Three main stages, 19 pocket venues, and 200 bands—this was the seemingly impossible feat that the Embassy of France in the Philippines pulled off at the 20th anniversary celebration of Fete de la Musique on June 21.
Despite the slight drizzle and unbearable traffic, thousands of music lovers trooped to the cities of Manila, Makati, and even Cebu to catch live performances of bands that were playing on different stages of varied musical genres.
With a variety of choices that range from jazz, rock, chill out, reggae, house, indie, acoustic, and many others—this one-day music festival that began in France in 1982 grown to entertain hundreds of countries all over the world, including the Philippines.
“It’s a celebration of music [that began in my country]where the idea was to bring people together to enjoy, celebrate and appreciate music with their friends, family and other people, in time for the beginning of summer which is marked every June 21st,” French Ambassador Gilles Garachon told The Manila Times.
“As part of the Ministry of Culture to promote different art forms, including music, we have brought this celebration to the Philippines to provide a stage for local artists to perform and gain more exposure, and for the public to become aware of the thriving music scene in the country,” continued the very articulate diplomat.
Proof that the number of music patrons in the country continues to grow, Alliance Francaise de Manille’s (AFM) cultural coordinator Sabrina Durand excitedly informed The Manila Times that an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 festival goers were gathered in Manila and Makati for the one-night free concert extravaganza.
With the help of B-side productions, the French Embassy through the AFM, painstakingly prepared for this grand celebration since September 2013 to secure sponsorships and venues, select the lineup of bands, and seek assistance from different organizers that specialize on the different music genres featured in this year’s festival.
Durand added that when the event first took place in the Philippines in 1994, attendees only reached the one thousand-mark, and had little support from public and private agencies.
However, with the French Embassy’s continued efforts to mount Fete de la Musique and other cultural events in the country, they remained confident that the a strong cultural relationship between the two countries will develop in no time, which indeed has been proven by the success of the annual music event.
“We have a lot of support coming from the Department of Tourism [DOT], Intramuros Administration [IA] and also from the private sectors. This shows that we have established strong ties with the Philippines through our efforts to promote culture and the arts,” the ambassador enthused.
Eager and honored to host one of the three main stages for this year’s Fete, Intramuros Administrator Marco Sardillo 3rd told The Manila Times that he had long sought to host the music festival in Intramuros since he assuming the post of administrator in August 2013.
“I’m happy to say that the cultural counselor of the French Embassy was on board the first time I met him. He had just arrived in Manila a few weeks before we spoke. And in an amazing case of serendipity, it turned out that Alliance Française had initiated parallel talks with DOT. Thanks to Usec. Baba Jasmin, things quickly moved forward [for the festival to be partly held here],” Sardillo said.
Sardillo was all the more confident the historic walled city would ably host the festival what with the agency’s headway in positioning Intramuros as a “hub for arts, culture and heritage” through six massive development projects funded by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority.
These include developments on Calle Aduana, the rehabilitation of Fort Santiago, beautification of the Intramuros Museum, and the restoration of the Intramuros fire station façade, among others.
“Intramuros is no longer about Spanish heritage or history [in the Philippines]. Rather, it is a representation of meaningful relationships that the Philippines has developed with other cultures,” Sardillo declared.
Beyond Fete de la Musique, the administrator is also negotiating with the European Union National Institute for Culture and the Spanish Embassy’s Instituto Cervantes to mount satellite offices within the walled city. He has also secured a deal with the Film Development Council of the Philippines to put up an office and a cinematheque in Intramuros.
Committed more than ever to make his vision for Intramuros as an arts hub to become a reality, the administration declared, “If you don’t see the projects happen within the next few months, I’ll resign.”
Wit Fete de la Musique staging its kick-off party in Baluarte de San Diego and having one of its main stages at Maestranza Plaze, the administrator may indeed be off to a good start.
Echoing the excitement of Administrator Sardillo, Ambassador Garachon was just as triumphant to hold Fete de la Musique in Intramuros for its rich cultural character and historical background.
“Intramuros is such a wonderful place, we love it here! The structures alone tell a lot of stories, and the place has a lot of history. You can see the Filipino culture in the structures, churches and buildings, making this the perfect place to stage different cultural events,” Ambassador Garachon said.
Besides Intramuros, the other main stages of the festival were located in Greenbelt and A-Venue in Makati City. Some of the most crowded pocket venues were the acoustic stage at A_Space Gallery in Legaspi St.; rock, reggae and ska stage at B-Side in Malugay St.; house party stage at Black Market near Pasong Tamo; and the indie stage in 12Monkeys inside Century City Mall.
But while Fete de la Musique has remained in the south for the last few years, the AFM cultural coordinator said that they would want to see more pocket stages opening up outside of Makati and Manila. In the coming years, they expect other cities like Ortigas, Quezon City, or Marikina City to enjoy Fete de la Musique.
“The goal is to have Fete de la Musique all over the country. It would be difficult for AFM to support all the pocket stages, but artists, musicians, production companies or establishments are free to organize their own Fete as long as they seek for accreditation from AFM,” Durand concluded.