“How are you, my love/ I hope you are well/ Do not worry about me/ I am getting by.” The poignant lyrics of “Kumusta ka aking mahal?” (How are you, my love?) were a fitting end to the concert organised by Yiutsari, the Jesuit migrant centre in Korea. The doleful love song by Freddie Aguilar about missing someone is sung by Filipino migrant workers all over the world.
The music of Freddie Aguilar, Schumann-Liszt and Tchaikovsky filled the chapel of the Jesuit Apostolic Center in Seoul on October 14 as professional musicians, Jesuits and migrant workers gathered to thank through music the benefactors and volunteers of Yiutsari, the Jesuit centre for migrant workers in Korea.
Professional musicians performed Schumann-Liszt’s “Liebeslied” and Tchaikovsky’s “Melodie from Souvenir d’un lieu cher”. They were followed by the migrant workers who sang together with their Korean language teachers. The Filipinos closed the show with “Kumusta ka aking mahal”.
The audience comprising Korean benefactors, migrants from the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Nepal, Jesuits and students of Sogang University were moved by the emotion evident in the concert, which had for its theme the migrant workers’ love and longing for their families.
“This is too special a concert,” said one benefactor. “When I heard the final song, ‘Kumusta ka aking mahal’, I sobbed and shed tears.”
Scholastic John Jee SJ was touched when the Filipinos danced, especially to “Shine Jesus Shine”. “Among them, I could find undocumented workers. They hide themselves from the deportation crackdown during the day, but they showed their splendid presence at this concert. It was an unforgettable moment,” he said. Jee, who is doing his regency in Yiutsari, also performed a song he had composed.
Fr Lee said that preparing the event and watching Filipino friends singing joyfully was a source of great consolation. “Tired from working in the factory all day, they came to Yiutsari at night to practise. In this process, we found solidarity and joyful friendship. Today, I am so thankful.”
The concert, too, served to tell audiences that foreign migrant workers are an integral part of Korean society. A few politicians and government officials were invited as a way of bringing to their attention the situation of migrant workers.
“There is widespread myth in Korea that migrant workers are dangerous and threatening to Korean society. The experience of this concert is a very good moment for Koreans to cast away this prejudice,” said Fr Lee. “In this sense, the concert is a time full of the Divine Grace.”
With the success of the show, Fr Lee is now confronted with an appeal from other communities that Yiutsari serves. “The concert was designed as a one-off event, but many other communities, such as the Vietnamese and the Cambodians, seeing the performance of the Filipinos, have asked me to give them a chance, too. Now I think I will have to plan next year’s concert!”