[Editor’s note: This press release was updated to reflect Smart Communications' new Bayanihan Musikahan schedule on Wednesday, May 20.]
Smart Communications stages Season 2 of Bayanihan Musikahan to continue to rally support for those affected by COVID-19 while uplifting the spirits of Filipinos staying safe at home. In partnership with Smart Music Live (SML) Online Sessions, the online concert series increases its vigor as the most visible Filipino citizen action platform at this time.
Season 2 brings revved-up musical specials bannered by stars. The SML Online Sessions widens the reach of what promises to be a memorable night with Asia’s Songbird, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid. She performs with her husband, the popular singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid on Bayanihan Musikahan’s Facebook on Wednesday, May 20, to be streamed over Smart’s official Facebook page.
Following the call from project lead and National Artist Ryan Cayabyab, the husband-and-wife tandem of Ogie and Regine immediately devoted time, effort, and talent to prepare for this livestream concert. Like more than a hundred other musical artists who have participated, they do so free of charge and with the same big heart for their fellow Filipinos.
Regine and Ogie—who together helped raised P5 million for this particular show—are providing assistance by offering their talents for free to help urban communities.
“Mr. C,” as Cayabyab is fondly called, emphasizes that Ogie and Regine now have become a part of an exceptional story. “The most exceptional story for me is that of working with this team in Bayanihan Musikahan,” he said.“I haven’t met a team of people as highly motivated, intelligent and industrious as this team who have brought their respective expertise to the table and raised more than 70M pesos to help alleviate the plight of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in Metro-Manila and outlying provinces.”
Mr. C refers to the more than 300 Filipinos working behind the scenes to produce Bayanihan Musikahan and ensure that the donated funds are immediately translated into food packs delivered to the urban poor. These volunteers include community organizers who are themselves affected by the lockdown. They belong to the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilya ng Pantawid (SNPP) and its allied people’s organizations.
A substantial number of enablers of the “end-to-end” project are those with Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), which has taken up more than the work of fund management for which it is well known in social development circles. PBSP has taken up the multiple challenges of transportation, linking up with vegetable and rice farmers, and organizing logistics.
For the music industry, the chance to virtually hold hands with civil society and with the most vulnerable Filipinos takes place at a time of vulnerability for the artists as well. Cayabyab who will also be seen in a Huntahan Musikahan program on the same day as the Ogie-Regine concert, describes the unusual situation: “It is the worst time, and the best time for musicians, creative artists and composers. The worst time, because there are no jobs available, no live performances, no gigs, no regular work that are needed for recordings, for live TV or taped TV shows, etc.” But he also said that: “It is the best time – because then, we can practice more, have more time perfecting our craft because there are not many distractions and no traffic that eats up a person’s work hours."
“It is also the time when much creativity is happening, to address the various situations we are faced with. We are circumventing or re-thinking how to use our talents to entertain. When at first it was only to express ourselves, we are now thinking of ways to monetize our performances online. We will get through this, and we will be better musicians, performers and creative thinkers and artists,” he said.
There’s also a certain kind of intimacy that online concerts provide, Mr. C said that we are actually closer to our audience. Anyone can interact with us when we are online.
“Re online concerts – we have discovered that there is still no app that can approximate real-time jam. So until this is realized, we can only produce live music videos from home using the technology available. But so far – ANYONE can do online concerts with just their device (phone, tablet, laptop) plus an array of acoustic or electronic instruments or solo voice,” he added.
Mr. C says that adjustments had to be done by both performer and the audience. “We prepare much the same way as we have always done prior to any performance. Being professionals, we know how to rev up for a performance.”
“The only distinct difference between live and virtual performance is the hollow feeling one gets after performing a piece. Performers feed off the energy given by spontaneous reactions from the audience, like applause and standing ovations, or catcalls and jeers. Without these reactions, a performer would have to make TREMENDOUS adjustments to his/her psyche – I know we will get through this, but we will have to grapple with that strange phase first. Hearts, likes, and wows emoticons can help but the performers see these only when they stop to read interactive windows. Both performers and audience will have to adjust.”
In this sense, the adjustments that had to be made on the ground by the relief distribution volunteers during a time of great personal danger, have been enormous—and yet, from all indications, successful. PBSP and SNPP have used new technology to be efficient and highly-energetic.
The National Artist for Music hence emphasizes the pivotal role of connectivity during these uncertain times. “Connectivity is the big star now. Online connectivity is our fastest way to communicate and to learn what we need to do in a pandemic such as this. Online connectivity is also our center of entertainment in this period of extended quarantine. Everything is there. As in everything – from varied shows, all the way to food delivery. Chat groups and community billboards and marketplaces have sprung to address our needs as an individual, family, or community. There is no other medium now that can equal what online connectivity can do.”
He added, “We even attend mass online – and we can choose to attend our parish priest’s mass, or choose to attend the Pope’s! Now, more than ever, we get to see national leaders and medical practitioners of various countries doing what they can to alleviate their people’s plight with unique solutions that other countries can adopt. Caution must be observed though – because there is also so much trash and fake news that abound. But that is for the individual to discern.”
Continuing what SML Online Sessions began last April, this new round of live online sessions remains a way to bring together the generous spirit of the Filipino and give everyone hope as the nation presses on in its endeavors to eradicate COVID-19 and heal as one.