Symposium on Transcultural Philippine Music

A half-day symposium on the roots of transcultural Philippine literature and music, particularly focused on popular Filipino culture as emergent to Philippine alternative modernities, will be held on 17 February 2017, 1-4 p.m.

Papers by distinguished Filipino intellectuals Dr. Epifanio San Juan Jr., UP Professor Emeritus Steve Villaruz, Dr. Elizabeth Enriquez and Dr. Maria Rhodora Ancheta will tackle issues pertinent to vernacular literature, to the folk dance canon built by Francesca Reyes Aquino, radio songs, and on Katy de la Cruz’s bodabil songs, respectively. Papers by Prof. Villaruz, and Drs. Enriquez and Ancheta will be annotated with dance and music performance by the UP Dance Company, UP Jazz Band (Prof Rayben Maigue), with arranger Krina Cayabyab.

The issue of class (status group) is a vexing problem in the theory of modernity in the Philippines. This problem needs to be understood in the context of the particularities of cultural development in the country within the history of entanglement with the cultures of two empires–Spanish and American. As a response, Filipino intelligentsia from various social class positions articulated local modern visions that were alternative to the empires’ grand, globalizing narratives of development and progress. They made traversals, constructing innovative artistic expression, embodying grassroots Filipino folk-popular sentiment and culture as an alternative response to cultural empirialism and thus built what one would call as “alternative Philippine modernities.”

The articulation of Filipino modernities in the arts had two tendencies: (1) the middle-class elevation of the folk materials to “high culture” (e.g., use of balitao and kundiman in Western classical-art forms), and (2) the channelization of the Filipino folk-popular to wider audiences via the mass media, which was not isolated from the first tendency.

The symposium will look into these two tendencies, but give more space to the realm of the second in which vernacular Filipino literature, folk dances, Filipinized bodabil, and radio songs got broadcast audiences attuned to the emerging “alternative Filipino modernities.” This strand emerged during the formative years when capitalism and flow of images and ideas accelerated between 1898 and 1941.

It was certain that the second and third generations of Filipino intellectuals–“sandwiched” between global empires and local worlds–drew inspiration from local Filipino cultures, thus creating national hegemony beyond their class origins. But the details into how the creation of that national culture and patrimony will be in the specific topics to be elaborated in this symposium.

The symposium, which is the third part of a series, is organized by the College of Music with support from the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs through the Emerging Interdisciplinary Research Program. It is open to the public free of charge.