Vispop

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I SPENT the last quarter of 2012 visiting colleges and universities to encourage student-songwriters to write songs in Cebuano. I was with a group of people who share with me the same passion for Cebuano songs.

If you are familiar with the local music scene, you are also familiar with names like Cattski Espina, Ian Zafra and Jude Gitamondoc, all established songwriters and record producers.

Along with a staff of young artists, the four of us gave songwriting lectures and workshops to students in schools like St. Theresa’s College, Don Bosco Technical College, University of Southern Philippines Foundation and University of San Carlos.

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We are all members of a group called Artist Kooperatiba (Artist Ko), a cooperative composed of musicians, songwriters, literary writers, visual artists and filmmakers who are based in Cebu.

Formed a couple of years ago, Artist Ko promotes local arts and protects the rights of artists. The cooperative recently signed a partnership agreement with Manila-based Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (Filscap). It also works alongside government agencies, like the Department of Trade and Industry, and other cooperatives and organizations.

It’s about making sure artists receive fair compensation for their art. Feed the artist, that kind of thing. Imagine getting a few centavos every time your song is played on radio or at the mall---royalties and all that stuff. I won’t bore you with details. Besides, that’s the business side of it.

The campus tour is about the group’s other thrust, which is to encourage local artists to come up with original materials. It is part of an Artist Ko project called The 1st Visayan Pop Songwriting Campaign (Vispop), a Cebuano-songwriting competition (visit www.artistko.com for details). Think of the institution called Metro Cebu Pop Music Festival but fresher, more youthful and experimental. That’s Vispop, or at least that’s what we envision it to be.

So we visited the schools, doing our best to convince students that it is not baduy to write songs in Cebuano, that a songwriter is most sincere when he writes in his own language, and that the use of the Cebuano language is crucial in the Cebuano’s expression of his true identity. Quite heavy stuff right there. Let’s save the topic for another day.

We also took the campaign online to reach out to non-campus-based songwriters here and abroad. Our efforts were rewarded with 80 entries from all over Visayas and Mindanao. Not bad for a competition’s first year of existence.

Some entries sound desperate to be the next "Matud Nila,” miserably failing in the attempt, while others sound like if Katy Perry learned the Cebuano language the wrong way. But a good number fit the mold and gave us a hard time choosing the final six.

What’s amazing is that many quality entries were written by very young songwriters, with a couple of minors making it to the final six. And the songs are really good. I can no longer remember what I was doing when I was 17, but these kids are showing great potential right now.

And we thought all the young people could offer was another crappy Bisrock song. But that’s another topic.

(www.artistko.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 08, 2013.

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