I LIKE to think that music is a unifier. But that wasn't much a unifier in the past few weeks.
For instance, that song of Hotdogs' Manila. That was the entrance song of our Philippine team at the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games on November 30. It was upbeat, joyous, danceable, even the president and his loyal politicians got up on their feet.
But not everyone was dancing. The president's daughter, Mayor Sara let that thought known on her Instagram: How can you raise the flag and just simply sing Manila? What about the non-Manila people like me?
Some netizens shot back on Sara, saying there is no unifying song that represents the Philippines. It seems everyone forgot Yoyoy Villame wrote and sang Philippine Geography with a precise witty enumeration of all the country's cities and towns and its symbols. Or what about Bamboo's NoyPi or Rivermaya's Isang Bandila?
Then there's U2's great concert in Bulacan last Wednesday. Everyone knows U2 has socially conscious songs, and vocalist Bono often injects his activism in his performance. But while performing Ultraviolet, as a video of women leaders were being flashed, one woman got the ire of some fans. That woman was Maria Ressa, Rappler editor and favorite target of government lawsuits and troll attacks.
Bono once said: "music is healing," but in this fractured state of our country, it seems that statement is being tested.
Actually, the fans didn't argue about the song. They argued Bono shouldn't be preaching.
But we need to be reminded, this is a tour of The Joshua Tree, their classic album that has songs about drug addiction (Running to Stand Still), desparecidos (Mothers of the Disappeared), war (Bullet the Blue Sky), aside from their anthems of hope like Where the Streets Have No Name.
Or maybe the fans are split because there is now a "rockstar president" that preaches things they want to hear. Bono may be the rockstar with a message, our president is a "rockstar" with a sharp tongue.
The attacks against Bono also border to the hilarious. Some saying that the performance of Black Eyed Peas on that same date at the SEA Games closing, was more unifying because of the song Where is the Love, which they say criticizes media. They didn't get it that the song was about racism, prejudice, and propaganda on the war on terror in the post 9-11.
I still want to believe music is healing. Perhaps it depends on the listener. Maybe it also depends on how mature we have come in appreciating the role of culture in reflecting our ways.