Songs for change | Progressive cultural groups on Duterte’s 1st year

Cultural performances are most awaited in rallies as they voice out the people’s concerns through music.


MANILA- Cultural groups gave their own assessment of President Duterte’s first year in office as they performed at the rally led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Mendiola here on June 30.

Even as they aired their disappointment that Duterte only continued the same policies of the past regimes, they gave voice to the aspiration that genuine societal changes will be achieved by the people’s collective actions.

Danny Fabella, a singer-songwriter from Musikang Bayan, expressed the people’s frustrations about Duterte’s failed promises, extrajudicial killings and human rights violations. His song “Ito ba ang pagbabagong parating?” (Is this the change that was coming) was a hit with its uncensored words:

”Paiba-ibang isip, pilit naming inunawa
Sinikmura’t tiniis, baho ng iyong bunganga
Sa pag-aakala na may matatamo
Sa pagitan ng mga ‘putangina’ mo

Kumilos din kami ayon sa ‘yong batas
Ngunit ang yong ‘ganti, pananakot at dahas
Ito ba ng pagbabagong parating?”

(We tried to understand your ever-fickle mind
We tried to stomach your foul mouth
In hope that some gain will be achieved
In between your repeated ‘son-of-a-bitch’
We acted according to your law
But in return came threats and force
Is this the change that is coming?)

After not being able to create new music for almost a year, Fabella said he had a chance to perform his new songs that critize the Duterte administration’s first year.

His second song, “Sagot ko kayo” (I got your back) was a critique on Duterte’s statements that he will protect erring police and military men, even if they commit human rights abuses in the operations against drug and terrorism. Fabella said that these two songs were inspired by the expletive-ridden speeches of the President.

The group Alab (Artista para sa Lupa at Bayan) sang a cover of Tatsulok (Triangle), an original song of the group Buklod from the 80s, later popularized by rock singer Bamboo. The song’s urgent, upbeat tempo was turned a few notches down by the female vocals of Alab, then rounded off by the lead singer’s rap in the middle of the number.

The song called on a child, “Totoy,” to take caution amid the ongoing violence, caused by the “triangle,” apparently referring to the socio-political system ruled by the “1 percent.”

“Totoy, kumilos ka, baligtarin ang tatsulok. Katulad mong mga dukhang ilagay mo sa tuktok,” sang the group, exhorting poor Filipinos to overturn the system and place themselves on top.

The People’s Chorale joined Alab in the song “Tuloy ang laban” (The fight continues), which called on people to carry on with the struggle for land and other rights “as long as there is oppression.”

The groups also sang “Awit ng pag-asa” (Song of hope), which speaks of the people’s burning hope and optimism in the struggle, amid deaths, losses, hardships and attacks by state security forces.

Amid the heat, the rallyists listened and joined the upbeat performances that showcased both the talents of the members and their passion to fight for what is right.

Related Story: Duterte’s 1st year | Progressives disappointed with lack of change, worried over rising fascism


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