Rakistang Aktibista (A Reprise)

(NOTE: This is a truncated version of a much earlier post that was, in part, a rejoinder to arguments posted on a musicians’ forum. This version only contains the 2nd half of the article and I’m reposting this as a prelude to an article in the works. This future article is inspired by a grossly scheming 3rd party’s botched attempt to have Datu’s Tribe perform at the Tanduay Rockfest this coming October. Wait for the juicy stuff, kiddies. Sandali na lang. \m/@@\m/)


Si Spiderman na ang nagsabi: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Not everyone has what it takes to be a true artist, and that’s why a true artist’s talents are uniquely double-edged gifts. A true artist possesses the means to inspire people through creation; in the musician’s case, through music and lyrics. But a true artist lacking in direction will instead have the dangerous ability to reinforce escapist mentality, submissiveness, and conformity. For those of us who won’t be fortunate or resolute enough to go beyond the 15-minute fame mark, the talent may early retire to a quaint, perhaps even painful corner of memory. But for those who’ll persevere and perhaps even break into the scene with a vengeance, talent suddenly takes on a more enormous significance.

Art for art’s sake is a luxury that our counterparts in developed countries enjoy, sometimes to the point of absurdity. In our country, this just isn’t the case. If you’ve ever given a thought as to why most musicians who pursue their craft outside the mainstream tend to struggle and/or starve, you should know what I’m talking about. But despite this reality, the sorry state of affairs is precisely why we should push on and continue evolving as artists, as musicians.

sexpistolsThe bigger picture here involves the direct and indirect assaults against our freedom to be able to fully express ourselves; to be able to make truly original, maybe even visionary musical masterpieces without being burdened by the economic restrictions imposed by an industry that caters mostly to the sensibilities of the status quo.

When we use our music to change people’s perceptions, we help our culture evolve and mature by showing others that there are alternatives to a sick, conservative culture. And when sensibilities mature, the musikero’s role in national development should become integral and unassailable. At the very least, the music profession should transform into a more viable and practical means to…well, make a goddamn fucking living.

(That last point might have sounded self-serving, but artists need to eat, too, especially if people want us to keep coming up with more inspiring shit.)

Truth is, until economic realities take a turn for the better, the negative consequences on the creative gene pool will only get worse. If you think about it, just how many of us have already been forced to give up on music in exchange for the financial security offered by a local corporate desk job or higher-paying overseas work? If there’s one thing that I feel hasn’t beenemphasized enough inMusiciansAgainstWTO discussions on diaspora, it’s that brain-drain also translates into artist-drain as sick economics continues to force potential creative geniuses out of the country for lack of long-term basic survival opportunities.

And all this in spite of possessing a power that even government pundits (kasama na rin yung mga nagpu- pundit-punditan) envy and fear?

Just how many times have politicians called upon us to bait voters with catchy jingles designed to make them look like fun people? Just how many times have politicians asked artistas to grace campaign trails and become official celebrity endorsers? Hell! Even the Abu Sayyaf once asked bad boy Robin Padilla to play the part of hostage negotiator! (Okay, he’s not a musician; and fuck it, he’s not even a good actor.) But if that don’t beat all, how many times have entire governments been forced to rethink official policy or undergo massive PR damage control after suffering international embarrassment at the hands of musicians denouncing injustices through a collective display of musical outrage?

Look to the works of Gary Granada, Noel Cabangon, Jess Santiago, Joey Ayala, Yano, The Wuds, and The Jerks and panganayngumaga1find out just what kind of meaningful impact these musicians have had in the lives of the people they’ve inspiredjerks to take on proactive stances; to change and better themselves, their families, and the larger community of people they belong to.


And if these artists are altogether alien to your musical universe, then perhaps looking at the significant social, political, and cultural impacts of bands such as Green Day, System of a Down, Rage Against the Machine, and U2 would be enough to drive home the point that musicians as activists do make a difference.u2_waramericanidiot1ratmevilempiretoxicity2

Ultimately, it all boils down to perspective. And fortunately, as members of the creative community, we should have tons of that stuff, right? Though finding the right one that works well enough to inspire substance as well as material fulfillment can be quite tricky, it’s actually the committing part that can really be one hell of a mind-job. But all this can be made easier if we can reconcile ourselves to the fact that real artists are natural-born activists. And in the world of rakenrol, this has never been more self-evident.

If you happen to be a rakista, you should know that rock history is a history of protest, and it is in this light that we, whether we consciously accept it or not, are actually natural agents of rebellion. But when our kind of artistry fails to elicit meaningful changes in the way people evaluate the kinds of choices they’re entitled to, in a way, we fail our mandate and devolve into pathetic practitioners of self-gratification. Of masturbation.

The unique national context we belong to should compel music artists to challenge what is essentially a repressive and unjust system controlled by the obscene machinations of the political, economic, and even religious elite. For what is the plight of real artists indicative of but the repression that continues to bear down upon similarly marginalized sectors of society? In simple terms, a true artist expresses nothing but truth in his or her creations. And even if truth is relative, someone devoted to its search shouldn’t have the stomach to swallow lies perpetrated by a privileged few, especially when the destructive consequences of such lies on the many are already glaringly obvious.

\m/ :mrgreen: \m/

“It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.” (Noam Chomsky)

“To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful.”(Edward R. Murrow)


Enjoy the Music. Arm Your Mind. Join the Fight.

(Originally posted February 20, 2009.  Ala pang nagbago mula nu’n. If you want to read the complete, original text, click on this. \m/@@\m/)


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