Brothers who make a difference
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda () - July 17, 2006 - 12:00am
This is the mystery behind miracles of charity: When somebody in need asks, ‘Lord, why me?,’ many of them do so without hope.

But when the blessed ask the same question of themselves, they end up bringing hope.

This is the genesis of Pusong Pinoy USA, a project spearheaded by Filipino-American teenagers EJ and Brendon Banares. Pusong Pinoy USA aims to benefit physically-challenged kids or those living in poverty.

While on vacation in Manila last year, the two took note of street children they saw day in and day out from the windows of the cars that sped them to the best places. The scenario made such an impression on them that upon return to the US, they sought to address the question, ‘What can be done?’

Fortunately, God has prepared the boys for that crucial moment. Five years ago, EJ and Brendon crossed paths with The Aldeguer Sisters who are now proving instrumental to their endeavor. EJ and Brendon had since been taking up voice lessons in the Aldeguer Sisters Performing Arts Center (ASPAC), a school of dance and drama in the suburbs of West Covina, Los Angeles owned by the famed Filipino dancing duo.

ASPAC has become so popular in the area that even Hispanic, Latin, American and African American students go there. Some would even drive two hours just to take lessons in ASPAC! To those unfamiliar with the legacy of The Aldeguer Sisters, they are Terri and Lally who burst into the scene during the Martial Law years. The two became known for inimitable dance steps most famous of which are the "head throw" and "high kick."

The Aldeguer Sisters became so big that at one point, they had their own TV shows and were gracing events left and right. The Aldeguer Sisters were even giving dance lessons to celebrities and society ladies who all wanted to learn how to do the head throw and head kick "The Aldeguer Sisters-way."

Two of the songs that The Aldeguer Sisters danced to and popularized are It’s Raining Men and Hallelujah. In 2000, The Aldeguer Sisters migrated to the US. But a few days ago, Terri came back to Manila. She is currently coordinating with government institutions to seek out 10 kids who need help most. She will also be touring her students, the Banares Brothers, through several depressed areas in the metro so the boys could see for themselves the real plight of some of their beneficiaries or "donees."

"The Banares boys have hearts of gold for Filipinos, hence, the name of the project," says Terri. "Although they lead privileged lives in the US, this did not make their eyes oblivious to the needs of others. We are proud of them not only because they sing well but they use their talents to enrich lives."

Helping and performing is not new for the boys or the other students of ASPAC. In the US, the Banares Brothers are favorite front act artists for Filipino celebrities. Vocally, the two are delightfully disparate with tenor Brendon singing like an angel (he can do Celine Dion’s part in The Prayer remarkably well) while EJ gives Josh Groban’s baritone a run for his money.

Brendon and EJ are having mall tours starting July 21 at Robinsons Place Pioneer, July 22 at Robinsons Place Novaliches, July 28 at SM Bicutan, July 29 at Ever Gotesco Manila, July 30 at Ever Commonwealth, Aug. 4 at SM Bacoor, Aug. 5 at Ever Ortigas, Aug. 6 at SM Valenzuela, Aug. 11 at SM Fairview, Aug. 12 at Robinsons Metro East and Aug. 19 at SM Sucat. Brendon and EJ released an album Aking Inay which was produced and recorded abroad. It contains four revivals (When You Tell Me That You Love Me, Mack The Knife, One Day In Your Life and Bridges) and four originals by award-winning songwriter and now US-based Jimmy Borja (who penned Lani Misalucha’s Ang Iibigin Ay Ikaw and Ariel Rivera’s Sana Ngayong Pasko, among others).

"Some Filipinos, especially those in the US who seem to have turned their backs on their roots, could learn from these boys," says Terri. "What’s the lesson here? It’s that you can always make a difference in people’s lives in your own way and at any point in your life. If you have the heart to help, God will bless your efforts."

She adds: "Also, charity does begin at home. And even if you are away from home, if at heart, you are still there, then you can still do your share. You must do your share. Because that is purpose in life. Sharing is one what gives meaning to life."

The Aldeguer Sisters, meanwhile, are currently mulling over plans of opening a school here similar to ASPAC. "Though dancing has been around in media, it still is not being given here the same prestige as singing," says Terri. "And if we could develop dancers there, why shouldn’t we do the same to Filipinos here?"

After all, high kicks and head throws will always have a place in the dance arena.

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