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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Local Group taps music in fight against poverty

First posted 02:50:37 (Mla time) October 16, 2007 / Jeannette Andrade / Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- It is not the type of music that sticks in your head.

But it is a melody that the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) Philippines hopes will sensitize a society that has become insensitive to privation.

In launching the song “Poverty Requiem” locally, GCAP Philippines aims to join the worldwide call on Wednesday -- the International Day of Hunger and Poverty Eradication or the Whiteband Day -- to eliminate destitution through positive action.

“Doing away with poverty is not a matter of charity but self-advocacy, where people are encouraged to act and empowered to do something about their situation,” May-i Fabros, GCAP Philippines media campaigner, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of

Introducing “Poverty Requiem” to naturally music-loving Filipinos is a new tack, Fabros said, of bringing back awareness to those who have started to take poverty for granted “because they see it around them every day.”

She stressed that the message was hard to deliver but through music, her group hoped to “spark” some feeling back.

“People should be made aware that if poverty happens to one person, it could ultimately happen to you,” she said.

Fabros added that the song would also help people already in the grip of poverty “to understand their rights so they would know what to do to live above it.” She said that her group wanted to focus on the right of a person to see a better life and live decently.

“Poverty Requiem,” Fabros said, “will hopefully start a fire within people to help them find ways in uplifting their lives. It encourages turning desperation to power. Art and music can do that.”

“We are producing generations and generations of persons who see poverty as an inescapable fact of life. I was born poor therefore, I will always remain poor and I cannot do anything about it. That’s the mind-set we want to change,” she said.

Artistic performance

“Poverty Requiem” is an artistic performance against poverty that combines visual art, music and movement. Divided into five parts, the piece is a journey of standing up and speaking out against poverty, of the suffering, the anger, the mourning, the humor and the hope.

The five-part song started from the Netherlands and was composed by Sylvia Borren, GCAP general director.

It is more of a community choral presentation where people from all walks of life are anticipated to participate. “Even those who cannot sing well are encouraged to join and even those who do not want to sing. They can just dance to the music,” she stressed.

The core performers of “Poverty Requiem” come from four sectors -- the youth, males, professionals and a “scratch or inexperienced” group that would be organized from the community, two solo singers, percussionists, and dancers.

Bono of the Philippines

Fabros said that her organization could not have found a better ambassador in singer-composer Noel Cabangon, who has been in the forefront of the campaign for the eradication of poverty even before GCAP Philippines was formed in 2005.

“He is basically, the Nelson Mandela or U2’s Bono of the Philippines, who is not just doing this for publicity but for true advocacy. He has been doing this for years through his songs,” she noted.

Cabangon is the coordinator of “Poverty Requiem” here and has tapped Malou Matute, a professor at the University of the Philippines College of Music, to act as the conductor of the community choir.

Getting message across

“Even if we only have a hundred participants, we know that we can get the message across. We have to be a community to make change,” Fabros pointed out, adding that “Poverty Requiem” will form part of a chain of countries on Wednesday, from First World to Third World, who want to erase poverty.

“The call is around us, worldwide, and it is only fitting that we express our outrage against poverty through music, a universal language that everyone can understand and feel,” Fabros said.