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PUBLIC APPEAL FOR HELP (July 20, 2000)

 

OPM is asking for your assistance regarding some of its members who are seeking medical and financial help.

  • Mr. Gerry Paraiso has 3 months to live and he's already on his 2nd month. He can only stand up for 5 minutes. His wife is in the USA working while the kids are the ones taking care of him here.
  •  

  • Mr. Levi Celerio is also very sick and needs medical assistance. Though Mr Celerio receives government subsidy for being a National Artist for Music and Literature (1997) this is barely enough for his medical care.
  •  

  • And lastly, the family of the late Mr. Willie Garte needs financial assistance also.

Though OPM has given them the Equity Fund, any other pledge and donation will help greatly.

 

Thank you very much.

 

ARTICLE OF OPM TO MR. REDENTOR ROMERO

 

In 1989, Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) and Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with then Commissioner Miriam Defensor Santiago. This required producers of foreign acts to pay a minimal equity fee to OPM for each of the foreign artist they brought in. Since this was our experience with their counterpart organizations abroad, we thought it was only fair. Law instructions were issued by Com. Santiago for procedures of working permit release. Producer will present to opm the names of artists. After payment opm issues clearance to bid for working permit to be released. Exempted were classical artists, cultural exchanges, those who donated 100% of proceeds to charity, and those with Filipino parents.

 

For the past 11 years Commissioner's Miriam Defensor, Andrea Domingo, Bayani Sobido, Zafiro Respecio, Ramon Liwag, Leandro Verceles sR. Edgar Mendoza, Homobono Adaza and Rufus Rodriguez and their legal depts. have complied with the MOA with full support and cooperation. The equity fund has given financial aid to singers who suffered tragedies such as fire, roberry, death in the family, legal fees, hospitalization and illness.

 

In 1997 intrumentalists organized themselves into Asosasyon ng Musikong Pilipino (AMP) under John Lesaca. Being brothers in the industry, we joined forces in 1999 on a three way (3) MOA with BID. With Comm. Rufus Rodriguez' passionate protection of the rights of Filipino artists, we felt very happy and safe.

 

That is why we are very saddened that some individuals have managed to distort the nature and function of this MOA. More specifically, Mr. Redentor Romero's accusations that we have no right to issue clearances for classical artists because we are merely clowns and drug addicts who play bad music leaves one quite speechless. How does one respond to that? By hopefully appealing to his common sense and reason. We fully respect classical music and artists. Just as we respect all forms of music and arts. It is a god given gift to be used with humility and gratitude. And because of this we desire to protect it. There is a procedure protected by law. Everyone have complied. Mr. Romero wants to be the exception. The classical artist is already exempt. All we ask is for cooperation for the procedure. Afterall, we have classical artists as members too. And they have benefited from the equity fund.

 

 

 

LETTER OF MR.REDENTOR ROMERO TO OPM/AMP

 

The Honorable Rufus Rodriguez
Commissioner, Bureau of Immigration and Deportation
Intramuros, Manila

 

Dear Commissioner Rodriguez,

 

This is a letter I had been avoiding to write. And how I wish I did not have to write it now.

 

To date, as you very well know, the Asosasyon Ng Musikong Pilipino (AMP) founded in 1998 by "violinist" John Lesaca, Vice Chairman with saxophonist Mario "Tots" Tolentino as President and the Organisasyon Ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) with entertainer Mitch Valdes as President, still insist in requiring our National Philharmonic Society to seek clearance from them before the Bureau of Immigration will issue a permit to the foreign classical artist we invite to perform in our country. In short, the AMP/OPM want to get their high by asking us to bow to them and get their blessing.

 

THE CLOWNS. What the AMP/OPM group is asking us to do, however, is tantamount to Pavarotti asking Madonna or Whitney Houston for permission and clearance before the celebrated tenor can sing La Traviata. This is indeed the first big joke of the new millenium! Only in the Philippines is this happening and all because some nitwits want to play God and Jesus Christ. In the United States, England and Australia where the unions are strongest, one needs only to secure an immigration permit.

 

Why should we ask for a clearance and permission from these characters when they are proving themselves comedians through this hare-brained idea of theirs? Nevertheless, we are still waiting for a reply from the AMP/OPM to show us the Republic Act, mandate, ordinance or decree and under whose authority are we being required to get a clearance first from the AMP and OPM both private entities like our National Philharmonic Society, each time our imported artist can perform in this country.

 

Their claim in wanting us to bow to them is "for the purpose of monitoring events…. to give us a complete picture of what is going on. This information will then be condensed into a report that we submit at year-end to the AMP's Chairman (former First Lady Amelita Ramos) and the Board of Trustees. Also, the report will be used for inquiries from agencies, government or non-government who require such."

 

How qualified are these palookas who want to monitor us? What have they done to enrich Philippine cultural life, to preserve our cultural heritage and the legacies of our forefathers --- as well as promote and propagate Philippine music worldwide in collaboration with the world's greatest orchestras such as what our National Philharmonic Society has single-handedly done for the past 39 years with the undersigned conducting?

 

The AMP/OPM group which now wants us to bow to them and kiss their feet is but a bunch of parochial and insular pop musicians and entertainers who are not even that good or original to merit invitations to perform before the most sophisticated entertainment circles and (not Filipino) audiences around the world. It would be just like you, Commissioner Rodriguez, the former Dean of San Sebastian College of Law and now the distinguished Commissioner of Immigration who must first obtain a clearance and permission from a gang of bar flunkers before you can practice law.

 

It is significant to mention at this point that just very recently, there were many foreign instrumentalists (20 in all) that performed at the Bamboo Organ Festival in Las Piñas. And there are indeed cultural entities like ours that invite foreign artists and instrumentalists to perform in our country every now and then. They include the Cultural Center of the Philippines headed by Mrs. Gloria Angara, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts headed by Mr. Jaime Laya, the Opera Guild by Imelda O. Cojuangco and Ballet Manila by Lisa Macuja among others. Did violinist John Lesaca and saxophonist Tots Tolentino have the audacity to call the attention of these distinguished people to get a clearance from the AMP and OPM before their invited foreign artists could perform in our country? I bet!

 

DRUGS AND SHABU. We in the classical music world could also put up our own organization and sit down with your goodself and take you for a ride as they had done--- and require all foreign pop artist and entertainers like them to secure first a clearance from us and prove that they have passed DNA tests and are not shabu and drug users before they can perform here. This would be a more valid reason because there are, indeed, many shabu and drug users in the entertainment world to which the AMP and OPM belong. The fact that 2,000 in the entertainment industry refused to take drug tests last year already speaks volumes. Why don't the AMP and OPM just monitor the rampant drug addiction in the entertainment world?

 

REVENGE. It is obvious now that the AMP/OPM are zeroing in on me. I see they are still bleeding badly and have not gotten over the pain and humiliation they received in 1985. They have an axe to grind; they want to get even with me. They want to exact revenge using unsuspecting and trusting citizens like former First Lady Amelita Ramos and now the Bureau of Immigration as mere instruments for their deceitful purpose. For instance...

 

THE BASTARDIZED NATIONAL ANTHEM. During the celebration of Independence Day on June 12, 1985 members of the OPM including Mitch Valdes, president, Celeste Legaspi, Hadji Alejandro, Nanette Inventor as well as Bert and Martin Nievera bastardized and desecrated the Philippine National Anthem by coming up with a rock 'n roll version of it. Adding insult to injury was the statement of Martin Nievera, an American citizen, that "we are proud of what we did". (An afro-American basketball player was recently deported for dancing to and for making fun of the Philippine National Anthem. Martin Nievera should have been deported even faster.)

 

Soon after thousands of recording of said version were produced by the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) to be sold nationally. Nobody could raise a howl of protest because the project had the imprimatur of then First Lady Imelda R. Marcos. To stop this and the massacre of our beloved anthem I denounced the culprits in the media and went on a national guest speaking tour from Tuguegarao to Zamboanga exposed the unholy alliance of nitwits and palookas resulting in loss of face by the OPM and money by the KBP. For doing my patriotic duty the powerful KBP in retaliation, banned, since 1985, (except the courageous DZFE) the playing of my recordings glorifying Philippine music with the world's greatest orchestras.

 

JOHN LESACA, "VIOLINIST". The admirers of "violinist" John Lesaca, who has successfully peddled himself through sheer media manipulation as the nation's top or leading violinist, will no doubt be shocked to learn that he is just one big joke as a violinist. Actually, John Lesaca is the laughing stock of the legitimate musical world because he really can't play the violin. He has had a very limited music education and violin training to the point where one might safely say that he is a violin illiterate.

 

But why has he gotten away with murder? Easy. Because his solos are supported by catchy rock and pop rhythms which the Filipino ear is accustomed to hearing. Then his showmanship --- featuring a wiggle here, a bump and grind there plus the jerky nodding of the head --- adds to the successful hood-winking of the naïve, gullible and not-so-bright listener.

 

Anyone who does not believe me may please ask John Lesaca to play without accompaniment simple pieces which requires the use of two strings such as All The Things You Are, Hating Gabi or Czardas, the popular gypsy piece. It will be a disaster. All hell will break loose. The nuts of Mandaluyong will cheer and celebrate the coming of a comrade. Mr. Lesaca will sound like a pussycat that hasn't had a decent meal in 3 days. Hating Gabi will become Tanghaling Tapat!

 

ENDING. In a way I am glad after all, Commissioner Rodriguez, that I have written this letter. At least, it gave us the opportunity to air our side and even ventilate our sentiments trusting that you will now understand and appreciate the passion with which we expressed it.

 

I have tried to be gentle and friendly to the AMP/OPM. But they have misconstrued this as a sign of weakness or subservience. Now you know one of the factors why the progress of music in this country moves at a snail's pace if at all. Indeed, there are just too many crabs and incompetents in our midst who want to build themselves up at the expense of others --- to make up for their inadequacies, shortcomings, frustrations and failures. And because of this we are, even in music, way behind Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hongkong. We are the "kulelats" in Asia. I know whereof I speak. I have crisscrossed these countries for years both as a concert violinist and as the Philippines' only international conductor.

 

But at least, we in the National Philharmonic Society are always a lamp instead of cursing the dark. And we respect Philippine law. We have never violated it in 39 years. We have always applied for the necessary permits from the Bureau of Immigration which have always been granted. But bowing to the AMP/OPM would be totally unacceptable. There is no law that requires it. And by their stand, they are not even worthy of our respect at all.

 

Thank you for your kind attention and warmest personal regards.

 

REDENTOR ROMERO
Conductor and Musical Director

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