Gloc-9 is a friend of mine. ‘Di kami close, but I quite adore the guy. I love his work (and he knows I do!) and he’s such a nice, mild-mannered guy who has an amazing humble beginnings backstory that will inspire any artist who hears it. I feel so bad for him that he has been attacked for performing at Binay rallies. Napaka-sakit to lose fans and to be accused of being mukhang pera. I read his statement and I feel like giving him a comforting hug. I respect his choice to do what he did, and he will always have my friendship.
I’d like to share my thoughts though on the “trabaho lang walang personalan” view, particularly in light of the elections.
It’s true that a person can give his vote to one candidate and render services to another as work or for money. A printing company will print tarps for a candidate they don’t support. This guy who supports Duterte was hired to draw Mar’s comic campaign material. A friend of mine sang a radio jingle for a candidate he’s not necessarily voting for. Its all about just money and work. Nothing wrong with these. Naiintindihan natin ito.
With artists who perform at rallies, though, it’s not quite as simple as that kasi ang mga artists, dala nila ang pangalan at buong pagkatao nila on stage. An artist is a brand. It takes years to build an artist’s image, and authenticity is key in any artist’s success. Fans take to an artist because they relate to the artist himself as a whole: his life, his relationships, everything he does, even what he wears, what he eats, his beliefs... everything.
That “brand” is what candidates pay for when they get artists to perform at rallies, or to even just be present at the event. It’s not just the skill of performing a few songs to entertain people. Kung skill lang, maraming performers na magagaling na hindi sikat. They are no different from the company that printed tarps, the guy who drew the comic strip, the anonymous jingle singer. These are not seen as endorsements, just skilled work that is paid for. And therefore the “trabaho lang walang personalan” phrase applies in these cases.
But we artists need to realize that we have gone beyond skilled work. May value na yung pangalan natin, whatever it is we choose to do. And because we are artists, mahirap mag-invoke ng “trabaho lang walang personalan” because guess what: our work as artists IS personal. That’s precisely why people believe us. That credibility is what these candidates are after, because they want to win people over to their side. And they are willing to pay us good money for the use of our names.
When we appear at political rallies, people will see it as an endorsement. That cannot be helped. Of course, we can always deny it and just say oh, this is not an endorsement, I just did it for the money. I'm actually supporting another candidate. Which only makes things awkward, not just for the candidates who hired us and may question our work ethic, but for our image as artists as well, when our authenticity may now take a hit.
It's all up to us how we choose to use our names. An artist’s name is a brand. And all brands are careful about public perception. We need to be more conscious about this.
I think that the backlash against Gloc-9 comes from a place of disappointment for fans who actually love him and have become so invested in his brand. That brand means something to them kasi. I just wish wala na lang yung backlash kasi masakit, and I hurt for Aris kasi kaibigan ko siya. I hope he weathers this storm, and that people understand him.
But I think there is a lesson to be learned in all this. If there is any bright side to this whole thing, it is a reminder of the power that any artist wields. At sana, tayong mga artists ang unang maka-recognize nito, at magamit natin to our own benefit in the future.
My name is Trina Belamide and I'm a songwriter and record producer.
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Learn more about me on www.trinabelamide.com.