One of the many aims of the ASEAN-KOREA Flute Festival is to advocate music education not only among musicians but to students and regular listeners. With a school tour in various provinces such as Bulacan, Rizal, and Pampanga, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts together with the Seoul Music Group, the best of eleven countries gathered to purport the culture and traditional music of neighboring countries.
In Angeles City Trade NHS, the guests from Brunei, Myanmar, and Lao PDR delegates were greeted with warm cheers and performances from the school’s marching band and Rondalla group. Yusir, who played the Rebanna during the showcase, a type of percussive instrument, amused the crowd as he shared how much of the Filipino language he knew. Sharing that the word Filipino word “taenga” for ear is “talinga” in Brunei. The world “salamat” which means “thank you” in English actually means “safe” in Brunei. These are just some of the few commonalities which he shared but one of the most telling things he pointed out is that many of the Philippine traditional instruments, mostly in Maguindanao, are similar to Brunei traditional instruments. The “umpong” a six-holed flute and the “Tumpong” a three-holed flute are similar to that of the flute of the Philippines called “Tumpong."
WATCH: Brunei delagates performing a song from their country. Here, flutist Moss Minggo is using the "Umpong." 🍃 pic.twitter.com/dTpvnCkEaC— Bandwagon PH (@bandwagonPH) November 30, 2017
The quartet played one of their local folk songs called “Aday-aday” which revolves around the lives of fishermen. In Brunei, they shared, that there are many water villages with stilted houses. Thus, much of the industry in their country is in fisheries. The song is mellow in tone and tells the story of how most fishermen, when out into the water, are overwhelmed with loneliness from missing their families. “Aday-aday,” used to entertain themselves during work is also an expression of the sadness they experience when they are away from home.
As the delegates drive to Bulacan for another visit, Myanmar and Lao PDR prepare to share their music to the students of Marcelo H. del Pilar National High School in Malolos. Myanmar shared their traditional scales that they use in their music, Than Yoe, Pat Sa Bae(or) Pa Lal, Ngar Pauk, and Lay Pauk-- emphasizing how unique each culture is. Flutist Than Zaw showed various types of flutes such as the Palwei, Hne Lay, and Hne Gyi.
WATCH: Flutist Than Zaw with the rest of the Myanmar delegates, generously sharing with us music from their home. 🍂 pic.twitter.com/3dUD655fMD— Bandwagon PH (@bandwagonPH) November 30, 2017
After Myanmar, Lao PDR played a 3-song medley. One of the songs they played is about life lived along the mekong river, further proof how music can be truly represent a community's way of living. During the question and answer portion, the Bulaceños got to know the delegates more during the question and answer portion. Admittedly, there was language barrier that hurdled the musicians at first but as the students spent more time with them, it was clear that music was the only language they needed. Lao PDR shares how their experience of the festival so far saying, "happy and fun." On the other hand, Myanmar considers their selves lucky to be able to travel, meet other people, and to learn more about music.
WATCH: Lao PDR performs an upbeat song that excites the students of Malolos, Bulacan. The Lao PDR flute is called the "Kui." 🌱 pic.twitter.com/OrNIJB4hQV— Bandwagon PH (@bandwagonPH) November 30, 2017
Angono City the arts capital of the Philippines and home to many of our country's most brilliant visual artists was the stop for the Indonesian delegates. Just like Myanmar, Indonesian delegate Rian Permana shares the different way music is annotated and read in his community. Being Sundanese, however, he shares that this is only applicable to his ethnicity. Rian shares "Salendro" is the primary note of Sundanese. This primary note then can be "defracted" into pelog and medenda, which "defracts further" into more notes. For example Salendro can be defracted into Pelog and Pelog can be defracted into Surupan, showing a 3-level annotation and music reading for the Sundanese. Visually, I personally find it comparable to a tree branching and Rian agrees.
In Angono Private National High School, another Indonesian flutist Desmal Hendri leads the way and entertains the high school students by involving them in various music activities and dances. He shares the value of traditional music in his country, "Traditional music in Indonesia is highly appreciated because Indonesian people from very early age teach us traditional music and traditional dance.
WATCH: Rian Permana, showcasing the bamboo-made flute Suling alongside his fellow Indonesian musicians. 🎶 pic.twitter.com/ZpzDDCg0aL— Bandwagon PH (@bandwagonPH) November 30, 2017
As the two-day school tour closes, the theme of the festival "Celebrating ASEAN Traditions Across Cultures" echoes through the response of the students: excitement, vibrancy, and complete glee. Young Filipino students across the Luzon region were given the chance to experience the culture of neighboring countries through the music of the visiting musicians in the hopes that traditional music education survives the test of time and pass on the role of culture bearers to the younger generation.
Speaking to the various delegates, it's evident that they've learned as the students learned from them. Here are some of the things they've shared with us:
YUSRI YAHYA OF BRUNEI, ON THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING TRADITIONAL MUSIC ALIVE:
All around the world, Modern music has always been accepted. We do also play modern music. That’s the first music that we played before we joined the ministry. But now that we are in the ministry, only now do we realize how important it is to be able to know and play the traditional instruments which not everyone will be able to play it. And also, being able to play traditional music—it brings us all over the world. It’s some kind of a bonus for to be able to be sent abroad to perform any festival. It’s not taken lightly by us. Some people, they do not know how important it is. But when they see the native instruments, they will think-- Oh! How do I play this? How do you play this? How do I make it, the music alive? Our job is to preserve this for the younger generation and the next younger generation.
DESMAL HENDRI OF INDONESIA, ON WHAT HE HAS LEARNED FROM MEETING MUSICIANS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES (TRANSLATED BY INTERPRETER, NATALIA WIDIASARI):
In the aspect of experience it’s gives richer experience to meet and collaborate other musicians from other countries. And they are also great with their work.
RIAN PERMANA FROM INDONESIA, ON THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING THE SUNDANESE TRADITION ALIVE (TRANSLATED BY INTERPRETER, NATALIA WIDIASARI):
Self drive because I'm Sundanese. Sundanese is an ethnicity in Indonesia. I want to preserve the Sundanese tradition and chose the Sundanese instruments. Who else will preserve or develop this but the original locals?”
ASEAN-KOREA Flute Festival will culminate in a two-day performance on December 1 & 2 that will feature performances from Korea and from all ten countries of the ASEAN. National Artist for Music Dr. Ramon P. Santos will lead the delegates as the musical director. The details are as follows: