said.

But yesterday, as they were taking a break from rehearsals, members of the group lost their belongings in a robbery. They were being treated to a shopping spree at one of the discount stores in Daly City by Filipino community leaders when someone broke into their van, took away what little money they have, as well as the cellphones, laptops and iPads they borrowed from friends for the trip. Even their passports were taken. The group has since reported this to the police.

Aluna Villacorta, one of the group’s dancers said they are dismayed. But they leave it all up to God. “There is a reason this happened. Who knows, that person who stole our belongings, may need it more than we do,” she said.

They may be a bit shaken by the robbery, but the show must go on for these young people from Smokey Mountain. “We are excited to perform for our kababayans, who may miss the Philippines and its beautiful music and dances,” said Villacorta.

To know more about Mga Anak ni Inang Bayan and how you can help them and their projects, you may visit

For more information, Henni Espinosa can be reached at

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