Recent Scholarly Publications on Philippine Music

Afable, Cynthia. 2017 “The Poetics of Paawitan in a Tagalog Community in the Province of Quezon, Philippines.” PhD ethnomusicology dissertation, Philippine Women’s University.

Africa, Antonio. 2016.“Expressions of Tagalog Imaginary: The Tagalog Sarswela and Kundiman in Early Films in the Philippines (1939-1959),” PhD ethnomusicology dissertation, Philippine Women’s University.

Archiving Filipino American Music in Los Angeles (AFAMILA): A Community Partnership with Kayamanan Ng Lahi. Collection 2003.05. Ethnomusicology Archive, University of California, Los Angeles.

Balance, Christine Bacareza. 2016. Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America.Durham: Duke University Press.

Brennan, Philomena S. 1984. “Music Educational and Ethnomusicological Implications for Curriculum Design Development, Implementation and Evaluation of Philippine Music and Dance Curricula.” PhD dissertation, University of Wollongong.

– – -. 1995. “Philippine Rondalla in Australian Multicultural Music Education.” In Honing the Craft: Improving the Quality of Music Education: Conference Proceedings of the Australian Society for Music Education10th National Conference, edited by Helen Lee and Margaret Barrett, 54-57. Hobart, Tasmania: Artemis Publishing.

Buenconsejo, José S.. 2008. “The River of Exchange: Music of Agusan Manobo and Visayan Relations in Caraga, Mindanao, Philippines.” DVD. Video documentary accompanying book Songs and Gifts at the Frontier.

– – – . Editor. 2017. Philippine Modernities Music, Performing Arts, and Language, 1880-1941.Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press.

Burns, Lucy Mae San Pablo. 2013. Puro Arte: Filipinos on the Stages of Empire.New York: New York University Press.

Capitan, Amiel Kim Quan. 2017. “Dis/Re-Integration of  Traditional Vocal Genres: Cultural Tourism and the Ayta Magbukun’s Koro Bangkal Magbikin in Bataan, Philippines. “ Proceedings of the 4th Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia, Penang, 2016, 58-59.

Carranza, Anna Patricia R. 2020. “100 Years in Retrospect: Articulations of Philippine Identity in the Undergraduate Programs of the U.P. College of Music (1916-2016),” Master of Music thesis, University of the Philippines. 

Cayabyab, Cristina Maria P. 2015.  “Filipinizing Western Musical Theater: An Analysis of Ryan Cayabyab’s El Filibusterismo.” Musika Jornal11:2-37.

– – -. 2018. “Session musicians and the golden age of Philippine popular music, 1973-1987.” Master of Music thesis, University of the Philippines.

Chua, Maria Alexandra, Iñigo. 2017. “Composing the Filipino Music Transculturation and Hybridity in Nineteenth Century Urban Colonial Manila (1858-1898),” PhD in music dissertation, University of the Philippines.

Costes-Onishi, Pamela. 2010. “Kulintang Stateside: Issues on Authenticity of Transformed Musical Traditions Contextualized Within the Global/Local Traffic.” Humanities Diliman7 (1): 111-139.

Cunningham, Roger D. 2007. “’The Loving Touch’: Walter H. Loving’s Five Decades of Military Music.” Army History 64: 5-25.

Dadap, Michael. 2007. The Virtuoso Bandurria.Dumaguete City, Philippines: Unitown Publishing House.

Devitt, Rachel. 2008. “Lost in Translation: Filipino Diaspora(s), Postcolonial Hip Hop, and the Problems of Keeping it Real for the ‘Contentless’ Black Eyed Peas.” Asian Music39 (1): 108-134.

Ellorin, Bernard B. 2008. “Variants of Kulintangan Performance as a Major Influence of Musical Identity.” Master of Arts thesis, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

– – -. 2015. “Trans-cultural Commodities: The Sama-Bajau Music Industries and Identities of Maritime Southeast Asia.” PhD dissertation, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Gabrillo, James. 2018. “Rak en Rol: The Influence of Psychedelic Culture in Philippine Music.”Rock Music Studies, special issue on Global Psychedelia and Counterculture, edited by Kevin Moist, 5 (3): 257-274.

– – -. 2018. “The Sound and Spectacle of Philippine Presidential Elections, 953-1998.” Musical Quarterly, 100/3-4 (Jul 2018), 297-339.

– – -. 2018. “The New Manila Sound: Music and Mass Culture, 1990s and Beyond”, PhD dissertation, University of Cambridge.

Gaerlan, Barbara S. 1999. “In the Court of the Sultan: Orientalism, Nationalism, and Modernity in Philippine and Filipino American Dance.” Journal of Asian American Studies2 (3): 251-287.

Gonzalves, Theodore S. 2007. Stage Presence: Conversations with Filipino-American Performing Artists.St. Helena, CA: Meritage Press.

– – – . 2010. The Day the Dancers Stayed: Performing in the Filipino/American Diaspora. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Jimenez, Earl Clarence. 2016. “The Life of a Drum: The Tboli T’nonggong. Studia Instrumentorum Musicae Popularis IV (New Series),1370148.

—. 2016. “Sounding the Spirit.”  Sabangan2, 37-50. 

—-. 2019. “The Divine Sound: Acoustemology of Faith in a Religious Community.”  PhD ethnomusicology dissertation, Philippine Women’s University.

—. 2019. “The Entanglement of Space and Sound in Tboli Music Instruments.” Studia Instrumentorum Musicae Popularis VI (New Series),145-154.

—. 2020. “Memories of Sounds: An Archiving Project in Two Aural Communities.” Asian European Music Research Journal5(Summer), 1-8.

Labrador, Roderick N. 2002. “Performing Identity: The Public Presentation of Culture and Ethnicity among Filipinos in Hawai’i.” Journal for Cultural Research6 (3): 287-307.

Macazo, Crisancti L. 2019. “Music and Image the Soundtrack of Manuel Conde’s Extant Films, 1941-1958.” Phd in music dissertation, University of the Philippines.

Mangaoang, Aine. 2013. “Dancing to Distraction: Mediating ‘Docile Bodies’in Philippine Thriller Video.”  Torture23 (2): 44-54.

– – -. 2015. “Performing the Post Colonial: Philippine Prison Spectacles After Web 2.0.” Post Colonial Text9 (4).

– – -. 2019. Dangerous Mediations: Pop Music in a Philippine Prison Video. New Approaches to Sound, Music, and Media. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Matherne, Neal. 2013. “Bayan Nila: Pilipino Culture Nights and Student Performance at Home in Southern California.”Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspective on Asia49 (1): 105-127.

Mendoza, Lara Katrina T. 2020. “Pag-aambag sa Eksena at Kultura (Making a Contribution to the Scene and Culture): The Meaning of Contemporary Hip-Hop Performance Among Youths in Manila, Philippines,” PhD in music dissertation, University of the Philippines.

Miranda, Isidora. 2020. “Dissonant Voices: Tagalog Zarzuela and the Politics of Representation in the Philippines, 1902 to 1942,” PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin.

Montano, Lilymae. 2013. “Claming Social Justice in a Cordillera Community in the Philippines: The Ifugao Himong Revenge Dance.” In Proceedings of the 2nd Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia, Manila, 2012, 130-133. Manila: Philippine Women’s University.

—. 2016. “From Village Ritual to Banaue Imbayah Festival: The Case of the Ifugao Himong Revenge Dance.” Sabangan2, 89-113.

Moon, Krystyn R. 2010. “The Quest for Music’s Origin at the St. Louis World’s Fair: Frances Densmore and the Racialization of Music.” American Music 28 (2): 191-210.

Muyco, Maria Christine M. 2017. Music of the ATA/ATI of Boracay in their Struggle for Land and Celebration of Life. University of the Philippines- Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development. Audio CD.

– – -. 2018. “Salampati(Choral Arrangements of Bicol Folk Songs), editor. Manila, Phil.: National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

– – -. 2019.  “Hearing Ginhawa In-and-Out and Across Cultures”. In Danyag. Philippine Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, issue no. 2, volume 22. OVCRE, UP Visayas

– – -. 2019. “Mumunting Tinig, New Works for Children’s Choral Pieces. (Entries: “I-angat ang Araw”; “Muklat”; Bigkas-Titik”; “Tumindig”; “Hakbang sa Dulo”; “Kapilas ng Buhay”; “Ako at ang Kalikasan”; “Pagbagkas-Bigkas”; “Kurubingbing Kurubawbaw”). The National Commission for Culture and the Arts.  Audio CD. 

– – -. 2019.  “Ginggala: The Tai Yai’s Divine Gift Through Music and Dance” (with co-author: Khanithep Pitupumnak, Phd, Chiangmai University, Thailand). Perspectives in the Arts  and Humanities in Asia, 1 (9).

National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Sagisag Kultura. Volume1, 2, 3. (Music/Dance), edited by Raul C Navarro. Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts. 

Navarro, Raul C. 2001. “Ang Musika sa Pilipinas: Pagbuo ng Kolonyal na Polisi, 1898-1935” Humanities Diliman, 2 (1): 45-68.

– – -. 2004 “Musika sa Pampublikong Paaralan sa Pilipinas, 1901-1930” Daluyan: Journal ng Wikang Filipino, Vol. II. Quezon City: Sentro ng Wikang Filipino, UP Diliman. pp. 163-175.

– – -. 2008. “Ang Bagong Lipunan, 1972-1986: Isang Panimulang Pag-aaral sa Musika at Lipunan” Humanities Diliman,5 (1,2): 47-77.

– – -. 2016. Musika sa Kasaysayan ng Filipinas: Pana-panahong Diskurso. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.

– – -. 2017. “Apat na Taong Pagsikat ng Nakapapasong Araw: Musika sa Filipinas sa Panahon ng Hapon, 1942-1945.” Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society, 14 (2): 1-24.

– – -. 2017. “Mula Mga International Exposition tungong ‘Manila Carnival’: Pagtatanghal ng Filipino bilang ‘Tribal People’ at ‘Beauty Queen’ sa mga Exposisyong Industriyal at Komersiyal”  Humanities Diliman, vol. 14 (2): 64-90.

– – -. 2019 “Musika ng Pananakop: Panahon ng Hapon sa Filipinas, 1942-1945” Humanities Diliman16: 1-46.

Ng, Stephanie. 2005. “Performing the ‘Filipino’ at the Crossroads: Filipino Bands in Five-Star Hotels Throughout Asia.” Modern Drama 48 (2): 272-296.

Nono, Grace. 2014. “Babaylan Sing Back: Philippine Shamans on Voice, Gender, and Transnationalism,” PhD Dissertation. New York University.

Pisares, Elizabeth. 2008. “Do You MIs(recognize) Me: Filipina Americans in Popular Music and the Problem of Invisibility.” InPositively no Filipinos Allowed: Building Communities and Discourse, edited by Antonio T. Tiongson, Edgardo V. Gutierrez, and Ricardo V. Gutierrez, 172-198. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing.

Porticos, Peter John. 2017. “The Vision of Reynaldo Reyes: Erudition in Piano Performance and Pedagogue.” PhD ethnomusicology dissertation, Philippine Women’s University.

Prudente, Felicidad A. 2016 “Pinoy Jazz,” “Pinoy Pop,” “Pinoy Rap,” and “Pinoy Rock.” In Pop Culture in Asia and Oceania edited by J. Murray and K. Nadeau (pp. 35-39). California: ABC-CLIO, 2016.

—. 2011. “Asserting Cordillera Identity Among the Indigenous Peoples of  Northern Philipppines.”  In Proceedings of the 1stSymposium of the ICTM Study Group on Performings Arts ofSoutheast Asiaedited by M.A. Nor, P. Matusky, T. Sooi Beng, J. Kitingan & F. Prudente  (pp. 25-30). Malaysia: Nusantara Performing Arts Research Centre and University of Malaya. 

—. 2013. “Calling the Spirit: A Ritual of the Buaya Kalinga People of Northern Philipppines.”  In Proceedings of the 2ndSymposium of the ICTM Study Group on Performings Arts of Southeast Asia  edited by M.A. Nor, P. Matusky, T. Sooi Beng, J. Kitingan & F. Prudente (pp. 188-193).  Manila: Philippine Women’s University, Philippines.

—. 2017. “Expressing Religiosity through the Performing Arts of the Tagalog-Speaking Peoples in the Philippines.”  In Proceedings of the 4th  Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Performings Arts of Southeast Asiaedited  by P. Matusky, W. Quintero, T. Sooi Beng, J. Kitingan & D. Quintero (pp. 25 – 30). Penang: Universiti Sains Malaysia.

—. 2019. “Expressing Grief for the Dead among the Buaya Kalinga of Northern Philippines.”  In Proceedings of the 5th  Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Performings Arts of Southeast Asiaedited  by P. Matusky, W. Quintero, D. Quintero, M. Hood, F. Prudente,  L. Ross, C. Yong, & H. Hamza (pp. 106 – 108).  Sabah: Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.

—, ed. 1998.Antukin: Philippine Folk Songs and Lullabyes. Illustrated by Joanne de Leon. Manila: Tahanan Books for Young Readers.

—, 2019. Ed-Eddoy: An Ifugao Folk Song. Illustrated by Kora Dandan Albano. Manila: Tahanan Books for Young Readers.

–, ed. 2019. Kaisa-Isa Niyan: A Maguindanaon Folk song. Illustrated  by Fran Alvarez. Manila: Tahanan Books for Young Readers.

—, ed. 2019. Pakitong-Kitong: A Cebuano Folk Song.Illustrated by Harry Monzon. Manila: Tahanan Books for Young Readers.

Sta. Maria-Villasquez, Gloria. 2016. ”The Nightingale Meets Nipper the Dog: Maria Evangelista Carpena and the Beginnings of Recorded Music Technology in the Philippines, ca. 1900-1915.” Sabangan2,64-77.

Schenker, Frederick J. 2016. “Empire of Syncopation: Music, Race, and Labor in Colonial Asia’s Jazz Age.” PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Schenker, Frederick J. 2019. “Jazz and the British Empire: The Rise of the Asian Jazz Professional,” in Cross-Cultural Exchange and Colonial Imaginary, edited by H. Hazel Hahn, 263-279. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press.

Schoop, Monika.2019.Independent Music and Digital Technology in the Philippines” Routledge Studies in Popular Music. New York: Routledge.

Talusan, Mary.  2004. “Music, Race, and Imperialism: The Philippine Constabulary Band at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.” Philippine Studies Quarterly52(4): 499-526.

– – -. 2005. “Cultural Localization and Transnational Flows: Music in the Magindanaon Communities of the Philippines.” PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.

– – -. 2009. “Gendering the Philippine Brass Band: Women of the Ligaya Band and National University Band, 1920s-1930s.” Musika Jornal5: 33-56.

– – -. 2013. “Music, Race, and Imperialism: The Philippine Constabulary Band at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.” In Mixed Blessing: The Impact of the American Colonial Experience on Politics and Society in the Philippines, edited by Hazel M. McFerson, 146-170. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

– – -. 2014. “Muslim Filipino Traditions in Filipino American Popular Music.” In Muslims and American Popular Culture, edited by Anne Rypstat Richards and Iraj Omidvar, 387-404. New York: Praeger.

Tan, Arwin Q. 2003. “The Academy of Music of Manila: A Legacy of Cosmopolitan Liberality.” CAS Review2 (4): 14-18.

– – -. 2007.  “Evolving Filipino Music and Culture in the Life and Works of Don Lorenzo Ilustre of Ibaan, Batangas.” Master of Music thesis, University of the Philippines.

– – -. 2008. “A Review of Lawak Rondalya: Commemorative CD Album of Cuerdas nin Kagabsan,” Musika Jornal4: 216-218.

– – -. 2014. “Reproduction of Cultural and Social Capital in Nineteenth Century Spanish Regimental Bands of the Philippines.” Humanities Diliman11 (2): 61-89.

– – -. 2014. “Nasyonalismo at Pagkakakilanlan sa Musika ng Iglesia Filipina Independiente: Pagsusuri sa Misa Balintawak ni Bonifacio Abdon.” Saliksik E- Journal3 (2): 307-334.

– – -. 2014. “Approaching a postcolonial Filipino identity in the music of Lucrecia Kasilag.” Musika Jornal  10: 114-143.

– – -. 2016. “Finding the Filipino Spirit in Music.” Orden ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining 2009,2014. Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and theArts, 139-155

– – -. 2017. “José M. Maceda at 100.” Perspectives in the Arts and Humanities Asia,7/2, 126-131.

– – -. Editor. 2018. Saysay Himig: A Sourcebook on Philippine Music History 1880-1941.Quezon City: The University Press

Tan, Joana Kristina S. 2020. “Shaping Filipino Pianists: On the Piano Pedagogy of Mauricia D. Borromeo.” Master of Music Education thesis, University of the Philippines. 2020

Taton, Jose Jr. 2017. “Performing the “Indigenous”: Music-Making in the Katagman Festival in Iloilo, Philippines.” In Proceedings of the 4th Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia, Penang, 2016, 55-56. 

Trimillos, Ricardo D. 2008. “Histories, Resistances, and Reconciliations in a Decolonizable Space: The Philippine Delegation to the 1998 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.” Journal of American Folklore 121 (479): 60-79.

UP College of Music. 2017. Saysay Himig: An Anthology of Transcultural Filipino Music (1880-1941), selected and annotated by Arwin Tan. Three-CD set.

Villegas, Mark R. 2016. “Currents of Militarization, Flows of Hip-Hop: Expanding the Geographies of Filipino American Culture.” Journal of Asian American Studies19 (1): 25-46.

Villegas, Mark R., Kuttin Kandi, Roderick N. Labrador, and Jeff Chang. 2014. ”Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation. ”InFilipina/o America. United States of America: Cognella Academic Publishing.

Wang, Oliver. 2015. Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews of the San Francisco Bay Area.Durham: Duke University Press.

Wald, Gayle, and Theodore S. Gonzalves. 2019. “Island Girl in a Rock-and-Roll World: An Interview with June Millington by Theo Gonzalves and Gayle Wald.” Journal of Popular Music Studies31 (1): 15–28.

Selectively compiled by José S. Buenconsejo, PhD

with the assistance of Josephine Baradas, URA of UP College of Music

The “Popular” in Philippine Music

A review of current research on Philippine Popular Music from 2010 to 2019.

[Written as part of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Salikha: Ethnographies of Philippine Auditory Cultures, under Dr. Lara Mendoza’s leadership. The works mentioned in the article are not under the auspices of Salikha Project.]

José S. Buenconsejo, PhD
Professor of Musicology
University of the Philippines
College of Music

In recent years, there has been a growing trend, if not a sudden irresistible itch, to explore the popular musics of the Philippines in a scholarly way, taking more substantial steps to account for their creative evolutions as historical and cultural processes. As what normally happens in language use, the term “popular” has not been a stable category of musical articulation in Philippine history but a fluid entity that interpenetrated with other terms such as “folk,” “indigenous,” “art,” and “traditional.”

Folkloristics as Popular
In the late 19th century when studies in Philippine folk expressions and practices were documented and written by Isabelo de los Reyes, autochtonous music in the Philippines (which was then a province of the Spanish empire) was referred to as the music of the “indigenas” (i.e., of the insulares or local) and “popular” (i.e., widely practised or held in common). A contemporary of de los Reyes (but perhaps from a different group in multiracial multiethnic Manila–a Spanish mestizo or creollo) was Diego C. Perez who wrote in 1886 a long and tedious piano medley (potpourri) of 19 dance rhythms and song (cantares) melodies entitled “Recuerdos de Filipinas y sus cantares.” This was a compilation of musics that represented various Philippine landscapes (akin to the cuadros or scenes of costumbrista literature and theater) of that time and hence was “indigenous popular” of some sort among the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands. Diego Perez was silent about music categorization; after all, he was a piano teacher and repairer. But an internal analysis of his music arrangement, as I have confirmed in a recent article in the book Philippine Modernities, however, indicates the sheer music’s hybridity in which international piano idioms (cosmopolitan so to speak) were mixed freely with, but not obliterating, the character of traditional local rhythms and melodies. I had requested Enzo Medel to record this in Eastman School of Music and we had included his interpretation in the 3-CD set with accompanying anthology of short essays, Saysay Himig, compiled by Arwin Tan and published by the University of the Philippines College of Music.

Like a music catalogue (though paraphrased and hence playable as salon music), this collection speaks to musics that were “traditional” or customary (kalinangan) to the indigenous inhabitants of the archiplego. It echoes a parallel documentary effort of the Puerto Rican bureaucrat Manuel Walls y Merino based in Manila whose 1892 Musica Popular de Filipinas was an important publication and critically annotated by Patricia Silvestre. (Walls y Merino would return to Madrid sometime after his government service in the Philippine province.) Like Perez, Walls y Merino used the term “popular” to refer to the hybrid music common to the colonized majority (jota, fandango, cundiman, cumintang, and so on), and thus he was fundamentally silent about the other musical appellations as we understand these at present.

The term “indigenous music” would emerge separately only when the fledging anthropological science of cultural difference, i.e., between Christian lowlanders and non-Christian highlanders, came to the fore, started first by German residents in the country and visiting American ethnologists who did inland field research expeditions (e.g. Montano, Schadenberg, Worcester, and so on). This was around the last decade of the 19th century unto the next. Armed with the then dominant positivist-empiricist scientific outlook, the previous neutral Spanish term “popular” of the “indigenas” morphed to two distinctions, with the latter carrying the baggage of ethnic or class-inflected othering or belonging in public culture. In the writings, exoticism was evident and often led to hierarchical cultural evolutionism to justify the difference, categorizing Philippine communities into levels of cultural achievement, from simple to complex. (In the American occupation of the islands, the Moslems in the south were in a separate anomalous category.)

Thus, instead of the once, catch-all term “popular,” the “indigenous” was divorced from it and the latter term would even be distinguished from the rural “folk” away from both the “popular” and “indigenous.” There still needs a lot of research to be done how this categorization came about historically and this internet blog would pave the way for that. From a historical materialist perspective that I use in this essay, it makes sense to assume that the bifurcations all related somehow to the burgeoning modern cultural practices. Philippines’ subscription to the world capitalist imperative that sought to expand market exchanges undeniably brought in cataclysmic social relationships that were not always, of course, one-way traffics. Capitalism in the Philippines, as it happened elsewhere, had an effect in music and this was an entangled “tango” between foreign and native musical articulations of sentiment and sense. Recent researches in the late 19th century Philippine music has pointed out the connections between the on-the-ground material developments and their constitutive cultural expressions and social development, i.e., on Filipino identity in local musica notada (or print sheet music) studied by Maria Alexandra Inigo-Chua and on issues in the commodification of music labor and entrepreneurship that was tackled by Arwin Q. Tan. Moreover, mele Yamomo wrote a regional history on music modernity in insular Southeast Asia, which according to him were signified by various sonic signifiers. The entanglements of this modernity–exchanges between empire and the still-to-be realized Filipino nation–crosscut with gendered and ethnic subjectivity projections, a topic of Miranda’s research which was particularly about the pluralistic dissonant voices in Philippine vernacular zarzuelas at the turn of the last century.

Going back to the main topic of musical categorization, it was in 1920s, in the literary journalism of Epifanio de los Santos in El Debate, that the term “music folklore” appeared. This circulation of this discourse in the reading public was nothing extraordinary, however. It fundamentally conformed to the already existing attention of Filipino composers to traditional Philippine music. For example, José Atanacio Estella y Barredo–whose entire holographs of compositions dating since 1890s and the memorabilia that are in the Archives of Philippine music manuscripts in the University of the Philippines College of Music library–was already composing “folkloric” instrumental and piano works entitled “cancioneros” that captured everyday popular culture in the Philippines from musical depictions of rice cake bibingka vendor manglalakoq, female cigarette factory workers to fliting sparrows (maya) of the farm fields. He even sketched a perceived representation of the balugaq or the Negritos, which was condescendingly orientalist. A true-bloodied Filipino Hispanista (racially a Spanish mestizo), Estella had read works by the Spanish Catalan folklorist Felip Pedrell (a student of Albeniz and Granados) and knew about Diego Perez’s Recuerdos that Estella himself emulated in his piano suite “La Tagala” and later in an orchestral suite. To reiterate, the “popular” among these Filipino Hispanistas was co-extensive with the term “folk music” and the fact that this was the music of all naturally born residents in the archipelago, then “popular” meant ” of the “indigena” or “indigenous” as well.

One can see this in the content of de los Santos’s 1920 El Debate article that talks about the “folk” as encompassing the “indigenous” and “popular.” His example of Tagalog awit (verse form of the literary form comedia popularized by Francisco Balagtas from the 19th century) was “popular” in every sense of the word, as in the previous Spanish linguistic usage. It was printed with regional ones such as “Okaka” of the Kapampangan (which today is labelled “folk”) and even of the Tingguian in Northern Luzon (which is “indigenous”). While de los Santos did not explicitly use the word “popular,” his attention to traditional music as “music folklore” seems, to me, synonymous with the previous usage of “popular,” i.e., to mean the music of the majority, and including the minority at that! His awit example was taken from Francisco Balagtas’s comedia Florante at Laura, which is a written tradition. This meant that its popularity owed to the wide public dissemination of the printed word. De los Santos’s concept of “folk” was therefore encompassing (both traditional indigenous and popular) and thus it continued the non-compartmentalized discourse begotten from the previous generation of Hispanistas.

Rise of Art Music
Then comes another writer in 1920s in the name of Raymundo C. Bañas, a public school teacher schooled the American way and who wrote in English. Similar to de los Santos, the term “popular” was excluded. But unlike de los Santos, Bañas self-consciously focused on mostly on the “not popular,” offering a narrative of Philippine music history that was in the mold of western metanarrative history of art music with its focus on “Great Composers.” Ironically, the content of Bañas 1924 book showed the very appreciation of secular music practitioners and genres that were undoubtedly popular as these were widely heard in the public sphere then, notably symphonic band music in Bagumbayan (todays’ Luneta), rondallas and zarzuelas in fiestas, choral music, and so on. Thus, seemingly fetishizing Western concert music, the composers therein, the visiting foreign artist, local music institutions, Bañas’s bias against non-conservatory music is seen in the erasure of bodabil and jazz, which were on the contrary, as popular as they can ever be at that time. We get this sense by reading through the biographies of Filipino musicians in his book. It is gleaned that the conservatory-trained musicians who were serving the concert stage were also the same names who developed the excluded popular realm, as in, for example, many of them played in silent films and music for the popular cabaret dance halls of the elites and new middle class. This goes to show the fluidities in common musical practice, thanks to the genius of the brilliant Filipino musicians. The context of Bañas writing can therefore be understood in terms of the bourgeois ideology that his writing projected; he was writing with a desire for and attention only to genres and practitioners that the new conservatory institutions deemed legitimate art, i.e., highbrow art, forgetting the essentially cultural: the popular. The separation between art and popular was thus articulated and enshrined. Its narration was concomitant to the practice of listening to art for art’s sake in instrumental concert music. This was then a symptom of urbanization and modernity, and it materialized through the hegemony of Manila’s elites. A research into this area needs attention but it has been started. Beltran wrote a thesis on the coming of Central European conservatory music in Manila via the Viennese-trained Alexander Lippay. Beltran argued that the conservatory tradition of borrowing folk music into the new art composition came from a tradition that was within the conservatory itself and that Lippay merely highlighted it because “nationalist” art music was hot in 1920s among the elites and even in the underground. It was this context that exulted the folk to become art in the city for the middle class as in the kundiman of Abdon, Abelardo, and Santiago. They composed nationalist compositions in Western garb as in the much played Abelardo’s and Santiago’s piano concerti that had many folk elements to them. In the 1969 edition of this 1924 book, Bañas attended to the folk music more than ever but, following the discursive tradition of the conservatory system, continues to ignore the popular.

Bañas’s aversion against the “popular” was informed by a musical taste of the new emerging salariat class from whose position Bañas was writing from. (Another writer who selectively chose composers who wrote in the Western idiom of classical music would be Alfredo Roa and Arturo Rotor.) The impulse to collect printed scores, correspondences from local composers, news on music events, souvenir programs, music pedagogical pieces, and so on was spurred by the educational and historical values of music as art. He collected plenty of printed scores (imported from the US) that were used as stock pieces for silent films but did not cover this in his book. Understandably, of course, this was outside of the topic on “Pilipino” music but the fact that he collected them in the first instance was proof of a historicist mindset on the value of the music score as a symbol of literacy that was attached to his bourgeois identity. This was one with a taste for music as art. More research has to be done on the class origins of Bañas in order to assess if his penchant for classical music was “naturally” handed to him from his family or acquired through the liberal arts education he got from the state-funded colleges he attended in. In either way, Bañas’s non-inclusion of music (i.e., of music in cinemas and cabarets) were heard in the new venues of entertainment and his exclusionary action points at the kind of musical taste for classical music, not the commercial variety, that would slide to become “popular music” later on.

This taste is opposite that of the bodabil musician Borromeo Lou, a contemporary of Bañas. Borromeo Lou came from a landed well propertied family in Cebu whose habitus cultivated classical music. But Borromeo transgressed class belonging and identity and ended up as a bodabil entertainer during the time when Bañas’s book was read in the 1920s. Peter Keppy’s recent book on the modern cultural context (the “jazz age”) of this neglected musician Borromeo Lou comes out therefore as a shining moment in writing Philippine music history for it corrects our reading of history by recognizing the popular. Fritz Schenker had also written a research on him.

Technology and Media
Technology (which is a means) and media (which is a representation) play tremendous role in constructing and maintaining popular cultures. These are necessary tools (but not sufficient in themselves as the old adage goes) to generate cultural trajectories and meanings; they are simply not ends or ultimate pursuits. The introduction of lithographic music printing in Manila in 1870s paved a way to the circulation and experiencing of domestic salon music (as Chua had studied this), which can rightfully be called modern as it is secular and “popular.” Titles such as Massaguer’s “La Bella Filipina,” Dolores Paterno’s “El Sampaguita,” Julio Nakpil’s “Recuerdos de Capiz,” Jose Estella’s “La Tagala,” including Diego Perez’s “Recuerdos de Filipinas” were groundbreaking in their time in terms of succesful venturing into local music entrepreneurship. They were “popular” in the sense of their wide (broadcast) dissemination, at least to the piano-owning middle class Filipinos. But these were not traditional or folkloric as the melodies of the pieces were not received from the past, but individually newly composed (unlike that of Perez). The success of these songs warranted their music recording a generation after, in the first decade of the twentieth century. That inclusion in the acoustical recording lists was a proof to their popularity similar to the vernacular sarswelas from the early 1900s from which highlights–in the form of solos and duets–were in the repertory of commercial recorded Philippine sounds. Renato Lucas had published an article in the University of Santo Tomas on the repertories of these early recorded Philippine music.

This split between high art and popular music was, to a certain extent, a result of valuing preservationist conservatory music over that of the popular for its ephemerality. The former has become the canon and the preferred taste of the emerging middle class in the Philippines from 1920s onwards. The role of technology and media had a role indeed, but this needs to be carefully studied more, because the once “folkloric” popular now became more familiar as “commercial” popular.

The view of Francisco Santiago in his too-often read Development of Philippine Music manifests this bias. The director of the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music from 1930s to 1950s, Santiago realized the rubrics and ideology of the institution he was working for. His succesor, the violinist Ramon Tapales (who studied in Italy), would enforce classicism even more. (There have been anecdotes on Tapales strictness to play only classical music in the conservatory back then). Santiago’s stance conflicted however with the fluid interpenetrations of the “popular” and “art” from 1930s in which time Santiago was at the height of his career as director and composer. He, in fact, like Nicanor Abelardo were all into entertainment circuit before their conservatory years and somehow both maintained their links to that popular culture. As mentioned already, one will read closely the lives of eminent Filipino composers in the past, almost all of them were into popular culture (via music theater and broadcast media, particularly film). In the latter platform, the conservatory background of most of these Filipino composers had prepared them to do the job; after all local cinema followed closely the convention of scoring classic Hollywood films from the 1950s until 1970s. Crisanti Macazo had studied the film scores in all extant Manuel Conde’s film from that period and he found out the effectiveness of these scores in relation to the narratives of the moving images.

Autonomous New Music in the University
Within the University of the Philippines College of Music composition program, a progressive group of composers have searched for alternative sources of sounds, forms, and expressions beyond romantic and neo-romantic styles that the once-a-conservatory institution had inherited from the last two hundred years. The idiom of New Music in the Philippines, which was pioneered by José Maceda beginning the 1960s in UP is a good example and, true to its institutional goal, his project was mainly academic in its pursuit and therefore has remained impervious to the demands for popularity which lies in a sphere that is totally outside of it. New Music subscribes to the idea of music autonomy and a good number of music critical studies have been published on this such as Francisco Feliciano and Ramon Santos on José Maceda’s works, Joel Navarro on vocal music (that was introduced by Ramon Santos in the country) and Christi-Anne Castro on Lucrecia Kasilag who pioneered the utilization of traditional sound materials to neoclassical form and for staged folkloric presentation. These works are fundamentally outside of the popular which is the topic of this essay.

OPM Industry
By the time local capitalization of commercial recordings became a viable enterprise beginning the 1950s, the word “popular” shifted to its current meaning, i.e., a product of the recording industry or capitalist commerce. This is the normative definition of the popular, which is subscribed to this day, although the means for its production, circulation, and consumption have gone haywire beginning the 1990s with the availability of interactive (long distance) telecommunication technologies. The recorded sounds of the 1950s were local throughout, one stream of which emulating the lyricism of the bygone 1920s and the other one was the “plakado” (sound imitation) syndrome that may well have to do with pleasing the listeners whose ears were tuned in to, out of a social desire for, the imported sound, a product of cultural imperialism indeed. The mirror of mimicry cracked as rock music invaded the airwaves beginning mid-1950s to early 1970s. It took some twenty years before a locally distinctive OPM sound (encompassing “Manila Sound”) became a craze in 1970s for consumption among youths following the first generation rockers, the baby boomers. OPM became thereafter as the quintessential popular music of the Philippines, especially among the Generation X. Their expressions had a vast range from the chic to hugot (emotional) and birit (flashy). Musicians with classical music training such as Willy Cruz and Ryan Cayabyab produced prolific outputs in the recording studio that served broadcast media conglomerates–radio, TV, and film. Non-formally schooled in songwriting George Canseco would continue the idiom suited for mass consumption in the jukebox, home stereos, and eventually the portable tape recording machines that were smuggled from Malaysia via Zamboanga. Elsewhere, recordings produced in Manila inspired folk musicians from the provinces such as Pirot, Yoyoy Villame and Max Surban to compose popular music idioms that were close to grassroots’ hearts and ears. Thankfully, Cristina “Krina” Cayabyab wrote a wonderful history of the role of prominent session musicians in Manila from 1970s to 1980s who crafted the diverse OPM pop sounds. Krina Cayabyab also did a video documentation (Sa Madaling Salita: OPM) that captured reminiscences by these musicians who were the main proponents of the local style.

DIY and New Media
The availability of analog sound devices (cassette recorder) in 1980s and subsequently digital gadgets (samplers, MIDI, Compact Disc, and so on) in 1990s with its new media (MP3) to mass consumers started the age of DIY in which time everyone is now living.

The alternative music of the 1990s by Eraserheads spawned the revival of rock music groups, the emergence of world beat fusions of Joey Ayala and Grace Nono, and the continuation of the diverse OPM hugot and birit styles, the sound of Aegis being one of the most spirited embodiment of creativity coming from house band gig musicians. The majors in this decade began re-issuing past sounds into nostalgic collections and ventured into media productions and concert management. Then, the TV industry came up with their own recording outfit subsidiaries to maximize profits.

These technology-driven media developments have not escaped the attention of scholars both here and abroad. James Gabrillo recently wrote a research in the mass culture surrounding the OPM of the 1990s. Monika Schoop had explored the social networks of indie musicians as they form collectives away from the control of the majors. In the transnational music making scenes (which has become more practical as air travel became more affordable), Christine Balance had written about the performativity of “disobedient” listening that marks the ethos of Filipino American millenials.

Then came the frenzied acceleration and circulation of musical media/images across spaces, thanks to the internet. Christi-Anne Castro has written about the transformations of Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda after mainstream American media captured their presences via YouTube. This movement has been, again, two-way. Not only were there Filipino musicians moving out of the country to entertain as usual (a history which dates back to 1870s), so were there commotions among big time producers from multinational media conglomerates to continue consuming the perceived exotic images from the margins. For example, the initial 2008 YouTube sensations generated by the image of dancing prisoners in Cebu provoked and subsequently brought in big time Hollywood producers to the island, pounding those sensations all the more with high level gimmickry in the same prisoners’ dance to Michael Jackson’s beat. In a most recent book, Aine Mangaong had critiqued those images as “dangerous mediations.” While we can hear the whispers of finance between Youtube as media and the capitalists’ advertising companies, visibility on the internet too can mean a lot to the network of Youtube uploaders. This is one of the topics that Lara Mendoza had discussed in her recently completed research on hip-hop among the disenfranchised youths in Manila. Shunning away from the control of corporate machineries, the battle rap league, especially Anygma’s FlipTop, has become a virtual space for homosocial bonding and pride for having contributed (pag-aambag) to Filipino culture.

Concluding Thoughts
This cursory review has presented recent scholarly publications in Philippine music, particularly selecting those that have touched upon the notion of the “popular.” The field surveyed was cast within a wider net, linking recent works to those from the distant past. The popular remains a fertile area to question the nature of society, particularly as this entity moves within accelerating technological innovations starting with print unto the present epoch of dizziying exchanges of sound and image. While the popular in the past simply referred to the music of the people, the entanglements with imperialism and capitalism and flow of money cannot be summarily dismissed. The popular became a commercial entity but it also went beyond that. With proper research tools and conceptual toolkit, the authors mentioned in this short review have all understood the complexities of the popular in Philippine music, past to present. They have all been mindful contemplations on topics that are equally worth one’s time and effort.

Works Cited:

Beltran, Maria Edelquinn. “Alexander Lippay (1892-1939) Austrian composer and conductor in Manila, 1925-1939,” Master of Music thesis, University of the Philippines, 2015.

Buenconsejo, José, editor. Philippine modernities music, performing arts, and language, 1880-1941, Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2017.

Cristina Ma., Cayabyan. “Session musicians and the golden age of Philippine popular music, 1973-1987.” MM thesis, University of the Philippines. 2018.

Chua, Maria Alexandra. “Composing the Filipino: music transculturation and hybridity in nineteenth century urban colonial Manila (1858-1898),” PhD dissertation, University of the Philippines Press, 2017.

Macazo, Crisancti. “Music and image the soundtrack of Manuel Conde’s extant films, 1941-1958,” PhD Dissertation, University of the Philippines Press, 2019.

Balance, Christine. Tropical renditions making musical scenes in Filipino America. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.

Castro, Christi-Anne. “Subjectivity And Hybridity In the Age of Interactive Internet Media: The Musical Performances of Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda,” Humanities Diliman 7/1 (2010).

Gabrillo, James. “The New Manila Sound: Music and Mass Culture, 1990s and Beyond,” PhD diss. University of Cambridge, 2018.

Keppy, Peter, Tales of the Southeast Asian Jazz Age: Filipinos, Indonesians, and Popular Culture, 1920-1936. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2019.

Mangaoang, Aine. Dangerous Mediations: Pop Music in a Philippine Prison Video. New Approaches to Sound, Music, and Media. New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.

Miranda, Isidora. “Dissonant Voices: Tagalog Zarzuela and the Politics of Representation in the Philippines, 1902 to 1942,” PhD diss, University of Wisconsin, 2020.

Schenker, Frederick J. “Empire of Syncopation: Music, Race, and Labor in Colonial Asia’s Jazz Age.” PhD diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2016.

Schoop, Monika. 2019. Independent Music and Digital Technology in the Philippines, 1st edition. Routledge Studies in Popular Music. New York and London: Routledge, 2019.

Tan Arwin. “Music, labor, and capitalism in Manila’s transforming colonial society in the late nineteenth century,” PhD dissertation, University of the Philippines, 2018.

—. Saysay himig a sourcebook on Philippine music history 1880-1941, with accompanying 3-CD set of recorded sounds. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2018.

Yamomo, mele. Theatre and music in Manila and the Asia Pacific, 1869-1946: Sounding Modernities. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Revisiting The Golden Age of OPM

The Ethnographies of Philippine Auditory Popular Cultures (EPAPC), spearheaded by Lara Mendoza of the Ateneo de Manila University, in cooperation with the Department of Development Studies of the said institution, is pleased to announce the preview of Krina Cayabyab’s first documentary film 

“SA MADALING SALITA, OPM: Ang Himig Pilipino sa Dekadang Sitenta” 

on Friday, 29 March 2019, 5PM, at Leong Hall Auditorium, Ateneo de Manila University. 

Researched and Directed by Krina Cayabyab, Assistant Professor of the University of the Philippines College of Music, the documentary is made possible with funding from the NCCA and CHED SALIKHA grant. Toothless Productions assisted Cayabyab’s project which is based on her Master of Music in Musicology thesis on Session Musicians during the Golden Age of OPM (Original Pilipino Music).

Sa Madaling Salita is about the production of studio-recorded music in the Philippines during the 1970s. It takes a look into the relationship between the music industry and the various media organizations and institutional networks, with emphasis on the multiple viewpoints from below such as those by music makers themselves: singers, songwriters, arrangers, session musicians, radio DJs, industry managers, and fans.

With a running time of approximately 70 minutes in English and Filipino, the documentary film showing is open and free to the public. Mike Hanopol, one of the major shapers of OPM during the golden age of OPM, will answer questions from the audience after the show.

Documentations of Transcultural Philippine Music from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music

The other series is the set of audio (CD) recordings of transcultural Philippine music. There are also three in this series, which contains rare historical Philippine music of popular and art music. These are constitutive of a notated music-cultural tradition borne to colonial experience in the Philippines, particularly in the urban area.


​The first in the series contains popular piano music from Manila during the last half of 19th century Spanish Philippines. The colonial pianism exhibited in this volume shows a remarkable diversity. Many were printed as commodities, i.e., as sheet music by Massaguer, D Paterno, Perez, Nakpil, Valdes y Pica. They circulated among members of the then emerging civil society, the public sphere made up of the ilustrado (educated) class. This was the status group for whom the next generation–the art classical composers (Santiago, Abelardo, Buenaventura, and Molina) of early 20th century–were writing for. A few cuts in the album came from manuscript sources such as that by Adonay and Valdez y Pica. These musics were performed in elite gatherings in the private houses of affluent citizens of the city. The CD is highlighted by Diego Perez’s Recuerdos de Filipinas of 1886, which was the first secular music in the islands to appropriate Filipino “folk” songs and dances. These became the basis of a piano medley in style brilliant. The piece was exhibited in many Philippine, regional, and world expositions, where it always garnered awards.

​The second in the CD series contains vocal and instrumental works. The album starts with the extant hybrid Philippine music from pre-modern 18th century Manila, the devotional villancico set to a Tagalog text and now preserved in the Dominican archive in Spain. This piece is sung by the world famous Philippine Madrigal Singers, which is a resident group in the UP College of Music. The CD also contains rare examples of Tagalog song-dance cundiman and cumintang from mid-19th to late 19th-century century. This CD showcases divergent Spanish and American styles. In early 20th, the changing taste for American music is felt in vaudeville artist Lou Borromeo’s print music “My Beautiful Philippines.” Meanwhile, European conservatory classicism–as in Alexander Lippay’s arrangement of Manuel Velez’s music “Palad Sa Kabus”– is included and this presents a good counterpoint to the album’s selections.

​The third CD spans ensemble music that is a testimony to the Spanish-Philippine and Philippine-American relations and revolutions (pieces by Nakpil and Fajardo). Important pieces in this are the music of Pedro Navarro, a student of Adonay and the first Filipino conductor of the famed Philippine Constabulary (PC) Band founded by the affable Black American conductor Walter Loving. PC Band is famous for having awed John Philip Sousa; it won a medal in the 1904 St Louis World Exposition. A brief excerpt from Juan Hernandez’s zarzuela in native language, Minda Mora is also contained in the CD. This work demonstrates the growing civic consciousness among the residents in Manila circa 1905, that is, after the American colonial government installed democratic governance in the early years of its occupation of the Islands. The CD is highlighted by three art musics such as by the Viennese-trained Alexander Lippay (“Theme and Variations on the Philippine National Hymn), Nicanor Abelardo’s violin sonata, which was written in Chicago in early 1930s, and the masterful piece by Antonino Buenaventura, Symphony in C, played by the Manila Symphony Orchestra.

Documentations of Traditional Philippine Music from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music

​In an effort to produce materials for teaching Philippine music, the College of Music of the University of the Philippines (UP) had produced two series in 2016 and 2017: (1) three video documentaries of traditional indigenous Philippine music dubbed Resilient Music at the Margins and (2) three audio recordings of rare transcultural Philipine music that are to accompany a print anthology of source readings in Philippine music history. The first series was made possible by a grant from the National Research Council and was researched and directed by Prof. Dr. José S. Buenconsejo. The second was part of the grant Emerging Interdisciplinary Research on Philippine Arts and Culture that was provided by the UP Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. This was produced and edited by Asst Professor Arwin Q. Tan. Both José S. Buenconsejo and Arwin Tan are musicologists at the UP College of Music.

The Resilient Music at the Margins video series documented traditional music in out-of-the-way places, specifically in Southern Philippines. These were previewed in the Abelardo Hall Auditorium of the UP College of Music in the middle of 2016 to 2017.

​Each of the video production in the series is based on a particular theme and each is comprised of a series of chapters (or short films) on diverse music and dance genres that can be viewed in no specific order.

​The first DVD documentary, titled Nature’s Presences, deals with traditional indigenous music among the Manobo Dulangan, T’boli, Obo, and the Tagakaolo in Southern Mindanao. This was shot on two digital cameras in the picturesque Lake Sebu, which is the heartland of the indigenous people T’boli. Rare footages from this region showed that traditional music remains practised despite the rapidly accelerating and deep Visayanization of places where the T’boli have been the first to settle in prehistory. Songs learnt from the ancestors are still acquired through imitation and these have been put to a number of pragmatic uses, from managing negative emotions (thus aesthetically transforming raw sentiments like anger to the level of art) to the tasks of putting a baby to sleep and of indulging one’s self in leisurely music-making after work. Some songs are the basis of instrumental music like that rendered on bamboo polychordal zither togo, while others, especially those played in whistle flute sloli, disclose human attachments to nature and with Others. Aside from songs, these people have rhythms that propel dancers who move as a mimesis of myths from the distant past, notably that of T’boli madal tahu which is about the creation of the world and of the symbolic passage of death to life or fertility among the Tagakaolo. These “rhythms” are also simulated via delicate and undulating melodic contours on what is now an endangered music instrument of the Philippines, the lip-valley flute. Quintessentially archaic, this music depicts the sounds of small creatures in the natural environment– the bird, the snail, the squirrel, and the cicadas of this relatively wooded area.

​The second video, filmed in Minahaw, Bonobono, Bataraza, Palawan on 12-16 August 2016, is titled Sound Tenderness: Music of the Non-violent Pala’wan Community in Southern Philippines. This video highlights the idea of music conforming with the non-violent nature of Pala’wan culture. Pala’wan traditional music is very delicate and tender, save the boisterous gong and drum in celebratory dance and, in former days, rice wine drinking feasts. In Palawanun society, negative emotions like anger are not channeled to violent acts–men and women nor children never hurting each other–but by repression, a number of times of which has led to tragic suicides. Palawan people rationalize that acts of suicides are “hereditary,” i.e., if parents commit suicide, then children would most likely follow them. This documentary suggests that the predisposition to suicide is not genetic but is underscored by the value for social conformity. Palawan music is a compelling evidence of this.

Music, which is often seen as providing a moment of forgetfulness to sour interpersonal relations, is not a solution to suicide. For a society who values working in groups, alienation from society is the most painful human experience. Rather than forgetfulness, music accentuates the remembering and feeling for togetherness, the absence of which means death or embracing the opposite of society, which is nature. Thus the documentary contemplates on music in the praxis of its social use.

The third in the video series is titled Seven Dances of Life: Enactments of Pledges to Others (Janji) in Two Sama Communities in Tawi-Tawi Islands. This documentary talks about salient socio-religious practices of two Sama speaking communities (in Tawi-Tawi and Tabawan islands), South of the Philippines. Through ethnographic interviewing interspersed among a series of Sama Tabawan dance (igal), it explores the foundation of Sama ritual celebrations (pagjamu), which express the duty and participation of individuals to their respective communities and lineages

​Cosmology in Sama culture is complex. An individual in a community has to adjust to the demands of the cult of the ancestors one is born into, the veneration of saints in sacred shrines (specifically the tombs of Moslem mystics who introduced Islam in the Philippines), guardian spirits of nature that provide them with fresh water and fish from the seas, and the presence of the jin at the margins of habitation which constantly need to be appeased. The relationships of the individual are therefore oriented to Others in nature and society and reveal a sophisticated indigenous thinking about individual lives (inyawa) being “thrown into” a network of invisible connections with other beings in the cosmos such as the jin (nature spirits), umagad (lost souls), ombo (ancestors) and kembal (twin-spirit).


Seven Dances of Life

The University of the Philippines College of Music through a grant from the National Research Council of the Philippines, Humanities Division, invites the public to the screening of Dr. Jose S. Buenconsejo’s documentary film SEVEN DANCES OF LIFE: Pledges to Others (Janji) in Two Sama Communities in Tawi-Tawi Islands, Southern Philippines. This will be on Friday, 16 June 2017, 5-7 pm at the Abelardo Hall Auditorium, Quezon City. This video documentary is the third volume in the project “Resilient Music at the Margins,” which aims to document enduring traditional Philippine music and dance in their cultural and historical contexts.
Seven Dances of Life presents salient socio-religious practices of two Sama speaking communities (in Tawi-Tawi and Tabawan Islands) in Southern Philippines. Through ethnographic interviewing interspersed in a series of seven Sama Tabawan dances (igal), it explores the foundation of Sama ritual celebrations (pagjammu) in the practices of janji in which an individual is bound to the community, one’s lineage, and to related Others. Sama cosmology is complex. An individual has to adjust to the demands of the cult of the ancestors one is born into, heed the veneration of saints in sacred shrines (specifically the tombs of Moslem mystics who introduced Islam in the country), recognize the guardian spirits of nature that provide them with fresh water and fish from the seas, and be wary of the presence of the jins at the margins of habitation which constantly need to be appeased. In Sama communities, individuals are therefore oriented to Others in nature and society and these relationships reveal a sophisticated indigenous thinking about individual lives (inyawa) being “thrown into” the web of invisible connections with other beings in the cosmos: the jin (nature spirits), umagad (souls of the dead), ombo (ancestors) and kembal (twin-spirit).
Admission is free.

Art, Popular, and Indigenous Philippine Music at UPhils

The University of the Philippines College of Music is pleased to announce its major events this month, promoting critical thinking on Filipino music that spans the categories of indigenous folk, popular, and art. All events are free and open to the public. Please encourage your students to watch and listen. Also, please forward these to your friends and egroups.
1.) World premiere of the latest contemporary Filipino opera, Diwata ng Bayan, at CCP on 9 February, 8pm. Libretto by Ed Maranan and Music by Carmela Sinco. Dr. Ramon Acoymo, stage and co-music director.
A latest addition to the Philippine art music literature, Diwata ng Bayan will have its world premiere at the Tanghalan Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines on February 9, 2017 at 8:00 PM. It is free and open to the public. The music is composed by Carmela Sinco, granddaughter of former UP President Vicente G. Sinco, with the libretto by Ed Maranan, Prof. Dr. Ramon Acoymo as stage and co-music director, the incumbent chair of the UP College of Music Department of Voice, Music Theater, and Dance and Assoc Prof Rodbey Ambat, conductor. The opera is set at the end of the 19th century, during the transition from Spanish to American colonial rule, depicting the romantic story of Matias Ylagan and Mayumi Lualhati whose passion for each other goes hand in hand with their patriotism for Inang Bayan. The work draws inspiration from the story of Andres Bonifacio and Gregoria de Jesus of the Katipunan, and the “seditious” dramas of Aurelio V. Tolentino, whose 150th anniversary is being celebrated this year.
Free tickets are available upon request. Please contact Berns or Lolit at 0919-567-0465 or 981-8500 Local 2639.
2.) Symposium on Transcultural Philippine Music (third of a series)
A half-day symposium on Friday, 17th of February, 1-4pm on the roots of transcultural Philippine literature and music, particularly focused on popular Filipino culture as emergent to Philippine alternative modernities. Papers by distinguished Filipino intellectuals Dr. Epifanio San Juan Jr, UP Prof Emeritus Steve Villaruz, Dr. Elizabeth Enriquez, and Dr. Maria Rhodora Ancheta will tackle issues pertinent to vernacular literature, to the folk dance canon built by Francesca Reyes Aquino, radio songs, and on Katy de la Cruz’s bodabil songs, respectively. Papers by Prof Villaruz, Drs. Enriquez and Ancheta will be annotated with dance and music performance by UP Dance Company, UP Jazz Band (Prof Rayben Maigue), with arranger Krina Cayabyab.
Below is the broader theoretical context of the symposium, which disseminates the College’s EIDR grant from the office of the UP vice-president for academic affairs. 
The issue of class (status group) is a vexing problem in the theory of modernity in the Philippines. This problem needs to be understood in the context of the particularities of cultural development in the country within the history of entanglement with the cultures of two empires–Spanish and American. As a response, Filipino intelligentsia from various social class positions articulated local modern visions that were alternative to the empires’ grand, globalizing narratives of development and progress. They made traversals, constructing innovative artistic expression, embodying grassroots Filipino folk-popular sentiment and culture as an alternative response to cultural empirialism and thus built what one would call as “alternative Philippine modernities.” 
The articulation of Filipino modernities in the arts had two tendencies: 1) the middle-class elevation of the folk materials to “high culture” (e.g., use of balitao and kundiman in Western classical-art forms), and 2) the channelization of the Filipino folk-popular to wider audiences via the mass media, which was not isolated from the first tendency.
In this symposium, we look into these two tendencies, but give more space to the realm of the second in which vernacular Filipino literature, folk dances, Filipinized bodabil, and radio songs got broadcast audiences attuned to the emerging “alternative Filipino modernities.” This strand emerged during the formative years when capitalism and flow of images and ideas accelerated between 1898 and 1941. 
It was certain that the second and third generations of Filipino intellectuals–“sandwiched” between global empires and local worlds–drew inspiration from local Filipino cultures, thus creating national hegemony beyond their class origins. But the details into how the creation of that national culture and patrimony will be in the specific topics to be elaborated in this symposium.
3.) Documentary on traditional Philippine music

Lastly, the College respects the cultural difference and appreciates the resilience of the music of the marginalized groups in Philippines with a video documentary produced and directed by Dr. Jose S Buenconsejo, as part of his grant from the National Research Council of the Philippines. Dubbed “Sound Tenderness: Music of the Non-violent Palawanun Society in Southern Philippines,” this will be previewed on Thursday, 23 February 2017 6:00 PM. Abelardo Hall Auditorium
Below is the gist of the documentary:
Non-violent society is extremely rare in the human species. The Palawanun in Southern Philippines is an exceptional case whose culture is manifest in their delicate and tender music, save the boisterous gong and drum in celebratory dance and, in former days, rice wine drinking feasts.
In Palawanun society, negative emotions like anger are not channeled to violent acts–men and women nor children never hurting each other–but by repression, a number of times of which has led to tragic suicides.
Palawan people rationalize acts of suicides as “hereditary,” i.e., if parents commit suicide, then children would most likely follow them. This documentary suggests that the predisposition to suicide is not genetic but is underscored by social conformity. Palawan music is a compelling evidence of conformity. 
Music, which is often seen as providing a moment of forgetfulness to sour interpersonal relations, is not a solution to suicide. For a society who values working in groups, alienation from society is the most painful human experience. Rather than forgetfulness, music accentuates the feeling for togetherness, the absence of which means death or embracing the opposite of society which is nature.
This documentary, filmed in Minahaw, Bonobono, Bataraza, Palawan in 12-16 August 2016, contemplates on Palawanun music in the praxis of its social use.

Triumphant UP Madrigal Singers in Abelardo Hall

The University of the Philippines College of Music welcomes back the world-famous UP Madrigal Singers (or Madz) in an early evening concert at Abelardo Hall Auditorium on Saturday, 24 September 2016, 5PM. The concert celebrates the group’s triumphant success in their recently concluded European tour and shares their gift of music to the UP College of Music Development Fund, which was setup to financially sustain the College’s faculty concert series. The choir is under the artistic and choir direction of Mark Carpio, who has felicitously replicated the deep musicality of the group’s founder, National Artist in Music, Andrea O. Veneracion.
In the concert, the UP Madrigal Singers will render some of the songs sung during their tour from June to September this year. These songs conveyed their role as Ambassadors of Peace and Goodwill, marking the Philippine Independence Day in Stuttgart, Germany; greeting the Filipino community in Dom St. Eberhand in Munich; and showcasing their repertoire in the International Festival of Organ and Chamber Music in Kamien, Pomorski and the International Choir Festivals in Szczecin, Miedzyzdroje, and in Murowana, Goslina, Poland. In that country, whose citizens are like music-loving Filipinos, the UP Madrigal Singers’ visit was headlined in the media.
The choir also opened the 62nd edition of the International Habaneras and Polyphony Contest of Torrevieja, Spain. Back in 2004, the group swept all the top prizes in that competition. This year, the festival director acknowledged the group’s role in promoting and adding prestige to their festival’s colorful history. 

 The highlight of the Madz’ tour happened in the Concorso 64th Polifonico
Internazionale di Guido dí Arezzo, where it coveted the Gran Premio (Grand Prize) last
August 27. The Madz garnered almost all 1st prizes in different categories (Compulsory, Musica Sacra, and Monographic) of the contest, except the Secular Music Category, where they landed 2nd. They also garnered the Listening Committee’s Choice in the Folksong Category and the Listening and Public’s Choice in the Pop Song Category. In the Monographic Category, three works by one of its members, Ily Matthew Maniano, were featured. With these accolades, the Madz qualifies for the 2017 European Grand Prix for Choral Singing to be held next year in Tolosa, Spain. European Grand Prix for Choral Singing is the zenith of choral competitions in the world; it is a battle of 1st prize winners of Europe’s top choral competitions. To its credit, the UP Madrigal Singers holds the distinction of being the first choir in the world to win the European Grand Prix twice, in 1997 and 2007. 

 Limited tickets to the benefit concert is 500 pesos with discounts to students, senior citizens, and faculty of UP Diliman. For inquiries, please call 926.0026 or 981-8500, local 2629.  

UP College of Music Centenary Concert

Marking the 100th Foundation Year of the UP College of Music, a concert dubbed “Sandaang Taon ng Himig at  Tinig: Pagpupugay ng UP Kolehiyo ng Musika” is scheduled on Sunday, 4 September 2016 at the Abelardo Hall Auditorium, Quezon City, at 5:30 PM. Formerly known as UP Conservatory of Music, UP College of Music opened its doors to 104 students who wanted a professional career in music from a balanced theoretical and practical curriculum that was materialized in a modest building in R. Hidalgo Street, Quiapo. The Conservatory was a brainchild of Senator Joaquin Luna’s Act No. 2623, which had the full support of University of the Philippines’ (UP) President Ignacio Villamor, first Filipino president of UP, who envisioned music graduates who would be a pride to the nation.

In its one hundred years, UP College of Music has its vision fulfilled, producing ten National Artists in Music, two of who– Jovita Fuentes and Andrea Veneracion–came from the Department of Voice. The program for the evening consists of music that has instilled the important cultural value for strength in Filipino identity in music such as Lucrecia Kasilag’s Prelude Etnika, Jose Maceda’s Kubing, Ramon P. Santos’s Daragang Magayon, Visayan song “Ay! Kalisud,” Francisco Feliciano’s “Pokpok Alimpako,” and “Pamulinawen,” Lucio San Pedro’s Lahing Kayumanggi, Antonino Buenaventura’s Sa Dakong Silangan, Antonio Molina’s “Hatinggabi,” Felipe de Leon’s “Iba-ibang Kulay,” and “Sayaw Igorot.” Nicanor Abelardo and Francisco Santiago are not in the roster of National Artists awardees because they were long gone in 1972 when the award was instituted. In recognition to their achievements, especially Nicanor Abelardo, who is perhaps the greatest Filipino composer of all times, the immortal kundiman “Nasaan Ka Irog” will be sung as well as Santiago’s “Pilipinas Kong Mahal.”

The concert will feature performing groups of the College such as UP Tugma (Krina Cayabyab, conductor), UP Guitar Orchestra, UP Rondalla (Elaine Espejo-Cajucom), UP Dance Company (choreographer Elena Laniog), UP Concert Chorus (Janet Aracama), UP Madrigal alumnus Arwin Tan’s Novo Concertante Manila, UP Chorus Class (Raul Navarro), UP Symphonic Band (Rodney Ambat), UP Orchestra (Edna Marcil Martinez), faculty of the College such as singers Ramon Acoymo, Maria Carmila Molina, Rainier Cruz, Ligaya Quinitio, Raymond Diaz, Katherine Molina, Rica Nepomuceno, Jonathan Velasco, Albert Roldan (collaborating pianist), Ma. Cecilia Valeña, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Alegria Ferrer, and pianists Ena Maria Aldecoa, Michelle Nicolasora, Pia Margarita Balasico, and Carolyn Cheng, who will render 8-hand piano arrangements by Augusto Espino. Josefino Toledo is the concert program chair. Highlight of the concert is the UP Music Centennial Awards which will recognize outstanding music teachers who have propagated love of music for a better Philippine society and for the well being of its citizens. Admission to the concert is free. For inquiries, please call 9818500 locals 2629, 2639 or 9260026.

Music, Capitalism, and the Nation: A Symposium on the Roots of Transcultural Philippine Music

The University of the Philippines College of Music cordially invites the public to an interdisciplinary one-day symposium on the theme “Music, Capitalism, and Nation: On the Roots of Transcultural Philippine Music,” on Thursday, 18 August 2016, Abelardo Hall Auditorium, 9AM to 5PM. A gathering of local music scholars, the symposium will explore the history of music modernity in the country, particularly on the effects of the larger force of late 19th century capitalism in the development of syncretic (transcultural) Philippine music that combined old and new music-cultural elements. Some of the effects of this late 19th century capitalism in the country were the production of the first and only music theory book in Tagalog (paper by Arwin Q Tan), “Print Music Commodification and Costumbrismo” (paper by Jose S Buenconsejo), “Selling Zarzuela” (Isidora Miranda, University of Wisconsin-Madison), “Music Journalism” (Ma. Patricia Silvestre), “Localizing Imported Danza” (Ma. Alexandra Chua, University of Santo Tomas), “Concept of Individual Property in Music” that led to the first music plagiarism case in the Philippines (Jonas Baes). To illustrate the larger ramifications in the incorporation of European cultural presence in modernizing Asia, Dr. David Francis Urrows, special guest speaker from Hong Kong Baptist University, will discuss “Music Education in China under the French Protectorate as Cultural Interchange.” Philippine Studies expert Dr. Ramon “Bomen” Guillermo will be the keynote speaker.

The symposium is open to the public, especially to college teachers in the humanities and social science, with conference fee of 500 pesos (cost for conference kit and admission ticket to Enzo Medel piano concert). The symposium itself is free to students with valid IDs.