Ms. Marixi Prieto's Philippine Daily Inquirer published a story about it yesterday (page G4).
The day they sang ‘God Bless America’
By Chelo Banal-Formoso
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: July 05, 2009
FROM the where the guests have been invited to stand, one can see the perfect lines formed by the girls, perhaps over 3,000 of them. Only discipline can make lines like these.
And then – their voices strong, their hand movements synchronized, looking like they are lit from within – they sing. God bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her, through the night with the light from above. From the mountains to the prairies, to the ocean white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home.
A choreography of emotions and amazing grace, the rendition moves Kristie Anne Kenney to tears. Even the non-Americans among the guests are misty-eyed.
“That you chose to welcome me today by learning a special song that honors my country and my heritage, and to do it so brilliantly, is a very wonderful treat,” responds Ms Kenney upon being handed the microphone. “And I know of no other nation in the world that has that kind of kindness and welcoming spirit.”
It isn’t every day that the US ambassador to the Philippines comes a-calling on the Sisters of Mary (SOM) and their wards at the Girlstown complex in Silang, Cavite. And this afternoon, she comes bearing gifts.
“I brought you some books because if you’re like me and you dream of what else is out there, you can do a lot of that through books,” she says to thunderous applause.
The girls are all in uniforms of blue and white. Marian colors. In this live-in high school founded in 1985 by Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz, reading is highly valued, but so is moral and spiritual formation. The girls are taught to live a life of simplicity, charity, gratitude and joy. Marian virtues.
None of these kids is holding an iPod or a Sony Ericsson phone or any such cool gadget for teens these days. That’s because these girls, and their fellow scholars at SOM Boystown (not to be confused with the facility for juvenile delinquents), come from dirt-poor families of Luzon and Palawan (Visayas and Mindanao are served by the SOM schools in Cebu).
At Girlstown and Boystown, they are given free education, room and board, medical and dental services, not to mention heaps of hope.
Read the full story - The day they sang ‘God Bless America’
This is the part of Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney's speech that I liked most:
“You should be very proud of the great opportunity you’re being given here"
I am a proud graduate of the Sisters of Mary School and I'll be forever grateful for everything that I've learned and received from the school, from Fr. Al. Without the Sisters of Mary School, I can't imagine what my life would be like now.
Thank you to all the the benefactors of The Sisters of Mary School!