I have always loved music. For many years, I have kept a music blog — MusikaCentral — which has recently became a music video production outfit for aspiring singer-songwriters in General Santos.
In early 2013, I have gotten involved in the local music scene when I made a tribute music video for one of the local icons, Paraguay, a homeless guy who made the news when he was chosen to star in a local festival campaign. After that, there came many projects that, once again, enliven the local hip-hop scene. Even I started writing my own songs and joined their performances.
It is very clear that the hip-hop artists take on the identity of a “gangster.” The darker the songs, the better. It’s not news when someone gets linked to drug use, riots, and crimes.
But not all. The longer I have worked with these guys in the local hip-hop scene, the more I got to know that many of them are actually living clean and wanted to change the image of the local hip-hop community from one that is tainted with hate and violence into one that is optimistic and peace-loving.
What I have known when I first met local rappers was that the local scene is divided into two faction, the Gensan Independents and Hymnmagsikan. They consider each other as arch-nemesis both in their songs and in actual brawls. It has been like that for years. Newcomers were kind of forced to take sides. Although a lot of these newcomers do not want to get involved in this rivalry, they sometimes have no choice because they want to record their songs and most recording students are owned by rappers who are identified with one group. Recording in one studio usually makes one an affiliate of either group.
A group of local artists decided to form a group that is not associated with any one of the original rivals. Tunog Danao (short for Tunog Mindanao Royalty Entertainment Productions) was born. I happen to be one of its pioneers. While it is considered cool — in the hip-hop community — to look tough and angsty, we decided to mellow down a bit and write songs about peace and love and even collaborated with artists coming from other groups to show that we really want peace.
When we held our first gig, we invited local artists regardless of their affiliations. Although there was an incident reported after the event, we can say that we have successfully proven that unity is possible.
Not only did we desire to unite the hip-hop community, we wanted the local artists to be agents of change, ourselves — which we can do in our songs and music videos and even in our activities.
For the first time, we did an outreach activities involving local artists as volunteers. Together with my mountaineering team, Team BUNDOL Mountaineers, we organized the Galaw ng Tunog Danao for the kids of Brgy. Olympog, General Santos City.
From the proceeds of our gig, we bought school supplies for the kids, we prepared a soup kitchen, did storytelling and parlor games, and, of course, performed for them.
Who would have thought that these tough guys can be child-friendly, too?