Langit Lupa Impyerno — 08.03.2020

The fascist’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani was cancelled in 1998. After EDSA 1, it took a single mom, a scheming general, an actor, an actress, and the son of a bourgeois activist before a misogynist and a set of funny Justices finally succeeded in institutionalizing historical revisionism.

Months prior to my self-serving catharsis at Green Papaya Art Projects / Catch272, I was fortunate enough to encounter Chesca and Erick in a conference at UP on “conserving” indigenous music in Asia. The same people connected me with Kamuning Public Radio (KPR)**.

It’s been years since I wrote music. After graduating with a degree in composition, I realized there are very rare opportunities for commissions and even rarer opportunities for the performance of serious contemporary works. I travelled all over the country working with youth organizations in Cotabato, Franciscan missionaries and a youth orchestra in Samar, the Philippine army in Leyte, and activists elsewhere, in what I realized was a search for meaning and relevance. Then I came back and settled in Manila, for nothing, until one evening when Erick invited me to a KPR event. I smirked at the idea that such a scene actually existed not led by academic highbrows and thought “legit.” Working with KPR is like finally having that first gasp of air after minutes under deafening water. I was simply invited to do what was natural for me and they provided.

I grew up in Baguio in a happy religious household that prayed everyday. On various occasions there would be a lengthy litany of saints. In that same household were loving individuals who seemed to agree that a comedian narcissist would be a good choice for leader and Tatay of the Land. My uneducated, still-religious, self-deemed different litany, a sincere prayer and ritual, necessary in such a unique occasion; a burial of history, respect for the fallen heroes, and the dignity of a race.

Fervently gathering the names, Arturo Brion, Presbitero Velasco Jr, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Jose Perez, Teresita de Castro, Jose Mendoza, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Rodrigo Roa Duterte, I wrote them on sheets of the most appropriate scrap paper I could find and began to devise my notation scheme and design the parameters for the pieces, central of which is a vocal work based on the text of a fitting children’s game.

I collaborated with Roman Gerard Enguero and Raffy Ronquillo from the MuMo project, both classical guitarists from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), for something the living meme shoe lady would have loved had she attended the premiere. In the process of creating the pieces we had lengthy discussions about the parameters for creating textures and use of pitches. We rehearsed and recorded the pieces several times in a room to review our thought process during each attempt until we were either satisfied or exhausted.

Green Papaya / Catch 272 is a small dark tight intimate venue. Arriving hours before the performance we had to set up a few speakers for the pre-recorded track and microphones for the keyboard and classical guitars. The premier at KPR 3 was what it was: raw and cathartic. The last piece was a threnody, lest we forget all those who died in a feigned war against helpless inanimate substances. We used extended guitar techniques against a pre-recorded track treating varied screams as musical pitches to parallel a fabricated nauseating status quo.

Looking back I would have done things differently:

If only I had enough
time and money
to rent a full choir.
If there was a real piano
available, accessible
for every juan.
If a fascist was not
in power.

Kabaitan Bautista
August 13, 2020

*Heaven, Earth, Hell (translation from the Filipino)

Kabaitan’s recording from his KPR 3 performance:

Kabaitan Bautista's musical scores for his KPR 3 performance, December 15, 2016. Courtesy of MM Yu.

Kabaitan rehearsing with MuMo members, classical guitarists, Rafael Ronquillo and Roman Gerard Enguero. Courtesy of MM Yu.

Crowd filing in while the KPR crew sets up. Courtesy of MM Yu. 

Joee Mejias and Erick Calilan setting up the video and sound. Courtesy of MM Yu.

Kabaitan giving a background about his new compositions. 

Kabaitan's first performance on solo piano.

Kabaitan and MuMo. Courtesy of MM Yu.

Kabaitan on electric piano.

KPR 3 crowd during a performance break. Courtesy of MM Yu.

Instagram flyer for KPR 3. 

More documentation from Kabaitan and KPR 3: