STOP “A CONCERT IN THE CLOUDS” : RESPECT AND PROTECT SAGADA
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STOP “A CONCERT IN THE CLOUDS”: RESPECT AND PROTECT SAGADA
Sagada continues to face numerous challenges and threats to its local culture, values, and natural environment. One of the immediate threats is a proposed massive show called, “A Concert in the Clouds: Sagada, Art, and Music Fair”, scheduled for October 28-29, 2017. The producer anticipates 3,000 to 5,000 attendees with tickets marketed to pop music fans predominantly from the Metropolitan Manila area. However, this proposed outdoor extravaganza poses a substantial threat to our indigenous community’s social, cultural and environmental life with an unbearable burden to Sagada’s capacity to accommodate this event.
“A Concert in the Clouds” MUST BE STOPPED.
Sagada is a rural municipality in the Mountain Province with unique characteristics as a close-knit community of approximately 13,000 mostly family and clan-related residents.
Sagada is HOME to an indigenous group of Kankana-ey speaking people of the Applai tribe who continue to care for the communal commons such as numerous sacred places, rice fields, mountains, and a watershed system that supports Sagada. The natural environs are intimately connected to Sagada’s cosmology, rich traditional culture and practices that are passed on forward from generation to generation.
Sagada’s indigenous community continues to thrive and sustain itself without having to succumb to false, grandiose promises related to “modernity” and “development”, often proposed by a self-serving minority of individuals who anticipate financial enrichment primarily for themselves from events such as the proposed concert extravaganza.
As of the time of the making of this petition, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is underway between the Local Government Unit (LGU) with the Henry V. Moran Foundation and the lead producer, Ed Formoso of Manila, who has a history with the music industry. However, many issues such as clean-up and sanitation, illegal drug distribution and illegal drug use that typically occur at these kinds of events, security screening and weapons possession, first aid, and lack of accommodations capacity for thousands of people, have not been meaningfully addressed nor planned for. Additionally, beyond immediate issues shadowing this event spectacle, negative long-term impacts such as the setting of precedent for large-scale entertainment industry events in Sagada threaten to follow, inaugurated by the proposed “A Concert in the Clouds”.
Why You Should Care
While the title of the concert gives it a kind of mystique and sounds like an exciting event, many short-term and long-term negative impacts loom threateningly over Sagada.
1. Thousands of show revelers amassed in one venue will bring an ecological nightmare. Sagada already grapples with issues such as lack of sanitation and waste disposal, lack of recycling of imported plastics, and lack of robust management. A horde of thousands of people over two to three days and nights would mean piles upon piles of trash that would be left for the local residents of Sagada to clean up like servants cleaning up after the party events of masters. Looking at a historical outdoor rock concert example, the 1969 Woodstock rock concert has been highly romanticized in the American context yet its negative effects have been covered up until recently. While Woodstock is known for the rock stars who performed in front of drug-laden audiences, a little-known fact is that the local residents of Woodstock, New York who had opposed the concert in the first place and the U.S. National Guard being brought in at the last minute together had to control and clean up after concert revelers and drug users. If not for local residents and the National Guard having to control and clean up after the thousands of attendees, the Woodstock show would have been an even greater disaster than it was in reality, with thousands of attendees trampling on the grounds of the concert site leaving a lot of trash and causing many other problems. (http://www.woodstockpreservation.org/Essays/SMcKean.htm
The proposed two-day concert extravaganza in Sagada will very likely result in thousands of plastic water bottles, alcohol cans and bottles, plastic bags and other trash including used tampons, cigarette butts, leftover illegal drug paraphernalia, and urine and bowel excrements. The proposed concert is a real environmental and health and safety threat.
2. Concert producers, organizers, and enablers ignore and neglect Sagada’s tourism carrying capacity by encouraging and selling tickets to thousands of pre-show ticket buyers with the added possibility of walk-in tourists also buying tickets currently priced at PHP2000 per ticket. Selling tickets to thousands of buyers while ignoring tourism carrying capacity endangers the community’s weak infrastructure. We take special note that this proposed concert would occur just before a school semester break commencing around November 1. However, this is a time period primarily for local students and adults to go on vacation with family, as well as Sagada relatives living elsewhere who visit Sagada to reunite with family and take part in traditional, sacred and homecoming ceremonies among themselves. Sagada’s core values are transmitted via local practices and not in the selling of extravaganza shows produced by mass entertainment industry organizers for prospective audience members who know very little to nothing about local culture and values.
"Tourism Carrying Capacity" is defined by the World Tourism Organization as “The maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without causing destruction of the physical, economic, socio-cultural environment and an unacceptable decrease in the quality of visitors' satisfaction”.
3. Sagada is NOT Boracay. We must and can avoid the ecologically and culturally damaged example of Boracay. Sagada is a quiet town and many years ago declared the “cleanest and greenest town” in the Mountain Province. Sagada’s residents wish to maintain it as such rather than be overrun by entertainment spectacles and mass tourism. Sagada already has its own rich history and culture, with a lifestyle that is far from the hustle and bustle of urban metropolises. Bringing in large-scale concerts such as this concert is like opening a can of worms, or a Pandora’s box of curses that cannot be retrieved.
4. Alcohol and illegal drug distribution and use typically occur at pop music and rock concerts. We often read and hear via the news and social media about societal problems greatly increased by drug use. For example, in 2016, five deaths were attributed to illegal drug use at a concert organized by Close Up- Unilever, even though the organizers stated that a stringent "security master plan" and "code red scenarios" were in place. The responsible and safer course of action would be to not permit and stop “A Concert in the Clouds” from occurring in Sagada.
5. The concert marketing does not explicitly say whether the extravaganza is a benefit concert and/or for-profit venture. What is said is that the proceeds will go straight to the organizers and their foundation, and it can be assumed that the producer will make money as is the practice among music and other entertainment industry people. The benefitting foundation advertises that they will use proceeds from the concert to fund THEIR projects in Sagada but they do not explicitly promise what percentage of the proceeds will be distributed to the children, teenagers, men and women of Sagada. Additionally, no mention is made of who will be independently monitoring and managing concert income as a matter of full transparency and accountability.
6. The proposed concert extravaganza will increase traffic build-up problems. By local choice, Sagada has narrow roads and one major road only. At the same time, Sagada suffers from traffic congestion especially during peak tourist season. Without concrete traffic management schemes for the community to review, tickets are already being sold to attendees who are likely not aware of the many issues that permeate this proposed concert.
7. The marketing of the festival is unmindful of the visual materials that are used to promote the event. The event promo says, “Experience Sagada”, but uses several photos of a different place, not Sagada. As such, a level of misrepresentation is taking place by advertising the event using extraneous photographs. Furthermore, the list of artists is only partial and the specific venue is publicly unannounced as shown in the producer’s/organizers’ Facebook postings. But tickets are already being sold. Thus, the question for people thinking about attending is, “Are ticket buyers so naïve so as to purchase tickets to a show without a full list of artists at an unspecified site?” Buyer Beware as a saying goes.
8. Any event that is proposed to be held in Sagada, together with the marketing and promotion, is better initiated and managed by local people themselves. Local people better know what they want and are more attuned to their practices and beliefs, and can thus make better, fully informed decisions accordingly.
9. There is no written work plan. The organizer is yet to submit a written proposal detailing the projected costs and sales, anticipated clean-up and sanitation, plans for security including illegal drugs and weapons searches, and prevention of alcohol consumption, traffic management, and environmental impact plans. A full accounting should be made which also include details like if artists are getting paid or not, are they going to donate their talent fee , if the producer or anyone involved will get paid or not. We need actual figures, transparency, and accountability.
10. The concert is said to benefit some various organizations and institutions in Sagada, but it is not stated in the posters, Facebook page, and the website of the foundation sponsoring the event. Coupled with the lack of a written proposal, it comes across that there seems to be no obligation or promise to give the funds that have been promised to the community.
11. Posters and write-ups that have been circulating online state that the concert is coordination with the St. Mary’s School of Sagada Alumni Association, but contrary to the fact that the organization based in Sagada has not been made aware of the concert at all.
12. This concert does not have the full consent of the entire community and should be subjected thoroughly to the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process. The concert is an event primarily initiated and promoted by an entity from Manila. Although an unspecified “few” individuals from different sectors were invited to attend the meetings held by the organizer, the entire community is in fact not well informed, nor fully informed about the concert and the full scope of possible impacts. Thus, the concert does NOT have consent from the community and violates the FPIC.
13. The covert manner that this event has been organized with utter heedlessness and disrespect of the customary practice of consensus decision-making in the community, poses a threat to cultural integrity, self-governance and local empowerment. Advancing this event utterly disregards the rights of Sagada’s indigenous people to Free and Prior Informed Consent.
Assertion of local, indigenous peoples’ rights
As Sagada people work toward sustainable tourism and development:
We strongly believe that this concert should not and cannot be permitted to occur. Some might say to take a “wait and see” attitude to this concert. However, this kind of attitude is a sure set-up for failure bringing negative short-term consequences and long-term, insidious effects on the local community. Therefore, the precautionary principle should be applied even before harm can be demonstrated.
We strongly believe that Sagada is NOT an appropriate venue for events such as this concert extravaganza. While we read and hear about the intentions of the producer and organizers, intentions “to do good” can be carried out differently and in other, positive and sustainable ways that do not threaten nor harm the culture, values, health, safety and natural environment of Sagada. This concert can and should instead be staged somewhere else such as within or near the Metropolitan Manila area or other urban center.
We firmly believe that grandiose promises made and economic gains anticipated by the producer and organizers are substantially outweighed by the negative effects that the proposed concert would bring to Our Sagada, adversely impacting Our social, cultural, and environmental life.
This proposed concert is an event wielded through various methods of intrusiveness that attempt to adversely manipulate our choices and local decisions as an indigenous community in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
“A Concert in the Clouds” has no grounding in the daily lives, culture and values of Sagada’s people and MUST BE STOPPED.
What can you do?
Please help Sagada and her people:
1. Sign the petition online.
2. Share this petition with many others via Facebook, Twitter and other social media, and via email.
3. Directly voice your opposition to the event producer, organizers, and the artists who are currently listed.
RESPECT AND PROTECT SAGADA
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