Biñan musicians plant bamboo culms to be used for musical instruments

Published July 20, 2021, 6:34 PM

by Carla Bauto Deña

BIÑAN, Laguna – Unlike most bands that buy ready-made musical instruments, a Biñanense group doesn’t only prefer to make their own – they also aim to grow the bamboo that will eventually be used to create their instruments.

On July 17, the Biñan Kawayan Music Ensemble (BKME) and the Biñan Philharmonic Orchestra planted 100 culms of giant bamboo at the Sentrong Pangkultura ng Biñan.

Biñan Kawayan Music Ensemble / MANILA BULLETIN

“As makers of bamboo musical instruments, we really wanted to plant bamboo. Every bamboo pole used as material, we aim to replace with one or two culms,” BKME managing director Melissa E. Ilagan told the Manila Bulletin on July 20.

“We are all excited and, at the same time, praying that the culms we planted will live, grow, and eventually be harvested to become musical instruments.”

The young musicians, aged ten to 20 years old, planted the culms in seedling bags and took them home to nurture them. On the upcoming World Bamboo Day celebration in September, the group will replant the culms in Biñan Organik Farm and along the riverbanks of the city’s low-lying barangays.

According to Ilagan, Biñan City Culture, History, Arts and Tourism Office (BCHATO) Director, Dr. Bryan Jayson T. Borja brought up the idea of starting a bamboo plantating project for environmental and economic purposes.

Biñan Kawayan Music Ensemble / MANILA BULLETIN

Giant bamboo is only one of the many bamboo species that could be used as a material for bamboo musical instruments. Once ready for harvest, the bamboo will be cut into bars and tubes that will be assembled to create instruments like marimba, bambuito (bamboo flute), and bambunet (bamboo clarinet), among many others.

BKME’s instruments are made by their music director, Ret. Col. Gilbert M. Ramos. He is a fourth-generation descendant of Felix Ramos, founder of the Malabon Musikong Bumbong, the first bamboo band in the Philippines formed in the 1890s.