Food for the Soul

Words of Wisdom

A Concert for a Great Cause from a World Class Performer

As an avid supporter of Gawad Kalinga (to give care in the English language), Stephanie Reese, a California based Filipino-American world class diva and actress brought delight to the Bicolanos when she gave a powerful rendition of her breathtaking performance and belted out a wonderful repertoire of her favorite classic operas, Bicol song, Broadway and OPM hits at Ashley's Function Hall, Mark Nancy Bldg. in Iriga City, Philippines last night, 20 April 2009 (Monday). The proceeds from her concert will go to Gawad Kalinga-Fulger's Village in Buhi, Camarines Sur, Philippines as she pledged for 30 units/homes in the said Gawad Kalinga site and will name after her, Stephanie Reese's Village.

Stephanie (middle) with Dra. Gina & Bro. Dennis Ampongan

Stephanie (3rd from right) with some of Iriga City GK Caretaker Team

I was fortunate enough to watch the show of this petite but beautiful lady with huge and powerful voice. In the middle of her show, she shared and narrated how she got involved with Gawad Kalinga and she hoped that her story will bring inspiration to the work in GK. Stephanie came to know GK after she had a wonderful and amazing European singing and acting careers and came back to the US where she wrote a one-woman-show and decided to be a solo performer. She recounted that her life was so blessed and even more than that, she was madly and deeply in love with her boyfriend named John until a tragic car accident took her boyfriend's life.

She was grief-stricken so badly that she decided to stop singing and acting because she couldn't get out of bed. "I didn't believe in God anymore because I couldn't understand how God could be so cruel that He took away the person I love so much," she said in tears.

After John's untimely demise, she received a call from an aunt in Seattle (where her parents are now residing) and asked her to sing for a Filipino event. At first, she said no because she already given up singing but as a good Filipina daughter, she succumbed to the request of her parents. From LA, she travelled to Seattle to sing for Gawad Kalinga event. As she sat through the event, there was a video of a woman who has lost everything in a typhoon - her home, her child and her husband. She said that there was something in her heart shifted that all she wanted to do was to hold and hug the woman because somebody across the world has understood her pain. The video has changed something inside of her and she felt that God has touched her heart and also put something in proper perspective. "There's this woman who lost everything, her husband, her child and her home than my one loss (John)," she shared.

As soon as she saw the video, she immediately approached Mr. Tony Meloto (Gawad Kalinga Community Foundation and Executve Director) and asked about GK but he couldn't listen to her and all he said was come to the Philippines.

"My broken heart was searching, I bought a ticket and I came here. I traveled from Mindanao to Cebu to Bicol singing for Gawad kalinga Villages, singing after I had given it up. God shown me this trip to the Philippines through Gawad Kalinga, that I am a singer and He gave me a higher purpose for this gift of singing to give back to my country, the Philippines. I know in my heart that I have found my healing here. I found my healing because I learned that through giving, my heart could finally heal. Here, I saw the poorest of the poor who don't have envy and depression and yet they are happy. Wh? Because they don't focus on the things they don't have but on the things they do have - love each other, family and spirituality. I've learned that through Gawad Kalinga and my home country, the Philippines. And for that I will be forever grateful and I'm proud to stand here and say that I'm truly a Filipino," she declared.

As her closing son, she sang "Ako ay Pilipino" making us your kababayans be proud of you.

Mabuhay ka Stephanie!

Who is Stephanie Reese
Originally from Seattle, Stephanie wrote, directed and starred in the autobiographical one-woman-show "The Journey" which she also performed this show in San Jose, Los Angeles and San Francisco to rave reviews. Stephanie also starred in two productions of the Terrance Md Nally play Master Class as Sophie and Sharon in Los Angeles, where she resides. She was named Artist & Performer of the Year at the Las Vegas 2nd Annual Trade Show and was awarded at the 19th Annual Reflections Award for Arts and Entertainment.

Stephanie has made her mark in the musical world with her stellar performances as Miss Saigon in Berlin Germany; played Esmeralda in Disney's world premier of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in Berlin; and the Princess Tuptim in "The King and I" in London at the West End's Palladium Theater.

She now travels around the world doing solo concerts in Paris, Russia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and has performed all over Canada and the United States and in the Philippines performing for different organizations for a great cause - to help build Gawad Kalinga homes.

Her father is a Japanese-American and her mother, a Filipino-Chinese was born in Camalig, Albay, Philippines.

Isn't it inspiring to share one's talent for the good of her countrymen? Your views, comments and opinions are very much welcome. Thank you.