By Diana Moraleda
A FEW in the crowd of around 500 mostly young people bobbed their heads as Dong Abay sang his new song, “Kalinaw.” The rest of them watched and listened, rapt, letting the singer’s words sink in.
It was a rock concert, not a lecture, but such is Mr. Abay’s hold on his audience. He envelops his words with music amped by the rhythm of rock and roll but never allows his message to be drowned by the thrum of the guitar and the beat of the drums. His unique wit and his commentary on everyday realities hit listeners right in the gut. Everyone gets what he is singing about, his message clear and accessible.
“I was very happy and excited to perform in front of this crowd,” Mr. Abay later said backstage at the Concert for Peace, organized by peace-building organization International Alert Philippines, on Sept. 23 in Quezon City.
“I don’t normally have an audience this young. It was great! I got to share to them the song and perhaps influence them to ask questions and to work towards peace, however they define it,” he said.
Abay rose to rock stardom in the mid ’90s with his groups Yano and Pan. He’s now in his mid 40s, but then as now, he has proven that great songwriting cuts across generations and differences. Indeed, music has the power to break down barriers and apathy.
Mr. Abay, who collaborated with Alert Philippines on this year’s celebration of the International Day of Peace, said that “Kalinaw” “… is actually one of the most difficult songs I had to write. How can you think of everyday peace when you are stressed with the traffic, and all the bullshit of life? It made me reflect about the everyday decisions I make that are peaceful not just for me but, hopefully, also the larger community.”
The song he debuted during the concert — kalinaw means peace in Bisaya — is a call for everyone to make everyday peace a reality. It is hard-hitting rock and roll, but bright, buoyant, and hopeful.
The song celebrates the beauty of the everyday (Araw sa umaga/O kay ganda!/Bughaw na langit /Bughaw na dagat [sun in the morning/ oh so beautiful/ blue is the sky, blue is the sea]) and urges peaceful acts as response to the daily battles that everyone faces (Sa araw-araw na digmaan/Araw-arawin din/Ang kapayapaan/Sa sandaigdigan/Araw-arawin natin/Ang kapayapaan, ang kapayapaan [in the daily war/ we should also make everyday/ peace/ in the world/ we should make everyday/ peace, peace]).
“Kalinaw” is the banner song of International Alert Philippines’s #EverydayPeace campaign, which promotes everyday acts of peace, through ways both simple and grand. The campaign is anchored on a free mobile app of the same name, which was launched during the concert. The idea is to create a safe space for a community of everyday peace builders where they can share stories of daily acts of peace through photos and videos, learn why violence persists through curated infographics, and act with others through shared initiatives. The #EverydayPeace app was developed by Hubert Ursua who won the 2016 #peacehack, Alert’s software development competition that brought together programmers and IT practitioners to advance innovative ways that address conflict issues in communities.
“We witness or hear about injustice, conflict, and suffering across communities and societies. Many of us think these are beyond our control and already the norm, but this simply is not true,” said Nikki dela Rosa, deputy country manager of International Alert Philippines. “During the Concert for Peace, we wanted to let people know that everyday peace is possible and it starts with each of us contributing our simple efforts. ‘Kalinaw’ embodies Alert’s belief that peace is within our power.”
After singing “Kalinaw” at the concert, Mr. Abay sang his hit songs “Rebolusyon,” “World War III,” “Perpekto,” and “Banal na Aso, Santong Kabayo,” continuing to hold the audience in his grasp.
Rising Filipino bands Jensen and the Flips, Autotelic, and Alex in Wonderland led by actor Alex Medina, also performed the Concert for Peace. Former X-Factor contestant Mark Mabasa sang some of today’s favorite pop songs.
Johnoy Danao, Ebe Dancel and Bullet Dumas sang their hits — Danao’s “One Day” and “Ikaw at Ako”; Dumas’s “Ninuno” and “Galit”; and Dancel’s “Wag Ka Nang Umiyak” and “Bawat Daan.” Together as the 3D, Danao, Dumas and Dancel performed Sugarfree’s “Burnout” to end their set.
Speaking to the audience, Mr. Dancel said: “Everyday, when you wake up, you always have a choice. Every time I wake up, I choose kindness over hatred, love over hatred, compassion over hatred. I think we have an ability to make that choice, everyday.”
Hip-hop artist Gloc-9, well-known for his songs tackling social injustice and poverty, performed “Upuan,” the chorus of which is mixed with Asin’s “Mindanao.” The rapper explained that as he trained to be a nurse in the past, he realized that for many, especially overseas Filipino workers, peace also means having personal financial security, and having the means to eat well and to send one’s children to school.
Ms. Dela Rosa agreed. “While there are many pathways to peace, economic security is basic. There are interlinked factors that cause conflict and solutions must therefore be multifaceted, nuanced, and lived as an everyday practice,” she said.
“Any small and personal act to promote peace within ourselves and with each other can be featured in the #EverydayPeace app in order to encourage other people to do the same,” she stressed. “For example, we welcome posts about youth volunteerism projects, business matching, internships for the youth, dialogues with decision makers that inform policy, training activities for women, and other innovative efforts — anything that counters the foundations of violent conflict in any way.”
The #EverydayPeace app can be downloaded for free from Google Play. It has three features: #EverydayPeace, #EverydayLearning, and #EverydayChange. The first allows users to capture and share their everyday acts of peace; the second, to download data and analysis on factors that contribute to or impede peace and development; and the third, to link with other peace builders, in the Philippines and abroad, and collaborate on activities that bring change to communities. The app will be available in the Apple App Store soon.
Said Ms. Dela Rosa: “We envisioned the Concert for Peace and the #EverydayPeace app to be an effective tool in making peace accessible, rather than something abstract and beyond reach, among young people who use digital social media in their daily lives. We truly share the vision of Dong’s new song ‘Kalinaw’: Kahit na bawat isa ay magkakaiba/Magkahawak ng kamay/Malayang nabubuhay [every though each one is different/ if they can hold hands/ they can live free].”
Diana Moraleda is International Alert Philippines’s Communication and Social Media Officer.