5th International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM-PASEA)

July 15-22, 2018

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



Lara T. Mendoza, Ateneo de Manila University

Using Tricia Rose’s contention that hiphop is a means for African-American youth from the inner cities to express their resistance to smothering class and social conditions in America, my paper will contend that in Manila’s teeming streets, hiphop battles known as fliptop offer not only the disenfranchised a platform in which to express their bottled-up sentiments but also to create a space of refuge or community of practitioners in the rhythmic ritual of rap.


The sample of hiphop artists in this paper will include university students as well as the average bloke from urban poor enclaves in the city. It will note the popularity of such a medium that sprang from the efforts of a young university graduate who sought to localize the rap battle scene he was exposed to in the United States. Literary devices such as rhyme and word play determine what rap spiels resonate with spirited fans; the witty master is one with a clear advantage in such battles. R-18 content involving body-shaming, mother-insulting, and the unapologetic use of expletives, among others, are the spice that appeal and entertain, echoing Bakhtinian carnivalesque in the enjoyment of ribald humour and guttural conventions of Manila’s gritty streets.


Jose S. Buenconsejo, University of the Philippines

The term “novelty song” in the category of “popular music” in the Philippines is an ironic term for while it is called “novel”, it is, however, central to the expressive culture of the majority of Filipinos. The seeming marginalization of “novelty song” in the market can be commonly attributed to the effect of xenocentrism in which locally produced recordings that mimic the sounds of the “imported” are better valued and appreciated. I would however argue beyond this that part of the reason why “novelty songs” is termed “novel” has to do with (1) its local style, which marks it too contrastive with the dominant styles of music produced by mainstream music industry, and (2) that this type of music has affinity with a parallel genre that is practiced by indigenous Filipinos. Most indigenous communities in the Philippines possess light-hearted songs that are more or less metered and in syllabic style and sung for entertainment.

In this paper, I explore the continuity between the indigenous and folk, which terms are artefacts of the country’s colonial histories. I investigate in particular the Tausug “leleng” genre from Southern Philippines, a tune which was borrowed by the “novelty song” songwriter Max Surban from the Visayan region. This became very popular throughout the Philippines at one point. The national popularity of this song was unprecedented and thus the term “novelty song” becomes a misleading label for a marginalized genre that was in fact hugely popular.


Ma. Christina P. Cayabyab, University of the Philippines

This paper presents how significant 21st century Filipino indie artists based in Metro Manila have continued to straddle between the ideological practices of the independent and popular music systems, eventually reaching a different plane of renown to a wider reach of audiences in the Philippines as well as within Southeast Asia. Through the case studies of vocally-identified Up Dharma Down, rapper and hip-hop artist Abra, young folk-driven band The Ransom Collective, dance rock and electronica-based Autotelic, acoustic guitarist and songwriter Bullet Dumas, and all-around artist Reese Lansangan, important factors from each artist that are both unique from and similar to the others are identified as contributors to their impact in the popular music market.

At least two of these indie artists, if not all, have worked within the avenues of (1) releasing an album in physical and/or digital formats and having their music made available on Spotify and Apple Music, (2) performing in venues beyond the gig circuit, such as in malls, major concert grounds, university events, television and radio show appearances, and corporate-produced events, (3) making themselves visible through various social media platforms, having their own websites as well, and garnering a significant number of followers, (4) performing outside Metro Manila and having performances overseas, and (5) receiving recognition from popular award-giving bodies. This study shows how an independent artist, especially in the era of the indomitable Internet, can freely and successfully achieve popularity in a mainstream sense, by being an active agent towards his/her chosen artistic direction.



Arwin Q. Tan, University of the Philippines

This paper examines the proliferation of tanda de valse in Manila during the late nineteenth century, and its eventual decline at the outset of American colonization in the early twentieth century. The evolving Filipino middle class of the late nineteenth century established intertwining social relations that were enhanced in private musical gatherings—tertulias—which were usually highlighted by waltz music, the favoured instrumental dance form. A suite of waltzes known as tanda de valse was probably stylized and not really meant as accompaniment for dancing. A number of Filipino composers—penínsulares, creoles, and indigenas—participated in the production of this musical genre, utilizing the established forces of production such as the rise of publishing companies and the emerging prominence of piano as a domesticated instrument, for its circulation. By the end of the nineteenth century, tanda de valse became a standard genre in a Filipino composer’s creative profile.


The transformation of taste and the concurrent changing mode of production for dance entertainment music by Manila’s bourgeoning middle class, particularly the shift from the stylized tanda de valse to the preference for American dance music that flourished in public cabarets, reflect how a number of changing relations and forces of production have resulted from the new overarching political and economic superstructure of American imperialism. This study seeks to analyse why tanda de valse ceased to proliferate during the American colonial period, and in lieu of it, what new instrumental genre/s flourished? Were the new socio-political and economic changes imposed by the new imperial government instrumental in the decline of its production?

Ethnographies of Philippine Auditory Popular Cultures

© 2018 EPAPC