Thirteen years ago, Kuh Ledesma, then flying high as the country's Pop Diva, could stage a concert series like “Bayan Ko” and use it as a bully pulpit to try to rouse her countrymen to action. No fudging, no hedging, no fence-sitting. Ms. Ledesma minced no words about corruption, violence, apathy, greed--all the ills that hogged the headlines then, and all the ills that have only gotten worse today.
This was before Ms. Ledesma found God and became the Zen presence that she is today on ASAP--bland, placid, content with her inner peace. Perhaps, like many others, she got weary of fighting the hard fight. Who could blame her? Once upon a time she added her voice to the cry for change--bet her career, her art and money on it, too--but nothing happened.
How many so-called pop icons today have used their celebrity the way Ms. Ledesma did in her prime, harnessing the power of her art to give voice to outrage, to lash out at iniquity and ask the hard questions?
But then again, when Their Excellencies the bishops themselves could get riled up about Playboy but not about sleaze and perfidy in high places, why expect celebrities to take up the slack?
Anger isn't always a bad thing. Anger is what this country lacks--especially now--and anger was what Ms. Ledesma had only a decade or so ago when she opened her mouth to sing.
“Nagagalit tayo--and then what? We forget too easily. Kailan uli natin bubuhayin ang siklab? At bakit natin kinalimutan ito?... I sing this song with anger and defiance in my heart. But also with hope!”
It's Araw ng Kagitingan today. I miss the Kuh Ledesma of 1995.