Church Partnership

Sparrow Music: Hope for Payatas Kids

Ferdinand Medina

At the foot of the Payatas landfill, a two-storey house stands, out of which the repertoire of Antonio Vivaldi, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Pachelbel, Mario Giuliani, Michael Aaron, and “Nina” by Giovanni Pergolesi can be heard. 

This house serves as the center for Sparrow Music Philippines,a non-government organization and community-based music program for children. It is a haven for about 40 children aged 7-15 who are taught how to play the guitar and other instruments for free – a wonderful alternative to the limited options poverty gives them.

Ferdinand Medina, a Philippine Campus Crusade for Christ (PCCC) Associate missionary, serves as executive director of Sparrow Music Philippines, which he started in January 2014 with his Filipino-Americans friends based in the United States.

The tragedy of a massive “trash-slide” that buried alive hundreds of people, mostly scavengers,in July 2000, led him to choose Payatas for this ministry.

Sparrow Music’s name was taken from the Bible passage in Matthew 10: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Ferdie firmly believes that not one child is ever forgotten by the Father. 

“This is our initiative to level the playing field, so that not only the rich can get music lessons,” says Ferdie.

A graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Music, where he also teaches, Ferdie is passionate in giving kids a glimpse of a world bigger than their impoverished community. “There is a bigger world outside Payatas,” kids would often hear him say.

After 3 years, the Sparrow Music team had their first recital at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. They have since performed in several venues around Metro Manila, and had the rare opportunity to perform alongside local and international classical guitarists at the Manila Guitar Fest at the University of Makati. 

Their most recent performance was at the Ayala Museum aptly titled “Cuerdas ng Pag-asa” (Strings of Hope), where their guitar ensemble delighted listeners with Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Major. 

“Their playmates back home have no idea what Ayala Museum, Cultural Center of the Philippines nor Manila Guitar Festival are,”Ferdie says.“But the Music Sparrow kids have not only visited these places. They have performed and were applauded there as well.”

Besides music, Ferdie and his team teach kids character development and life skills and provide guidance in decision-making. This has greatly helped in changing the attitudes of the children and reducing violence, fistfights and cursing. They now want to become doctors, nurses, musicians and missionaries like their mentors.

“To succeed in our endeavor,” Ferdie stresses,“collaboration is needed.” Sparrow Music works closely with FamilyLife Philippines (FLM), a ministry of PCCC where Ferdie and his wife Cindy are currently assigned. FLM offers Bible studies for parents whose kids are under Sparrow’s tutelage.

Thus, Sparrow Music, is a holistic ministry, meeting the physiological, emotional and spiritual need of the families. Ferdie has adopted the Win, Build, Send strategy* of PCCC to build spiritual movements in Payatas. 

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