Saturday, 1 October 2011

Expecting "Patriotism" and "Life" written by "Harlots" and "Merchants"

Expecting "Patriotism" and "Life"
written by "Harlots" and "Merchants"

Sorry for the name of this post, but this writeup mirrors the reality how today's contemporary culture outweighs patriotism resulting to what everybody else thinks about what the Philippines, both country and people is.

That, basing much on our surroundings, and on what mass media propagates, the culture prevailing nowadays is a culture of the west and east simply being adored by many to the extent of putting some "Filipino" twist to accommodate more and perhaps in pursuit of making it "Filipino" the way an Italian Spaghetti should be sweet and sour to accommodate the Filipino taste.

However, due to the overtly influx of foreign goods, including TV programs and movies, people became totally dependent from it; and as from the earlier statement, putting some "Filipino" twist to accommodate more, thus generating profits to those who tried to insist through; no matter what response from the people would say so about it.

That, everyone sought a massive trend prevailing and making near-carbon copies of it such as drug-sex-brag laced "mainstream" Hip-Hop culture whether it is from the Ghettoes controlled by African-Americans or Chicanos (that some old-school Hip Hop fans as well as Progressive ones would dare to oppose it), Movies and TV programs from the Far East (especially those from Korea) and last but not the least the prevailing culture from the U.S.-a legacy what Filipinos tried to break away entirely or not.

And no matter most people dare to put some "Filipino" flavor in it, its appearance would still look a rehash of its very own past (unless some from it making it purely realistic and Filipino in character no matter what foreign genre is): that most Hip-hoppers for example would hear sex-themed music and women wear skimpy clothing and trying to get attention yet Hip Hop originally speaks of emancipation from the Ghetto and of the individual from the repressive social order; that Tupac Shakur dared to challenge the order the way his parents (both members of the Black Panther party) did; but why Soulja Boy? Or in case of the Filipino experience, having BLKD venting social realism (such as Poverty, Tuition Fee Increases) in his words during a Rap battle session but why those from the street would still hear Juan Thugs, Gagong Rapper, and others who usually sings about being unlucky in love, about a narcotic, or everything just to provide escape from realities? (Sorry to the listener for that, I am just making an assessment although this writer did listen for quite some time.)

Of cultural idealists people didn't think upon as artists

On the other hand, there are people whose idealism and looking at realities tried to create something yet people had least to understand it's very own essence. Francis Magalona tried to instill Patriotism in his music and his clothing range of course, but people simply think of it as a mere fad that they wear clothes bearing "Three Stars and a Sun" simply because that came from his, that because it is popular, that is to show being "Filipino", and so forth. Same goes in Noel Cabangon's music-obviously he's once an activist preaching about change, that his song "Tatsulok" speaks about the Filipino society as a majority being ruled by a minority; even "Kanlungan" that speaks about leaving and returning, but then it end up a sell-out than of making people know about what their country is: that most would say that "Kanlungan" was the song from an old McDonald commercial and "Tatsulok" was sung by Bamboo Manalac, memorizing the lyrics without knowing its substance.

If that's the case then does having a fashion, music, movie, TV program using a "Patriotic" statement make a person Patriotic? Or just a fad, a ploy used by the prevailing order in desperately currying popular support and making them contented to it?

The Balkan experience and its near similarities to Filipino contemporary pop music

Well, it all reminds this person of a country that shared the similar fate, especially in music: the former Yugoslavia and Romania.

Yugoslav culture was so similar despite religious and territorial differences that, in pursuit of "Brotherhood and Unity" it tried to infuse different cultures-in a manner that Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, Bosnians, having belonged to the Slavic ethnicity be described altogether as "Yugoslavs" same as their homeland was-and their culture.

However, since most people in Yugoslavia were urbanized, its culture was also affected, especially folk music-resulting to a variety of music genres such as Turbo Folk.

Turbo Folk was and is, one of the recognized music the way Novelty songs being played most of the time in the Philippines-they have similarities that, aside from acquiring a massive audience, of having modern-day (like synthesizer and Drum machine) and traditional instruments (especially acoustic guitar) being fused and used, they carry meaningless or quasi-meaningful lyrics with a variety of topics such as "love", "fame", and "struggle" while its people, especially those who escape the crisis sought solace in it.

But then, it fell down to imitating western music despite using native language and music as its producers and creators of Turbo-folk, in making the genre popular have copied the aesthetics of American rap or pop clips, filling every shot with scantily clad women and covered everyone with so much jewellery that the combined weight of gold and jewels would undoubtedly number in the kilos or girls imitating Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and the like yet much seductive like Goca Sekulić, Olja and Jelena Karleuša and Ceca Raznatovic.

As a writer, upon listening to Turbo Folk, as well as Manele (a music genre in Romania), as well as relating it to the present music in the Philippines (especially novelty and rap music), it simply carries the same appeal as it reached the hearts and minds of the lower class regardless of its near-meaningless topics such as "love"-to the extent of calling it as "erotic", as well as "drug-and-gun culture influenced" in its words being sung and its singer-like Ceca Raznatovic, who aside from making Turbo Folk popular, also married a notorious criminal and paramilitary leader named Zeljko Raznatovic, known by his nom de guerre, Arkan (with their marriage being called a matrimony of pornography and patriotism). Same goes in the Philippines (although not related to music, but carried some populist appeal) like Korina Sanchez (a newscaster) who married Mar Roxas (then a Senator, and even proposed marriage earlier in front of the audience of a show hosted by Willie Revilliame), or even much earlier, when Congressman Jules Ledesma married sexy actress Assunta de Rossi, and much much earlier, when Congressman Ferdinand Marcos married "the rose of Tacloban" Imelda Romualdez.

These experiences, whether music or not, yet affected the minds of the people made these a tactic of the ruling class to use the masses, from mind to persona for their own benefit although controversial-as Ceca, known for singing erotic-laced Turbo Folk married to a gun-toting politico-criminal Arkan; or Mar Roxas used Willie Revilliame's show back then in ABS-CBN proposing marriage to Korina Sanchez. Sorry to say so, but it unveils the system raping popular culture, of using the feelings of the masses for their very own benefit-making some people criticize the culture they sought much for celebrating the external symbols of easy acquisition of wealth, being too eroticized, promoting violence, escapism and exaggeration of feelings.

Otherwise, such content people usually see, hear, taste, and experience all the time are merely representatives of the global pop-cultural scene, of wholesale westernization being excessively integrated into the common Filipino culture (like noontime shows, that originally based on both talent and game shows; and soap operas basing much on comics and pocketbook romances). They even point out that an average music video shown on MTV, MYX, or its sound being played on Love Radio or being downloaded online and played in Mp3 Players depicts just as many if not more "women treated as objects", golden chains on muscular bodies, repetition of green jokes, and generally everything that is recognized and condemned as banal, vulgar, sub-intellectual and unsophisticated; even it has "patriotic flavor" in it like treating patriotic symbols as mere logos devoid of meaning, leaving it merely as aesthetic nonsense or if too much, chauvinism and xenophobia like those who rant out of Spratlys.

For sure most people are enough of these experiences and wanting to stop it. Yes, that some are tired of listening, or seeing people becoming vulgar, having almost pornographic kitsch, glorifying crime, and a corrupted moral around the community with its appearances, as what Ivana Kronja said, a manifestation of an "aggressive, sadistic and pornographically eroticised iconography" that justifies the prevalence of Machismo chauvinism and subjugation of women in all spheres in the society.

After all, trying to parallel the current music scene with those of the balkans, it somehow becomes enough connected despite its different ethnic backgrounds: that the novelty music and love songs within contemporary OPM music being blared most of the time in mainstream radio in the Philippines are similar enough to those of Turbo-folk and Pop-folk in former Yugoslavia and Romania; that the love songs of Yugoslavia's Ceca Raznatovic are quite like those of the Philippines' very own Imelda Papin (or Ara Mina for late 90s and 00s sake).


To conclude this writeup, this writer would say that the Philippines tried to "modernize" its culture yet it end up submitting to the wishes of those imposing agreements that seemed unequal to Filipino sovereignty. People may see people wearing "Barong Tagalog", dancing the "Kuratsa Mayor", looking at the Apayew (Rice Terraces) and getting satisfied after eating Lechon or having a Hilot massage yet these are merely reduced to a mere formal significance to say there's a culture prevailing for all tourists to see, same as collective action that end up a mere rhetoric for politicians appeasing the growing tide of masses who themselves bond collectively to counter their rule. Comparing to Malaysia, Japan, China that had still keeping its culture by modernizing it-with the Petronas towers had striking resemblance to traditional architecture using modern methods, and urging people to drive cars such as Proton.

And since these countries had its culture intact, why not start modernize, innovate what comes directly from the root than getting contented on mere exports? Of having lives and love of home be written by serious, hardworking people basing their dreams and aspirations from concrete realities than of those who trying to throw themselves to the dogs or those who make profit from it?

Sorry to say some of the words being vented upon in this writeup, but then this nation needs a overhaul in all sides. And for sure few would likely to understand this while more and more entice to enjoy a gold-foiled shit (sorry for the term) served upon to everyone. God forbid, but like sugar, too much costs loss of knowledge, brawn, and perhaps lives supposed be contributive to social well being. I do recognize people trying enough to instill patriotism like Magalona, but in the eyes of a common man, would think of it as an artist making rap music popular than a patriot trying to instill patriotism using his talent.