The day right after the first of November, Artists Supporting Local Artists Guild or ASLAG Kapampangan held the Grand Finals of their second Kapampangan Pop Music Festival at Robinson’s San Fernando. This year, in contribution to environmental awareness campaigns, the theme was Indung Labuad a Santungan, Pakamalan Ya’t Lingapan (Value and Take Care of Mother Earth Sanctuary).
The song, intentionally or not, aimed to produce Kapampangan songs that can stand as counterparts to popular Tagalog environmental songs such as Geneva Cruz’ “Anak Ng Pasig” and Asin’s “Masdan Mo Ang Kapaligiran.”
While songs don’t directly inspire people to act, especially if it’s about conservation of Mother Nature, they serve a function similar to that of national anthems, of wedding theme songs, of praise songs, of Alma Mater songs, of graduation songs, and of campaign jingles. What that function is, I can’t exactly pinpoint.
To make a song that can to some degree cause people to go out there and do environmental work is quite challenging and a test of a songwriter’s artistry. Of course, the music also aids greatly in the fulfillment of the goal.
A popular approach is playing the logic game where the songwriter assumes people to be for self-preservation. By establishing the connection between environment and the self and how one affects the other, the lyrics attempts to infiltrate the mind of the listeners by whispering: “If we do this or if we don’t stop doing that, this is what will happen, and it’s going to be really bad. You don’t want that.” This is the approach of the famous environmental song by Asin, as can be seen in the following sample lyrics:
Ang mga batang ngayon lang isinilang
May hangin pa kayang matitikman?
May mga puno pa kaya silang aakyatin
May mga ilog pa kayang lalanguyan?
Another approach is something close to ad misericordia, which even though categorized in communication books as a logical fallacy, works most of the time to a country that has bottomless affection toward everything melodramatic. The lyrics shouts: “Because of what you’re doing, this is what’s happening to me [or them]; have mercy on me/us/them!” This is exhibited well in “Anak Ng Pasig.”
Anak nang Pasig naman kayo
tapon doon, tapon dito
Di niyo alam ang tinatapon niyo
Ay bukas ko at ng buong mundo
A first-time songwriter will usually write a song spontaneously—not necessarily a bad a bad thing—with no central, specific subject but the theme itself. If he is asked to write a song about the youth, he’ll write everything he can think of about the youth, not minding the organization of thoughts in his work.
One technique in choosing a subject is to pick an everyday experience which the masses can generally relate with, and upon listening to the song, they would to themselves say something like “Wa pin, ne!” This is the technique employed by young singer-songwriter Mark Jedh Yutuc, the winner of the recently concluded Kapampangan Pop Music Festival, with his entry “Balat Kendi.”
The message of “Balat Kendi,” performed by the songwriter himself together with K4ad member Jomar Dela Pena, is perfect for the busy people of Pampanga who have no interest or time to get involved in tree-planting activities and big waste management projects. The songs proposes that each average person can help in environmental concerns if altogether they cease throwing off candy wrappers anywhere they please.
Of course, waste management is more than that. But actually, if we did that, it would be nice. But let’s not limit ourselves to candy wrappers. I have seen a woman, who seems to be educated, who threw an empty tetrapack juice container while riding a jeepney in front of her child. Clearly a bad example. Last month, I scolded a friend who wanted to throw a plastic of garbage out of the van’s window while we were cruising down McArthur Hiway.
Why do Filipinos treat their surroundings a big trash can? We often talk about cultural preservation. If you ask me, this is certainly one aspect of Pinoy and Pampango culture which never in my wildest ambitions will I participate in conserving.
I’d like to applaud the other finalists of the tilt. “Uling Keka” (words by Nerian Miranda and Kenneth Macapugay, interpreted by Kate Ibanez), “Kanta Ning Indung Labuad” (words by Wilfredo Cunanan, interpreted by Anne Valerie Vital), “Berding Yatu” (words by Jun Gatbonton, interpreted by Lemuel Paras), “’Me Ko Keni, Tara Na” (words by Benny Guinto, interpreted by Bea Austria), “Misasanmetung” (words by Arnie Zablan, interpreted by Bin Bondoc), and “Pakamalan Ta Ya” (words by Ver Orquia, interpreted by Ana Nicolette Kho).
Except for “Uling Keka,” all songs were arranged by Aslag’s very own “Big Ben,” Mr. Ben Escasa. Fr. Ronnie Cao and Ms. Deng Escasa served as Kapampangan vocal dubbing supervisors.
K4ad is currently K3ad
A noticeable thing in the event is the K4ad’s temporary reduction to K3ad, as one of their members, Mark Jedh Yutuc, who happens to be the winner of the contest, can no longer participate due to, according to him, his busy schedule with other matters. Fr. Ronnie Cao told me they are currently in search for a replacement to Yutuc.