Celebrating the Extraordinary: Spectacular 2017

03/11/2017 Posted by Ateneo SPEED | Highlights

“… being spectular is a matter of the heart.”  

Last February 25, the Ateneo Special Education Society (SPEED) held SPECTACULAR*, a concert-bazaar at Decagon Silver City. Being one of SPEED’s biggest projects, it came to no surprise that it was filled with people – PWSNS, performers, Speple (SPEED members), parents, and concessionaires. Ah, in all its spectacular branding, I was expecting something rather ordinary.

I wouldn’t have, had I been, in any way, part of the amazing team of volunteers that made that memorable night possible. And it was, indeed, memorable; Spectacular found its way into my heart in every minute of that night. It had everything you’d expect from a performer’s night, but it also added one secret ingredient known only to the Speple: the Advocacy.

The advocacy was all over the place, and I got to experience the other projects SPEED has to offer; booths for both the Speak Out!** event and the No Speed Limit*** project were in plain sight. The Speak Out! Booth, in particular, turned out to be a great source of sensitivity and awareness as it offered a virtual peek into the life lived by those diagnosed with Autism.

The Speak Out booth, where Speple and guests alike were able to, in a way, experience what it's like to be diagnosed with Autism.

The Speak Out booth, where Speple and guests alike were able to, in a way, experience what it’s like to be diagnosed with Autism.

Past these booths was the hall where everything happened. It sure looked like it, for it was decorated from the stage all the way to the backdoors. The team was able to decorate the big venue well, from the hanging design and the bright curtains that made the atmosphere more lively and exciting. The concessionaires, offering a range of food and other products, surrounded the central area where the audience settled in. Across them are large red letters spelling the word “SPECTACULAR”, and above it, the stage set for one spectacular night.

The Grand Performances

Just about anyone could perform on stage, but the expansive cast of talents was, however, nothing short of extraordinary. The performers of the night were prepared to put on a spectacular show for everyone present, including PWSNs from the different partner areas of SPEED.

The team prepared a program flow for their performances, starting with dancers from St. Francis School. Being from a school that caters to children with impaired hearing, the students from St. Francis are trained to express themselves through the arts. Following their beautiful dance was Indayo, an all-woman indie rock band.

Then came Hanz Fausto, an interesting individual and Spectacular’s first solo performer. Hailing from New Hope, a humble institution that caters to developing those with the Autism Spectrum Disorder, Hanz is well known amongst the Speple assigned to his area. With his performance of Ed Sheeran’s Photograph, he was able to capture the hearts of everyone present.

Another band of guest performers was Over October, who showcased their skills by performing their original songs on stage, giving the audience a larger dose of rock. The boys from Servants of Charity performed next, dancing to Bang Bang in a fun and energetic way.

Over October

Over October

On to an unusual performance: the duet of Apples Daleon and Joey of Cottolengo Filipino. Apples is a member of the SPEED council who spearheaded the Advocacy Talks held last October 2016. This performance was quite memorable, owing to the special dynamic between performers—this was the only performance of the night where a Speple and a member of the sector performed together. Performing One Call Away passionately, they both sang their hearts out.

Apples Daleon and Joey of Cottolengo Filipino

Apples Daleon and Joey of Cottolengo Filipino

The succeeding performer was no other than Thara Santiago, an award-winning singer representing the Autism Society of the Philippines. A natural at singing, Thara performed each song with the same confidence and skill she was known for.

Thara Santiago from Autism Society of the Philippines

Thara Santiago from Autism Society of the Philippines

Some of our friends from Cottolengo performed after Thara, surely taking the audiences’ attention when they danced to Trumpets. The boys from Cottolengo were stealing cheers from the crowds quite effortlessly, having fun all the while.

To end the night, the last guest performer was the band Ashley’s Kryptonite who, despite missing one member, was able to close the night in a rather fashionable way by performing both their original songs and classic Original Pinoy Music.

Behind the Curtains: The SPEED Volunteers 

“Spectacular” seemed to be a word that grew on me, and I certainly could describe the event that way; as halfway into the show I was smiling dumb.  By the time it reached 11 o’clock, everything just sort of sunk in. Spectacular was amazing, and I’m sure everyone felt the same way that I did. Around me, clad in their distinct yellow and white t-shirts were my fellow SPEED volunteers, moving hastily to make Spectacular amazing up until the last minute. And I am thankful for my fellow Speple for this experience. For it is in their tired faces where I saw passion and commitment—what defines the heart of a Speple.

“[P]assion and commitment—what defines the heart of a Speple.”

At the end of the night, the hosts called on stage all the volunteers and partner organizations on stage. Everyone was celebrating a night of hard work coming into fruition. Spectacular was over, and they’ve completed their goal. I surely had no right to own any of the satisfaction, as I wasn’t a volunteer, but being a Speple meant something then, and it was something I could only describe through feeling as we shared in the joy of such an event.


Spectacular core team (in yellow), together with Speple volunteers (in white).

It’s not every day that we see something Spectacular, but on that night I witnessed it. I enjoyed the performances, and saw the hard work of the volunteers who made that spectacular night possible. I experienced first hand what it meant to be in a moment so spectacular. For a fundraising concert, this was quite the treasurable experience. Way to go, SPEED! You’ve done it again.

It’s worth celebrating the extraordinary. To some people, “extraordinary” doesn’t come every day. But the Speple know better. Someone who thrives in the advocacy of SPEED gets to experience the spectacular in the common things that matter. It’s in the people one meets, it’s in the time that one spends together with them. And on that night, I realized all the more that being spectular is a matter of the heart.

Written by Francis Andre Guevara, 4 BS Biology

*Spectacular is an annual concert and fundraiser held by the Ateneo Special Education Society. Being a project of the Finance Department, it aims to raise funds for the organization’s various programs. It was held at the Decagon, Silver City last February 25, 2017. The project’s heads were Cacai Mañalang and Paola Reyes, who worked with the Finance department and its head, Mica Morales.

**You may still pledge for sensitivity by clicking here.

***No Speed Limit (NSL) is a benefit run happening on April 2, 2017 at the Ateneo de Manila University. Register as a runner here, or check out their Facebook page for more details.


About the Author: Andre Guevara is a 4 BS Biology student and a new member of Ateneo Special Education Society. Despite being new to the organization, he has participated in some of its efforts including the Advocacy Talks, Spectacular, and Community Talk.