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Voice Lessons

Posted by Carren |

This assignment came out of the blue, but it was a welcome task. Artists Revolution is just the kind of movement the Philipppines needs in this time of political change. The passion from artists who could just as easily ignore the call of their country was inspiring.

Text by: Carren Jao
Published: Rogue Magazine June 2009

As May 2010 draws nearer and the country slides further down to perdition, artists unite against the forces of bahala na, pwede na, and pakialam ko ba!

IBON mang may layang lumipad…” So goes the anthem to the People Power Revolution. Twenty-three years later, the national euphoria has not only died down, it has given way to cynicism and apathy in the face of an incumbent president that leaves a trail of unresolved cases after her. IMPSA kickbacks, hello Garci, NBN-ZTE bribery—the list goes on, but the passion that buoyed the country to bloodless revolution does not.

With a global recession in full swing, Juan is looking out for number one, and has walked away from the mess of politics. With national elections around the corner, the country seems quite content to squat in a hovel of its making, reveling in familiar grime—except, that is, for a few who continue to rail against the dying light using their weapon of choice—music.

Sino pang naniniwala sa politician? Sino pang pwedeng paniwalaan? Baka artists na lang (Who's going to believe in politicians? Who else can we believe in? Perhaps you can only believe in artists),” says musician, writer, photographer, and patriot Jim Paredes as he takes a break from rehearsals. Increasingly frustrated with the situation, he turned to his wife and said, “I want to spend more time in the Philippines. Do my bit in the elections.”

That bit has taken the form of the Artists Revolution. Formed with Mae Paner, star of the politically charged viral hit Juana Change videos, and other likeminded artists, they begin their siege on the Filipino consciousness with a concert exactly one year before the elections entitled, “365 Days to Change—todo na to!” joined by a litany of renowned artists like Joey Ayala, Radioactive Sago Project, Kjwan, and Ariel Rivera. “Music is so powerful it can make you depressed, it can also inspire,” says Philippine Idol Drae Ybañez. True enough, little more than twenty years ago, the air was filled with songs that now seem to fall on hard hearts.

“As artists, it’s our responsibility to care for our country,” shares Mae. Part of that responsibility it is to re-fashion the ideals and re-make them in a new light. As these artists step up to the firing line formed by a row of mics, exchanging their time for a measly allowance and the chance to sing out loud for positive change, Mae explains, “A lot of us are really out of our comfort zone. This is already pagtataya (risking).”

Robert Seña says, “It’s about time someone should stand up and say something at least.” Isay Alvarez firmly states, “Kinanta ko ang Bayan may dangal. Tama lang na itaguyod ko ang adhikain ng bayang may dangal. (I sang the song 'Bayan may dangal.' It is just fitting that I help promote the aspirations of a nation with honor.)” While Bituin Escalante shares Robert, Isay, and herself are not the type to hie off to rallies, “we do want change, we want to affect it through the work we do.”

“Music is powerful,” declares Jim. Yet, even he acknowledges that this time around is an uphill battle. “It harder now because people have lost their innocence about People Power.” Indeed, as the country loses the fervor of decades past, the onus lies heavy on our artists to get to our gut and infuse our consciousness with “new songs, new icons…giving new meaning to change.”


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