A community of generous residents watched in awe as a group of barely driving-aged kids performed – with the utmost poise and grace – timeless classical pieces with their stringed instruments. A treat for anyone present, the Feb. 25 Philippine Typhoon Relief Concert at brought a sense of hope (and $5,170 in donations) that someone, somewhere is doing something right.
That someone is Matthew John Ignacio, a 17-year-old Cerritos resident, who --according to his dad, Paige Ignacio-- boasts a 180 IQ but even more impressive, carries a big heart.
The Talented Teen Who Put it All Together
Learning to play the piano at age 8, and then the cello at , Matthew quickly progressed and joined the orchestra. After skipping high school -- everyone's favorite (but mostly awkward) phase in life -- Matthew then took the California High School Proficiency Examination. Currently, he holds an Associate's Degree in Music from Cerritos College. Now studying pre-medicine, this talented teen hopes to enter the school's nursing program, then eventually go to medical school.
“You know how most doctors use a bio major as a pre-med?” Matthew asked. “I think it's better to have some sort of work experience, and critical background, so I thought nursing is the best.”
Amid balancing nursing pre-requisites and being part of the esteemed pro-level Colburn Chamber Orchestra (CCO), Matthew found himself immersed in the news of Typhoon Sendong hitting the Philippines on Dec. 19 of last year. Striking more than a chord within him, he took it upon himself to plan and put on the Feb. 25 concert featuring the CCO and other performers as well.
“It got up to the point where it (death count) got nearly doubled Typhoon Ondoy,” Matthew said. “And so, we're like, 'what do we do about this?' I actually played in a couple benefit concerns last year for Sendong right after it happened. I basically went up to the conductor (Maxim Eshkenazy of CCO), and surprisingly, the orchestra was all for it. Basically, I actually went on Facebook, l called up Cerritos councilmember Mark Pulido. I went to Asian Journal. Everyone was willing to help. It all came together.”
Councilmember Pulido said the outcome of the concert was a reflection of the loving and compassionate community that Cerritos represents.
“I'm proud that we were able to make a small difference,” Pulido said. “And improving the lives of those in the Philippines. It is true that one person can make a difference if they stand up and reach out.”
Although you wouldn't know it unless you asked, Matthew did most of the legwork for the concert himself. That includes using his own sound equipment, going to various local eateries to obtain food donations, and he even arranged two of the tango pieces performed, Astor Piazzolla's “Invierno Porteno from the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” and “Libertango.”
“We (Matthew's parents' Paige and Frances Ignacio) had nothing to do with the concert,” Paige said. “It was all him, from the slideshow, to getting all the performers together. We're embarrased to admit we didn't encourage him because we wanted him to focus on his pre-med studies. But what got to him was the videos of the children that died. That motivated him to do something with the orchestra.”
Concert Raises $5,170 For Typhoon Sendong Victims
The concert was well attended by Cerritos residents and members of Cerritos City Council. The “pro-level” was indeed apparent as a wall of sound filled the CPE Community Center. Eshkanazy, also of the Pacific Symphony, fiercely led the CCO through such classical favorites as Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525 and Samuel barber's “Adagio for Strings Op. 11” (the piece famously played during Willem Dafoe's death in Oliver Stone's “Platoon”). The second half of the concert featured the Immaculate Heart of Mary Children's Choir with the CCO, as well as other Filipino performers singing their renditions of pop ballads like “I Dreamed a Dream” and “We are the World.”
“We raised so much money for the Philippines,” Matthew said. “I'm pretty happy. I know we should do better. It was good, but I know there's still a lot we can do for the Philippines. I just want to keep going and helping as much as I can.”
Donations were made possible through the ABS-CBN Foundation International “Sagip Kapamilya” program. ABS-CBN major commercial television network in the Philippines owned and operated by ABS-CBN Corporation.
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DID YOU ATTEND THE FEB. 25 CONCERT? WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIKE? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MATTHEW'S USE OF HIS TALENTS TO HELP THE NEEDY?