While the likes of John Legend and Christ Martin are inspiring their fans remotely with homemade digital concerts amid the coronavirus scare, Filipino crooner Dane Hipolito aka "Jarlo Bâse" veered away from the appeaser route and is almost acting revolutionary with his newly launched demo. His song title: "Korona," and on the cover art is Pasig City Mayor and now-symbol of modern leadership VIco Sotto. The young musician composed and produced the song (uploaded on Soundcloud), as a reaction to the country's crisis situation, suffering at 707 cases with 45 deaths as of press time.
"I was actually just making a beat," Jarlo tells ABS-CBN Lifestyle. "I was trying to de-stress and get my mind off of everything that's been happening. Then, next thing I know I was writing about all of it."
Jarlo's self-effacing comment, of course, doesn't in any way devalue the content of the song and the context it presently revolves in. Jarlo's lyrics are barbed with straightforward observations about the national government's efforts and the upper to the middle class' apathy, as the Philippines altogether combats the virus already with many cities and provinces in lockdown. "Buying all the items in the market, why? Depriving everybody of protection why?" Jarlo writes in the first verses. "Complain about the vendors not the government, why? Crowds are seen in public and you wonder why?" He zooms in on his cause closer with his pre-chorus, "Life has left them nothing now no privilege to stay inside"—before slamming it with a rap in Filipino as a way to speak up for the disenfranchised madla. His song is overall delivered in delicious lo fi, that may or may not have been intended to appeal to the younger crowd.
"'Pero pano naman si Juan na 'di tamad palaging kulang?'" Jarlo says as his favorite lyrics, targeting the upper classes living comfortably and quite oblivious of the real situation while in quarantine. "Because hard work doesn't always equate to success or a good life. Ang hirap maging karpentero, janitor, o pedicab driver. Pero kahit anong sipag nila, palaging hindi sapat 'yong kinikita nila. Mahirap maging mahirap, sabi nga daw."
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Jarlo explains further what pushed him to write the song, "It bothers me a lot. I'm having a hard time accepting the things happening around us right now. Ang hirap isipin na ganon pala talaga tayo kabulag sa mga tunay na nangyayari sa bansa natin. We're all living inside bubbles. It's frustrating to say the least. I mean, I'm not angry at anyone in particular. It's just really frustrating to see the huge disparity and the lack of concern and empathy."
Recently, some government officials got accused of entitlement after taking COVID-19 tests despite showing no to mild symptoms. This, as the country grapples with scarcity of test kits and the Department of Health's protocol that only those with severe symptoms or at high risk (ie. senior citizens, pregnant women) can undergo the test. Next to public officials, some celebrities and socialites also drew flak for their "tone deaf" comments on people trying to make both ends meet amid the catastrophe.
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Although, Jarlo points out, "Korona" also suggests that it still can be done. His selection of Sotto as his thumbnail, for example, isn't a coincidence. He calls the millennial mayor—currently receiving polarizing comments for his creative projects to contain the outbreak in his area—"a great leader," whose promptness and logistics he approves.
Beyond the song and the social media activism, Jarlo seeks to raise funds through his technical knowledge in both music and fitness, with proceeds from the tutorials heading straight to the centers. He also has plans relating to charity with fellow musicians Quest, Keiko, John Roa, and Sabu in the pipeline.
"We can definitely help in our own way. There's a reason we have so much. It's so that we can share. This world is probably never going to be fair for everyone. But we can always try to make it easier for others," he declares.
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