farmers in the Philippines

Peasant Month playlist: 10 Filipino songs to honor our farmers

Daniel Aloc
Peasant Month playlist: 10 Filipino songs to honor our farmers
It is important to support our farmers in every way we can. A good place to start is by sharing the songs about their challenges and aspirations.

October is Philippine Peasant Month. It’s the time of year to cherish the struggle of the Filipino workers who form the backbone of our economy, especially as COVID-19 continues to batter the country.

Given the issues in our agricultural industry, it is important now more than ever to support our farmers in every way we can. A good place to start is by sharing the songs about their challenges and aspirations.

Here are 10 songs in keeping with the observance of Peasant Month:

“Magsasaka, Ikaw ay Bayani” by Buklod. From the 1988 album Bukid at Buhay, which featured the original band lineup of Noel Cabangon, Rom Dongeto and Rene Boncocan, the song is a tribute to peasantry and the struggle for a truly democratic and just society.

“Tano” by Patatag. As Ramon Ayco recounted in an interview a couple of years ago, he wrote this song in Cagayan Valley during the peak of Martial Law in 1978. It tells the story of a peasant named Tano, who was pushed to take up arms and become a rebel when the exploitative landlord dispossessed him of his land.

“Bigas” by Grupong Pendong. Written by Joi Barrios-Leblanc, the song tackles the plight of the masses who feed the nation but can hardly feed themselves; men and women who, when they demand justice and reform, are responded to by the state with violence.

This is exactly what happened in Kidapawan, North Cotabato in 2016, when government troops opened fire at a demonstration of hungry farmers demanding “Bigas, Hindi Bala (Rice, Not Bullets).”

Bigas from Loi Almeron on Vimeo.

“Sierra Madre” by Musikang Bayan. A protest song, written by Red Crisostomo and sung by Levy Abad, that exposes the atrocities of the military in the countryside, and points to the age-old problem of land monopoly as the root cause of armed struggle.

“Hacienda” by The General Strike. The song depicts the feudal exploitation of peasants, seasonal farmworkers, and agricultural workers in haciendas, such as land rent, usury, high costs of production, unequal distribution of harvest, inhumane working conditions, and extrajudicial killings.

“Ang Lupang Ito” by Gary Granada. The second track from the album Pagsamba’t Pakikibaka is a religious take on the issue of landownership. It also tackles the problem of land grabbing.   

“Kung Puntod na ang Bukirin” by Gazera. Based on the poem Kung Puntod na ang Lupa by Axel Pinpin, the song remains very relevant today as peasant killings continue under the Duterte administration, the most infamous of which was the 2018 Sagay massacre, where nine sugarcane farmers were killed at Hacienda Nene in Negros Occidental – reminiscent of the Escalante massacre in 1985.

“Gulok at Itak (Awit sa mga Magsasaka)” by Joel Costa Malabanan. This song calls on people to stand with Filipino peasants in their struggle for land reform and social justice.

“Dapat Bawiin” by Patatag. This adaptation of a Nueva Cancion song from Uruguay is part of the Nagbabagang Lupa album. It insists that the land belongs to the tillers, not the privileged few. 

“Awit ng Magbubukidby Tambisan sa Sining. The anthem of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines). KMP has been at the forefront of the Filipino peasants’ struggle for free land distribution and genuine agrarian reform since its founding in 1985. On August 10, 2020, KMP’s deputy secretary general Randall Echanis was brutally murdered at the age of 72 in his apartment in Quezon City.

– Rappler.com