BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The country’s legendary folk singer Freddie Aguilar is very popular here in Sugarlandia.
Aside from his seminal song “Anak,” his 1985 song, “Mga Bata Sa Negros (Children in Negros) ” became the anthem in an island reeling from a failing economy as US sugar prices plunged to rock-bottom and the Communist insurgency rocked the cities and countrysides with their then growing armed might.
That social commentary of Ka Freddie earned him criticisms more than 30 years ago.
Recently, Ka Freddie strode right into the middle of a battle, a figurative one as the fight for the mayorship here has become a match between political titans – sitting Mayor Evelio Leonardia, the longest-serving chief executive at 18 years, and former Third District solon Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez, once the second-richest member of the House of Representatives.
The issue: Freddie’s song for Albee or so Team Asenso claims.
The points of contention have already grown since the song was posted on the “Albee the Change” Facebook page 7:43 am on 2 April 2022.
The questions: what is the song title? Is it a jingle of Team Asenso? Is it offensive to the police? Is it a realistic portrayal of the state of affairs in the city?
DNX took a look at the original post to the reactions it has spawned close to a week after it was upped on social media.
First the title.
On the original post dated 2 April 2022, the song had the caption:
“Let’s hear Freddie Aguilar’s song for Albee Benitez
Title: ALBEE KAYUHAN SANG BACOLOD
Let’s SHARE this video” and had the hashtags AlbeeTheChange and ASENSOBacolod.
It was timestamped April 2 at 7:43am.
The title in Hiligaynon means Albee the good for Bacolod.
The local press was largely unaware of this song until the City Public Information Office released a statement yesterday signed by physician Chris Sorongon, a candidate for councilor and spokesman of Grupo Progreso, the ruling rival party to Albee’s Team Asenso
Titled “GP condemns Albee, Aguilar’s derogatory campaign jingle” with the kicker “PNP SAYS BACOLOD’S CRIME VOLUME ONE OF THE LOWEST IN WV,” the statement was the first frontal assault on Benitez in the midst of the local campaign.
“It is ironic that former Third District Rep. Albee Benitez, who is running for Bacolod mayor against the incumbent, Atty. Evelio Leonardia, has commissioned folk singer Freddie Aguilar to compose and interpret a campaign jingle that obviously pictures the city as the seat of crimes and corruption,” Sorongon said as he identified the” close to 4-minute score (sic), entitled, “Wakasan Ang Krimen (End Crime).”
Read Sorongon’s full statement here.
But is it really a jingle commissioned by Team Asenso?
‘It was a song for Albee and not our jingle,” the publicist of Benitez told DNX when sought out for comment.
Albee supporter Rodel Parcon transcribed the lyrics of the song written in Filipino:
ALBEE KAAYUHAN SANG BACOLOD
(A B C D B C D)
Narito na ang pagbabago
Pagasa sang Bacolodnons
Kilos na bayan ko
Wakasan na ang krimen
Tanaw na ang liwanag
Wakasan na ang korapsyon
Nariyan na si Albee
Ng pagbangon ng Bacolod
Nga ibunga serbisyo
Magahatag sang dungog
Respeto kag paglaum
Para ang Bacolodnons
Albee kag Team Asenso
Kauswagan sang Bacolod
Parcon added in his post: “Ang korapsyon krimen. Ang iya biktima pumuluyo. Resulta kapigaduhon nga gaduso sang iban nga tawo nga makaobra krimen. Gani, dapat gid ya untaton ang korapsyon.”
Sorongon took issue at what he said can be considered “fake news” and called “Mr. Aguilar, a has-been who is a non-Bacolod resident, the song is not only a derogatory piece of trash but also a clear black propaganda tool that insults Grupo Progreso as well as the entire decent citizenry of Bacolod.”
Reacting to the developments, local police spokesperson, Lt. Col. Sherlock Gabana said “I listened to the song over and over again. For us the lyrics of the song talking about ending crime are not offensive. It is a general statement and therefore not offensive for the police.”
Sorongon’s statement, however, also quoted Lt. Col. Lester Leada, who is BCPO chief of operations, to have said in that in Region 6, Bacolod has the lowest crime volume since the start of 2022 until March with Iloilo” having the highest at 849, followed by Negros Occidental at 688; Iloilo City, also an HUC like Bacolod, has 687; Capiz, 355; Aklan, 249; Bacolod, 234; Antique, 165, and Guimaras, the smallest province, had 59.”