By Nickie Wang
Four decades ago, a US senator lobbied assistance to the rapid degradation of the environment. Yet, he could not seek help from Washington so he took it instead straight to the American people and got overwhelming support. A year later, a nation-wide environmental demonstration took place and then the Earth Day was born.
In most part of the world, most especially among members of United Nations, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. In the Philippine, it is usually a week-long event that features a myriad of activities from Aparri down to Jolo.
One of the most active celebrity environmental activists in the country is musician Lou Bonnevie. She spearheads the annual Earth Day Jam, which is a musical marathon that has been a highly-anticipated event since its inception in year 2000. The musical event aims to get the commitment of people to help reverse the process of environmental decline.
Last April 23, the busy strip of Tomas Morato became the venue for the guitar-strumming, drum-beating ambassadors for Mother Earth. The show started at 7 p.m.
The seven-hour musical marathon featured more than 20 musicians and artists working in various genres as diverse as the world of music, like alternative rock, reggae, and ethnic music. Kicking off the eco-friendly festivity were the Ateneo Dancers and the UP Dance Crew.
“Just like the previous years, this event is going to be explosive. I can’t tell which part of the concert is the highlight because every year, just like the natural course of nature, it’s unpredictable,” rock icon Bonnevie told the Standard Today.
Some of the top acts were Noel Cabangun, Kalayo (former Pinikpikan), Imago, Session Road, and Up Dharma Down. Major bands like Callalily, Kjwan, 6 Cycle Mind, Chicosci, Hilera, The Dawn, Radioactive Sago Project, Tropical Depression, and Urban Dove are also set to make the stage ablaze with explosive performances. Other acts like Bembol Rockers and Skabeche are expected to provide a different musical experience.
A decade of commitment
Ten years ago, Lou Bonnevie was invited to be part of a concert at Quezon Memorial Circle . She said that it was a small gathering of musicians whose main concern is to promote environmental awareness.
“I felt out of place because my genre was pop music and most of them were into ethnic music. I even got reprimanded for calling their dresses costume,” she started, “ before the event we had a simple press conference here at the Hard Rock Café. So this press conference reminds me of how I started promoting environmental causes through music.”
In our interview with Bonnevie, she recounted her attempt in seeking help to stage Earth Day Jam. She said that she had to talk to a lot of people, especially artists and celebrities, to support the advocacy. After Earth Jams first ever press conference at the Hard Rock Café, which is also the venue of its press conference after ten years, Bonnevie looks forward to a better way of sending an important message across.
“I realized then, why this very noble cause is only open to a very small number of people? This effort should reach a wider audience. I mean, channel the message of promoting environmental awareness down to the people who know nothing about global warming and environmental issues,” Bonnevie said.
One of the main motivations that inspired the rock musician to pursue the advocacy was the thought that in some other parts of the world, celebrities are at the forefront in promoting environmental issues, thus getting more support from big business organizations and their respective governments.
“You can ask me about global warming and my answer would be vague. That’s why I’m organizing this event because I know some individuals who are knowledgeable enough to explain what’s happening to our environment. I’m here to be a tool for change, and to bridge the gap by using music to get the attention of the public,” asserted the 40-year-old pop rock musician.
Resource speaker representing environmental NGOs and volunteers from the civic society will participate in the program. According to Bonnevie, these organizations make Earth Day alive each year.
Apart from NGOs, the local government of Quezon City is one of the main sponsors of the musical marathon. Earth Day Jam is also fully supported by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Tourism.
Successes and challenges
Earth Day Jam’s major success, according to Bonnevie, is its ability to convert the attitude of ordinary people towards the environment. Issues like deforestation, global warming, waste management, endangered biodiversity and the like are discussed during the musical marathon.
“Our audience is getting bigger most especially now that we are getting the support of young artists. Our target is to get the attention of the young ones because they are the next in line that would carry on this effort. We are calling on the attention of 10 million Filipinos, we want to get their commitment by simply registering on our website,” Bonnevie appealed.
In the succeeding years, as the Earth Day Jam continues to promote environmental causes through live music, it aims to get more corporate sponsors.
“I have to admit, we have limited finances and getting more corporate sponsors will allow us to continue our efforts without fully relying on the government. Environmental problems are immediate issues that we cannot take for granted. We want our efforts to continue beyond musical marathons,” Bonnevie ended.