The First Filipino Folk Music Festival

The First Filipino Folk Music Festival

Tribute to Some Pioneering Filipino Folk Artists

by aLfie vera mella

The much-awaited music festival was held at Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba on November 15. It was a well-attended, neatly organized, and properly hosted show that featured several local Filipino performers, musicians, and songwriters paying tribute to the Folk genre of Filipino music. It was spearheaded by the newly formed Filipino Music & Arts Association of Canada, under the leadership of Ernesto Ofiaza and with the blessing of MLA Flor Marcelino.

The festival was opened by a rondalla rendition of “Lupang Hinirang” (the Philippine national anthem) and “O Canada” (Canadian national anthem). Singer/songwriter Levy Abad, who was one of the night’s performers, and Ofiaza delivered a hopeful message that included a promise of support to continuously promote especially the flourishing Filipino music scene in Winnipeg.

Performers that graced the show delivered respectable and engaging renditions of classic songs by contemporary Philippine Folk artists/bands that included Asin, Freddie Aguilar, Sampaguita, and Gary Granada. The duo Jojo Yso & Daniel Tabo-oy performed songs by Asin that included “Lupang Pinangako.” Neil & Mar & Friends engaged the crowd with danceable versions of songs that included Hotdog’s “Manila.” Levy Abad interjected his powerful rendition of Gary Granada’s “Bahay.” Another tandem, Elmer Sobretodo & Zaldy Ordoñez, did a couple of Freddie Aguilar songs. After a short break, Abad went back onstage to deliver a few of his original materials that included “Dito sa Winnipeg” and “Ayos Lang.” Abad has already released three albums to date. Any music enthusiast and supporter of Filipino arts and music should avail of these CDs; you may contact Levy Abad on Facebook. Second to the last performer was singer Bernadette Barrientos, backed up by the local band Trafikk Jamm, rendering songs by Asin and Sampaguita. Finally, lead vocalist Arnold Tongol joined his band, Trafikk Jamm, and closed the show with an energetic and lively set of covers by Asin (“Magnanakaw”), Sampaguita (“Tao”), and Freddie Aguilar (“Anak”).

The host did not fail to give recognition to key community leaders and members who were part of the good night’s audience. The festival team promised an even better presentation next year, which will include other worthy artists of the local music scene.

Overall, the show was successful in reintroducing to the present crowd an aspect of Filipino Folk music, by highlighting classic compositions by the number of pioneers of the said genre. Let’s just hope that, for next year’s festival, they include also and give recognition to contemporary and fledgling local Filipino bands and artists who not only cover other artists’ songs but also write their own materials, dabbling in a variety of music genres that include Filipino Rock, Pop, New Wave, and Hip-hop. After all, Filipino music is not only limited to one genre of music; just like the music of any other country or race, it is a diversity of various styles and sounds catering to music enthusiasts of all ages.

(Festival photos courtesy of Don Caroc Cariaso: MAFTI Rondalla Group, Levy Abad, Jojo Yso & Daniel Tabo-oy, Neil & Mar & Friends, Trafikk Jamm, and Bernadette Barrientos)

My Personal Tribute to Some of the Pioneers of Contemporary Filipino Folk Rock Music

During my vacation in the Philippines in 2012, I was invited by friend Jett Pangan of The Dawn to the concert “Rockin’ the Roots” (Tribute to Pinoy Folk Rock Icons), held at Music Museum in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. The show included Lolita Carbon (lead vocalist of Asin), Rene Garcia (lead vocalist / guitarist of Hotdog), Resty Fabunan (guitarist of Maria Cafra), Gary Perez (guitarist of Sampaguita), Pepe Smith (guitarist/vocalist of Juan Dela Cruz Band), and Mike Hanopol (bassist/vocalist of Juan Dela Cruz Band). The genre Filipino Folk/Rock is just a fraction of the entire umbrella of Filipino music that includes other genres such as Filipino Pop, Filipino Alternative Rock, Filipino Metal, and Filipino Hip-hop. Support Filipino music by appreciating all genres of music.