So, Dicta License released another single a few days back. At this rate, I won’t be surprised if there’s an album in the offing. We need them back, God knows we need them back: a group who’s not afraid to be political, in times like these when musicians would rather play it safe to please everybody. But then, I’ve been thinking about how their popularity came at a time when we were generally more receptive to local alternative. I mean, we are still that now, but we’re fragmented, and we pay attention to our niches, and also, whether we admit it or not, we shut out anyone whose opinions diverge from ours. If ever they release an album, I feel it won’t make the impact I hope it would. But does it matter?
The plan was to write this column way ahead of time. Well, yes, that always was my plan, but this month is a busy month – the biggest event of my calendar year, for the day job, happens next week – so I thought I’ll get some writing done. But, well, I am writing this the night before publication date. Of course I would. I have work flow issues, clearly. Well, I can always say work for the day job took precedence, but I need to discipline myself further. So, here’s this month’s Local Outsider, reliably crammed like most months, if not all months.
These are not ideal circumstances, I must admit, but when former president Ferdinand Marcos – dictatorial, controversial, polarizing thirty years on – was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani yesterday despite a flurry of opposition from critics fearing historical revisionism, I ended up thinking of all the songs that were inspired by the Philippine strongman. He ruled the country for twenty years, brought it defining infrastructure projects, drained its coffers and deprived its people of basic rights – and that’s a very simple way of putting it. I’m a guy of nuance, but the debate around this hasn’t been filled with, although we all universally agreed at one point that we will not go back to this. And now, here we are, arguing again.
Inevitably… let’s talk about the elections. Crazy, right? No? Oh, yeah, crazy is an understatement. If you’re in the Philippines, you really are better off avoiding your social media feeds. (It sucks that I chose not to curate my feeds because, you know, #feedgoals.) Anyway, a country that can get this fiery when it comes to politics naturally would have an outlet in its music, so on this month’s edition of the Local Outsider, we look at songs with a political bent, artists with a more social approach – and no, I don’t mean Facebook marketing. That’s a different kind of social.
“Alay Sa Mga Nagkamalay Noong Dekada Nobenta” by Dicta License | Writing this on the Sunday before Independence Day, for publication on the holiday itself, still reeling from news that a cartoonist was effectively silenced by religious nutjobs, to say the least, and from the leader of this country claiming that the culture of impunity has left this land, not aware of – or perhaps perfectly hiding – the fact that the whole impunity thing was just doubled, with a layer of subservience on top of it. To the people who challenge what is said and believed everywhere, I salute you.