In support of Palawan artists

There is no denying the fact that individual talent in music and arts among Palaweños abound. Last week, the local band Woopis stormed the Manila music scene by winning the championship of Red Horse Beer’s 19th Pambansang Muziklaban.

Another Palaweño singer, Arjay Espartero, will represent the Philippines in July in the 22nd Annual World Championships of Performing Arts to be held in Long Beach, California.

In a local environment which, by force of its geography, is deprived of close physical contact with the mainstream art scenes of the big cities, or the kind of atmosphere where artists’ skills and individual crafts are honed by competition and direct influences, such achievements described above deserve utmost admiration and respect.

Woopis’ founder Soy Lanzanas comes with undeniable breeding. His father Nonoy Lanzanas of the popular group Sinika is widely recognized in the local art circles as the icon of Palawan ethnic music.

But while talent runs in the blood, a community’s support system can be a crucial factor in boosting their potential. Sinika, the band, produced several successful independently produced albums when they had this kind of support. They were at their creative peak when they used to enjoy the support of the city government in the mid-1990s. With the change of administration, they seemed to be among the many casualties of political intrigues that unfortunately plague this community. Sad.

The provincial government, perhaps due mainly to the individual enthusiasm of its key people tasked with attending to culture and arts programs, has a comparatively more robust support to the artistic sector compared to the city government. We know it is quite a statement to make, but at the least credit must be given to Capitol’s initiatives in bringing in world-class artistic talents to perform in special events like Baragatan. Perhaps the City has other priorities but such is the case.

If we go out of the capital, little is know about efforts on the part of the municipalities and barangays to promote and enhance traditional arts and music, which is a shame because Palawan is blessed with a rich cultural tradition.

There are many promising artists in Palawan, nearly all of them struggling. One of them, a creative duo called High Hello, with their original compositions having received rave reviews locally and in Spotify, is holding a show this weekend entitled #LipadPalawan just so they can raise enough money to support their travel to Manila where they had been invited to perform in a Valentine show. These folks bring honor and recognition to Palawan, at purely their own expense and sheer talent.

It will surely benefit Palawan more, even its tourism industry, if our local governments are able to focus some of their attention and concern to how they can help provide a more conducive atmosphere to support Palawan’s struggling artists.

Enhancing the Palawan culture via a supportive policy environment will not only benefit our local artists. The gesture of kindness from our policymakers and institutions can also be a liberating moment from too much politics and greed.

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