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Free concerts set for soldiers to get their minds off scandal

/ 09:20 AM April 19, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—A group of celebrity singers led by presidential ally Ogie Alcasid will perform in various military camps to cheer up the soldiers amid a corruption scandal involving former top military officials.

Alcasid said he and fellow officers in the  Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM)—Noel Cabangon, Cookie Chua and Mitch Valdes—will start with a concert at the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo on April 27.

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Alcasid is currently president of the OPM which promotes Filipino music. Cabangon is OPM vice president while Valdes is board chair.

The pop band Syato Banda will also perform in the Camp Aguinaldo concert dubbed “Himigsikan 2011: ROCKrakan para sa Kapayapaan.”

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Three military bands will also be rocking with them on stage—the Philippine Marine Corps Combo, the Philippine Navy Seabees, and the Philippine Air Force 710th SPOW Combo. Navy Lt. Chat Alvaro is also on the bill.

Alcasid said they would rather entertain soldiers than join noisy anti-government protests.

He said that sometime in February, he thought of going to military camps to boost the morale of the soldiers after learning how troop morale had been affected by a corruption scandal involving former AFP chiefs of staff. In a public survey, the military emerged as the most corrupt agency in government.

Cabangon, another presidential supporter, readily agreed to the idea of cheering up the soldiers, according to Alcasid. Cabangon’s former group, Buklod, was behind the revolutionary song, “Tatsulok.”

“It must be difficult for them… It’s just our way of saying, we performers, we artists, we’re here for you. We are behind you. We support you, we support the new leadership and let’s start anew,” Alcasid told reporters after he called on AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. on Monday to discuss concert details.

He said the performers also planned to visit at least two other camps.

“Actually I’m not really in government… I don’t make a single centavo from what I do. I’m doing this as an ordinary citizen,” Alcasid said.

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“I’m happy that I’m in an organization called OPM and apparently all of the members have the same mindset. We don’t want to join those who shout, ‘Overthrow (the government),’ things like that,” he said.

“You know all of us can complain about the many things that are going on in our society, even in government. But if you’re not going to do anything about it … I choose to be proactive. I choose to do things that I believe do not spread intrigue, do not criticize,” he said.

Alcasid said they would like to serve like Bob Hope, the iconic American actor-comedian who entertained United States troops in the frontlines for decades.

AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3) Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. admitted the corruption scandal had affected the troops.

“This is a big booster. You know we’ve been getting it from all sides and we certainly appreciate this. We really are happy that friends are helping us,” he said.

The Camp Aguinaldo concert will be held on April 27 at 6 p.m. at the AFP grandstand.

A multicultural gathering and a “boodle fight” among 100 delegates from Muslim youths, indigenous people, Christians and young officers will kick off the concert.

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TAGS: Celebrities, Entertainment, Graft & Corruption, Military, Music
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