Alben meng manyaman, boy!

July 21, 2008

RocKapampangan music videos coming up!

Music videos of songs from the RocKapampangan album? Not really. But new original Kapampangan songs of two of the bands included in the RocKapampangan project, yes.

Last Thursday and Saturday, Kalalangan Kamaru and Infomax shot the music videos of the opening and closing theme songs of Kalam, which are Alang Anggang Sugat (5 Against the Wall, Ramcos Nulud, John Canlas) and Oras (Mernuts) respectively.

Alang Anggang Sugat was shot at the Henson-Hizon heritage house in the City of San Fernando. The video reveals a subplot in Kalam, where a rape victim (played by Kalam auditions semifinalist Frency Rodriquez) resorts to witchcraft to take revenge on the two boys who took away her virginity by force, which she considers to be an eternal slash in her soul. A special cameo appearance of Aries Yap as Yubs, his character in Kalam, is something to look forward to. The character of Kool is also present in the video, albeit played by Diego Dobles, Kalam Asst. Director.

Oras, on the other hand, was shot at the lantern workshop of parol master Roland Quiambao in the same city. While the characters in the story are in no way related to Kalam, they feature five of the main cast, namely Nicolette Henson, Raco Del Rosario, Peter Danganan, Reachel Mucho, and Aries Yap. Jhaye Arzaga and Chao Chua of the Mernuts band also take part in the acting part.

Wait for their airing at Infomax-8! We will also be posting the videos on YouTube. Keep visiting this blog for updates. If you haven't heard the opening and closing theme songs of Kalam, play them below.

Alang Anggang Sugat - 5 Against the Wall feat Ramcos Nulud, John Canlas

Oras - Mernuts

Don't forget to attend the Grand Premiere of Kalam at SM City Pampanga on the 27th of August. It's totally libri.

July 17, 2008

Me keni and make way for the 1st Kapampanganovela!

August 27, 2008
SM City Pampanga

Me keni and make way for the 1st Kapampanganovela!

To the knowledge of most Filipinos, only Manila has the capability of producing teleseryes in the country, while all other dramas must have been produced by Koreans, Americans, Japanese, Mexicans, or Chinese.

But did you know that in other regions, Pinoy TV dramas are also being produced and are even employing the use of non-Tagalog languages like Cebuano? With the cultural fervor sweeping the regions, one could only be reminded that the Philippines—amidst the institutionalized belief that this archipelago only speaks Tagalog as its language while the rest are mere “dialects”—is, indeed, a diverse country, and that its diversity is bound to extend even to the field of TV dramas.

Take for example the Kapampangans, the latest Filipino ethnolinguistic group to enter the field of teleserye production. This August, which is considered the Language Month, a Kapampangan cable channel (Infomax-8) and a creative pool of Kapampangan youth (Kalalangan Kamaru) will be launching Kálam, the first ever Kapampanganovela—the term introduced to refer to kabalen-produced TV dramas—in Philippine broadcasting history.

Combining the Contemporary and Folklore

Like other Philippine regional communities, Kapampangans possess a rich and colorful collection of folklore. Apart from the usual laman labuad (“laman lupa” for the Tagalogs), Kapampangans have a diverse world of folk healers and sorcerers.

Aside from the popular mangkukulam and mambabarang, there is the magkukusim, who can project his soul from his body to bewitch people across distances; the katulunan, who can channel the spirits of various living creatures; the uple, illusion makers; the ustuang, powerful witches that can make their bodies explode and incinerate the surroundings, and many other strange, magical characters that continuously add color to our local culture, but are sadly being forgotten and replaced by foreign monsters like the Bogeyman, Big Foot, and the Loch Ness Monster.

However, in ‘Kálam’ (a Kapampangan word for “grace” or “gift”) instead of portraying these magical characters in their conventional barrio setting, they will be portrayed in the modern, urban world, dissolving the gap between science and superstition, technology and magic, and the traditional and the modern. Imagine mangkukulam, ustuang, and mangguguna (potion chemist and charms maker) living with us in the city as seemingly normal people who dress up like us, listen to the same songs we patronize, watch the latest concerts, keep Friendster accounts, occupy seats in the government, and occupy jobs in call centers and malls.

This is the universe of ‘Kálam,’ where contemporary drama meets folkloric fantasy.

More than a TV show

The producers stress that ‘Kálam’ is more than a TV show. It is also an advocacy project seeking to promote Kapampangan culture and language to the rest of the world while showcasing and enhancing the Kapampangan’s media-related skills. They dream of the day when various ethnolinguistic groups start exchanging teleseryes with one another instead of importing shows from abroad. Such cultural exchange through broadcast media will contribute to the long overdue realization of national unity for the Filipinos.

Starring an all-Kapampangan cast and written, produced, and directed by an all-Kapampangan staff and crew, ‘Kálam’ will air weeknights at Infomax-8 in Pampanga. For people outside Pampanga, keep visiting this blog for updates.

"Let's be proud of our Cebuano heritage"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A week ago today, the session at the Cebu City Council started as usual by singing the National Anthem in the Cebuano language or "Nasudnong Awit or Yutang Tabunon" despite the fact that there is a national law that penalizes anyone singing the national anthem in their own native tongues except in Filipino, which as we all know is a not-so-cleverly- disguised Tagalog. But after the National Anthem and the prayer in Cebuano, Presiding Officer Vice-Mayor Michael Rama suggested continuing the session using the Cebuano language in order to clarify all matters.

Thus it was a sort of unique, albeit historic day last week because Cebu City Councilors were speaking their own native tongue in their official session. That the City Council of Cebu defied that law against singing the National Anthem in another tongue other than Tagalog proves our point that that law has become inutile, especially when faced with our Constitutional realities where one of the most basic freedoms our people enjoy is the Freedom of Speech, which means the freedom to speak our native language.

How many times have we said it here before that we Filipinos are very good in making great laws, but we're the worst in implementing such laws? Year 2008 has been declared the International Year of Languages, which was proclaimed by the 61st General Plenary Assembly of the United Nations in their effort to promote "Unity in Diversity and Global Understanding. " This year, the UN is pursuing multilingualism as a means of promoting, protecting and preserving diversity of languages and cultures globally. I have been advocating our right to speak and be educated in our Cebuano language from the first day I became a columnist. Now something like this finally happens, almost like a dream come true!

The Philippines is also a signatory of this UN declaration, hence for a nation of more than a hundred spoken languages, we should be the first to understand the realities that we are a nation of diverse cultures and languages and that one of the most basic of human rights is the Right to Free Speech! Yet our educational policy is killing other Filipino languages.

We Cebuanos have long been proud of our cultural heritage and language; after all, the first people in this archipelago that the Europeans knew were Cebuanos. Oh yes, the Spaniards didn't forget Cebu, as this is where the leader of the Armada de Moluccas Ferdinand Magellan met his death in the hands of Chieftain Lapu-Lapu.

We are also known as the First Christians in this part of Asia. While we embraced Christianity, I would like to believe it was due to the Sto. NiÒo, the statue of the Holy Child Jesus that is so richly decorated and dressed up. Back then, Rajah Humabon and his Queen Juana had their Anitos small wooden idols, hence when Magellan presented them with the Sto. NiÒo, they immediately embraced it.

Back on our advocacy on language. I won't forget that 22 years ago when President Corazon "Tita" Cory Aquino issued a directive ordering all government offices that official communication in her administration was through the use of the Filipino language. The Province of Cebu then under Gov. Emilio "Lito" OsmeÒa defied that Presidential Directive and filed a case in court to stop that Presidential directive and won.

I remembered Gov. OsmeÒa asking the question, "What is really the Filipino Language, when the reality is, it is 99.9% taken from the Tagalog language?" Since that time, despite a law ordering the singing of the Philippine National Anthem in Filipino, the City of Cebu, the Cebu Provincial Board starts its sessions with the singing of the National Anthem in Cebuano. This includes the Rotary Club of Cebu (Mother). Let's hope that in today's session in the City Council, they would continue holding it in Cebuano, today and in the next sessions to come! Mabuhi ang Sugbuanon!

July 13, 2008

Where I got the idea of 'Kalam'

Below is one of my oldest entries in this blog, back when my lifestyle revolved around visiting different Kapampangan places, witnessing different festivals and events, and making lengthy write ups about them.

I just want to repost it because this is where I got the concept of the upcoming Kapampanganovela, Kalam. So to those who are insisting that our story is a ripoff of Heroes or X-Men, talk to the gamat (hand).

Encountering the Holy Spirit at Jalung, Porac

One time during January, I, in pursuit of being a traveler and discoverer of my own balen, decided to visit the town where my late mother-side grandmother Apung Ines hailed from: Jalung, Porac.

I never knew how Jalung looked like. I don't even know how to get there alone. But as a child, I would hear conversations between Ima and distant relatives mentioning Jalung (pronounced 'Alung'). I know that Atsing Beth, who became my yaya many years ago as a tyke, is a resident of Jalung, but like any other Angeleño (even though I was frequently tagged a weirdo due to my distinct esoteric-meets-rebel-like personality, whatever that means), I never bothered to know anything about the rural areas of Pampanga.

But I am now a human kámaru. Gone are the days of wanting to explore the foreign world. Instead, I want to explore my hometown.

Since I was a former geek of metaphysical stuff, esoteric studies, and everything the Catholic church would deem occult or satanic, what interested me mainly about Jalung were the stories of Ima about a certain spiritist group, the weekly conventions of which my Apung Ines used to attend devotedly back in her Porac-living years (family transferred to Angeles by 1989). From Cangatba, Apung Ines would walk all the way to Jalung just to attend. Ima and Bapang Gener, as kids, would sometimes tag along riding a bicycle.

And so, I wanted to see some possession! I wanted to hear altered voices of the channels when being possessed! I wanted to experience being told by a medium that a chum is backstabbing me or my death is fast approaching. I simply wanted to see some rural magic that would bring back memories of reading papers on how to safely do astral projection and how to develop clairvoyance and psychometry!

Ding ating kálam (those who have powers) - according to Ima, this is how people called the spirit mediums.

From Angeles, I commuted all the way to Porac. Kong Jerry, husband of my first cousin Atsing Janet, drove me from their house at Cangatba to Jalung. I was told by Atsing Janet to look for Tatang Erning Laxa, the head of the spiritist group.

So we drove. Armed with my video camera and still photo camera, I was ready to document my lone trip. The narrow roads of Jalung (or, at least, the part I went to) are concrete. Houses are generally the typical post-Mt. Pinatubo eruption type of hollow-block bungalows with surviving wooden parts.

We were a bit lost. We were going cirlces in the carabao-dung-filled streets of the town. Since we didn't know the name of the group, we had to ask the residents if they knew about a spiritist group in their place. Fortunately we got to the place where the spiritist group holds its conventions every Sunday.

When I got there, I saw a lot of familiar faces--faces which I often see in family gatherings, funerals, burials, and feasts, but never bothered to get to know (not even their names), being an antisocial, private person back then. Whether they were relatives, family friends, fourth cousins, mother-of-this, niece-of-that, I didn't really know. But they all smiled at me and knew who I and my family were. It made me a bit guilty.

So I went inside. It was a relatively small airconditioned conference room with a couple of pews and goers.

Unlike the typical churches or chapels, there was no crucifix in front, no flamboyant altar, no statues of patrons and saints. What stood in the place of the crucifix was a small inanimate dove, apparently a symbol of the Holy Spirit. A woven Jesus Christ carpet was hung near the entrance.

There were three desks in front: one labeled "President," the right desk labeled "Secretary," and the middle labeled "Medium." I was intrigued at the sight of the middle desk.

On the far right is another table where a scribe jots down the message of the Holy Spirit spoken through the medium.

I was assisted by Apung Luding (Lydia Gamboa), 70 years of age, one of the nieces of my Apung Ines. It was from her I asked permission to get pictures and document in video what was happening, since she is a secretary in the group. She exuded an erudite aura and understood scientific and modern concepts most folks of her age would find intellectually challenging. For clarity, I told her that I was there to observe and study objectively, not to challenge the religion or the group. She understood quickly.

(I presented myself as an Anthropology student from UP Diliman. I found it hard and time-consuming to explain my current status in UP and my principles prompting me to make such decision of leaving my current course, Broadcast Communication.)

Wielding my powers of observation, I got to know the name of the group: Bunduc ning Betaña (since 1950). I believe the name was lifted from a passage in the Bible. For non-Kapampangans, the group's name means Mount Betaña.

According to Apung Luding, unlike other sects or Christian subgroups, Betaña is in touch with the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier. The other members of the Holy Trinity have other functions: Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Almighty Father is the Creator.

Anyone who joins the conventions of Betaña is called a spiritist. In their group, you don't have to be a medium for you to be called a spiritist.

I was offered a seat in the front to witness better. The medium--a fairly innocent-looking old woman with white hair--sat in the middle desk. After some non-graphic rituals, she suddenly fainted, but to no surprise. The people knew her spirit just temporarily got out to give way to the Holy Spirit.

When the medium got to her feet, if she's not really faking it, I can tell that there was really a change of personality and impression based on her face and how she looked at the people. To me, it's as if she suddenly became a very wise person who knew all the secrets of the cosmos.

Then she started talking with a commanding, preachy voice (in fluent Kapampangan). Unlike the features I often see in free TV where possessed channels suddenly adopt midget speech, there wasn't any change in the voice, except in the manner of delivery and level of conviction.

Behind her is an assistant of sort holding a microphone, following the movement of the medium. Sometimes, saliva would drip out of the mouth of the medium. The assistant would then wipe it off, because the medium seemed to not notice it at all, as if detached from physical stimuli.

I listened to what the "Holy Spirit" had to say. I have to admit, I was trying to spot anything that I would find objectionable or politically incorrect, but to my amazement, the teachings of the so-called Spirit were practical and valuable lessons about middle class life--about man's constant struggle to find and hoard money, about hunger, etc. No Ang Tamang Daan VS Ang Dating Daan style of preaching and lambasting. In short, the things being uttered make sense in the real world--which is what's important for me.

The convention seemed like a class; the possessed medium was the teacher and the people were the students. The people were free to ask questions and the medium would answer. Sometimes, like a teacher, the medium would throw a question, and people would answer. An interactive 'mass.' Not much ritualistic stand up-sit down-amen-peace-be-with-you.

The medium would quote the Bible sometimes. A couple of people would verify if the medium was correct in her citations. If the medium committed a flaw, they would abort the convention, for "a pretentious evil spirit is inhabiting the medium to mislead people." In my visit, there were no wrong citations. (Although it would have been more interesting on my part if I had encountered a pretentious spirit possession scene there.)

Then, a woman who was to fly to another country approached the medium and asked for blessings and safety guidelines. As Ima told me, the Spirit would either say something reality-based, like "Go to this hospital and look for an American doctor", or something mystical like "Secure a white hanky, fold it twice, and pin it under your pillow."

I have stories about the mystical instructions given to my grandmother back in her days, but I'll save them for another entry.

The woman was told to secure a white hanky and insert it under her shirt during her flight.

The channel then (still possessed) began singing more teachings, still in Kapampangan. I have documented a portion of her singing, which I have uploaded in my Podcast. Click on the Betania track on my Podcast on your right to listen.

After that, the people sang a few Kapampangan praise songs. I was entertained because the songs were in Kapampangan. How could I not document that part, too?

And the Spirit left. The medium is back to her old innocent-looking character. The people were dismissed, but some people privately approached some channels to be healed. One old man claimed to have been cured from a deadly disease by the Spiritists and he seemed very healthy.

I asked Apung Luding what kálam meant. She said, "Kálam means the grace of God. Everyone has it, but only those with pure intentions can wield it and use it to share the wisdom of Heaven."

Apung Luding invited me to her house afterwards. In there we got to know each other more. However, I'll spare you the details in another entry.

July 9, 2008

Kamaru on Infomax' Personalan talk show

The following series of videos is one full episode of Infomax' talk show Personalan which is shown weekly in Pampanga via Infomax-8 and ABSCBN Pampanga Channel 46.

In this episode, the creative production group Kalalangan Kamaru (creative producer of Kalam) was guested to send the message to fellow Kapampangan youth that denial of ethnicity, especially through rejection or concealment of mother language, is the most uncool thing in this period.

If you don't speak Kapampangan, you'll find that the videos have no subtitles but you may still want to watch to take a partial look at how Kapampangan mass media is progressing.

At the end of the show, Kalam became the topic of conversation. See the set of audition VTRs in the fifth video.

July 4, 2008

Non-Tagalog Indie Films increasing in number

Indie films are becoming a vehicle for the intellectualization of non-Tagalog languages. Consider the following non-Tagalog entries in this year's Cinemalaya film festival:

Angan-Angan (Dreams) by Sheron Dayoc

Namets! (Delicious!) by Jay Abello

then we also have this Dabawenyo gay lingo film by a contemporary at the UP College of Mass Communication:

The Thank You Girls by Charliebebs Gohetia

Indie filmmaking... when will it penetrate the Kapampangan community? Hopefully by the end of the year! Abangan! ;)