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‘Bagong Pilipinas’ hymn an old tune, bad song, gimmickry—artists, teachers

Artists and teachers slammed government’s new directive ordering the singing of an additional hymn in weekly flag ceremonies in all government agencies, educational institutions and government-owned and controlled corporations.

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) and ACT Teachers’ Party said Malacañang Memorandum Circular No. 52 mandating the singing of the Bagong Pilipinas (New Philippines) hymn and pledge is both an “old tune” and a “gimmick” aimed at whitewashing government’s failures to better the lives of Filipinos.

“Flag ceremonies will be unnecessarily lengthened and made tedious, a waste of people’s money and a waste of people’s time,” CAP said, noting that the National Anthem and the Panatang Makabayan (Nationalist Pledge) are already long enough.

Most government agencies, local government units also usually play their respective hymns in addition to the recitation of the Panunumpa ng Kawani ng Gobyerno (Government Employees’ Pledge) and the speeches delivered by designated speakers in weekly flag ceremonies.

CAP said the new hymn recalls Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s “Bagong Lipunan” (New Society) motto and hymn in the 1970s “when songs and artistic endeavors were used to whitewash plunder and widespread poverty.”

“Like his father, the son now seeks to cover up the lack of genuine promotion of the Filipino people’s interests using the same methods,” the group, founded in 1983 in opposition to martial law repression under the late dictator and current president Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s father, added.

ACT Teachers’ Party Representative and House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro said the new hymn is “self-serving and (a) martial law remnant,” and urged Marcos Jr. to stop the gimmickry.

Castro said that the directive is an attempt at indoctrinating government personnel and young Filipinos on the Marcos administration’s “Bagong Pilipinas” slogan and deodorize his father’s “Bagong Lipunan” propaganda repudiated in their family’s ouster in 1986.

“Instead of coming up with these gimmicks, the Marcos administration should be taking this time to think of solutions that would address the citizens’ problems of low workers’ pay and the high cost of goods. They should be helping the drivers and operators who would lose their livelihood and create quality regular jobs in the country,” Castro said.

How bad is the country’s situation?

In a June 4 memorandum, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin directed all government offices to integrate the new hymn and pledge in flag ceremonies “to instill the principles of Bagong Pilipinas among government workers.”

The Marcos Jr. government said Bagong Pilipinas slogan embodies its brand of governance and leadership, “characterized by a principled, accountable and dependable government, reinforced by unified institutions of society.”

“It envisions to empower Filipinos to support and participate in all government efforts in an all-inclusive plan towards deep and fundamental social and economic transformation in all sectors of society and government,” the Presidential Communications Office explained in an article.

CAP however said slogans calling for change make Filipinos ask, “So, change is only beginning and that similar pitches in the past have failed?”

“[T]hat for something like this to be effective, kailangan munang magsimula sa pag-amin kung gaano kasadsad ang Pilipinas, kung kailan nasadsad para makita nang malinaw kung bakit ‘panahon na’ para sa tunay na pagbabago.” (…an admission is first needed on how bad the country really is—when did it first go bad?—for everyone to clearly see why “it is time for real change.’)

“Sino ang nagsadsad? Ano ang dapat baguhin? Sino ang magbabago? Paanong babaguhin?” asked. (Who was responsible? What are the things that need change? Who will change? How will change be effected?)

“Kung hindi ito masagot ng pamunuan, sorry. Ang kanta n’yo kasi, lumang tugtugin,” CAP added. (If the administration can’t answer these, sorry. This is because your new song is an old tune.)

The artists group also criticized the new hymn as “[o]bjectionable in form and substance…[t]he lyrics and melody are trite and forgettable.”

CAP added the voices in the recorded version published and distributed by the government “do not meld well.”

“There is no real harmony among the elements of the song itself, a mediocre production that makes one ask how much of taxpayers’ money was spent on it,” CAP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘The need to change the order of things’

Today is the 85th birth anniversary of stage and film actor and director Benjamín Roberto “Behn” Holcombe Cervantes, founder of the University of the Philippines Repertory Company. He was also a founding member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, the Philippines Education Theater Association and the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

Thrice imprisoned for his activism and opposition to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Cervantes became one of the most recognized freedom of expression campaigners of the Philippines until his death in 2013.

During his second incarceration at the Bicutan Jail in Taguig in January 1978, Cervantes wrote to his family: “The history of the case is of course my consistent position as opposition to martial law and my work in the university as a teacher and a director. During these past few years, I have become known as one of the most vocal dissenters. My movie, Sakada, and my plays, especially the last one, Pagsambang Bayan, show the exploitative nature of this system, the evils the ruling class commit on the many, the need to change the order of things.”

(Jo Maois Mamangun/Kodao)

Artists, cultural workers: #StandWithRappler

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), an organization of Filipino artists and cultural workers, expresses their solidarity with Rappler as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a revocation order of its certificates of incorporation.

Dated June 28 and signed by SEC chairperson Emilio Aquino and four other commissioners, the order reaffirms its decision to revoke the papers of Rappler in their records and system.

For Prof. Lisa Ito, the secretary-general of CAP, the SEC’s order of revocation vs. Rappler is “an attack not only on the institution but [on] freedom of the press and expression.”

Ito urges her fellow cultural workers to #StandWithRappler and other media workers “in holding the line and carrying on the struggle for truth.”

“The SEC’s move to revoke Rappler’s papers is censorship by closure, happening on the cusp of a Duterte-Marcos term. It is an attack not only on the institution but to freedom of the press and expression. We as concerned citizens and cultural workers must stand with media workers in holding the line and carrying on the struggle for truth.” — Prof. Lisa Ito, Secretary-General, Concerned Artists of the Philippines

Petisyon kontra-Terror Law inihain ng mga mamamahayag at artista

Inihain ang ika-13 petisyon kontra sa kontrobersyal na Anti-Terrorism Law kaninang umaga, Hulyo 23 sa Korte Suprema. Pinangunahan ito ng National Union of Journalists of the Philippines at Concerned Artists of the Philippines.

Hinihiling nila na ideklarang labag sa batas ang Anti-Terror Law dahil sa mga probisyon nito na napakalawak na depinisyon patungkol sa terorismo. Gayundin magiging sandata din ito para sikilin ang sinumang nais magpahayag ng pagtutol lalo na sa gobyerno. (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

On Egai Talusan Fernandez’s ‘Padayon’ and today’s Lakbay Magsasaka culmination

by Walkie Miraña, Concerned Artists of the Philippines

THE mural says it all. The people’s suffering and oppression will give rise to people’s resistance.  It will serve as a fertile ground for the people’s struggle for genuine agrarian reform.

“Padayon” is a Visayan word which means to continue, persist or carry on. For this piece, Padayon meant “onwards with the people’s struggle for land.”  It was Talusan Fernandez’s contribution to the 32nd commemoration of the September 1985 Escalante Massacre that killed 20 farmers and injured dozens others.

The artwork is most relevant three decades after “Escam”. Farmers and agricultural workers continue to suffer from the exploitations that drove them to march that Friday morning that merited them nothing but tyranny and bullets.

“My memories of the incident and my recognition of the bravery of the survivors fueled me in creating this mural,” Talusan Fernandez said.

“This piece shows wave upon wave of protests from an outline of a shouting sacada’s (sugarcane farm worker) face that symbolizes their decades of struggle against their oppression. The barbed wire, which fuses with the planted and harvested sugarcane symbolizes the repression they struggle against,” he explained of his work.

Talusan Fernandez is a social realist artist since the time of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, producing nationalist propaganda materials since 1975 and paintings since 1976.

In his four decades of activism through art, he became one of the founding members of Kaisahan in 1977, Free the Artists Movement, Concerned Artists of the Philippines in 1983, and the Artista ng Bayan (ABAY).

Talusan Fernandez currently chairs the National Commission on Culture and the Arts  Committee on Visual Arts.

To the artist, “Padayon” only arouses more questions rather than answers.

PADAYON by Egai Talusan Fernandez, September 20, 2017, Escalante City, Negros Oriental

“Did their conditions change 32 years after the massacre? Have they been given justice and have they been given the land that rightfully belongs to them?” Talusan Fernandez asked.

Talusan Fernandez’s “Padayon” gains even more significance today as thousands of peasants are set to stage the biggest nationally-coordinated protest action to demand for genuine agrarian reform and to struggle against Rodrigo Duterte’s tyranny. Today is the last day of their nine-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng mga Magsasaka para sa Lupa at Laban sa Pasismo or #Lakbay Magsasaka as part of their annual commemoration of peasant month (October).

Like the wave of protests in Talusan Fernandez’s masterpiece, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Unyon ng mga Mangagawa sa Agrikultura shall hold the culminating protest action in Mendiola, Manila with farmers and peasant leaders from Southern Mindanao, Northern Mindanao, Negros, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Bicol, Central Luzon, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley now getting ready at a protest camp at the Department of Agrarian Reform main office in Quezon City. Simultaneous peasant-led actions will take place in major cities and urban centers: Iloilo, Surigao, Tandag, Butuan, Davao, Bacolod and Cebu. #

Artists’ Creed for Peace