Apr 20
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Harana, sunanoy, balitaw.

Author: Ma. Eleanor Valeros
Column: Backbeat

Thanks to Atty. Manuel Lino Faelnar, director of the Lubas sa Dagang Bisaya Inc. , for passing on a load of very interesting information which hopefully would perk up the interest of many of our songwriters/composers, musicians, and record producers here.

The info has something to do with a survey of Visayan song types - harana, sunanoy, balitaw, berso, kulililsing hari, sabi, daygon, awit banikanhon, and komposo.

We are very familiar with the harana, I suppose. Harana is a traditional form of courtship music in which a man woos a woman by singing underneath her window at night. It was once widely practiced in many parts of the country with a set of protocols, a code of conduct, and a specific style of music. The main instrument is the guitar, played by the "courter", although other string instruments such as the ukulele and violin are also frequently used.

According to Dr. Jes Tirol, chairman of the University of Bohol, the song "Luha sa Kalipay" with music and lyrics by our very own Manuel Velez is a good example of a harana. Other harana songs are "Balud" and "Kahibulongan" composed by Fernando Alfon, Sr. according to an article entitled Mystical and Magical Mindanao by Grace Dacanay-Chong which appeared on this paper May 9 of last year.

As for the sunanoy, it is said to be classical music. According to Tirol, Cebuano classical music is called sunanoy. An example of this is the song "Sa Kabukiran", lyrics and music by Maning Velez later popularized by Sylvia la Torre with Tagalog lyrics by Levi Celerio. It's just sad to note that Velez was not given songwriting credit for this.

Dr. Erlinda Alburo of the Cebuano Studies Center-University of San Carlos said that sunanoy is an adaptation of the English sonnet popularized by Aglipayan Bishop Fernando Boyser (aka Floripinas).

Furthermore, the balitaw is one form I am most interested in. In fact I had suggested to Bisdak band "Ossified" in 2005 that they should move within this circle as the group's songwriter and main man has a Pablo Neruda in him, waiting to be unleashed. As for those who find balitaw Greek, this genre is about a love debate in song and dance between a man and a woman, but that it is "more sung than danced. " Dr. Tirol said that "if it is not danced, it is just an awit banikanhon - a folk song. " The balitaw serves as a representation of the varied hopes and values of Visayan life. The religious/folk beliefs of the early Bisdaks, social relationships, loves, friendships, and enmities also find expression in the balitaw, this was learned.

Meanwhile, berso (verses), according to Crescencio Bendijo who is a Visayan music aficionado, is "original rap performed by a man and a woman usually in courtship. " One verse is composed of four lines; it is like balitaw but balitaw is with a little dancing.

Here's an example:

Boy: Inday, bisan asa ikaw magtago,

Bisan adto pa sa ilawom sa hungot,

Tuntunan ka sa akong gugma,

Moguwa ka sa alimuot.

Girl: Ako, Manoy, dili kanimo,

Kay tiguwang ka na kaayo,

Dili ka na abtan og bulan,

Segurado ka nang motikangkang.

We're used to kulilising hari, but Dr. Alburo said that the correct term is kulililsing hari. This is a parlor game wherein the person, to whom the handkerchief falls, will give a verse. Dr. Tirol gives the following example:

Nakadungog ako'g balita,

Balita gikan sa Sugbu,

May nagaihaw og ba-o,

Ang tambok pito ka barko.

As for sabi, it is said to be a uniquely Visayan form which is sung in two languages, in immediate translation. It is actually a children's song for the teaching of another language. One example we had learned in kindergarten goes a little something like this: One day, usa ka adlaw/I saw, nakita ko/The bird was flying, ang langgam naglupadlupad/I shot, gipusil ko/I roast, giasal ko/I taste, gitilawan ko/Very sweet, tam-is kaayo.

No need to explain further on daygon. You know very well it's the Cebuano Christmas carol. The best example of which is "Kasadya ning Takna-a" composed in 1933 by Vicente "Noy Inting" Rubi with lyrics by Mariano Vestil. Its famous counterpart is "Ang Pasko ay Sumapit," a modified version written by Celerio again but not as a translation of the original. However, Celerio was again given full credit and none for our kind. Tsk! Tsk!

The awit banikanhon is a catch-all word for all folk songs from nursery rhymes to children's songs to drinking songs, fishing songs, planting songs, ballads, patriotic songs, story songs, and love songs. I heard plenty of these patriotic folk songs can still be heard in Biliran. That's nice; I hope we can be treated to an audiofest on this once Region 8 gets to host the One Visayas event.

There is also the komposo (the Hiligaynon song form). Edith Colmo, a Bacolod journalist, said that komposo is "ang repeated tune lang kada paragraph bala, daw gahimo bala story. "

Colmo has the following for an example: "Ako nalooyan buktot ko nga ugangan/Kun akon madumdoman/Nagasakit ang akon dughan/Maayo pa man gani/Kun di siya magpauli/Kay dughan ko ang daw magisi. "

Even the Mangyans of Mindoro are found still writing "komposo" today on segments of green bamboo and singing it while on courtship. During the Spanish times, it was used as a tool for oral mass communication. Every barangay and town had, in the average, two to three manugkomposo who would sing out in public places, usually at the plaza, important events to be commemorated or the "latest news. " Komposo is a narrative sung in repetitive melody, later adapting and responding to the changing situations and needs of a developing Ilonggo-Bisaya society. Popular subjects or themes include municipal ordinances, town life as opposed to life in the hinterlands, virtues of Catholicism, the brutalities of the Moro invasions, folk legendary heroes, among many others.

Now why am I sharing these to you? These forms may not anymore be timely, but with the touch of "evolution and revolution," the timeless values embedded therein can be used today. This is a call for those who profess for that one great love of music to reinforce into mainstream music what we know is good, right and inspiring.

In the frenzy of everyday life, do the songs we listen to magnify our Bisdak culture or are we still stuck in the bogey of some other adopted culture that continually confuses us? Aside from the "pasyon" which refers to the passion of the Christ versified and read during Lent with a chanting style, do our songs mirror hope or hatred? Do these shape our minds for division or reconciliation?

Songwriting is a daunting assignment, we may say. But we have to learn that if we want to impact the course of a life, we could start it with one good, right, inspiring and culturally relevant song.

All we need to pool are the right materials so we could finally put an end to advertising our ignorance of our very own music.

Source: The Philippine Star