Against the Plunder of Nature

Review of Rapu-Rapu atbp.: Taghoy ng Kalikasan
Produced by the Central for Environmental Concerns-Philippines
2008

In the Philippines there has been no dearth of songs tackling environmental issues. Many of these songs, however, have dealt with the issue along the general lines of “caring for the environment” while stopping short of exposing those who are primarily accountable for environmental destruction. This is where the songs in the album Rapu-Rapu atbp.: Taghoy ng Kalikasan differ from the usual environmental songs.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
CULTURE
Bulatlat.com
Vol. VIII, No. 31, September 7-13, 2008

In the Philippines there has been no dearth of songs tackling environmental issues. Many of these songs, however, have dealt with the issue along the general lines of “caring for the environment” while stopping short of exposing those who are primarily accountable for environmental destruction.

This is where the songs in the album Rapu-Rapu atbp.: Taghoy ng Kalikasan differ from the usual environmental songs.

The songs in Rapu-Rapu atbp. are products of a songwriting workshop conducted by the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Phils.) in September last year. The album was launched during this year’s observance of World Environment Day.

The album features songs by Vyjohn Olavario, Rolando Abad Jr., Peter Benaires, Omer Mejia, Kareen Palaganas, Eros Masa, Rom Dongeto, Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera, Ces Quimpo, and Tom Borjal. The songs are performed by The Jerks, Lady high, Cookie Chua, Coffeebreak island, Bayang Barrios, Noel Cabangon, Aiza Seguerra, Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera, Datu’s Tribe, and Lolita Carbon.

For the album’s songwriters and composers, it is clear that those primarily responsible for the destruction of the environment are the foreign capitalists and their local partners – which include the national government.

This is evident in the song “Linta” (Leech) by Vyjohn Olavario:

Ating pag-aralan, pambansang kalagayan
Sirang kagubatan, ano nga ba’ng dahilan/
Karaniwang tao ba o mga kapitalista
Na s’yang sumisipsip sa yaman ng ating bansa
Na parang mga linta?

(Let us study our national situation
What is the real cause of deforestation?
Should we blame the people or the capitalists
Who are sucking the nation’s riches
Like leeches?)

The same theme is carried in “Gintong Pamana” (Heritage of Gold) by Kareen Palaganas, “Hindi Na Ligtas” (Safe No More) by Rom Dongeto, “Rapu-Rapu” by Tom Borjal, “Saludsod ni Ading” by Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera, and “Para Saan, Para Kanino?” (For What, For Whom?) by Ces Quimpo and Rom Dongeto.

“Ina” (Mother), by Peter Benaires, tells of a mother who worked hard to send her child to school in the hope of securing a bright future for the young one. One day, however, the mother’s dreams are all shattered as the child is buried in a landslide.

Benaires, in the song, calls on the people to be enraged at this tragedy and at those who caused it. Toward the end of the song, he tells us to whom the “wrath and fury” should be directed at:

Sa kanila itutuon ang galit at poot
Sa mga taong nandambong sa kalikasan
Sa mga taong nandambong sa kalikasan
Silang nagtulak sa putik at bato
Silang nagtulak sa putik at bato
Silang nagtulak sa putik at bato

(The people shall direct their wrath and fury
At those who have plundered nature
At those who have plundered nature
They who have pushed the soil and rocks
They who have pushed the soil and rocks
They who have pushed the soil and rocks)

“Katutublues” by Eros Masa focuses on the plight of the Dumagat, an indigenous tribe inhabiting the part of the Sierra Madre mountain range that is covered by the northern part of Quezon, a province south of Manila. The song tells of how the operations of big logging concessionaires have driven many of the Dumagat away from their ancestral land, and how this has destroyed their lives and culture.

“Tubig ay Buhay” (Water is Life) by Omer Mejia tells of how important water is as a natural resource and protests the fact that even water resources have come under corporate control. The song enjoins the people to fight for the right to water and life.

In “Pangarap na Mundo” (World of My Dream) by Roland Abad Jr., the persona speaks of his yearning for a world that is safe for all living beings: man, other animals, and plants. He laments the fact that the world of his dreams is so different from the world as it is:

Nais kong langhapin ang sariwang hangin
Amuyin ang rosas doon sa hardin
Languyin ang dagat na kaylinis
Pakinggan ang tinig ng ibong umaawit

Ngunit nagbago na ang ating paligid
Sa aking nakita puso ko’y tumangis
Usok ng pabrika sa hangin ibinuga
Lason at basura’y sa ilog dinadala

O matutupad pa ba
Ang aking pangarap?
Mundong mapagkalinga
Ligtas at malaya…

(I want to breathe the cool, fresh breeze
And smell the roses in the garden
Swim in a sea that’s clean
Listen to the birds sing

But our surroundings have changed
With what I see, my heart weeps
The air is filled with smoke from factories
While rivers are filled with poison and waste

Oh, will I be able to see
The world of my dream?
A world that cares
A world that’s safe and free…)

The musical genres in this album are varied: the listener will hear rock, ethnic, pop-sounding ballads, blues, and reggae. But the songs carry a common message: that the people should work and fight for their right to natural resources and a safe environment. (Bulatlat.com)

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