Letters to the Editor

We need more musicians like Joel Malabanan

/ 05:00 AM July 15, 2017

Wikang Filipino, ipaglaban!” was independent artist Joel Malabanan’s chant during his concert at the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium last July 1. It stirred an immediate and emphatic response from the audience. I said to myself, “Well, that’s something you don’t hear at mall concerts.”

Titled “Pag Hindi na Pumapatak ang Ulan at iba Pang Tula at Awit ni Joel Costa Malabanan,” the free concert, which was presented by the National Parks Development Committee for its Labs Kita Sabado presentation, also featured live performances from Jessie Gracio, Greg Bituin Jr. and Ann Murray Tan, just to name a few.


But the main event of the evening started when the star of the night and his crew took the stage. And when I say “crew” I don’t mean ordinary musicians, I’m talking about the legendary lead guitarist of Banyuhay, Levi Bartolome, Aji Adriano of Pinoy punk pioneer The Wuds on drums, and Michael dela Cruz Libnao on bass guitar. Fused with Malabanan’s Dylan-esque progressive music, the result was one-of-a-kind music that combines virtuosity with poetry.

A teacher by profession, Malabanan has been fighting for the rights of Filipino teachers for years now. No wonder he sang “A Kinse (Panawagan ng Isang Guro)” with so much passion. He then performed the new version of “Speak in English Zone,” which tells the history of colonial education in the country and the need to eradicate it, before handing the mic to the talented Maria Eloisa Jayloni, the evening’s guest performer.


The professor/activist also sang “Hindi Tulad ng Ibon,” a song he wrote shortly after the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009, to pay tribute to Filipino journalists. Other songs he performed include the bluesy “Dumadagundong,” the thought-provoking “Kung Nais Lumaya sa Pagkaalipin,” “Napagtripan Lang,” “Bayan, Bayan, Bayan Ko,” “Akala Ko’y Anghel,” and the sharp, witty social commentary “Siyam-Siyam.”

In this era of globalization and commercialization, what we need is music that will liberate us from our mental slavery and colonial mindset.

DANIEL ALOC, [email protected]

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