Seeing-Sounding Social Transformation

The University of the Philippines College of Music and College of Mass Communication will have a jointly-organized conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Abelardo Hall in UP Diliman. The academic conference is entitled Seeing-Sounding Social Transformation in (The Music of) Philippine “Theaters” and it will be held from September 18-20, 2013 at the Abelardo Hall Auditorium and Plaridel Hall in the College of Mass Communication. This is an interdisciplinary conference in the humanities and performing arts that explores the relationship between what is seen-heard in public and society. In particular, the conference interrogates the critical role of theaters (including music, song, and dance) as tangible representations of sociopolitical processes in public spaces and as an expression of Filipino peoples’ historical experience, identity, and aspiration.

Plenary speakers for the conference are Dr. Ramon P. Santos and Dr. Nicanor G. Tiongson. The speakers are Jocelyn Guadalupe, Michiyo Yoneno-Reyes, Amparo Adelina C. Umali, III, Nikki Briones Carsi-Cruz, Arwin Q. Tan, Ma. Alexandria Iñigo-Chua, Jazmin Badong Llana, Basilio Esteban S. Villaruz, Verne dela Peña, Eulalio R. Guieb III, Mi Hyun Oh, Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, Matthew CM Santamaria, Resil B. Mojares, Vicente L. Rafael, Marian P. Roces, Raul C. Navarro, Teresita G. Maceda, Apolonio B. Chua, Jonas U. Baes, Lara Katrina T. Mendoza, Roselle Pineda, Ma. Patricia B. Silvestre, Crisancti L. Macazo, Reuben Ramas Cañete, Eufracio C. Abaya, Myra Beltran, Patrick F. Campos, José S. Buenconsejo, Nick Deocampo and Roland B. Tolentino.

An environmental music concert featuring the compositions of Jose Maceda, Ramon Santos and Jonas Baes entitled Ading, Quadrasyon, at Patangis-Buwaya will be held on the evening of September 19, at 6:30 in the evening, free admission. On the 20th, “Andres Bonifacio: Ang Dakilang Anakpawis,” a musical play by Jerry Dadap and Dionisio Salazar will be presented, with Alegria Ferrer as the stage and music director. Tickets for this show will be available at the gate and are priced at PhP 300 with special discounts for students and senior citizens.

For inquiries regarding the conference, please call Josie Baradas at 9818500 local 2639 or 9296963.

The World of Agusan Manobo Music

     I have put up an online exhibit of Agusan Manobo traditional music at It explores Agusan Manobo musical expressions as multimedia, with links to the voices and objects of their natural and social worlds that teem with life. Agusan Manobos live in a faraway place in Caraga region, Mindanao Island, Philippines.

      Agusan Manobo instrumental musics imitate sounds of nature, propel dance movements, and act as surrogate speech. Unaccompanied solo song tud-om performs the central cultural value of personhood that spirit-possession rituals dramatize as a form of healing. Imagined to be located at the border of nature/spirit and human worlds, Manobo voice in song points to a local knowledge of what it means to be a person in society.  It conveys the always too human act of compassion and hence song is understood as a gesture imbued with a profound meaning. Sung to an Other, Manobo song presences a self to a social world, a way of engaging it.

    As an index to self-related-other relationship in time and space, song parallels the kindness of offering the ingredients of betel chew to an interlocutor during face to face meetings in everyday life. Elaborated upon and transposed into the diverse forms of Manobo ritual performances, Manobo respect for other beings is also evident in the display of ritual objects. These bear witness to Manobo presences, i.e., signs of their activities in the worlds of nature and society that Manobos themselves make and culturally imagine. Manobo presences in those worlds are physical, though they cannot be separated from social meanings as in the medium’s dance in ritual, which remakes the cosmos (as magical spells have the capacity to do) and which performs the desired social order.

    Thus–in Manobo music–voice, body (gesture), and objects interweave a complex multimedia, multisensorial experience.


José S. Buenconsejo