Cool Filipino music for some hot issues
For 1980s rocker Lou Bonnevie, there’s no better medium than music to promote an advocacy or raise awareness of pressing issues. For 13 years now, Bonnevie has been mounting free concerts to help educate people, especially the youth, on various environmental problems, and how to protect nature.
On Friday night, the 13th Earth Day Jam gathered onstage an impressive and diverse lineup of local bands and solo acts, turning the 9th and 34th streets in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig into one big party place.
‘Earth Day Jam’
Aptly called “Earth Day Jam,” the annual music event was held in conjunction with the worldwide observance of Earth Day (April 22).
“Advocacy concerts are always great because of the sense of fun and togetherness that they generate. Music is very powerful, yet it’s not an intimidating tool for expression. This show is
by no means a serious event, but we get to tackle and talk about serious issues,” Bonnevie told the Inquirer.
In 2000, the first Earth Day Jam (then called “Earth Born”) was held in Subic, and featured Parliament Syndicate, Barbie’s Cradle, Put3ska and the Manila Youth Symphony Orchestra. The gig was subsequently held at Hard Rock Café and several small clubs. The 2002 edition featured the likes of Jaya and Martin Nievera.
“With the support of my colleagues in the music industry, as well as fans, I was encouraged to turn the event into something bigger and more mainstream,” Bonnevie said. “I’m not an environment expert, but I’ve always known I could do something by pulling people together … I believe being an artist should have more meaning.”
From 7 p.m. till the wee hours, the energy in the area brimmed with youthful energy. While a sea of music lovers raised their fists, jumped and screamed their lungs out as their favorite bands rocked the stage, football enthusiasts in a nearby turf slugged it out in practice matches. Smoke and mouthwatering aroma wafted from the bustling Midnight Mercato food market
beside the concert stage. On the streets, teenagers riding skateboards wowed onlookers with their stunts.
Two of the most anticipated acts of the night were Sandwich and hip-hop artist Abra. The crowd sang along and roared in approval as front man Raimund Marasigan danced silly onstage and made odd shapes with his body while singing “Betamax.” The band also played their single “Back for More” from their latest album “Fat Salt and Flame.”
“Music is a great way to champion causes. Kids readily connect with music and art because they can understand it much easier. It’s a more effective way of educating the youth than say,
politics,” Marasigan told the Inquirer.
He gave this green tip: “If you’re just going somewhere near, you can ride a bicycle or skateboard instead of taking a car!”
The crowd got thicker—mostly because of teenage fan girls—when Abra jumped onstage and unrelentingly rapped his way through “Alab ng Puso” and “Gayuma.” The audience enthusiastically sang the chorus of the latter in the absence of vocal collaborator Jeriko.
Much to her surprise, the young spectators sang along with Bonnevie as she dished out the Juan de la Cruz band classics “Titser’s Enemy No.1” and “Balong Malalim.” She likewise performed “Halina, Sama-Sama Tayo”—an environmental awareness song produced in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
True to the night’s theme, nongovernment organizations (NGOs) set up stalls around the venue, where interested people could sign up for environment-related campaigns, and buy handicraft, plants and various organic products and food. Backstage, the artists willingly cut down on cigarettes. And whenever excitement got the better of the crowd, prompting them to throw water bottles every which way, whoever was playing onstage would firmly remind them that littering had no place in the event … or wherever.
“Instead of throwing the bottles at each other, throw them in trash bins,” Norby David of Rivermaya told the crowd.
The other acts who performed on Friday were Kalayo, Reggae Mistress, Rocksteddy, Gracenote, Moonstar 88, Ney Dimaculangan, Nina, Barbie Almalbis, Brownman Revival, Mayonnaise and The Oktaves. Between sets, resource speakers from various government agencies and NGOs gave short talks about environmental concerns such as climate change and
water and air pollution. Some explained the concept of waste management, organic farming and recycling.
For her efforts, Bonnevie received the Fr. Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism in 2007 from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Unesco, the Climate Institute and the Department of Education. She was likewise declared Clean Air Champion by the DENR, Metro Manila Development Authority and the Department of Transportation and Communications.
Asked about her future plans for Earth Day Jam, Bonnevie exclaimed: “I’d like very much to take the concert to different regions in the country. One of my dreams is to hold some of our concerts in forests!”