A Christmas Serenade

Just when I was beginning to feel like Scrooge of Charles Dicken’s “Christmas Carol, a group of young people sent me an email asking if they could serenade me with the season’s well-loved songs. Humbug! Scrooge would have screamed, but I am not like him, I am always interested in what young people are up to these days, Christmas or not. So, I happily set the date for the virtual serenade of the MACC, the Mindanao Arts and Culture Council. Intriguing, isn’t it?

The “Rationale” of the MACC gives you an idea of the brainstorming sessions they must have had to formulate the following: “With the coming of our colonizers, the whole of the Philippine archipelago has been forcibly subjugated to diverse influences of Hispanic, American, and Japanese cultures, while keeping an Indo-Chinese-Malay way of life . The pluralistic identities that ensued have brought about a complex evolution of change in customs and traditions among Filipinos in their communities and tribes. In time, the diversities in culture have found distinct expressions in the arts, but still, we remain divorced from one another; there is no understanding nor acceptance of one another’s uniqueness. Each tribe from the three islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao is asked to participate in this endeavor to understand each other’s state of existence through the use of the arts. Taking this path draws focus on the nuances of Filipino identities and steers us away from excessive political agenda.”

Here are MACC’s vision and goals:” It is the vision of MACC to open the door wider for cultural exchanges , and make concrete galvanized avenues for income generation through the arts. We are going to send messages with vital universal themes like family values, sovereignty, preservation of identities, love , fostering friendships, cultivation of patronage. “ The MACC goal is—“to bridge cultural gaps through visual arts, music, film, performing arts, literature, fashion, culinary arts, digital arts, multi-media and martial arts, workshops, seminars, conferences, etc. “

The MACC songs and singers of my Christmas Present are the following: 1) Oh, Holy Night– JM. Remolado, 2)Feliz Navidad– Limeya Escabante and Jude Redoble, 3)Bibingka– Jay abcede,4) Carol of the Bells– Jude Redoble, 5) Give Love on Christmas Day and I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas– Ivan Eblamo,6) Silent Night– Elena Lopez. There was group singing as well by Ivan Eblamo, Joy Artieda, JM Remolaldo , Elena Lopez, Limeya Escabante and Jay Abcede. They sang 12 Days of Christmas, Kumukutikutitap, Frosty the Snowman. The finale was, of course, We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Identity problems? I do not think so. This is how MACC describes their identity.: “ We are an independent, heterogeneous tribe of social entrepreneurs and cultural activists who create opportunities for personal and societal positive growth in the wide aspects of visual arts, music, film, performing arts, literature, fashion, culinary arts, digital arts, multi-media and martial arts. “ They also intend , “to position arts and culture of Mindanao as a central element in community development and planning, in order to make pathways by creating opportunities and complementing academic and professional learning. We also aim to reinforce collaborations in the multi-sectoral and socio-cultural -economic local development.”

How does this group of Gen Z and millennials assess life after the pandemic, what we call the new normal? This is their world view: “The cost of thriving in the new normal means the renumeration of individual net worth, the aggregate value of our skills as a people, our physical attributes, numeric assets, estates, acquired tastes, and natural gifts that will save us from the invisible foe that wants us wiped off the face of the earth. Out creative selves are called upon to come out and work hand in hand in fighting the face behind the strange and formidable adversary, and dismantle its invisible layers of greed, corruption and insuperability. We need to take stock of our wrong doings to nature, understand how our footprints in the name of advancement have caused irreversible damage… The idea of lording it over nature, snatching the power of the Divine have made us want unnecessary things… We could be facing the end of our lineage, the annihilation of our values and traditions, the loss of our humanity by compelling us to surrender our freedom, our rights, all in the name of survival… “

Thank you, MACC, for sharing with me your dreams and lofty goals may you all have a blessed Christmas and a glorious New Year.