Marathon online concert series raises P80 million

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THE marathon concert series Bayanihan Musikahan has raised more than P80 million in donations to benefit various organizations and communities after two and a half months of nightly online concerts.

And it is still going strong.

“I haven’t met a team of people as highly motivated, intelligent, and industrious as this team who have brought their respective expertise to the table and raised more than [P80 million] to help alleviate the plight of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in Metro Manila and outlying provinces,” National Artist for Music Raymundo “Ryan” Cayabyab said in a release.

The online concert series — organized by Mr. Cayabyab and four others — was named after his late-night music show, Ryan Ryan Musikahan, which ran from 1988 to 1995. The online concert series, which started on March 19, has had more than 100 concerts so far.

The first season — which ran from March to April — featured performances by Lea Salonga, Martin Nievera, Ebe Dancel, Sponge Cola, Top Suzara, and Noel Cabangon, among many others. The second season — which started in April and is ongoing — has featured performances by Regine Velasquez, Ogie Alcasid, Jennylyn Mercado, and Dennis Trillo, among others.

“The coming together of individuals in the music industry, civil society, and the urban poor community leaders has been remarkable,” Danilo A. Songco, CEO of PinoyMe Foundation, a foundation which supports microfinance institutions, was quoted as saying in the release. Mr. Songco is one of the organizers of the program.

The project was created in the early days of the Luzon-wide COVID-19 lockdown in order to send help to the most vulnerable people in the National Capital Region.

Initially, the project aimed to raise enough money for 15,000 food packs. The concert series was expected to run for only a week or two, but it quickly turned into something bigger than the organizers ever imagined.

“We thought we might make a million bucks — tops. Maybe P5 million, but that kind of number was outside the ballpark,” Trina Belamide, songwriter and music producer and one of the organizers of the program, said on Bayanihan Musikahan’s official Facebook page on May 21.

As of May 20, according to the project’s Facebook page, they have raised more than P82 million.

The donations are managed by Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and the funds were converted to 100,000 food packs for informal settlements in Metro Manila, Cebu, Laguna, Cavite, and Pampanga. The funds were also used to “subsidize a barangay quarantine center” in Quezon City, to feed more than 300 homeless people temporarily housed in colleges and university campuses, and for a grant given to the Artists Welfare Project Inc. to help performing arts workers. They also managed to tap rice and vegetable farmers from Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, and Bicol to supply items for the food packs and helped those farmers transport their produce to the capital.

“The music persists that it will be remembered beyond the pandemic, perhaps years from now, as citizen action as art,” said Jay Adlao Block, head of events organizer Outbound Asia, of Bayanihan Musikahan which she helped run, in a Facebook post on May 20.

“It is the worst time, and the best time for musicians, creative artists, and composers. The worst time, because there are no jobs available, no live performances, no gigs, no regular work that are needed for recordings, for live TV or taped TV shows, etc.,” Mr. Cayabyab said.

But it is also the best time because it affords them the opportunity to “practice more, have more time perfecting our craft because there are not many distractions and no traffic that eats up a person’s work hours.”

Online concerts, he said, feel more intimate as performers can interact with their audience — but it does leave them with a feeling of hollowness as “performers feed off of the energy given by spontaneous reactions from the audience like applause and standing ovations.

“Without these reactions, a performer would have to make tremendous adjustments to their psyche,” he explained.

To view past performances, catch new performances live, and for more information about the cause, check the Bayanihan Musikahan Facebook page. — Zsarlene B. Chua