You’re probably thinking of Julie Andrews, with arms outstretched singing, “The hills are alive with the sound of music.” Regardless of her impressive twirling and orchestra-worthy voice, the mountains she climbs are the German Alps. Julie Andrews/(how-do-you-solve-a-problem) Maria is unfamiliar about Osmeña Peak or Tops or Mountain View. And Cebu is a very important detail in this piece. Cebu may not inspire a grandiose performance number as depicted in movies. But there are mountains to climb here and most importantly, music.
July 30th. Crossroads Banilad was pristine of partygoers in the early morning. 22 Tango Records’ booth was bright in the sunlight. Aptly beside an art gallery with the colors dancing, A Space Cebu was the place to be that day. Songwriters, singer-songwriters, music producers and anyone serious about music enough to take notes diligently about it filled all the seats. Some comfortably sunk into bean bags. Others sprawled on the floor. I sat in the back not quite sure where my place was in this event. Vincent Eco was right beside me, and he reeked of an album in the making. Ella Melendez calmly scribbled at the table across. To me, it was all one big cool kid’s table, and I brought a lunchbox my mommy prepared for me. So I sat there feeling really privileged that Lourdes Maglinte served sure hit chocolate brownies. The entire gray wall glowed in front of us with projected promises of getting better at whatever it is that makes our heart sing in sharp notes.
An impressive list of speakers took the small clearing in the middle, one after the other.
We sipped our unlimited coffee. I ate another round of chocolate brownies and pizza late into the afternoon. By then, all the sugar and education contributed largely to feelings of self-efficacy. I may never have the genius of Jad Bantug or Martina San Diego’s enchanting voice, but 22 Tango Records rejoices in the variety of talent. It thrives in different definitions of cool. That cool doesn’t try to be someone else, but pursues everything great that you can be. Even when it means an undeniable recognition of crappy lyric writing. Cool is in fact, geeking out over guitars. It’s singing a Hamilton song, with a girl named Trixie and a guy named Zach immediately connecting and becoming close friends because they know all the words. It’s fifty of us on a Saturday, listening to the many ways we can fully convey our every song’s worth.
I don’t feel it’s enough when people say that we are part of a music scene. We don’t just show up at gigs. We live every bit of making music. We pride over calloused fingers, messy drafts and digging into experiences we can hopefully elaborate through a song because we feel so much. 22 Tango’s Cebu Music Creators Growth Summit is a perfect example of how we desire to continually learn.
And we never just sing. We sing about love when it’s ours and even when it isn’t. We sing through the pain. We show our wounds, our scars with one hand on a microphone. We are not nighttime singers and session musicians. May we never settle for scenes. May our hearts drum along to special moments, refusing indifference. We are intangible landscapes of lives that do not go quiet. Our stories travel and we do not forget for the rest of humanity what is beautiful.
Ever since Jude Gitamondoc’s campaign to use Bisaya in songwriting and 22 Tango’s strong group of Cebuano artists, I am able to see behind houses of my city. I do not need maps for my city. I know and love it for the sidewalks, where I walked contemplating about shifting to another college course, the tiny stalls where my friends and I bought food from when our allowance didn’t support our fastfood cravings, and the huge tree where I used to always wait for my parents. It is not New York City. But the streets often smell like grilled fish, and there’s a lot of room for heartbreak in jeepneys. There is already music in our way of living.
In the evening, the singer-songwriters took their guitars. Right outside A Space, they set-up a small area to sing their original songs. Crossroads brimmed with people who mostly weren’t there to watch their performances. Still, we climb mountains for the echo of a dream that music can be a place for many to find more significant pieces of themselves, and to find ourselves in each other when we really listen. The Wonggoys took over the little stage. We applauded and ignored the cars, the cigarettes, the booze and the party music in the background. We not only climb mountains. We strive to build it so high that you can see the entire city from up there.
Authored by Therese Villarante
Photos by Zach Aldave.
Check out the rest of the Cebu Music Creators Growth Summit Event photos on our Facebook page.