[Author’s disclaimer: I tried my best to keep this article as well-balanced as possible, but as far as 2016 is concerned, you probably know very well how much of a shit show this year has been.]
Time is as relentless as a storm which brings about a grueling test of our character; it sees how we struggle to stick to our guns, keep our identities, and stay on the right track of whatever purpose we hold ourselves up to. And yet, it’s also as elusive as a memory of who we once were if we’re not careful who we change into. This year—the jumping-onto-a-moving-train of a year that is 2016—proved itself to be the squall we faced head on despite the risks most people would be wary of.
Nevertheless, we knew we would take our chances with the risks anyway for the sake of being persistent with our massive efforts to bring up our homegrown artists, and revitalize Intramuros through a culture that celebrates local independent music and the arts—Intramuros Rising (or simply, I.R.). And for the past 2 years since our inception, we have been humbled by the warmth that the IR community have constantly given us in every successful event we’ve put up. We simply can’t thank them all enough for the love and energy they share with us.
Treading down memory lane for this year-end report, the biggest IR we had for this year was Intramuros Rising 4: The Homecoming March, a 2-day music festival we pulled off back in March 18 and 19 at the Puerta Real Gardens with acts mostly from the first two seasons of IR mixed with a couple of new ones from beyond the walls. With a total of 24 acts of diverse genres that really had people dancing and moshing and swaying to the suave groove of each of the bands’ music, and 4 spoken word poetry groups that truly pulled heartstrings and gave all of us the legitimate feels of pride, rage, longing, and the sucking feeling of unrequited love among other things for two straight fuckin’ days—we didn’t know how we could have pulled it off without screwing up and making a huge mess. (Not to mention our expenses that made it all happen.)
Of course, there were minor gaffes during the event, like having some of the artists too drunk to perform their pieces properly, and having the schedules adjusted because some of the artists came in late due to unforeseen circumstances and all, but nothing that couldn’t have been remedied.
In the end, most of the people had a blast, some got too drunk and dozed off on the grass by the end of the show, and that ultimately, Intramuros Rising 4 was one hell of a homegrown music festival. During egress, as we all sat down in Puerta Real, it felt like we were in a sort of a trance that we kept asking each other, “Tangina, nagawa natin ‘to ng 2 days?” It was as if it was all brought down and laid out naturally—and even hours in the afternoon before we got the show on the road, somehow, we weren’t all that stressed out. It was surreal.
A month later in April, the Department of Trade and Industry – Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (DTI – CITEM) organized the first-ever Creative Environment Intramuros as part of Design Week Philippines. Essentially, it was “a celebration of the rich cultural and creative scene that lived within the walls of Intramuros.” As we are in partnership with the Intramuros Administration, we were tapped for a presentation in solidarity with the celebration. Thus, Ex Vivo: From Beginning to End came into play.
The core idea behind Ex Vivo was to present the five phases of life—starting from birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and finally, death—which were told by select poets from White Wall Poetry and Lakambini. And to make things more interesting, we had the poets team up with the musical performances of our homegrown acts such as Shutter LIFE, Caffeine and Taurine, Mellow Submarine, SAVING THE DYING HOPE, and Endless Noise. And along the lines of those phases in life, we have seen people come and go.
For the next month and a half, we finally huddled up as we conceptualized what and how the fifth installment of Intramuros Rising will be. Keeping in mind the fact that we are a group laid bare and stripped to the core, within ourselves, it’s like trying to rise up from the ashes after being burned and torn down to the ground. We’ve lost people we thought we knew so well. So, we thought of the idea of an “open city” as our theme. Because historically, during those dark times when we were in a state of war, Manila was declared as an open city—a city unarmed and defenseless with no intentions to be hostile.
With the five of us remaining as the core group coming together, came the thought of adapting the concept of the super robot from the 70s we all knew and loved, Voltes V. (As well as using the “V” as the numerical symbol for five because we’re vintage like that.) As for the preparations, everything fell right into place afterwards much like the super robot’s volt-in sequence.
However, due to the tremendously unfortunate event of five people dying at a summer rave party in Pasay caused by some multiple mixes of party drugs, alcohol, and possibly, dehydration a few months prior to Intramuros Rising V (IR – V), and the brewing storm as the event day came closer, we were forced to cancel IR – V which felt like we were being sucked in a black hole while wondering what we missed and where we could have gone wrong. It’s as if the universe decided to be a total cunt in those series of events.
Silver lining, we found vindication with our subsequent partnership with the Organisasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-aawit (or simply, OPM) since they reached out to us for help with the celebration of Linggo ng Musikang Pilipino (LMP) in the last week of July… which actually happened in the second week of September. It was a prolonged and arduous two months with a series of shows in several parts of the Metro.
(During which we even managed to send one of our resident poets, Slac Cayamanda of White Wall Poetry, to Singapore for a string of spoken word performances. #PHrepresent!)
The moral of the story: if you’re a legit organization with sufficient resources AND have plans of staging a massive indie music festival, priority number 1.) always be sure that you have your venue secured; 2.) be damn sure you can brave storms, and most importantly; 3.) have faith in your founded community.
Several weeks after, we took a short break, only to learn later on that the Teatrino management in Greenhills-Promenade loved our previous stint at their venue during one of the shows for LMP, and that they offered a partnership with us for another show. So, Beyond The Walls happened—a two-part presentation that allowed us to raise funds for the making of Ian Penn’s full-length album AND debut his performance with a full band, and really brave the uncharted before we finally head back home to Intramuros.
A couple of months passed after that, and for us, it was like trying to reassess everything that transpired and get a hold of our individual bearings; it also felt like a really long time without a gig organized to go to. Jeremy bid his time working on new material with his band and leisurely reading books, while Ankrizel and I managed to land our first jobs half a year after our graduation; as if we went and dealt with things that are involved with normalcy.
So, to cap this off and tie it with a red ribbon, this year ultimately put us all in quite an ordeal. It was the best and the worst time of our lives in this scene and we’re still here, feet planted firmly into the ground. We’ve had our time to lick our wounds, and frankly, we’re ready to rise up again in 2017. All we hope for is to see you guys be there with us.