Breaking News

NGO teams up with musicians to launch environment CD

MANILA, Philippines - A Philippine non-government organization teamed up with top recording artists and young composers to create original songs opposing the rapid destruction of the country's environment.

The Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Phils), which promotes progressive and sustainable environmental advocacy, will be launching a new CD entitled Rapu-Rapu Atbp: Taghoy ng Kalikasan on the eve of World Environment Day on June 4 at 70's Bistro along Anonas Street in Quezon City.

In a statement, the works in this new album draw inspiration from popular environmental songs of the past decades, such as "Masdan ang Kapaligiran" by Asin, "Kanlungan" by Buklod, and "Anak ng Pasig" by Geneva Cruz, said CEC-Phils Executive Director Frances Quimpo.

The CD features original compositions by young environmentalists and rendered by musicians Aiza Seguerra, Bayang Barrios, Coffeebreak Island, Cooky Chua, Dap-ayan Ti Kultura Iti Kordilerya (DKK), Datu's Tribe, Lady High, Lolita Carbon, Noel Cabangon and The Jerks.

"The songs in the collection speak about the current state of the Philippine environment: how our forests have been laid bare by logging, how our mountains and islands have been turned into wastelands by mining, how the access to natural resources such as water, have become restricted to the hands of a few. The melodies deplore the plight of indigenous peoples and victims of calamities. The songs reverberate with clamor, in the hope that rhythm and beats can move more citizens to act and defend our national patrimony," Quimpo said.

Some of the songs in the album tackle the issue of rampant and rapid deforestation in the Philippines, she added. These include the songs "Ina," sung and arranged by Cookie Chua and composed by Peter Benaires, and "Katutublues, " sung and arranged by Noel Cabangon, and composed by Eros Masa.

"The destruction of the Philippine forests has been described as the most rapid and the most massive in the world. Less than a hundred years ago, forests covered around 21 million hectares or 70% of the country's total land area. As of 2003, around only 5.4 million hectares of mostly secondary-growth forests are left, covering less than 18% of the total land area," Quimpo said.

Such rampant deforestation is mainly due to logging operations by foreign and local firms, Quimpo said.

World Environment Day for 2008 has focused on initiatives promoting low-carbon economies, such as forest conservation.

Many of the songs also focused on the impacts of large-scale and mostly foreign-controlled mining projects on the environment. This, Quimpo stressed, is mainly a response to the huge increase of mining projects being approved by the government since the passage of the Mining Act of 1995 and the mining liberalization policy of the Arroyo administration.

Almost 40% of the country's land area is currently being given to transnational firms in the mining industry, Quimpo estimates.

The album and its carrier single is named after the small island of Rapu-Rapu in Albay province, where flagship mining project of the Arroyo administration is currently operating since 2005. The mining operations will last for approximately seven years, but its negative impacts on the environment is expected to persist for decades after the mine closes, Quimpo said.

The Rapu-Rapu mine, formerly owned by Australian firm Lafayette Mining Limited, has been sold early this year to Korean and Malaysian investors, under Korea Resources Corporation (Kores), LG International Corporation, and Malaysia Smelting Corporation.

Other themes covered by the original compositions in the Rapu-Rapu album include the people's right to water, degradation of lands used for local agriculture and food production, and the importance of national patrimony. The songs are products of a Songwriting Workshop by CEC-Phils in September 2007, facilitated by singer-composer Rom Dongeto.

The young composers are environmental advocates from Manila-based universities and community youth from Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions.

Proceeds of CD and entrance sales on June 4 will go to Stop Slapping Environmentalists, a support fund for advocates facing legal harassment through law suits and other Strategic Legal Actions Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), Quimpo said. - GMANews.TV