It does not seem like the best time to build an organization for music from scratch.
After all, music organizations such as the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) and Filipino Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (FILSCAP) are besieged by questions from musicians and composers with regards their functions and their value given the critical needs of cultural workers.
Of course in that sense, it might be the best time to build a musikeros organization from scratch, one that will do things differently and therefore prove that there are many ways to function as an organization for and by musikeros, in the context of nation.
LAPIS and relevance
LAPIS is League for Authors of Public Interest Songs, a group better known for the personalities that have been doing LAPIS gigs: Gary Granada, Tres Marias (Cooky Chua, Bayang Barrios and Lolita Carbon), and Chikoy Pura, who are founding board members.
“I’d like to imagine LAPIS advocating public interest over or perhaps even against private interest,” Granada says.
On LAPIS’s Facebook Page the organization gives you every reason to believe that music and musikeros can actually change the world, cutting across issues that are relevant to us: poverty and inequality, human rights and gender justice, full employment and decent work, environmental sustainability and food sovereignty, democracy and good governance, peace and security.
Yes, big words that makes you want to sign up for it. Asked why it sounded less grim and determined and more calm and collected, Granada responds: “Cool, I suppose comes with the territory. Kasi lalo na sa musicians, ang daming overlapping mindsets and inclinations.
On one hand firm to stand for ‘common good politics’ on the other hand walang basagan ng trip!”
Ah, also: there’s a sense of humor, and a whole lot of self-reflexivity.
Two things existing musikero organizations might learn from LAPIS.
Standing for nation, creativity
Despite the different mindsets, there are issues that the members of LAPIS all agree on, including but not limited to the big words of change that it mentions on its Facebook Page.
Of course any organization has its pitfalls, if not loopholes, where “representation” becomes problematic—because how to represent such diversity?
Granada says: “I’d probably say we afford each other a wide enough berth for all traditions of creative expression, yet also seek some firm commitment over more compelling subjects. Parang yes we have a myriad of preferences: sa damit, ulam, even music. But there is no debate din naman pagdating sa public need for clean water or access to education.”
Instead of doing a set of rules and limitations, instead of demanding of members and members-to-be to do certain things, or be certain things, LAPIS operates on an amount of freedom, if not a whole lot of common sense, respecting individual creativities and then daring to engage in discussions about nation relative to what it is they do as musicians.
“I think sufficiently evolved naman kahit yung mga mas bata sa LAPIS to navigate without compromising their core informed convictions. At may practical use yung pakinggan yung iba if also to gauge your own ‘caliber.’ ‘Dang kasi di mo rin matakasan yung art, may aspect ng delivery,” Granada explains. “Minsan matalas ka nga ngunit ‘di ‘sing proficient nung mga tingin mo na purol. At the same time, maganda na rin mapakinggan lahat para masuri kung alin nga ba may integrity para paghalawan ng hamon.”
Standing for the Lumad
The challenge of course is in the diversity as well of issues that we face as nation, the kind that demands of our artists to take a stand for what is right and just.
LAPIS, independent as it is, can actually take government to task over the Lumad murders.
In early September, news broke about the death of three Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur, after soldiers of the 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) and the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani Force occupied ALCADEV—an alternative school in Sitio-Han-ayan.
Members of the community were threatened, and three of its leaders and educators were killed: Executive Director of the ALCADEV Emerito Samarca, Chairperson of the MAPASU or Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation Dionel Campos, and member of MAPASU Bello Sinzo. The community evacuated, fearing for their lives.
LAPIS is the first artist organization to do a fundraiser for the Lumads now in evacuation centers. LAPIS is one it taking government to task for the Lumad killings.
It seems that too is a lesson that LAPIS teaches. It is easy to declare your stand for or against an issue, buts what of keeping one’s eyes on those who continue to suffer in the midst of debates, those who remain traumatized by continued neglect as we wait for the slow slow wheels of justice to turn?
“LAPIS Para Sa Lumad” happens on September 30, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at My Brothers Mustache in Scout Tuazon, Quezon City. Tickets are at P1,000, which comes with dinner and a drink. And well, it comes with music from LAPIS and Joey Ayala.
The music itself is worth it of course. But the cause, well, it’s the best way to spend your P1,000.