Paul Fontelo '13

To quote my mentor, Harry Thomas ’78, “set no barriers to what you can learn.”  This has certainly been a grand experience. I’d like to thank my family, friends, teachers, mentors, and everyone who helped me on my journey of musical and cultural understanding.  And with everyone I mean everyone, I have learned so much from everyone from security guards, to cab drivers, to the nice woman who xeroxed copies of scholarly articles and music for me.

In the Philippines, I have found musicians who have created a school of thought dedicated to preserving the notions of Filipino traditions strewn all across the whole country, opening a gateway into the soul of how Filipinos feel and operate, a notion of transcendence of the routine and the ritual.  They have dedicated their work to outlining not only what type of music Filipinos play but also why they play it.  I am still surprised with what I have found during my stay.  The collective response on the state of Filipino music prior to my research was “Asian mixed with Spanish music.”  But I have learned the Philippines ought to be examined beyond labels of having mixed Spanish and Asian heritage or a densely populated country in Southeast Asia.  The same musical has been played in these islands for the past four thousand years and what has come and gone in between has created a cumulative experience anchored in tradition and each generation adding their own respective stories to the fold.  What I have discovered is far more complicated then that and that has made this trip all the more worth while.

Maraming Salamt! (Thank you very much)

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My Montserrat at Holy Cross was World Religions and Music with Prof. Todd Lewis and Prof. Shirish Korde.  In the first year seminar, I grappled with a notion, which at the time was a totally new and bizarre concept: the religions of the world and music of the world are separate, unique entities.  While you can find similarities between Hindu concepts of Reincarnation  with concepts of Resurrection in Christianity, they are ultimately different sets of dogmas and beliefs that leave people with a different understanding of how religion works in their lives.  Likewise, drones of Indian Carnatic music are not the same as drones in Russian Orthodox chanting.

Due to Prof. Korde’s involvement with his opera Phoolan Devi: The Bandit Queen, Prof. Bandem taught the Montserrat for a good portion of the second semester.  My first impressions of Bandem were a little funny; all I could think about was that he seemed like he was Filipino.  The gongs of the gamelan ensemble instantly reminded of gongs I used to play when I was much younger for Filipino heritage celebrations.  I spoke to Bandem extensively about the similarities, as well as differences, of Indonesian and Filipino musical traditions.  I was surprised to learn of the vast differences that surpassed the number of similarities between Filipino and Indonesian music.  However, I took solace in acknowledging the fact that Filipino music and Indonesian music are unique entities onto themselves and provide the world’s diversity.  The pursuit of combining the knowledge and passion for understanding other worlds and musics became the genesis of my grant proposal.

Now, four years on, I am conducting extensive research of Filipino national artist Jose Maceda and continue to be delighted by his extensive body of work.  As an ethnomusicologist, he collected recordings by native Philippine and other Asian musicians from over a hundred different groups and langauges.  After he completed his opus one (first composition a composer gives credit toward) in 1963, he completed around fifty works by the time of his death in 2004.

I was pleasantly surprised with the neat overlaps in my life and Maceda’s life while conducting my study.  Maceda’s brother was a Jesuit and I have been a proud Jesuit product since 2005.  We both seem to be bonded over French musical minds whether it is Edgard Varese or Olivier Messiaen.  But the real corker was seeing that his middle name was Montserrat.  Seeing that my Montserrat experience at Holy Cross had led me to another “Montserrat” on a mission of musical discovery and understanding has been deeply profound.

My time in the Philippines has undoubtedly become my second Montserrat.  In studying Jose Montserrat Maceda, I have worked to better understand the nature of music, to ask the right questions: Who is making this music and why?  What does music have to do with anything?  In many cases, Maceda’s storied research detail accounts of music being used in rituals of all types, everything from removing dangerous illnesses to courtship (dating) traditions, proving music is a resourceful tool in the Philippine, as well as other Asian cultures, sense of cosmology.  Out of the compositions he wrote, he explored the relationship of music to native groups around the Philippines, expanding an understanding of the ethnographic relationship between people and their music while pushing listeners’ understanding for what concert music could become.  He pushed those who listened to come to an understanding that Asian musics are a world of their own.

I’m glad to report that my second Montserrat has taught me something deeply profound in that although there are similarities among the musics of the world, they remain unique, individual aspects of culture that transcend and define who we are in palpable terms.  In searching for what makes the individual unique, we may just find ourselves that much closer to finding what can bridge cultures in the hopes of finding dialogue through understanding.

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Throughout my stay in the Philippines, I have spent time in the “ancestral homes” (communities from which my relatives come from) of my father, mother, and all four grandparents.  For me these have been uplifting experiences that bring me closer to understanding of my own Filipino heritage.  It has been a culinary, physical, emotional, and spiritual collective journey into the past.  I have seen relatives that I have seldom seen and in many cases never seen.

In each community, I have tried local foods, gone to hangout spots, churches, and other places of importance, and in each case, I have found something unique and gratifying in my own ancestral history.  In the Visayas region, I discovered a people with a yearning for simplicity, an admiration of living a sustainable life in farming or fishing with a strong desire to be a humble person.  In Bicol, I discovered a culture that admires delicacies and specializes in treating friends and family the best.  I have lit candles in a centuries’ old Spanish Church in Dumaguete, climbed rocky waterfalls in Bacolod, and gazed at an active volcano in Legazpi.  Every experience has felt just right.  Each time I go to any of these places, it doesn’t feel like I’m going to a destination, it feels more like I’m forming a state of mind, reuniting with a collective consciousness of the ways of life that have preceded me.

Upon reflection of spending time in the “ancestral homes,” I was quickly reminded of the phrase in the title, “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” a short story by Flannery O’Connor.  Flannery O’Connor’s story stems from the Omega Point theory by the French Jesuit, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the idea that we are all working to transcend to a greater, higher state of being with God.  O’Connor and Chardin suggest that rising to that Omega Point is a movement forward, but my own journey forward to that Omega Point is slightly different.  I have been looking toward the past for a state of transcendence in finding solidarity with those who have gone before me and using that past understanding in my own present as a music researcher.  In other words, I am looking backwards so that I can move forward.  Throughout my stay, I have worked towards gaining a shred of knowledge in what it means to live and be Filipino through tapping into traditions and spiritualities that have existed for thousands of years and still exist today in some modern incarnation.  Through thoughtful reflection, doing new things, and talking to relatives, friends, and even complete strangers, I am working to find that higher state of being, to rise to that place of convergence where the past, present, and future feel much clearer.

Bahala Na (God willing)

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This week I received my first Balikbayan box.  The Balikbayan box, which literally translates to back to the home, became a popular trend under Ferdinand Marcos who arranged legislation and passage of Filipinos to work overseas and for boxes of personal goods coming to the Philippines by the ever-growing overseas Filipinos to be tax-free. The Balikbayan box is made of a wide variety of goods ranging from toiletries to food that is shipped back to overseas Filipinos’ homes for families and friends.  ‘Balikbayans’ is a term used for overseas workers who ship these boxes to help their community at home through the contents of the boxes and through monetary remittances.  Balikbayan boxes have come to represent a tradition of Filipino culture called Pasalubong, a tradition of giving to family and friends after travel both abroad and domestically.

In the history of this relatively young nation, Filipinos have proven to have one of the largest Diasporas in the world.  Balikbayan boxes are something that allows Filipinos to still have their traditions and help their communities in spite of the distance between family and friends.  These boxes re-negotiate the Filipino the world over, allowing the always-family first Filipinos to stay close.

Economics and culture talk aside; this was an eye-opening experience.  For years I had dutifully helped my parents and other relatives pack boxes full of goods that I really could only refer to as “stuff.”  I never understood the significance, nor did I understand why the recipients in this far off exotic place, the Philippines, even needed such a random collection of “stuff.”  These were going to relatives I had never met or rarely seen.  But after my extended stay here, seeing relatives, returning to the “ancestral homes,” I get it.  These boxes are more than a 18″ X 16″X 18″ piece of cardboard.  They are cultural agents made by a people who refuse to let circumstances tear apart their family and friends.  Balikbayan boxes evoke the same spirit of the Filipinos following Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda of unwillingness to break community and familial ties against the odds.  I feel part of that Filipino sense of community across the globe.  My Balikbayan box allowed me to feel closer to my parents thousands of miles away but also to the relatives and friends with whom I will share the contents of the box.  For me, this box represented a unity of an old world and a new world, a merger of the life I have lived with the lives of those who came before me.

“He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination.”

-Jose Rizal, Filipino patriot, founding father, and artist

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Two weeks ago, I was fortunate to catch Cuerdas ng Pagkakaisa, an international music festival that prominently featured Filipino Rondalla, hosted by one of my mentors at the University of the Philippines, Ramon Santos.  The Rondalla is a plucked string ensemble made up of several western imported instruments in the Philippines: the bandurria (mandolin like tremolo plucked string instrument), octavina (mandolin like instrument an octave lower than the bandurria), the guitar, the string bass, and assorted percussion.  These ensembles have become staples in Filipino communities up and down the islands.  Their repertoire ranges from Filipino folk songs, to western classical music, and original compositions specifically for the ensemble, many of which were written by Dr. Santos.

With its title Cuerdas ng Pagkakisa (Strings of unity) the festival featured multiple plucked string instrument musicians of different cultures.  Other ensembles included the Indonesian Kacapi, the Taiwanese guitar band, and a Vietnamese ensemble made of instruments like the Đàn bầu and the đàn nguyệt.  Their repertoire ranged from folk songs, religious songs, and “Do Re Mi” from The Sound of Music.  The festival celebrated the shared notion of the plucked string ensemble with these other ensembles from all over Asia yet even with these similarities, these musics can still be identified as being explicitly Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Indonesian, or Filipino.

The Festival was a great experience because it touched on several of the themes that I have been researching with my project including the notion of musics, plural, and issues of complexity in how we use musical traditions around the world.  All of these other Asian instruments are from the same continent as the Filipino rondalla, yet you wouldn’t confuse them for the mandolin like bandurria and octavina in a heartbeat.  There is some confusion even to the exact identity of the Rondalla ensemble.  Is it truly Filipno, a product of the 7,100 islands?  It’s a western instrument but the performances are always in full Filipinana (Filipino clothing) regalia and its performers have a performance practice defined by intense smiling with one another as the performance goes on that is collectively defined by the performers themselves as a “Filipino thing.”  If it’s not a Filipino ensemble, is it a western import from Spain?  Many of these instruments that are derived from Spain are in turn imports from the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

I believe that it is wishful thinking to just say that music is all “universal” and that we all have the same “music.”  Cuerdas ng Pagkakisa helped dismiss that notion and promoted something healthier on behalf of musical traditions.  Music is a nuanced field with people at the heart of its study.  Everyone needs equal representation when talking about musical traditions.  The spirit of this festival promoted the idea that musics are a means to communicate with people of other backgrounds, ethnicities, faiths.  Cuerdas ng Pagkakisa showed me how similar we are but that we must acknowledge our differences as well.  If there is one thing that you must acknowledge in understanding Filipino music is that there are musics, musics from different cultures and traditions but all in dialogue with one another in the Philippines and all of Asia.  The festival acknowledged global complexity through diversity but encouraged working with one another to create a world of connection through musical tradition.

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After my mini-vacation in Pagsanjan Falls, I made a day trip to the northern city of Baguio, capital city of Benguet in the Cordillera mountain region.  Situated in the Philippines’ northern region of Luzon, this city boasts foreign qualities to the tropical nation.  With it’s vegetation, mountainous terrain, and lower temperatures; this city confused me for Westchester County, NY, western Pennsylvania, or even one of the Dakotas.  Even more distressing was being able to purchase fresh broccoli and strawberry jam from food stores along the road, produce which would be impossible to grow in the tropical parts of the Philippines.  It was my slice of America 8000 miles away from home in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Baguio served as a source of pride during the American colonial period.  It was known as one of the main tourist cities from 1898-1946.  In fact, many of the attractions of the American period still remain.  Baguio is home to a famous golf course and cowboy horseback riding grounds straight out of the rodeos in Texas.

Despite its (comparatively) recent history, I went to Baguio for something ancient, something prehistoric: the music of the Cordilleras people in the region.  These indigenous people have lived in the Philippines prior to the Spanish colonization and the Muslim and Chinese encounters even prior.  This trip to Baguio was my first official “field work.”

I spent my time in Baguio interviewing Cordilleras musician, pedagogue, and instrument maker, Beni Sokkong.  We discussed and played several Cordilleras instruments; my personal favorite was the nose flute.  The nose flute is a fun native instrument as its language is built on improvisation.  Rather than fixed sheet music, the instrumentalist requires only an improvisational mental vocabulary to play it.  Furthermore, it is also an instrument for leisure.  Many Cordilleras musicians will play it for mundane occasions or just relaxation.

What I found most thought provoking about this trip was Mr. Sokkong’s description of Cordilleras music as a link to understanding its people.  He discussed how their music achieves a high level of complexity through simplicity.  Cordilleras music is built on highly stratified, interlocking melodies.  Melodies create “clouds” of sound in order to make a metaphysical, sonic environment.  Cordilleras music exhibits this trait in just about any of their musical practices and for centuries has been a common trait in musical rituals from taking meals to talking to God.  It is through this that the Cordilleras eat, sleep, and breathe; it is their central musical identity but also an extension of their cosmological belief system.  Cordilleras music puts you in an environment and lets you walk in it.  The environmental music aspect of Cordilleras music is their modus operandi but also a hallmark of cultural identity.  It is their Kansas City BBQ sauce, their Maryland Crab Cakes, their New England Clam Chowder.  Cordilleras music is an aesthetic that transcends a people; it is a plane through which music is a gateway to the soul of man and his society.

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“The Horror…the horror…” More on that later.

This past weekend I went on a day vacation with my Fulbright colleague, Camil, to Pagsanjan Falls, a waterfall tourist destination about 2 hours away from Manila that lies under a canyon and at the confluence of two rivers, the Balanac and the Bambungan Rivers.  Compared to other waterfalls like Niagara Falls, Pagsanjan Falls is only accessible via bangka, small paddle boats, so visitors not only get the viewing pleasures of this scenic trip but they also get to travel in the old school style (I use old school lightly referring to thousands of years ago).  Also unlike Niagara Falls, tourists are allowed to go directly under the brunt of the waterfall.  This was quite an experience and unfortunately I have no pictures of going under the waterfall for obvious reasons.  However, I was able to take several pictures of being in “Devil’s Cave,” the cave on the opposing side of the waterfall, and that too was quite an experience.

Although it was raining, I definitely enjoyed the trip in more ways than one.  The entire paddle up was more beautiful as advertised and offered views of rapids, canyons, smaller waterfalls, volcanic rocks, and all sorts of plant life.  For movie buffs like myself, Pagsanjan Falls is best known as the filming location for the Kurtz Compound sequence in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film, Apocalypse Now.  The water and canyon isolate just about anything from the rest of any nearby towns so you really buy into the idea that this is a remote jungle environment.  It was weird seeing this beautiful, serene place for what it really is, as it seems so removed from the Pagsanjan Falls that audiences see in the film.  It made me wonder what horror ol’ Kurtz was speaking of, maybe he should’ve just walked out of his room and enjoyed the view.

Something that has been bugging me is how Coppola ended up in the Philippines.  After doing some research I found an interesting connection between the Philippines and the making of Apocalypse Now.

Roger Corman, the famed B-movie (but highly successful) filmmaker made several movies in the Philippines.  For those who aren’t familiar with Corman on the whole, he is probably best known for making extremely low budget films that found a large audience but also giving young filmmakers a chance by allowing them to work on production on a number of his movies including Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ron Howard, and Jonathan Demme.  Several of the filmmakers worked under his tutelage in the Philippines or were acquainted with it as a shooting location, including Francis Ford Coppola.  In fact, I discovered that one of Coppola’s associate producers was a Filipino who was a frequent collaborator with Corman’s productions in the Philippines, Eddie Romero.  I thought this was very special as Eddie Romero was a local legend in my father’s hometown of Dumaguete and worked tirelessly to put the Philippines in the spotlight through his collaboration with Corman.

After diving into many of these awesomely cheesy movies (with titles like The Hot Box and TNT Jackson) and reviews of Apocalypse Now, I was surprised to see that there is a correlation between the aesthetic of Apocalypse Now and the B-movies made by Corman and his associates in the Philippines.  Many of the filming techniques including set designs, actors, and shooting styles that Coppola used were previously used in Corman’s movies made in the Philippines on a low budget and with as much cooperation with the local Filipinos like Romero as possible, making this American classic, a movie uniquely influenced by its Filipino locale.

Film history lesson aside, Pagsanjan Falls was a transformative experience.  I found it as a step into the ancient and more recent past.  It’s a place to engross oneself in the beauty of nature but also to enter that swift boat into the madness of Col. Kurtz.ApocalypseNow 1620601_2468121342209_690396117_n150834_2468112461987_1211574567_n1560638_2468128622391_667567719_napocalypsenow_still_42 1656274_2468109141904_1309732583_n

Last Saturday, my Fulbright colleague, Zach, and I boarded the fast boat from Manila Bay to Corregidor 40 kilometers away giving us the opportunity to go see the famous Philippine-American fortress during World War II.  This trip was a very exhausting trip both physically and emotionally.

Corregidor is like a cemetery national park.  Unlike most battlefields that are dedicated to restoring sites to pristine condition, Corregidor is dedicated to preserving the destruction in these sites during the Defense of the Philippines in 1941.  The devastation from the bombardment is palpable.  You can really see how the campaign to oust the combined American-Filipino force took a toll on the buildings and the communities that were in place.  Corregidor used to have its own theater, recreation center, and golf course but today it remains a national park formed by ruins and memorials to the fallen.

The History major at Holy Cross taught me to look beyond history as the passage of events, so I ended up making my own in depth analysis of Corregidor particularly in the discipline of the history of memory (how we remember our history and how those narratives change over time).  It is clear that the park unapologetically portrays Allied forces as the just victors in the Pacific War.  The video on the fast boat to Corregidor made it clear that the Allied forces of the US and Filipino Army are the victors.  By 1945, the Japanese were undone, defeated, and ousted out of a position they maliciously tried to take.  Many monuments suggest that the sacrifices made by Filipino and American servicemen and women were done at the price of freedom and a better world.  And many of us have learned that this is the case through movies, TV, and books on the subject.

And yet, this idea of a righteous victory over the Japanese is not the overarching message that the island tour has to offer.  While it is suggested that the Japanese defeat made the world a better place, it also acknowledges that ample suffering that went around on both sides.  This idea hits home hard with the Malinta Tunnel tour.  Malinta Tunnel was an underground complex made by the American and Filipino army before the War that served as the headquarters for both Filipino-American combined forces and Japanese forces.  During the tour, visitors get a simulated experience of both defenders through a presentation of the continuous bombardment by the Japanese Navy and Army on American and Filipino defenses segued into a simulation of the Japanese mass suicide by grenades during the eventual return of Corregidor to American and Filipino forces.

This left me wondering just how complicated talking about the War is in a contemporary setting.  I’m standing on an island that is a grim reminder of a type of warfare we may never see in our lifetime, far removed from the reality of the events 70 years ago.  All total, the casualty listings at the end of the Philippine Defense Campaign were nearly 40,000 American men and women killed or captured with 100,000 Filipinos in the same figure.  Japanese casualties in the first Philippine Campaign totaled 22,000 and nearly 400,000 in the second.

To complicate things further, the island offers many sites that honor the Japanese soldiers who died in combat.  There are two shrines that overlook the West Philippine Sea, one Shinto, and the other Buddhist.  While looking at the shrines, I found a Japanese couple doing a Shinto prayer.

General MacArthur’s famous speech after the defeat in the Philippines had the phrase: “I shall return.”  It was a very penitent and personal statement at what had been such an unforgiving campaign.  Although that speech was made 70 years ago, I feel those words ring true today when you step foot on Corregidor.  You make a return to a time when warfare was asking so much of everyone, when it was acceptable for the military to ask men and women to step up to the plate and “make a sacrifice bunt.”

Overall, the trip felt more like a journey towards truth than a sight seeing tour.  And even as we approached the island of Corregidor, the skies were overcast, visibility was low, and the water was choppy.  It felt more like a travel of time and space rather than distance, like we were going to visit the town of Brigadoon.  I was not going just as a tourist or a sightseer; I was going to make amends with the past.  I felt like a shaman conjuring the spirits of his ancestors, trying to understand what happened on the island of Corregidor and how we live today because of the actions of the men and women before us.  It wasn’t just studying history; it was stepping inside it, looking beyond the murky clouds of the past and finding truer meaning in the present.1236936_2456271605973_262626784_n1471090_2456275406068_497533519_n 1493215_2456276006083_515979137_n 577354_2456271485970_509468261_n 1609692_2456268005883_1408366734_n 1560634_2456255005558_546988464_n 1613861_2456253285515_1070542527_n 1044345_2456243725276_377175516_n 1536424_2456239485170_200833167_n 1012009_2456229244914_1177857234_n

In the periphery of the Metro Manila area lies the smaller city of Las Piñas.  The city of Las Piñas is quite different.  Although it is listed as part of the contiguous Metro Manila region, it borders the neighboring province of Cavite and feels more like a part of the provinces rather than a part of the big city. Las Piñas provides much of the Philippines’ salt and has since the Spanish Era.  Walking into Las Piñas is quite like stepping into the old Manila, seeing what it must have been like for the viceroys and other Spanish heads that ruled the Philippines so many years ago.

The main tourist attraction is the Bamboo Organ in St. Joseph’s Church.  Built in the 19th century by parish priest, Diego Cera, the Bamboo Organ as indicated by its namesake is built from bamboo.  Bamboo like many places in Asia is a staple in building structures, cultivating food, and making musical instruments.  Bamboo for many Asian traditions also represents a metaphysical connection to the land informed by Southeast Asian spirituality.  The Bamboo Organ is exceptional because it is a western instrument.  It represents a fusion of western music with Asian ingenuity.  Organ scholars from all over the West love to perform and study the Bamboo Organ.

I got to play a bit on the demonstration organ and it has a distinct timbre (sound color).  It really is built as advertised.  If you know what bamboo sounds like, just imagine it pitched to the western tonal system, and the result is exactly what you think it would be.

I was in awe of the Bamboo Organ.  While many Filipino musics are built on a combination of western traditions melding with native resources and culture, the Bamboo Organ represents a higher transcendence of melding traditions.  The fact that an organ, a highly sophisticated western instrument and the primary instrument of one of the most important western composers of all time, J.S. Bach, can be made with native earth materials from the other side of the world, really struck a chord with me.  There are legitimate new musical experiences in the Philippines for everyone, not just ethnomusicology and composition researchers like myself and the Bamboo Organ is definitely one of them.  In seeing and hearing the Bamboo Organ I started envisioning a what-if scenario.

I wondered what would happen if Olivier Messiaen, an organist, as well as one of the greatest Catholic composers of the 20th century were to play this organ.  Messiaen was fond of incorporating many non-western musics into his work including South Asian and Southeast Asian traditions.  In fact one of his best-known works, the Turangalîla-Symphonie uses a configured ensemble of xylophones to imitate Indonesian gamelan.  What would happen if Messiaen were to hammer away at this organ in Las Piñas and step into the Filipino universe built on Southeast Asian spirituality mixed with Spanish Catholic tradition?  What would his reaction be to experiencing a combination of unlikely forces from polar ends of the earth? 1507046_2445095086567_445436222_n 1544379_2445094886562_1404797900_n 1526157_2445098166644_152900066_n

After Christmas I was able to go to Bacolod, the former home of my grandmother.  Bacolod in Negros Occidental is a small city in the northern part of the southern central island chain of Visayas.  This small city produces much of the Philippines’ sugar crop and the most famous of all Filipino dishes, Chicken Inasal.  Eaten Kinamut style (with hands and no utensils), chicken inasal is one of the most amazing culinary experiences I’ve experienced.  It was so delectable it beat a simultaneous feast of chicken parm night with ice cream and meatloaf at Kimball.

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Sugar has been a major crop in Bacolod since 1837 when Yves Leopold Germain Gaston, a French émigré to the Philippines, started his own sugar plantations.  My grandmother’s family still has owned a sugar plantation since Spanish colonial times and I was in awe of these huge crops being dwarfed by the even more impressively large and active volcano, Canlaon.  I managed to taste a couple of bits of sugar cane and I must say it was quite different than what I expected.

Bacolod was an amazing experience because it was a trip to the Philippines’ past.   I saw the Gaston household, a two centuries old Spanish-era mansion and my grandmother’s family’s old farm, currently tended by Monroy, the foreman, who has been working on the farm since the 1950’s.  It was a venture to see the Philippines’ old and still beating agricultural heart that keeps the country strong.  A core part of Filipino music is the drone, an utterance of repeated sounds that formulate the backbone for the melody.  The drone is an endless fixture representing the core values of Filipinos to live true to one’s identity from now until the end of time.  It pulls Filipinos around tradition, spirituality, and ideals that have been held true for millennia.

In seeing the people of Bacolod, I found the substance that the drone is describing.  In seeing and experiencing the rural tradition, I found the facets of the drone existing in the people who have been performing their families’ duties for years and will continue to do so through technological advancement, natural disaster, and changing social infrastructure.  They do this willingly and with perseverance to continue their way of life, Bahala na (In God’s hands).1502543_2437578618660_2108858871_n 1499477_2437581138723_348515758_n 999914_2437571258476_1545337568_n 1533871_2437559858191_1266781318_n