Ethnica Music Fusion: an aural rollercoaster

The moment the woman, who by that time stood in the middle of the platform, clad in her long, black dress, tickled the chords of her acoustic guitar, a sort of energy charge seemed to flow, passing through my spine down to my bloodstream and playfully stimulating the roots of my body hairs.

I was scampering, thinking I was too late for Ethnica Music Fusion, a gathering of local artists, bands and nationally- and internationally-acclaimed performers and entertainers at the Matina Town Square Pavilion last April 16, 2016.

I was not even certain if the woman who was entertaining the audience – a mix local artists, indie singers and composers, musically-inclined fellows, and mountaineers who volunteered to put off the Mt. Apo fire, was the first person to dominate the stage.

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But it did not bother me. What bothered me is that she is no just a woman, but she is MAAN CHUA, a nationally-recognized Dabawenya musician. If not because of handling a radio program that plays folk rock and country songs, I would have not known her better. She is my idol.

Maan Chua started making a name in the music industry after winning Tunog Mindanaw World Music Competition in 2013. Her winning piece was entitled “T’nalak”.

A sample of T’nalak.

I scoured for a comfortable seat. Thanks to the organizers, specifically Air Asia Airlines and the City Tourism Office for making it extremely free that I was able to sit just two rows away from the stage.

Maan was on her three to the last song. And those roughly 12 minutes of jam, I was taken to a paradise.

Her second to the last song spoke about the diverse definition of human to wealth, richness, bounty. She asked, “What for you is to be wealthy? Is it if you have a lot of money, cars or material possessions? Or you can say you are rich enough if you have family, friends or relationships? Have you ever considered your health or the nature treasures? Or is it having God makes you the richest man on earth?” It depends on you.

She ended her set with one of my favorite songs of her. It is a tribute to our land of birth, Mindanao. The prelude just makes me cry for joy and feel proud.

The musical indulgence did not stop there. Next on the set is the local band THEA, a Dabawenyo group led by Thea Pitogo. I did not know her that much but one of my closest friends is a fan. She was on her way to the venue when THEA started playing.

The Davao indie rock band is composed of Thea Pitogo, the female lead vocalist and on ukelele, Toby Tubio is on lead guitars, Topee Lim on acoustic guitar, John Paul Jaso on bass guitar, Darryl Tingzon on keyboards and finally, Jacob Elemento on drums.

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Actually, they rocked! I was surprised, or shocked. A blissful kind of shock. Their music carved a spot in my soul (aside from her cute band members, of course. Haha).

For more of THEA’s music, visit their soundcloud account.

All I knew was, I was there to listen. I did not expect I’ll have more than that.

The song “Ano” was familiar. I liked it for the melancholic sound, putting you in a temporary trance. Or at least the way I prefer to describe it. But I was overwhelmed when JAD MONTENEGRO sang it in front of us. She was behind that hypnosis.

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When does ethnic tunes and rock or perhaps contemporary and modern beat combine? It is when KUNTAW MINDANAO plays them.

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The band hails from Davao del Norte but their music have reached millions of people around the world, bagging international and local awards, just like the aforementioned artists. They have started to make waves when they championed Musikahan sa Tagum in 2008 and participated in Sharq taronalari (Melodies of Orient), a biennial traditional music fest from different countries, held in Uzbekistan.

The name KUNTAW is actually Kreative Union of Today’s Artists and Writers.

For more of Kuntaw, click here.

For the nth time, I was amazed by how little I know about the artists creating the music that I enjoy. I ended up dumbfounded as they play exotically familiar beats.

More other local artists have joined the fusion: The Anne Mendoza Band, Kevin Bacira, Lukas, Talentadong Pinoy 2014 Grand Winner and Asia’s Got Talent Semi Finalist Beatboxer Neil Llanes, Popong Landero and Tribu K’Mindanawan.

Indeed, it was a fusion of music, a celebration of art, nature, peace, cultural sensitivity, society, unity in differences, and love-in all of its forms, valuable themes that mainstream music industries most of the time fail to promote.

The one of the best tags? It is authentic Mindanawon or Davao music. And I love them all! It is something that will make you a proud Dabawenyo.

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I thought it was the fire dance by Tribu K’Mindanawan that punctuates the night’s auditory adventure. But not until this…

IMG_2640 A selfie with Maan Chua! Kudos to me!

Bobbi Petalurca | April 16, ’16

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