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Friday, May 05, 2006

In the raw: The oxymoron that is Santing Scalawags

More and more of our children today are battered by issues on broken families, deterioration of cultural and family values, and the reported widespread corruption even in the educational system, the displacement-misplacement of family members exported to some foreign labor forces to do mostly domestic work, these among a heap of other concerns.

A group of Talamban youngsters picked up these subjects knowing that the surge in the scarcity for work opportunities here and the exporting of human resources greatly affect them. Though they consider the songs they penned as something raw yet, the subjects are considered perennial. The issues speak of the lack of concrete programs on development of technical skills and the proper forum for the healthy discussions and debates on their topmost concern – sex and sensuality, access to education, career and or employment opportunities; including the strengthening of franchises for the handy “trisikads” and motorcycles-for-hire to the legalization of hemp for its industrial and medicinal values.

Raw musical compositions, so their works may seem, but the meaty messages in the lyrics of Santing Scalawags speak of the restlessness of our youth and of the things that our government and most adults failed to prepare for them – a better life – them being next in line.

Santing Scalawags is not only a reggae band, it is a walking, cymbal-clanging, drum-beating personified oxymoron composed of teeners Ron Miguel “George Bagul” Martinez (vocals), 17, 2nd year student at the Talamban National High School; Jhurry “Jammir” Dyguaso (percussions), 19, first-year Fine Arts student at the University of the Philippines; Christopher “Snoop” Flores (drums), 18, 2nd year Information Technology student at the University of Southern Philippines; Kreutzerr “Krutch” Capidos (guitar), 17, first-year Nursing student at the Cebu Doctors University; Jonathan “NatNat” Labrador” (bass), first-year Nursing student at the University of the Visayas; and other members Encabo Robocop and Clyde Buan, both 19, 2nd year IT students at the USP; and Wilson “Kaspa” Arela (backup vocals), 18, 3rd year student at the Talamban NHS (Night School).

Santing is colloquial equivalent or street slang for “something”. In the vernacular, “santing” is a surge in blood pressure, a rise of temper, a mood swing, almost the same feeling as that of the rising of the hair at the nape but not responding to the stimulus of fear, rather of anger or dismay or excitement.

And though the group adopted the name Scalawags to speak of their hyperactivity, of their restless, of their silly goofiness and of being at times rascals and mischiefs, they are using the name to raise a cause, to come up with a voice on how the young people of today think and work. With roots, rock, reggae musical influences as vast as O-shen, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, and Robert Nesta "Uncle Bob" Marley, as well as the dancehall style-ly of Buju Banton, and Chaka Demus and Pliers, Santing Scalawags believes that good things can still develop out of some worst situations.

Santing’s songs are the amplification of our young children’s stories, issues and concern. Most of the time, the youth are seen but never heard despite being referred to as the “new generation of prime movers”. These songs speak of the trails adults could have blazed for them had we only had the conviction to make a sacrifice, and paths we could have bushwhacked had we only gotten the will to be selfless at times.

Mask Rider Black for example is their attack on the spate of killings here done vigilante-style. “Mask Rider Black is on de attack, mga pamilya na watak watak, mga kaliwatan puros gahilak, mga luha dili na mupatak; sa mga panghitabo, kawatan din-a gyud moguho, mga tulisan bantay bantayan, basin sila ang mosunod sa listahan, sa mga tawo nga wa mailhan.”

“Mask (masked) Rider Black dili malihayan basta maagian ka sa kadalanan, mga taong sad-an dili mahatagan ug hustisya sa mga kapulisan; hasta ebidensya dili makit-an morag gitabunan sa mga politician. Bang! Bang!”

And long before President Arroyo placed the nation under Executive Order 1017 or the State of National Emergency, the group has already been blaring out with “Put Out de Fire” - Put out de fire that’s been burnin me country/shoot de water to the people in ja prayer rally/why do you get to do this to me/when we try to make it in a peaceful way/As ja police tries to block our way/but we proceeded/With the use of ja Bible and pray/But there you go use some force/But I believe coz we carry the cross/And the words our Father gave us/All of ja evil will bow down to us/Ei it’s “The Lady in Red” and have u heard all the things she said?/She said “for the sake of our country we gotta call for the state of emergency/hypocrisy/have you forgotten what’s democracy/it’s a free country where people can say/all of ja things that they wanna say.

In the raw yet, having been contented with exposures in various gigs at campuses, Santing Scalawags is yet to produce an album of their compilation expected to be delayed for lack of funds. Yet, despite the oxymoron that puts their songs in conflict with their band name, they have proven to speak their mind on what our divided society failed to prepare for them.

TEXTPRESS URSELF! 27-Feb 15:48:57 "Nabasa ko po ang inyong main heading na SEX.SEXUALITY.SEXUAL RESPONSIBILITY. LOVE. Gusto ko pong malaman kung ano ang kaibahan ng love sa like - Anonymous. 27-Feb 14:02:15 "Hi ms. eleanor, Im ariel, 23 yrs old. i love ur column 2day. Its good dat u open ds topic to confused & guilty teenager's bout sex. 27-Feb 17:07:54 "Hi, I'm a reader. I have read your magazine about sex and love.. Is sex really needed in love? Pwede sa sunod maghimo pa ka og mga readers digest sa love og sex? My name diay is Kenrick Avila, 17 from Compostela.

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