Just as the world witnessed sweeping uprisings against police brutality with movements like Black Lives Matter, many have continued to protest against the Duterte regime in the Philippines.
Now in his fifth year of presidency, the Human Rights Watch accounted for nearly 9,000 extrajudicial killings (EJK) under Duterte's rule, with domestic human rights groups believing the figure could be triple. On top of the government's "War on Drugs", it has passed the Anti-terror Law, which is strikingly similar to China's new security law imposed on Hong Kong.
With EJK rising up to 50% more during the pandemic and the continued impunity surrounding it, the uproar grows louder, from socially distant assemblies and online commentaries to protest music — one that is championed by Jorge Wieneke, aka similarobjects.
"Budots" music in full circle
Just before Duterte became president in 2016, a viral video of him dancing with teenagers surfaced. Apart from the candid "spectacle", what stuck most was the accompanying music, which was then dubbed as budots — an original free-wheeling Filipino dance craze created by DJ Love.
The genre was later on used by similarobects against President Duterte and his constituents.
Beyond budots, the Club Matryoshka founder and RBMA alumnus has long been active locally and globally as an avant-garde producer, ever-evolving on his journey to experiment and blur boundaries. He's established BuwanBuwan Collective, founded his own electronic music school, and has since released tracks under labels like Darker Than Wax and More Rice.
"I wouldn't really say that my thought process in my recent protest music is any different from any of my other productions, maybe the music/style/execution is different but I do believe they all originate from the same source. I view a lot of my work as autobiographical and It's really just usually me expressing how I feel in relation to my surroundings and my environment," he explains. "I think the main difference with my recent work that covers the Duterte governance is that it is posed more blatantly as compared to my previous work that is usually a bit more esoteric and usually open to the listener’s interpretation. I wanted to use my platform to educate and create awareness about what’s happening in the Philippines."
Music as activism
Throughout his long-running, sought-after streak as a producer and educator, similarobjects is fearless in his pursuit to make music for social justice and reform.
"I’ve gotten mixed reactions from people, some people are scared for me because of how outspoken I can be about it (some people are afraid that it might be putting myself in a risky position) while others have been very supportive and have actually told me about how inspiring it is to see someone using art as a political tool and a means to spread awareness," he shares.
At the height of unlawful deaths and alarming efforts against free speech, Jorge is keen to keep giving the country's national government a piece of his mind.
"I’ve always believed in the power that music has to change our world and I hope more people realize its place beyond entertainment and more people learn to speak up more using their art."
[Images via similarobjects and Philippine Star]