A Cultural Manifesto: After Typhoon Haiyan

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This photo from the Washington Post shows the destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan.
  • WASHINGTON POST
  • This photo from the Washington Post shows the destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan.

I've been deeply saddened this week by the photos and stories coming from the Philippines detailing the tragic devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. As of today, statistics report nearly 4,000 dead and over 12,000 left missing.

Unfortunately, most American media coverage of the Philippines only focuses on moments of tragedy or controversy on the archipelago. That's a shame, as the Philippines are home to a variety of unique and underexposed cultural traditions. It always surprises me just how overlooked Filipino culture is considering our long history with the nation and the large numbers of Filipino-Americans residing in the United States.

Here in Indianapolis, Filipinos rank behind Chinese and Indians as the third most populous Asian group in the city, composing 0.3 percent of Indy's population according to the 2010 census. That figure surprised me, as the Filipino community here never seems quite as visible as the considerably smaller Japanese, Korean or Vietnamese populations.

In consideration of this discrepancy, I wanted to devote a column to spotlight the incredibly rich Filipiino music scene. The music of the Philippines represents everything from distinct indigenous folk traditions to singular takes on Western genres like punk, hip-hop and jazz. The following list represents some of my favorite artists from these diverse genres.

As you read this column or go online to hear the podcast, I hope you'll consider making a donation to the typhoon relief efforts.

Freddie Aguilar - Anak (1978) Folk-rocker Freddy Aguilar exploded on the Filipino music scene when the title track from his debut LP became the biggest selling song in the nation's history. Backed by a lovely baroque string arrangement "Anak" is a must­-hear Filipino track.

Asin - Masdan Mo Ang Kapaligirian (1978) Following in the folk-rock footsteps of Freddie Aguilar, Asin made history by incorporating indigenous Filipino folk instruments and tribal languages in their thoughtful, politically conscious compositions.

Juan Dela Cruz Band - Maskara (1974) A psychedelic masterwork by the leaders of the Pinoy rock scene. Maskara plays like a Filipino version of Cream's classic psych rock sound.

Eddie Munji - Pinoy Jazz (1978) A unique and pioneering attempt to fuse straight ahead jazz with elements of Filipino rhythm and instrumentation.

Bong Peñera - Batucada Sa Calesa (1977) Groovy Brazilian beats from the Manila jazz scene. A highly prized LP by acid jazz and rare groove collectors.

Please - Manila Thriller (1976) There was a fairly substantial funk and disco scene in Manila during the '70s, but LPs and 45s from the period are extremely rare and surprisingly there are no Pinoy funk reissues on the market. This German released LP by Please is probably the best known example of Filipino funk and soul.

Dead Ends - Damned Nation (1987) Punk rock hit big in the Philippines during the early '80s. The Dead Ends were the first underground punk group to release an LP in the country and my personal favorite Pinoy punk act. Their third LP Damned Nation is an acidic blast of hardcore noise.

Francis Magalona - Rap Is Francis M (1992) A pioneer of Pinoy rap music, Francis M's lyrics, rendered in both Tagalog and English, take on everything from drug addiction to the negative effects of colonization in the Philippines. Francis M is a noteworthy figure on the global hip-hop scene.

Pinikpikan - Atas (2001) A wild fusion of raw indigenous Filipino sounds and avant indie rock noise. Pinikpikan features the sound of the traditional Filipino gong ensemble known as kulintang.

Grace Nono - Dalit (2010) A brilliant performer who recreates indigenous Filipino folk song in a modern and highly artistic style. One of the most renowned vocalists working in the Philippines music scene today.

Each edition of A Cultural Manifesto features a mix from Kyle Long, spotlighting music from around the globe. This week's selection features classics from The Philippines.

1. Freddie Aguilar - Anak
2. Asin - Ang Bayan Kong
3. Juan Dela Cruz - Maskara
4. Juan Dela Cruz - Himig Natin
5. Wally Gonzales - Kailan Pa Kaya
6. Juan Dela Cruz - Palengke
7. Anak Bayan - Bangugot
8. Regalado - Pinoy Funk
9. Eddie Munji - Dandansoy
10. Joey Ayala - Magkaugnay
11. Grace Nono - Himayang Nahunlak
12. Kalayo - Padayon
13. Sindao Banisil - Kandulinan
14. Pinikpikan - Ani-Wana
15. Pinikpikan - Kalipay
16. Dead Ends - No System
17. Wuds - Sana Hindi Minsan Mo Lang Akong Tingnan

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