Monday, February 18, 2008

Cebuano music at its best

It has been over a month since the 28th Cebu Popular Music Festival but I still keep playing the songs over and over in my mind that I swear I don’t know when the last song(s) syndrome would end. I’m probably in awe because early this month, I ransacked music stores for a copy of the album. I finally found it in the music section of Metro Ayala. Anyway, I got the chance to hear and appreciate each song and I was awed not only by the entries but also by the arrangement of each piece. I rarely buy original albums because they cost a fortune for someone like me who’s used to coaxing friends into copying the songs or taking it the cheaper way – buy them from the streets. But since the album was locally produced and I couldn’t get a copy from my cousin Japril, (who by the way is the main reason why I even bothered to look for the album as she is one of the interpreters) I took the risk and shelved some of my savings that’s more than enough to buy myself a McDonald’s burger meal or a slice of Red Ribbon Chocolate Marjolaine. But upon hearing all those tracks in the album, I’d say it was all worth it.

Yeah I know that’s not really something new. To say that Cebuanos are musically gifted is like emphasizing a point that has already been underscored because a lot of artists who came from Cebu and other parts in Visayas and Mindanao are making it big in the industry. What amazes me is that the quality of the music is at par with those created in Manila. Musically speaking, we are ready to create and develop our own music industry right here in the south. But a greater and a more important question is: are we, the public, ready for it?

Personally, I am ready for it even if I was not exactly a fan of the language. Before, I would balk at the thought of reading something in Cebuano because I couldn’t understand the words. Even as a kid, I favored the English language in subtle ways. In the face of danger with a snake wriggling its tail at my feet, I could have shouted, “Bitin! Bitin!” Instead, I screamed, “Snake! Snake!” I was about five years old then. And when I talk in my sleep, my nanny would tell me in the morning I was speaking in English the whole time. But seeing how extremely talented our musicians, singers, and composers are and hearing how rich and sweet the Cebuano language sounds in a song, I’d say I’m looking forward to hearing more songs that would reflect our culture and our nature as a people. And it’s safe to say that I’ve changed my perspective about the language.

But there’s more to preparation than just appreciating the language. That’s just the first step. The next crucial step would involve asking ourselves how far we will go to support the industry. Because the music industry, as in any other industry, would still rely on financial returns. It may survive but it could struggle against people’s reluctance to buy the albums and the preference as well to buy the original copy than the pirated version. (Ouch, did something just hit me or what?) Well, that’s something to mull about. As for me, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

bicentennial man teaches social science

Flipping across channels on a Sunday night, I came across Bicentennial Man. The first few scenes seemed familiar but halfway through, I realized I haven’t watched the whole movie so I put down the remote control and watched it until the end. Bicentennial Man was played by the very talented Robin Williams, who happens to be one of my favorite actors of all time. The story was set in a futuristic era where robots coexist with humans. Williams plays a robot named Andrew. He was sent to a family, who treated him well as if he really was part of it. Then the unthinkable happened. Andrew started to acquire human emotions and intelligence. I doubt if that is technologically possible but anyway, this entry isn’t a review of the movie. There was one scene in the movie that keeps playing again and again in my mind.

It was the scene where Andrew’s master discovered that he had a potential. Andrew used to help around the house. Andrew’s master told him at that moment that he will no longer work and will just focus on reading and studying – which of course was one of the factors as to why he became a really smart robot. That scene reminded me of my social science class where my teacher Sir Mike asked us what we noticed about the kids in a milk commercial that promises to spawn “gifted” children. If you drink that milk, your child could have an IQ so high your kid can be a pianist, violinist, math whiz, or a chess champ. Impressive huh. So if a ratty kid from the street drinks that milk, will he have more chances of becoming any of those above? Well, the thing with that milk commercial, it portrays kids from well-off families.

If we watch the commercial closely, these kids are well-dressed, educated, and can spend all the time in the world focusing on becoming who they want to be because their parents can back them up. In contrast, the kid from the street does not have all the luxury and lives each day finding food for himself and his family so they can eat and survive. Translate that to psychology and we come face to face with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which states that physiological needs come first before self-fulfillment. Of course, how would you expect a kid to pursue his talents with an empty stomach?

I’m not saying that underprivileged kids are doomed because a lot of people have proven that they can rise above the odds with patience and a lot of hard work. In the end, what matters more is how we cope with our respective situations. I just hope they know that.