In a heartwarming display of Filipino hospitality and cultural pride, members of The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square were treated to a surprise performance showcasing the rich heritage of the Philippines during a dinner event at the Conrad Hotel in metro Manila.

The surprise performance, meticulously planned by the Philippine Area presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, featured youth performers from various stakes around the Philippines. These talented young individuals presented a vibrant and captivating showcase of traditional Filipino dances and songs.

The evening began with a warm welcome from Elder Yoon H. Choi, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Church’s Philippines Area presidency. As the choir and orchestra members settled in for dinner after their long flight, they were pleasantly surprised by the sounds of Filipino drums and the sight of colorful traditional costumes.

Youth and young single adults dancers, drummers, and singers, from 10 different stakes took to the stage, kicking off the night with a spirited performance of “Upon the Isles of the Sea.” This was followed by a series of traditional Filipino dances, each one meticulously choreographed and executed with precision and grace.

The performances included “Pandanggo Sa Ilaw,” a dance featuring dancers holding and balancing lights; “Maglalatik,” a folk dance with coconut shells; “Sayaw Sa Bangko,” where dancers balanced on benches; “Bagobo: Flaggey Libon,” danced with sticks and paddle-like boards; and “Tinkling,” a fast-paced dance involving quick steps over moving bamboo poles.

The highlight of the evening came when the youth performers came together to sing “Peace in Christ,” a song that resonated deeply with both the performers and the choir and orchestra members. Emotions ran high as the last notes of the song filled the room, and many in the audience, including choir members, were moved to tears.

Cami Purtschert, a first alto in The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, expressed her overwhelming emotions, saying, “The love they are expressing is overwhelming.” Krista Paulson, also a first alto, shared her experience, mentioning her daughter’s mission in the Tacloban area and the faithfulness of the Filipino people.

Elder Choi, in his remarks, highlighted the significance of the evening, calling it a “historical event” that would touch the hearts of many. He also shared personal anecdotes about his connection to the Tabernacle Choir’s music, recounting how he sang with his wife for two hours before proposing to her.

President Michael O. Leavitt of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and the thoughtful surprise from the Philippine Area presidency. He thanked the organizers and praised the youth performers for their exceptional talents and dedication.

The evening ended on a high note with enthusiastic applause and cheers from both the choir and orchestra members and the youth performers. Many choir members mingled with the young dancers, taking photos and sharing moments of camaraderie and cultural exchange.

The surprise performance not only showcased the rich and diverse culture of the Philippines but also served as a poignant reminder of the power of music and dance to unite people across different backgrounds and traditions. As the choir continues its “Hope” tour in the Philippines, this memorable evening will surely remain etched in the hearts of all who were present.

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