Philippine Studies Association 2018 Conference

September 26-28, 2018 | Manila, Philippines

PRESENTATIONS by the EPAPC SCHOLARS

IN YOUR FACE: THE DEMOCRACY OF FLIPTOP FANDOMS AND BATTLE ARTISTS IN URBAN MANILA OF THE 21ST CENTURY

Lara T. Mendoza, Ateneo de Manila University

Antoine Hennion (1983) points out that the long-standing bias of presenting objects of musical excellence (such as scores and recordings) and the collectives of experts that decide the quality of said objects (in the guise of critics and musicologists from the academy) ignore the importance the social mediation of devices and bodies bring into the story of taste for and aesthetics of one’s object of preference. The dizzying speed of technological advancements on the internet alone has democratized this space, allowing for the inclusion of every person’s thoughts and ideas on anything and everything. This paper explores a particular community or collective of amateurs in the world of hiphop battles known as fliptop and how the ubiquitous platform of social media have allowed a specific group of amateurs to shape the discourse surrounding the aesthetics and etiquette of their scene. The validating platforms of social media not only solidify the undeniable appeal and popularity of the scene but cement the scene itself as a force to reckon with in an industry crowded by culturally-conditioned archetypes of beauty and acceptability that leave aficionados of fliptop consigned to the periphery, marginalised. I will argue that this constant othering of this community has resulted to the evolution of an ethic that debunks the notion of resistance in order to be heard. I’ll argue that the community of fliptop amateurs is unapologetically gritty and guttural as a way of being and the ethos is: take us or leave us, we will thrive with or without you.

MATUD NILA: THE ‘MANUFACTURE’ OF LOVE IN PREWAR CEBUANO RADIO

Jose S. Buenconsejo, University of the Philippines

In the transmission of Cebuano popular songs from 1939 until recently, broadcast media, particularly the radio KZRC (later renamed DYRC), played an important role in transforming tradition, producing serial soap operas in which romantic sentimental songs underscored tear-jerking dramatic scenes. With this radio genre, a prolific musical output resulted, thanks to the soap operas sponsored by Philippine Manufacturing Company (the maker of soap), which then sustained the livelihood of drama directors and actors most of whom were also composer-guitarists such Tomas Villaflor, Minggoy Lopez, and Ben Zubiri.

One of the most famous Cebuano love songs titled "Matud Nila" (According to Them) was produced in this multimedia context in which voice (i.e., usually in balak speech form), mis-en-scene (often the harana courting scene) is mixed with music so that one could argue for the importance of Cebuano radio in the recontextualization of what used to be performance arts tradition in village, face to face settings.

In this paper, I explore the nature of these radio-mediated representations and their return to the local communities of listeners whose “folk song repertories” got enriched. Dr. Damiana Eugenio, the foremost scholar in Philippine folk song research, had included the love song “Matud Nila” in her magisterial work "The Folk Songs," thus blurring the distinction between oral and recorded composed music. By paying close attention to a theoretical problem such as this, one appreciates the role of media in “manufacturing” cultural tradition and its impact in the folk practices.

THE IDEOLOGICAL WORK OF MUSIC ON RADIO IN THE PHILIPPINES IN WORLD WAR II

Elizabeth Enriquez, University of the Philippines

Historians have written about Japan’s encouragement of the flourishing of Filipino music along with the popularization of Japanese songs in the Philippines during World War II. Among other arenas such as schools and concert halls, radio was mobilized to re-engineer the musical tastes of Filipinos. However, while the complete suppression of jazz and other American music was vigorously pursued, the Japanese-controlled radio relied more on recorded American music to fill the air during the first year of the Occupation as there were no Japanese records yet and singers and musicians were yet to be recruited to perform live on the air. Moreover, jazz musicians who were on radio prior to the war continued to perform in stage shows at theaters and what were called “day clubs.” Ironically, too, in Japanese broadcasts targeted at American soldiers and other enemy troops in the Pacific, jazz was an instrument of psychological warfare.

COMMODIFICATION AND GENDER PERFORMATIVITY IN THE MUSICAL LABOR OF FEMALE VEDETTES IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY MANILA

Arwin Q. Tan, University of the Philippines

This paper examines the commodification of the musical labor of female vedettes of Manila theaters, emphasizing on how they negotiated their position and participated in the process of cultural production in the changing political economy of music in the late nineteenth century. The effects of capitalism in the colony included the inevitable consequence of competition, particularly among the producers of music whose transformation and survival gave rise to the star – the unquestionable representation of success, translated into economic profit patronized through mass consumption. More than the replication of themselves as performers, this paper investigates how the vedettes as stars-turned-entrepreneurs utilized their fame and market profitability in reproducing their cultural capital, as they grappled with the social limitations imposed on them for being women. As female musicians, particularly theater actresses, these stars were made to endure certain idiosyncratic prejudices and restrictions in the practice of their art, due to their gender and class. Defying the traditional expectations of patriarchal societies to which colonial Manila was structured upon, the female vedettes exercised power in maintaining a gendered performativity of their musical art while negotiating for the production of music that was not limited to the bounds of the ideology of domesticity.

Ethnographies of Philippine Auditory Popular Cultures

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