Last April 17, the U.P Center for Ethnomusicology, in cooperation with the U.P College of Music, hosted a talk titled “Can hip Hop Survive in the Midst of War?” featuring Maranao hip hop artists Mohammad Hamdanie Shiek aka Dark Soul and Mohammad Yasser Gambao aka Bugs’t, two members of the hip hop group Bangsamoro Family. Founded in 2011 in Marawi City, Bangsamoro Family’s songs talk about stereotypes on race and religion, corruption, politics, and the war in Marawi. Other members of the group are Cardawi Hadjiamer aka Cardi, Raiyan Laguindab, and Norhanifah Marohomsalic aka Aifah.
Even before the war in Marawi, Hamdanie and Yasser were already living in a tumultuous place and time and they wanted to tell the rest of the world their harrowing story. Called the “Islamic City”, Marawi faced the same problems that plague the entire nation- drugs, poverty, corruption and senseless killings. Singing about these issues, Hamdanie and Yasser tread in dangerous territory and they know it. They are aware of the perils that face them each time they sing or rap in public, saying that they felt as if “isang paa namin ang nasa hukay” (one of our feet is in the grave). Nevertheless, when asked why they continue to do it, they answered- “Gusto naming na mamulat sila” (We want them to wake up to reality).
By creating trilingual songs, in Tagalog, English, and Maranao, they hope to get their message across a more diverse audience – to other parts of the Philippines and eventually, the rest of the world. However, rapping in Maranao language is still something they want to do, saying that hip Hop, despite language differences, has the power to talk straight to the heart.
Since its organization in 1973, the NAMCYA Competitions has become an authority in discovering and developing excellent Filipino musicians and artists all over the country. It is then with pride to impart that since then, students from the UP College of Music have frequently topped its various categories.
Dr. David Urrows, a music historian based in Hong Kong, visited the College of Music on May 19, 2017 to assist U.P. music scholars, Asst. Prof. Arwin Q. Tan and Instructor Mahler Villanueva, in determining the authenticity of primary music sources.