I became part of this club exactly 15 years ago, through my voice teacher, George. They were organizing a concert for the youth, and George was the musical director. Because most of the existing members of VIP youth weren’t available at that time, he invited some of his students–Stanley Ng, Charmaine Dy and me, to join that said concert. Together with Max Tiu, we sang Chinese A Capella Quartets. We explored duets, medley, and worked with dancers and choreographers. It was my very first concert, my very first time to work with people from the Filipino-Chinese community, and I loved it.
I was the youngest member of the VIP Youth Group at that time. Still on my sophomore year, I was quite intimidated by the people I worked with. We would rehearse in Binondo twice a week for months. I had a hard time socializing with them, because I didn’t know how to relate. I didn’t know how to talk to them or make small conversations. I would just sit in one corner, read a book, or practice my songs. I should say, that over the years, they opened my world.
VIP Friendship Club organizes three parties in one year: Valentine’s/Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Christmas. During our active years, we would often prepare for each event professionally and think of new gimmicks. 60’s Medley? Broadway? Chinese Opera? Those were the days. We performed for them for free, and in return, we got free meals and free tickets to the shows.
Our main supporter was Mr. Seno Lim, or “Lim Shien,” as we fondly call him. He is an old-fashioned businessman, who has an office in Nueva, near VIP Coffee Shop. He loves to sing and he was the one who always promotes us and shoulders most of our food bills. When we needed budget for costume or minus one arrangements, he was the one who would bring it up to the board of directors and pressure everyone to contribute money for our funds. Sometimes, when I needed a ride home, I would hitch a ride with him and his wife. When it comes to the club, it is actually Lim Shien who we think of and give thanks to. He was the one who gave us the training ground and all those opportunity to shine and hone our craft.
Tonight is the night Mr. Seno Lim officially retires from his duties in VIP Friendship Club. Where did time go? Lim Shien is now 80-something, and is less robust than the last time I saw him. He forgets things and he sometimes drool. He takes slow, careful steps, and talks slower. He finds it hard to remember your name, but not your face. He shook my hand firmly when we said goodbye to him.
Tonight is probably the last time Fil and I will attend the said club. Goodbye Lim Shien, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
(to my other co-VIP youth whose pictures are not here, Arthur, Jeannette, Mannix, Girlie, Joy, etc. sorry. This is an impromptu thing)