courtesy of missing filemon vocalist Insoy...thanks insoy
Kill all the critics. Or let them compose their own songs. Seriously, that's not even the issue now. What is important is the young's burgeoning interest to make songs in their own language. That is for me magical. Every now and then, there will be some of them who'll be dishing out songs with a literary flair. In fact, that's happening now. Literary value and grammar? Oh, hell, let the critics reread Frank Sinatra or Air Supply.- Januar E. Yap
Who is Januar E, Yap?
Januar E. Yap is a Palanca awardee for short story in Cebuano. He has a collection of short stories published under the New Writers series of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. He writes a column for Sun.Star Cebu and teaches literature courses at St. Theresa's College and Cebu Normal University.
Passionate about anything Cebuano, he coined the word "bisrock" in 2002.
Here's what the man has to say about the bisrock phenomenon.
How did you come up with the word "bisrock"?
It was just a logical wordplay that came up while writing a feature on Missing Filemon's first album a few years ago. Merging "bisaya" and "rock", which made a sound that rhymes with "bisdak." The idea of coining any term didn't occur to me. I'm surprised why I'm credited for it now. It's flattering, especially that I'm thoroughly a bisrock fan.
"Bisrock" music has been gaining popularity these days, especially among the youth. It has also attracted the attention of mainstream media. did you see it coming when you coined the word?
Bisaya has always been there right at the heart of the masses. Yoyoy Villame and Max Surban embodied that phenomenon. Bisrock was the next logical step. I think it came about because of the youth's impatience to every claim of popularity the "Cebu Pop Music Festival" has bestowed upon itself. The Cebu Pop materials simply alienated the youth, its songs were stuck in the age of melodrama. On the other hand, Pinoy rock, dominated by the Tagalog, was in full swing, reliving the seventies with E-Heads, Siakol, Parokya, etc. The young Cebuano musician saw that, and saw "bisrock" as a natural direction. And, of course, the love and familiarity of the language has always been there. That is a big, indelible factor. It is the language in which they can be funny, sarcastic, romantic, cynical, angry, without being pretentious with the lyrics. It was the language closest to their hearts.
Cebu bands have been writing bisaya rock songs since the 90s. why do you think it's only now that they get recognized?
Two things. There were only a few of them (bands) before, and that's because recording cost so much at that time. They either sell out as show bands and go to Japan or break up and finish college. Thanks to the digital age of music-making, it has unleashed our young artists' creative spirits. It created a movement, a deluge of outputs that mainstream media couldn't just close its eyes from. The digital age created new possibilities for marketing music, it has leveled off the playing field. Digital equals democracy.
Many cebuanos still find it uncomfortable listening to rock songs with bisaya lyrics. What could be the reason for this?
If their repulsion has a tone of arrogance, I'd say they're not too intelligent to comprehend their colonial past. They're the unfortunate lot. They're stuck in being subservient to foreign culture. "Utok-uto-uto" or "utak-sidekick".
However, there are also many out there who just need some time to really follow bisrock. It's not their fault to be a little bit removed from the phenomenon. We have a history that alienated the Cebuanos from their own language. Western culture bombarded us with whatever they got, and we only had a handful to defend ourselves with because we were the poorer lot. But now that we have access to media, then by all means let us reunite ourselves with our own language and culture. We need to arm ourselves with a deep sense of rootedness in the global village.
"Critics" say the lyrics of many bisrock songs lack "literary value" and disregard basic rules in grammar. What can you say about this?
Kill all the critics. Or let them compose their own songs. Seriously, that's not even the issue now. What is important is the young's burgeoning interest to make songs in their own language. That is for me magical. Every now and then, there will be some of them who'll be dishing out songs with a literary flair. In fact, that's happening now. Literary value and grammar? Oh, hell, let the critics reread Frank Sinatra or Air Supply.
You're a writer in Cebuano. What should bisrock songwriters do to improve in the lyrics department?
Love the language as deeply as you can. Even dream in it. The rest will follow.
Is bisrock contributing to the development and promotion of the Cebuano language in particular and the Cebuano culture in general?
Very much. Remember the bird-in-hand story? That one in which the person asked whether the bird in his hand was alive or dead? The response was "the answer to your question is in your hand." The bird today is in the youth's hand and the way it looks, the young prefer it alive. Yes, bisrock is a booster shot in the Cebuano spirit and culture. And the young has taken it into its own hands. Ludabi must've been jolted into a kind of tough awakening.
Do you think bisrock is here to stay, or is it just a trend that will not last another year or two?
It will be alive, side-by-side with foreign songs. Every now and then, there'll be hits and misses. But it will always be where we want it to be.
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