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Madonna makes surprise visits to Manila children's shelters

Pop star Madonna has made surprise visits to two Manila shelters for orphans and street children, taking selfies with the youngsters before playing two concerts in the Philippines capital.

Pictures on her Instagram account showed her carrying a baby in one arm while holding hands with a girl guiding her on a tour of the Hospicio de San Jose orphanage on Tuesday. At the Bahay Tuluyan shelter for street children, she sat on a tarpaulin mat with the youngsters.

"Chillin' with my Homies at the Bahay Tuluyan Foundation Inc. giving shelter to orphans street children trafficking/abuse victims in Manila!!" the singer captioned a selfie taken with three youngsters as they lay on the mat.

Officials at the shelter were told on Monday that Madonna's dancers would be visiting, but did not find out that Madonna herself was also going until an hour before her arrival, said Catherine Scerri, the deputy executive director of Bahay Tuluyan.

She said the children did a couple of dances before being joined by Madonna's dancers. Madonna asked the officials about the centre's programme and whether the children were going to school, but she spent most of her 45-minute visit with the youngsters, Ms Scerri added.

Anne dela Cruz, an official with the Hospicio de San Jose orphanage, also said Madonna's visit was a surprise, but declined to give further details.

Madonna plays Manila's Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday and Thursday, the latest stops on her Rebel Heart world tour.

An outspoken Philippines Roman Catholic leader, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, a diocese south of Manila, has discouraged Filipinos from attending the concerts.

"Why is the Catholic Philippines the favourite venue for blasphemy against God and the Holy Mother?" he said in a text message to reporters on Tuesday.

He stopped short of calling for a boycott, like he did in 2012 when Lady Gaga staged a concert in Manila, but said in the text that "all God-loving people should avoid sin and occasions of sin".

The Philippines has more Catholics than any other Asian nation.

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