Zerrudo: Cultural ambassadors through music

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By Maria Rosalie Zerrudo

Yagubyob sa Bulkan

Sunday, January 12, 2014

ART makes mind beautiful and gives birth to ideas.
I learned creative survival being deprived of many privileges as a child. Instead, I learned to make my own toys and made things work when they were broken. Poverty can make people creative too. According to the great artist Picasso, “every child is an artist, the problem is when they grow up.”

Art is the driving force in center of the heart that can multiply a thousand fold be it spoken, sang, written, danced, built or invented. In essence, the greatest work of art is making each life a beautiful masterpiece such as the story of the people featured here as they planted seeds that made thousands of other flowers bloom. Music can change lives.

Songs of hope in our own land


The pride of Bohol was founded in 1980, the Loboc Children's Choir composed of thirty schoolchildren between nine and thirteen years old, from Loboc Central Elementary School made Loboc shine in the map of the world.

The humble beginnings from an ordinary school choir, the Loboc Children's Choir became the national champion and later internationally acclaimed. Behind all these fame are musicians themselves, choir conductress Alma Fernando–Taldo, musical director and conductor, a fifth grade school English teacher believes that “for as long as the children sing, hope lives.”

For more than 30 years, Loboc has produced musicians, professionals and proud cultural ambassadors of Bohol.

The first time he encountered the Loboc Children’s Choir, Lutgardo Labad, a cultural icon of Bohol was moved to tears in ten seconds. Upon hearing the angelic voices of the local children, he opened the gates and opportunities as choir manager to let the world hear the voices of Bohol.

After seeing the world and living abroad, he thought he has no reason to come back to Bohol. But that was more than 17 years ago before he returned to Bohol as the prime mover of culture, arts and heritage movement in the province. His love affair with the Loboc Children’s Choir grew fonder as they sow the seeds of hope around the world.

Loboc Children’s Choir has redefined the value of a cultural product and raised the stake higher as a social equity that helped the economy of the tourism industry at the same time raising funds for the disaster stricken Bohol.

On the other side of the world, another reality exists in the virtual world. A choir of strangers made people come to sing together in one melody. One composer made this possible as he used technology to bring voices together.

Virtual Choir

Whitacre (2011) composer, conductor, made a world record of bringing together 2,051 people from 58 countries to become part or a virtual choir; Eric Whitacre grew up in Northern Nevada, do not read music; expressed “first time in my life I became part of something bigger than myself.”

I have seen Whitacre conducted a choir live at the Lincon Center, and I easily believed in his power to touch people. It takes only a vision shared with many people using the World Wide Web to make anything possible. People who do not know one another from faraway places in the world have become deeply connected in one vision for they understand one language – music.

Music, talent, humor and vital energy as means of survival
Learn from a man, how music bring new hope and change the way people live as they rise above poverty. Jupiter’s Dance, narrates a musical journey of Jupiter Bokondji as he rediscovers his cultural identity and cultural roots in the ghettos of Kinshasa, Congo, West Africa.

Directors Florent De la Tullaye, Renaud Barret “brought us back to the devastated capital of a country politically and economically adrift — are filled with many gifted, yet impoverished musicians. Their outstanding talent, humor and vital energy are their only means of survival. Among them, Jupiter, the charismatic leader of the band “Okwess International,” acts as our narrator and guide.

This local Don Quixote introduced us to the Kinshasa music scene — teenage rappers, handicapped bluesmen, street children, griots and guitar craftsmen — and describes his 20-year struggle to move his songs out of the ghetto.”

Hooked with AfroReggae

Some artist stories are so compelling that they are turned into a movie. Anderson Sa is an exemplary individual with ordinary circumstances. In 1993 a police led massacre due to drugs in the Brazilian Favela caught the eyes of American directors Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary who produced the documentary Favela Rising in 2005.

Young people caught between drug trafficking factions and the police in the Favelas of Brazil either end up dead or drug dealers. One man believed in a vision to create change that transformed his own world that transformed a society. An article on A Rebirth of Hope within Rio’s Favelas featured the work Anderson Sa as the precursor of AfroReggae in Brazil which gave hope to many young people. “Trying to create a viable alternative, AfroReggae emerged in Vigário Geral as a cultural initiative strongly committed to taking children and young people out of crime and drug trafficking and introducing them to music, dance and art.

Percussion and afro-dance workshops aimed to engage young people in meaningful and creative activities while the band AfroReggae was born as a way to promote the group’s actions and ideology.

The AfroReggae Cultural Group has been recognized as one of the most pioneering NGOs in the world, and their work in restoring hope and peace to the Favelas of Rio has changed many lives for the better. They are documented in the film Favela Rising which, as Fernando González discovers, reveals the inspirational figures behind this redemptive project.”

Art makes people indulge in metaphors which have multiple dimensions and interpretations. The expression of one’s ideas liberates the birthing process of becoming and giving meaning to our work.

I hope that the choices I make, plant seeds of beauty in the minds of people whom I encounter. Each one can find opportunities to use one’s talent to inspire, create and better the lives of other people.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 12, 2014.


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