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Local Musicians Rise Up to Help Batangas Get Back on its Feet

Group holds gig series for Taal survivors.

WORDS BY KENDRICK GO

B ernie Sanders once said that “difficult times often bring out the best in people,” and for the past several days, the people of the Philippines have been proving him right.

It’s all because of what happened in Batangas just recently. On January 12, a Sunday, the province’s long-dormant Taal Volcano began erupting. Because of this, it displaced thousands of families, damaged a large number of properties and covered nearby areas with ash. In response to these devastations, individuals from various parts of the country rallied together to determine how they can help. And, among the people doing this are a group of musicians and establishment owners working under one mantle–“Project Phoenix: Rising from the Ashes.”

“[It] is a gig series organized by individuals from various event productions and artist managements in the local music scene,” said Hayce Atienza, a local artist who is also part of the initiative’s organizing team.  “Originally planned as a one-time event, it evolved into a gig series because of all the pledges of support that we got from the scene during this time of need.”

Officially launched on January 18 (with its first leg at CStudio) “Project Phoenix” involves a growing number of musicians set to perform on four separate dates. These engagements–hastily put together–intend to gather funds necessary to support the Taal local government as well as various beneficiaries aiding the Taal evacuees. And, ever since it started, the project has been developing into a much larger effort.

During Manileno’s last talk with Atienza, she said that much of the information concerning the next legs of the series have yet to be finalized due to the continuous inflow of support from various parties. According to her, the line-ups for the 3rd and 4th leg continue to change due to bands and solo acts wanting to get involved. Nevertheless, certain aspects of its future shows have already been revealed.

For its second leg, the performances will be held at 12 Monkey’s Music Hall & Pub. It will feature St. Wolf, Lions & Acrobats, Tamara, Over October, LaLuna, Caren Tevanny, and Sabu. Ticket prices for this leg will be at 350php. For the third leg, the confirmed performers will be Mikee Misalucha, Nikki Bagaporo, EJ De Perio, Keiko Necesario, Conscious and the Goodness and Annie Lux. As of the writing of this article, the said leg is expected to happen on February 4 at Upperhouse. For the final leg which will happen on February 7, the performers will include Submission, Bita and the Botflies, Roy Antonio, Gracenote, gelo, Mt. Lewis, Eaaasy and The Vowels They Orbit. It is expected to happen at Route 196.

“The beauty of this initiative is that everyone involved— from the organizers, artists, and venue owners— are all doing this out of the goodness of their heart with no fee involved,” Atienza said. “[They all] share the same goal of helping our [countrymen] and animals affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.”

In a report by the Manila Bulletin, the Department of Social Welfare and Development revealed that more than 46,000 families have already been displaced by the volcano’s activity. As of the writing of this article, the area surrounding the volcano remains at high risk since 47 of its craters may still erupt–a matter not to be taken lately according to government officials given the power the volcano has shown.

After its activity on January 12, Taal Volcano managed to drastically affect the lives of those around it. Come the morning of January 13, social media feeds in the country were filled with seemingly desaturated photos of ash-covered locales; news reports showed people crowding in evacuation centers and the mood of the public was mostly somber.

It’s not all grim, however. Amidst the evidence of the volcano’s devastation are photos of individuals immediately working to help people recover from it. While photos of visibly rattled fauna generated “sad face” reactions on Facebook, “heart” reactions responded to various efforts attempting to rescue them. And while #TaalEruption2020 (along with the erroneous #TaalErruption2020) trended on Twitter, several hashtags were also made the charts. For example, #BangonBatangas and #BangonTaal. There were many examples of camaraderie following Taal Volcano’s destructive outburst and based on the efforts of these local musicians alone, it appears that more will come.

“Bayanihan.” It is an old Filipino custom that involves people working together to achieve a common goal. Cultural publications and historical texts have defined this as one of the best qualities of the Filipino people. Traditionally, it is expressed through a group of volunteers helping movers carry their houses to their desired place of relocation but in modern times, it surfaces through initiatives like “Project Phoenix”—efforts that arise in the wake of difficult experiences.

For donations and inquiries concerning Project Phoenix, you may message Oo: Originals Only and Indie Manila on Facebook.

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