Archipelago Music Intro

The Music Village

May 31, 2009

I gave a lecture not in Pampanga but in PALAWAN!

Last week, I was in Palawan to expand my cultural work to Cuyonons, who, like the Kapampangans and the other non-Tagalogs, and experiencing cultural decline. Aside from directing a Cuyonon rock music video in Puerto Princesa, I also delivered a lecture to Mass Communication students of PSU (Palawan State University). See news item below (taken from


As a means to entice young media practitioners in creating works of art or production works with local cultural content, Matinlo Productions in cooperation with Bulyaw Mariguen, Kamaru Productions and JCI Kiao conducted a lecture/workshop entitled Local Eyes: creating Works of Art with Local Cultural Content to 31 3rd & 4th year Mass Communication Students of the Palawan State University last May 27, 2009.

The lecture started with an exercise conducted by Jason Laxamana of Kamaru productions assessing how the students use their local environment in creating their own superhero. Jason Laxamana then proceeded to explaining the exercise and then to showing the students some of the works of Kamaru.

In his lecture, Jason laxamana emphasized the benefits of creating production works with local cultural content. His Kapampangan short film entitled Balangingi in Kapampangan or Nosebleed in English which won in the ETC First Philippine Digital Awards for best short film is living proof that using local cultural content in film can give filmmakers a competitive advantage in such competitions. The sense of pride such works bring to the local community was also mentioned.

Due to a scheduled radio guesting at DYPR Palawan Radyom, Jason Laxamana gave way for Bulyaw Mariguen to perform their carrier single, Ploning Adin Ka Ren. Matinlo productions chose to ask Bulyaw Mariguen to perform in this lecture to show the students the possibility of using the local language in Palawan, Cuyonon, in making songs that are appealling to the young generation of Palawenos and viable for mainstream broadcasting. Joey Fabello of Matinlo productions, also known as DJ Jojo of IFM 99.9 by some of the students, briefly explained the Bulyaw Mariguen project after the performance of the band to reiterate the value of using local content in works of art and production works.

Certificates were awarded and snacks were provided by Jci Kiao after the lecture.

Some feedback from the students can be seen below.

Nainspire po kami sa inyong shinare samin and we are hoping also na magkaron ng sariling version ang mga Palaweno to produce music, movies, telenovelas, etc of our own.

Thank you for inspiring me. Makakatulung po talaga ito sa lahat. Keep up the good work...May God Bless You...

Nakakainspire. Namulat ako sa dapat kong kamulatan. -Psydz

Marami po salamat sa mga binahagi niyong kaalaman sa amin, tama nga dapat din nating ipakita sa iba na pwede rin natin ibahagi sa kanila ang culture na mayroon tayo. tnx po. Sana makalat pa ito sa iba.- Rearitz

Very inspiring. It really gives indication that we have to uplift ones local culture through music and film. -Anna Lissa Magtibay

Marami po akong (kaming) natutunan. Now I realized na mahalaga maging maka local tayo para narin stain to. galing po ng speakers at nakakatuwa. - Jeric

Mahalaga po sa amin bilang Palaweno na ipagmalaki sa buong mundo ang katutubong kultura. Sa pamamagitan ng Seminar workshop na ito namulat ang aking isipan na maaari tayong kilalanin. maraming salamat- Anagyn Barrios

Matinlo productions would like to thank Ms. Faith Malacao of the Palawan State University for making this event possible.

Feb 28, 2009

Call for Entries: Cinekabalen Short Film Competition

Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies,
Kalalangan Kamaru, and
Circle of Young Angelenos


The 1st Cinekabalen Philippine Film Festival

The short film competition seeks to explore, criticize, promote, empower, and/or describe the Kapampangan experience through independent cinema.

We are looking for short narratives that tell the story and perspective of the Kapampangan people, who, since their pre-Hispanic participation in the affairs of Asia, have been leading diverse lives up to the contemporary times—from the humble rural folks of the riverbanks to the dehumanized drones of highly urban areas, from resilient survivors of the Pinatubo eruption to the aggressive players in national industries, from sun-worshipping dwellers of the mountainside to the strong devotees of Roman Catholicism, from the protesters of social inequality since ancient times to the culturally overloaded youth of the nation, from the migrants forced to live elsewhere for greener pastures to the politically maturing residents making waves in mass media, from the craftsmen who balance business and art to the brown tillers of the plains, etc....

Rules and mechanics of the short film competition:

- The contest is open to everyone, student or professional, Kapampangan or non-Kapampangan, living in the country or abroad, etc. except members of the core organizing committee

- any topic is allowed, as long as it expresses "The Kapampangan Experience"

- entry must be a narrative; no music videos or documentaries

- no limit of number of entries

- because promoting the Kapampangan language is one of the aims of the festival, the dialogues, if any, should predominantly be in Kapampangan. The occasional use of non-Kapampangan languages is allowed as long as used in proper linguistic context.

- setting of the story does not necessarily have to be in Pampanga or other Kapampangan-speaking regions like Tarlac and Bataan

- film must have readable English subtitles

- strictly 10-20 minutes in length; for animated entries, minimum of 5 minutes is allowed

- in digital format (submit final work in playable DVD)

- extreme violence and obscenity and unnecessary abuse of foul language are discouraged, but not prohibited

- use of copyrighted music is not allowed, unless permitted to by the owner of the material

- deadline of entries (final DVD, registration form) will be on July 31; they must be shipped or submitted in person to the Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University, Angeles City; the registration form will be downloadable beginning mid-March

- 8 to 12 finalists will be chosen (depending on the quantity of submissions) to compete in the festival; cash prizes and trophies are at stake for the top three best short films, which will be selected by a Board of Judges consisting of experts from the industry; special awards (best male performer, best editing, best screenplay, etc.) will also be given; the competing films will be screened during the actual Cinekabalen Philippine Film Festival in August at the Holy Angel University Theater in Angeles City; an Awards Night will follow

Inquiries: text JASON @ 0918 699 2459 or email

Amateur filmmakers are welcome to consult the organizers regarding their entries

Jan 25, 2009

Kapampangan B/W short film 'Ing Bangkeru'

Last Thursday and Friday, Kalalangan Kamaru screened Ing Bangkeru (The Boatman), directed by yours truly. It is a Kapampangan short film that is a screen adaptation of an anonymous Kapampangan ballad of the same title.

Having a lot of long takes, being in black and white, and having an unconventional (philosophical) story line, I was expecting the audiences to get bored by it.

Last Thursday, we went to Systems Plus College Foundation in Balibago, Angeles City and screened all of our works, including the first episode of Kalam, to all the 4th year high school students.

Surprisingly, Ing Bangkeru was able to keep up, as the students not only appreciated it -- they enjoyed it. They understood the story very well and cheered, hollered for the clever boatman when he was owning the arrogant student. There were two screenings, one in the morning and one in the afternoon; the reactions of both batches were just the same.

Then, Last Friday, Brillante Mendoza's award-winning Kapampangan film Kaleldo had two runs at the Holy Angel University Theater. Serving as front act was Ing Bangkeru. I watched (even paid a ticket), majorly only to check out the reactions of the audience to our short film.

Boy, were my assistant director Diego and I ecstatic with the audience reaction! They enjoyed it as well, and their reaction was like an exact copy of the reaction of the students from Systems Plus. The difference, the HAU Theater has 1000 seating capacity. That makes 2000 individuals (because it had two runs, and the theater was full in both runs), and to see them applaud for our short film in spite of its strange treatment, it was very heartwarming. As Diego stated: maybug kung gumaga (I want to cry).

Haven't watched it yet? Here:

Jan 14, 2009

Ilonggo short: Webcam Diary

To expand the content of Archipelago Music, we will also be featuring independent films, especially short ones, from the regions, using the local language.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is already seeing Philippine Cinema in a different manner, as film scenes from the regions are beginning to emerge, especially in Mindanao where annually, they hold a Mindanao film fest.

For a start, allow me to post this Ilonggo short film called Webcam Diary.

A short film starring WIT Teatro Primiero Members: Roque John Latosa, Mary Grace "Meg" Bonita, and Joylene Legaspi. Shown during Western Institute of Technology's 44th Annual Cultural Contest. Script developed by the actors themselves.

Jan 9, 2009

1622 - Unang Usbor, Banton Band

This is a traditional Asi song performed live on May 6, 2008 during the launch of the new Banton-based musical band, 1622 - Unang Usbor. Read more about 1622 in

The Asi language is a Visayan language spoken, along with the Romblomanon and Onhan languages, in the province of Romblon, Philippines. The language is also known as Bantoanon, Calatravanhon, Odionganon, Sibalenhon, Simaranhon, and Bisaya.

Specifically, it is spoken on the following islands within Romblon:
:: Tablas: the municipalities of Odiongan and Calatrava, situated respectively on the western and northern parts of the island.
:: Banton: the island's sole municipality of Banton.
:: Simara: the island's sole municipality of Corcuera.
:: Maestre de Campo (also known as Sibale): the island's sole municipality of Concepcion.

Dec 24, 2008

Something to learn from the Koreans

It was in fourth year high school that Koreans began making their appearance in my consciousness. Today, I’m a fan of the Korean people and I dream of the day when the Philippines can mimic the framework of South Korea in its path toward global progress.

After the successful Taiwanese TV drama ‘Meteor Garden’ of ABS-CBN and the not-so-successful ‘My MVP Valentine’ of GMA-7, the latter network put the first Koreanovela (how Korean TV dramas are called in the Philippines) on primetime: ‘Lavender.’ From then on, Koreanovelas have penetrated Pinoy culture well—from ‘Jewel in the Palace’ to ‘Lovers in Paris,’ ‘from ‘Winter Sonata’ to ‘My Name is Kim Sam Soon.’

I was able to try Korean food when we went to the US in Summer 2005. We went there through Asiana Airlines, the stewardess of which served either Korean food or Western food for their meals. My mother and big brother would choose “itang balu da na,” while I, the hard-headed and adventurous Laxamana boy, insisted on trying what Koreans had to offer when it comes to dining. After all, it’s not everyday that you get to try Korean food. If it tastes awful, then charge it to experience. But fortunately, I loved it! Kimchi didn’t taste good at first but I have learned to love it, in spite of my mother wanting to puke at the smell of it.

Our stopover was in Incheon, South Korea, and we were to stay there for 10 hours. I liked the place. It was cold. It was clean. I couldn’t get over the idea that South Korea used to be poorer than the Philippines. It was hard conversing using English with the natives working at the airport, but they were friendly enough.

The airline company offered two choices for us to spend our 10 hours: take a short Korean tour, or take a rest at a Korean hotel. I wanted a tour, but my company wanted to rest. What a waste of opportunity! It’s not everyday that we get to stay for 10 hours in South Korea.

In college, I was introduced to Korean films in my Film 100 class, where the professor recounted how the film industry of South Korea developed, to the point of making a global wave in a decade’s span. I then grabbed hold of Korean war films like ‘Taegukci’ and romance films like ‘Il Mare,’ and I must say kudos. The unpretentious support of the government contributed highly to the development of Korean entertainment, so said my professor.

In one of my Broadcast Communication class, Music in Media, we had one Korean classmate. I already forgot his name, but I still remember our encounters with him. He was always bringing with him an electronic Korean-English dictionary which he would consult often when he couldn’t remember the appropriate English words to express his remarks. It was amusing, really. I had the chance to have him as a group mate, and his linguistic and cultural struggles didn’t make him less participative. He was indispensable in class. In fact, when deciding for the photo theme of our CD project inlay, he came up with this very artistic idea of fusing classical music flavor with stinking toilets, which to me was very fresh, but to my conservative professor was, well, stinking.

In my college life, more and more students were trying to enlist in Korean language subjects, learning how to write Hanggul and learning basic Korean sentences, phrases, and expressions. Angeles City nowadays also celebrate Choo-Seok festival for the people in that Korean avenue called Friendship, the Korean signboards of which, I think, outnumber the Kapampangan signboards present in the city. In Cebu, they have this Cebuanovela titled ‘Saranghe’ (‘Kaluguran Da Ka’ in Korean), which features a love triangle—two boys and a girl. One of the boys is Korean.

Evidently, Koreans, as well as other Asians, own this decade, and the future is teeming with grander Asian possibilities. I just wonder when the Philippines and other Austronesians will take part.

Korean Singers in the US

Three big Korean entertainers are attempting to conquer US after conquering much of Asia. They are none other than Rain, famous in the Philippines for the Koreanovela ‘Full House’ and that shampoo commercial with a popular line ‘My name is Rain’; Se7en, another Justin Timberlake-like South Korean RnB crooner who is not yet known in the Philippines but is celebrated throughout Asia; and BoA, a multitalented girl who can sing, dance, sing in many languages, and who has a beautiful face and body to flaunt.

BoA has already debuted in the US, but I haven’t heard whether she’s successful. Her debut US debut music video looked like the typical Britney Spears or Beyonce music videos, only with the English lyrics being sung with Asian accent.

Rain’s debut and a lot of concerts have been postponed due to trademark conflicts, while Se7en’s debut is, in my opinion, the most watched out for, as the production team of his US debut album consists of big people who contributed to the success of big US names like Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, Madonna, Fergie, etc. His first single would be ‘Girls’ featuring Lil’ Kim. The song was produced by Darkchild.

In a newspaper article, of the Black Eyed Peas opined that he sees no reason as to why Korean entertainers couldn’t make it big in the US. If American singers can make it big in other places, why not the other way around?

Dec 16, 2008

Kapampangans and Mindanao Cinema

December 14 marked the beginning of the 4th Mindanao Film Festival, the organization of which contributes to the sign that, as one blogger put it, “the Art and Culture movements in the regions are gaining momentum and covering more ground.”

The Mindanao Film Festival began five years ago. Originally, it featured short films made by Dabawenyo artists (from the Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshops). In its fourth year, not only shall it feature short films in competition, it will also exhibit full-length Mindanaon films such as ‘Concerto: Davao War Diary,’ which was screened on the opening day.

‘Concerto: Davao War Diary’ is a period digital film set during the time after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when Davao was attacked by the Imperial Army of Japan. Due to the circumstances, one wealthy family leaves behind their properties and takes refuge in the forest where they befriend some Japanese while holding support for the guerrilla movement. Before the end of the war, they hold a special piano concert.

Charliebebs Gohetia, a colleague of mine in the UP College of Mass Communication and one of Brillante Mendoza’s trusted editors for his films, has his own contribution to Mindanao Cinema, too. His full-length debut, ‘The Thank You Girls,’ which failed to be a finalist twice in the Cinemalaya full-length category, but was independently produced nonetheless, is also part of the festival.

‘The Thank You Girls’ is a film in Bisaya with a gay lingo twist. The official synopsis reads: “Tired of losing in all the beauty competitions in Davao City, five dysfunctional gay beauty pageant veterans decide to travel north to Cagayan de Oro City, in the island of Mindanao. Their mission: to conquer the grandest competition of beauty, personality and brains in the whole province. They believe that being city dwellers, gays in the province will never stand a chance against them.”

Included in the festival as well is Cinema One Originals Best Picture ‘Ang Huling Balyan Ng Buhi’ (English title is ‘The Woven Stories of the Other,’ but the title literally translates to “the last priestess of life”) by Sherad Anthony Sanchez. Set in the forest village of Napalico in the Arakan Valley of North Cotabato, it mainly features a seemingly insane local priestess (balyan or tagbawian) named Manay who communes with the river, who one night performs her last miracle—a stigmata. NPA communist rebels, government soldiers, and children also take roles in the story.

War and peace situations in Mindanao is tackled in the advocacy film ‘Hunghong Sa Yuta’ (‘Earth’s Whisper’), directed by Arnel Mardoquio. The film is about deaf mute children in a community in the mountains. The children are a mixture of Christians, Muslims, and Lumads, and are introduced to the alphabets and numerals by a teacher from the city. “War between rebels and the military has devastated the community of Hinyok, its most telling casualty being children born without the ability to speak and hear whose fathers are now intent on training them to become fighters to defend their land. Vigo Cruz, artist and toy-maker, answers a posted notice about Hinyok’s need for a teacher, and his work with the children brings joy and hope to the young war victims and their mothers.”

An upcoming Chabacano-Bisaya film was also announced during the festival. It will be shot in Davao and Zamboanga next year.

Kapampangan Cinema

The emergence of Mindanao Cinema, as well as film scenes in other regions, especially the Visayan and Cordilleran region, is inspiring, and I keep on dreaming of the day when this idea called “Kapampangan Cinema” would take corporeal form in Central Luzon and in the long run, prove to be a powerful branch of Philippine cinema.

The production of several award-winning Kapampangan films such as 2008’s Most Outstanding Kapampangan for Mass Media Brillante Mendoza’s ‘Masahista,’ ‘Kaleldo,’ ‘Manoro,’ and ‘Serbis’ and Francis Xavier Pasion’s ‘Jay’ is a good sign, as their presence may cause a domino effect to other aspiring Kapampangan filmmakers.

The Mindanao Film Festival is a joint effort among the Mindanao Film and Television Development Foundation, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, the City Government and City Tourism Office of Davao, the Museo Dabawenyo, plus some admirable support from the private sector.

If not only for the chaos in the Pampanga Capitol, I believe the Tourism Office of Pampanga would have spearheaded the first ever Kapampangan interschool short film competition this Aldo Ning Kapampangan. Sadly, it did not push through.

Will 2009 mark the conception of Kapampangan Cinema and the introduction of its concept to universities in the Kapampangan region?

Student Filmmakers

Students (especially college ones) are often seen as the hope of emerging film scenes. A problem—a curable, minor one at that—with the students in the Kapampangan region is that they are still more or less ignorant of independent cinema.

Ask them to do a short film and you’d see that they’re trying to poorly mimic Hollywood and the stuff they see on free TV. Worse, the Kapampangan reality/experience is seldom or never featured in the stories.

Kapampangan student filmmakers studying in Manila, however, have made Kapampangan-themed works, and it makes me wonder—why do they arise in Manila? Perhaps it’s because when one studies in Manila, he/she is dipped in a ocean of diverse races. To project a unique identity in his/her film, who else to consult but the dear homeland? After all, only you know the stories of the Kapampangan region. Why waste time competing using Manila-themed films?

Thus, I take this opportunity to inform the Kapampangans about Kapampangan short films done in Manila.

First is Mark Dela Cruz’ ‘Misteryo Ng Hapis’ (‘The Sorrowful Mystery’) which bagged the Best Thesis title during its time at the UP Film Institute. It’s about a young gay who confronts his painful memories with his homophobic father during the wake of the latter. The film is like a rosary prayer narration.

Watch the whole film by searching ‘Misteryo Ng Hapis’ at Google Video.

Another is Jacqueline Nakpil’s ‘Lual Kulambu’ (‘Outside the Mosquito Net’), also from the UP Film Institute. It’s about a young boy from Bacolor who lives with his grandmother in the barrio. However, when his grandmother dies, he is forced to live in his uncle’s house in Manila. In there, he struggles to adapt to his new home.

Lastly is ‘Pupul’ (‘Harvest’) by Nicolette Henson, a Mutya Ning Kapampangan and a Kapampanganovela actor who currently takes up Mass Communication at St. Scholastica’s Academy Manila. In her AVP class, ‘Pupul’ was branded the best narrative. It tells the story of a single mother who tries to keep her son from seeing his real father in the farm due to personal reasons.

It will be uploaded soon through the Internet.

Shameless Plug

Allow me to plug our own contribution to this Kapampangan Cinema dream. Our group Kalalangan Kamaru, in cooperation with the Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies, presents ‘Ing Bangkeru’ (‘The Boatman’), a 10-minute screen adaptation of the anonymous Kapampangan ballad of the same title. Shot in the Pampanga River, it tells an anecdote about an arrogant student from Manila intellectually challenging a young, lowly boatman about the philosophies the student had learned in his Spanish school.

We also have our very first Kapampangan documentary called ‘Sexmoan Adventures.’ Its synopsis: “A town in the Philippine province of Pampanga has for long been known as Sexmoan. One day, the municipal government decided to dump its scandalous spelling and replaced it with how residents traditionally call their homeland: Sasmuan.” The documentary lightly interviews residents of Sasmuan about their attitude toward Sexmoan and their current lifestyle.

Lastly, we are making a new digital short film titled ‘Balangingi’ (‘Nosebleed’ in English; ‘Balinguyngoy’ in Tagalog). It’s a Kapampangan romantic comedy about two discriminating intellectuals forced to attend a blind date. This short film gives a peek to that minority in Philippine society who are unlikely to survive socially by being themselves-- the Filipino intellectuals. Or as laymen would call them: Nerds! As parents call them: Pilosopo.

Dec 13, 2008

Zamboanga's Chabacano Band, Comic Relief

OCM is OPM! Original Chavacano Music is Original Pilipino Music!

Ruling the airwaves of Zamboanga City is Comic Relief, a local band that writes and performs original compositions in the Chabacano Philippine language. To Filipinos ignorant of this seemingly-Spanish language called Chabacano, be fooled not. Zamboanga's mother language is not a dialect of Spanish, as it's not mutually intelligible with the Spanish languages.

Here is an article I found related to Comic Relief and the emerging OCM scene:

Councilor Gerky Valesco, in his support to Original Chabacano Music (OCM) is encouraging young musicians and artists to make use of the Chabacano language in their artistic attempts.

Valesco’s reiteration of support came as he was tapped by young musicians to direct the first major concert of “Comic Relief”, an all Zamboangueno band whose power rock ballad “Cuando” is enjoying commercial success since the song is one of the top ten most requested songs in the city’s many FM stations.

“I am happy that there is an upsurge of Chabacano materials in music and in poetry. This is indeed a welcome development which shows how special and how vibrant Chabacano is”. Valesco said.

Zach Quijano, composer and leader of ‘Comic Relief’ band said they have already engaged in series of talks with Valesco requesting the alderman from Santa Maria to be the director of their first major concert slated on December 16, 2008.

“We want Sir Valesco to direct our show owing the fact that Valesco has been supportive to music and arts. We also know that Sir Gerky, is very much down to earth, and has been responsible in helping organized many of the concerts in Zamboanga,” Quijano said.

Quijano said that since last August they have been meeting with Valesco regarding their desire to have their songs promoted. Last September, Valesco brought CD samplers to some FM stations in Manila and to some executives of recording labels.

Quijano said besides, their reason for requesting Valesco to help them because according to them Valesco understands them better since Valesco is also an artist. “We’re comfortable with him (Valesco) because he knows the circuit and he knows the plight of the artists,” Quijano said.

Valesco, prior to his political career has been a director and organizer of many concerts. He has directed the show of Jose Mari Chan, Armarie Saavedra, Revelation Band, Marc Velasco, and many others. Valesco also organized the shows of David Pomeranz, Rossana Roces, and the Lettermen last July.