Totoy bilisan mo, bilisan mo ang takbo
Ilagan ang mga bombang nakatutok sa ulo mo
Totoy tumalon ka, dumapa kung kailangan
At baka tamaan pa ng mga balang ligaw
Totoy makinig ka, huwag kang magpagabi
Baka pagkamalan pa't humandusay diyan sa tabi
Totoy alam mo ba kung ano ang puno't dulo
Ng di matapos-tapos na kaguluhang ito
“Totoy is a symbol of the ordinary
masses,” said Dongeto, who is now the deputy executive director of the
Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), a
non-government organization. “This conflict is rooted in something, and
the song calls on people like Totoy to think and be critical,” said
“Well, it tells them to take care and
avoid being killed, but it also calls on them to invert the pyramid,”
Dongeto added, “For as long as opportunities and the distribution of
resources are not equitable, and the country’s riches are controlled by
only a few, the fundamental issues will remain and the war will continue.
That is what the song says.”
Hindi pula’t dilaw ang tunay na magkalaban
Ang kulay at tatak ay di siyang dahilan
Hangga’t mas marami ang lugmok sa kahirapan
At ang hustisya ay para lang sa mayaman
Habang may tatsulok
At sila ang nasa tuktok
Hindi matatapos itong gulo
“The socio-political pyramid has to be
inverted. It is the organized forces who will interpret how you
will do that. But (what is clear is) to do
that, you have to overhaul the decadent system that is subservient to
foreign interests and the ruling elite,” Dongeto added.
Dongeto wrote and composed the song in
1989. It was a period of escalating struggle between the military and the
communist-led New People’s Army (NPA). It was the height of the Aquino
government’s enforcement of its counter-insurgency policy, the “Total War
Policy,” of which the chief architect and implementer was then Defense
Secretary Fidel V. Ramos. It was not only combatants who were bearing the
brunt of the war, however, as the guns of state forces were also taking
the lives of common folk as well as leaders of the open mass movement, and
there were also many civilians getting caught in the crossfire.
“There were many people, ordinary people,
getting killed in the countryside,” Dongeto said.
Lumilikas ang hininga ng kayraming mga tao
At ang dating lunting bukid ngayo’y sementeryo
Totoy kumilos ka, baligtarin ang tatsulok
At katulad mong mga dukha ang ilagay mo sa tuktok
The song was one of the first pieces
Dongeto wrote and composed upon Buklod’s return to the country from Paris,
where an international celebration of the bicentennial of the French
Revolution had been held that same year. That same year, it was included
in the album Karapatang Pantao, an anthology of songs by various
artists, produced by Ed Formoso by special arrangement with the human
rights group Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP) and
recording company Dyna Products, Inc. In 1991, “Tatsulok” became the
carrier song of Buklod’s second album.
“Tatsulok” quickly became a hit among
activists and, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, even enjoyed some
mainstream following through Karapatang Pantao. After that the
song’s exposure would be mostly among the cause-oriented groups and its
allies, until early this year when it once more broke through the
mainstream, courtesy of rock band Bamboo which made it the carrier single
of its third album, We Stand Alone Together, produced by EMI Music
Bamboo the band is fronted by Bamboo
Mañalac, former lead vocalist of rock band Rivermaya.
Dongeto said the publisher which holds the
rights to his songs, M2K, was approached by EMI Records last year for
permission to include the song in Bamboo’s third album. “I didn’t expect
them to make it the carrier single,” he said. He is entitled to royalties
being the song’s lyricist and composer.
The song as rendered by Bamboo is
confirmed to have reached the top of the charts in at least three of the
country’s most popular radio stations: Love Radio, YES FM, and Barangay
LS. Its music video is also among the top ten hits in the music-oriented
TV show Myx.
The audiences reached by “Tatsulok” right
now are, to borrow a term frequently used by the cause-oriented groups,
spontaneous or unorganized sections of the masses. These are the ones who
are giving the song its present status as a chart-topper.
“This says something about the political
situation,” Dongeto said when asked for his observations about the kind of
popularity that “Tatsulok” now enjoys. “Human rights violations are very
grave. People walking in the streets – lawyers, students – are being
killed, and only for expressing their sentiments and airing their demands
to the government. I think this is a national policy at this point to
Based on data from Karapatan (Alliance for
the Advancement of People’s Rights), there have been more than 850
extra-judicial killings from 2001 – when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
was catapulted to power through a popular uprising – to the present. The
extra-judicial killings have been condemned even by the international
community, including by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group
Amnesty International and United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on
Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings Phillip Alston.
“The song is still very real, and I think
the people can feel it and can relate to what is happening,” Dongeto said.
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2007 Bulatlat
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.