Kanto Kultura

Published February 20, 2021, 12:00 PM

by Joe Priela

How the Cultural Center of the Philippines is marrying tradition with modernity

INSTRUMENTAL Kubing, a Philippine jaw harp from bamboo

With well over 50 years of providing and preserving our cultural heritage through the arts, once again, CCP is opening its doors to Filipino artists who crave to showcase their homegrown talents on the world stage.

The Philippines has a young population who responds to new art forms and live in the digital age, leaving them with limited knowledge about our artistic and cultural traditions. Also, this pandemic has caused too much of a turmoil, amplifying the difficulties that have confronted the CCP and its artists for a long time. These are the challenges the committee on artistic matters of CCP has accepted.

Today, for lack of choices, many of us have settled in the convenience of our couches, just binge-watching on Netflix and Youtube or going on a spree consuming foreign films and series. Our ordeal with Covid-19 has aggravated the reluctance of Filipinos to attend concerts and plays, watch local films, visit museums, and witness the performing arts.

In comes the compelling concept of the CCP board of trustees, namely, Nikki Junia, Stanley Seludo, and Dr. Jaime Laya with the support of CCP president and Manila Bulletin columnist Arsenio “Nick” J. Lizaso.

Kanto Kultura seeks to extend CCP’s reach to the younger generation by going with the times. “Even at the early age of five, if we miss them, we will miss them altogether. We will miss a generation,” says CCP chair Margie Moran. This series seeks to champion and celebrate Filipino artists, to ignite their drive and showcase their talents with innovation and creativity, not limiting their artistic expression through music, film, literature, theater, visual arts, and dance. Kanto Kultura has been designed to be an avenue where we can share our history and let the world know who we are and where we are from. Through Kanto Kultura, the CCP moves in earnest, without wasting any moment, to the digital era, as it figures out a resolution for the years to come, treating globalization as an instrument for us to exhibit our heritage and our customs to the world.

To formally begin, “Kanto Canta” has been launched, an online music competition that invites every natural-born Pinoy who can find that certain unique sound, infusing traditional with contemporary.

The CCP cordially invites you to jump on this train, where the past meets the future, through the present. Tara na sa Kanto!

Amateur artists who can bring something new to the table are deeply encouraged to submit their entries. You can join as a solo artist or as a group not exceeding seven members. This is open to Filipinos living in or outside of the Philippines, as long as they do not have any existing commercial or professional contracts. The CCP has a deep desire to help our kababayans start off their careers from the ground up.

CULTURE SONGS Kanto Canta contestant (Photo by Bolichie Suzara)

Participants must think of an indigenous instrument that can blend with their arrangement, whether a kubing or a bulungudyong. Given that we are all in this difficult situation, the jurors will be looking for entries that are uplifting and hope-giving. Kanto Kultura’s advice to the participants is that their music must be pre-recorded to retain the integrity and the quality of their sound. Original compositions are a must. Works that have been formerly published or uploaded on any music platforms such as Spotify and Youtube are disqualified. Lyrics are not limited to Filipino. Participants may use any or maybe even a combination of our native languages.

Entries will be considered as performance videos and it needs to be shot at your respective kantos and kalyes, scenic spots within your area like Manila’s Intramuros or Banaue’s Rice Terraces included.

Submitting an entry is completely free of charge. Just upload an eight-minute 720p video on your official YouTube page and you’re good to go! From there, the top 15 finalists will be selected and awarded a cash prize of at least P150,000 as well as a possible label signing.

To open submissions, Kanto Kultura has released the link for submitting entries over the weekend. The submission period for the first quarter is until March 20, and the announcement of quarter-finalists will be on April 3. Follow Kanto Kultura on Facebook or other social media pages.

Also released as part of the launch is the music video of “Bangon!” by BRWN, featuring the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. As the title suggests, it’s a battle cry for Filipinos to rise up to the challenges that we’re facing and be as hopeful as ever.

Moving forward, the CCP is beyond optimistic about the future of this Kanto Kultura, viewing it as a stepping stone for us to revolutionize our music, uplift our culture, and preserve our traditions for generations to come.