‘’Pag tumakbo si Leni’
Now it can be told that former Eraserheads front man Ely Buendia was only “half-joking,” as he himself clarified, when asked about a possible reunion with his bandmates, he tweeted: “’Pag tumakbo si Leni.” The tweet, seemingly in support of the presidential run of Vice President Leni Robredo, immediately garnered almost 70,000 likes.
Unlike other musicians who keep dishing out the same repertoire from their glory days, Buendia is one serious musician who’d rather not live in the past. We only need to open our preferred music streaming service to know that he has certainly moved on after his old band disbanded. To the disappointment of many Eheads fans, Buendia also revealed early this year that he and his former bandmates “were never close. We were never friends.”
Had the reunion pushed through, however, the members of the iconic Pinoy rock band could not have asked for a better cause and a more apt timing. (In a succeeding press conference, Buendia said of Robredo: “If I were to vote, she’s my top candidate right now.”) On top of that, they would have also joined the ranks of rock and pop musicians with a longstanding tradition of coming together to sing for causes that are bigger than themselves.
Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, and U2 come to mind. In 1986, they headlined the “Conspiracy of Hope” tour to drum up support for Amnesty International’s advocacy of upholding human rights. I still have the vintage vinyl record to remember that tour by. Most of us who grew up in the ’80s first learned about Amnesty International and Greenpeace through the liner notes of these artists’ albums.
Eleven years after that, Sarah Mclachlan conceived of the 1997 “Lilith Fair” concerts to amplify the voices of female singer-songwriters and show the male-dominated music industry that women rockers could hold their own.
In 2005, Coldplay, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, and Madonna were among the big acts who performed in “Live 8,” a series of concerts meant to pressure the G8 leaders to act on the debt, trade, hunger, and health crises in Africa.
Not to forget, last month the South Korean pop group BTS addressed today’s youth at the United Nations General Assembly to “forge ahead” despite the pandemic.
Here in the Philippines, the mental health advocate, writer, and educator Gang Badoy has been harnessing the power of Pinoy rock music “to showcase social issues” through Rock Ed Philippines, an organization she founded in 2005. By collaborating with leading Pinoy musicians like Noel Cabangon, Up Dharma Down, Ebe Dancel, and Itchyworms, Rock Ed has successfully made the Filipino public aware of causes aligned with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Some of its past projects include “Rock the Rehas,” which was staged at the New Bilibid Prison to call attention to prisoners’ rights, and “Rock the Riles,” held at various MRT stations to celebrate International Human Rights Day.
Nearly all of the movements that have benefited from the support of rock musicians both here and abroad belong to what the sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas calls the “new social movements.” Among these movements, he cites in the second volume of “The Theory of Communicative Action” are the anti-nuclear movement, the environmental movement, the peace movement, the minorities (the elderly, gay people, handicapped), and the women’s movements. What cuts across all of these movements, according to Habermas, is that they focus on “the new problems (that) have to do with quality of life, equal rights, individual self-realization, participation, and human rights.”
The growing movement that identifies with and supports the candidacy of Robredo appears to be aligned with these social movements, if we go by her Oct. 7 declaration of priorities: “Malinaw kung nasaan ako: Nasa panig tayo ng mga sinasagad ang lahat para iraos ang sarili, ang pamilya, ang kapwa, mula sa pandemyang ito. Iba-iba man ang konteksto natin, pamilyar sa ating lahat ang pakiramdam ng pagiging nasa laylayan…”
Shortly after the above declaration, the broadcast journalist Jeff Canoy tweeted: “Your move, Eraserheads.”
Given what’s at stake, maybe we should rephrase Canoy’s dare into: “Your move, mga kababayan!”
Von Katindoy is a college lecturer and graduate student. Aside from specializing in philosophy of education, he is also studying learning design and technology and philosophy for children (P4C).
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