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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pinoy World Bank execs play for nun's charity

MCLEAN, Virginia - They play a rich repertoire of minted rock and jazz – this band named Mainspring. We reckoned they’re good enough to easily land gigs in town but we’re told they can’t. The World Bank wouldn’t allow it – after all, most of the band members work there.

Tonight, they were playing for charity at the “global reunion” of St. Paul College alumna who came from virtually every corner of North America and beyond – one even flying in from Manila.

“We made money, which is good news for the vigil house,” Virna Lisa Mananzan gushed to the Manila Mail. The “global reunion” was organized to help raise funds for retired nuns of St. Paul’s in the Philippines.

“When our sisters retire it is not like here in the United States where they have social security, Medicare, Medicaid. Back in the Philippines we have nothing,” explained Sister Mary Mortola, a former high school teacher. She revealed there are 70 retired nuns living in a “vigil house” in Antipolo and another 50 in Iloilo.

“We call them vigil houses because this is where we wait until we are called back by the Lord,” Sis. Mortola said.

Mananzan, who is one of the singers in the Mainspring band, said she was surprised by the enthusiastic response of the St. Paul alumna community (the reunion was featured in past editions of the Manila Mail). “It’s all about the cause,” she stressed.

And the “cause” found a welcome benefactor from the Mainspring band – which unknown to many in the crowd that night, represented perhaps the heaviest concentration of bankers per square foot.

Mananzan was a young aspiring singer when now Sen. Tito Sotto chose her to sing his song “Magkaisa” that became an anthem of the 1986 People Power revolt.

She’s joined in the band by Tony Lambino, perhaps better known for his stint in “Smokey Mountain” but also a part of the Ateneo University alumni choir that often performs in big masses in the Metro DC region. Together, they’re the only ones with experience working in the entertainment world.

But that doesn’t stop Mainspring from playing great music. The band was formed about 3 years ago by Ed Campos and Van Pulley. 
“Ed is the band leader. He just got folks from his office together after he discovered one played the guitar, another the drums so he just put them together and he said I want strong singers so he invited me to sing; this was way back in 2009,” Mananzan explained.

Campos is with the World Bank Institute (WGI) and heads an office devoted to governance and leadership. He is reportedly considered one of the Bank’s experts on combating corruption (he actually wrote a book about this for the World Bank in 2006). Before joining the World Bank, he was a senior economist at the Asian Development Bank in Manila and spent 2 years as senior adviser on public sector reforms at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). He’s the one on keyboard.

Pulley is vice president for corporate finance and risk management at the World Bank. He reportedly led the “greening” of the bank’s headquarters in Washington DC, drawing its 800 million kilowatt-per-hour electricity needs from wind power, as well as plugging security loopholes that resulted in the alleged debarment of erring Bank vendors. 

Lambino is a governance specialist also with the WGI. A former ABS-CBN News talent, he was part of a team dedicated to political communication, governance reform, public opinion and citizen engagement in Asia and Africa. He’s earned his Masters’ from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard’s Kennedy School.

They are joined on the stage by realtor Christina Sison and Celeste Soliven who are familiar faces in Filipino church choirs in the region. If there is a thread that ties them all together, it is the sheer pleasure of playing music.

“They’re not allowed to get paid kasi they’re full time employees of the World Bank so everything we do is non-profit,” Mananzan explained.

From a duet of “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang” to Sison’s solo of “Long Train Running” to a fun-filled “Last Dance” Mainspring takes charity to a higher note.

As the evening wore on, it didn’t take too much for the erstwhile “colegialas” to pry the nuns from their chairs and cut through the dance floor as the band played on. It was a sight to behold, thanks to a group of World Bank workers who just want to play great music.

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