With his enormous contribution in the music industry, he will be bestowed the much-coveted “Parangal Levi Celerio Award,” named in honor of the National Artist for Music Levi Celerio on Sept. 9, 2018 from the annual Star Awards for Music by the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC), to be held at the Resorts World Manila.
Right after the presidential election that catapulted Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte to the executive post, people thought that Freddie Aguilar (aka Ka Freddie) has quietly returned to his deep passion for singing songs with nationalist content. This was after the brouhaha at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) when his controversial appointment as executive director was nipped in the bud.
But think again. His unwavering support to President Duterte and his patriotic love for the country cannot be silenced. This we found out after chancing upon him in one of his scheduled gigs at his restaurant and music bar at Morato, Quezon City.
In that conversation, we found out that Freddie was appointed as Presidential Adviser on Arts and Culture. He pointed out, “This cultural animal in issue is not a mere duplication of the programs on the promotions of arts and culture that are already existing in some agencies of the government.”
He cited among others that the NCCA is not exactly measuring up to the notion and mandate of reaching out and giving cultural support fairly to everyone needing them especially to those in the remotest areas of the country.
As adviser to the President on the country’s over-all cultural affairs, one of his functions therefore is to make arts and culture, including the gasping if not dying mainstream movie industry accessible to all. “My mandate includes, among others, bridging the gap between the so-called elitist culture and the other cultural bearers in the remotest regions of the country including the indigenous peoples,” he added.
What actually happened to his much-touted appointment at the NCCA? Other than some technical considerations to the position, Ka Freddie recalled that it was pointless to force himself on a system that looked like a snake pit inhabited mostly of “yellow” vampires ready to devour him whole in flesh and blood.
He would have accepted the position if the “yellows” were thrown out of his way. In the meantime, Ka Freddie is elevated a notch higher than all other cultural agents of the government put together thru the aforesaid position directly under Pres. Digong.
The position according to Ka Freddie is not a payoff. The President is a long time good friend of his for over three decades now, and yes, still counting. Long before President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the country’s chief executive position, the singer of international acclaim disclosed his friendship with the President spans many years from way back.
Pres. Digong must have developed some fondness for Freddie’s kind of music early on. The admiration for each other became mutual since then. Freddie considerably sang for Pres. Digong in his past presidential sorties.
What was it like to sing for the campaign sorties of the presidential aspirants including Duterte?
“For the past 40 years or so I have campaigned through my patriotic-oriented songs for several presidential aspirants including ex-Pres. Cory Aquino whose platforms I mistakenly believed in. Sad to say, I felt exploited and betrayed because I did not see any changes at all as promised,” he recalled.
He added citing an instance in which out of desperation he cut-off his relationship with Pres. Cory on the second year of her term for failing to parcel out the land due the poor farm workers of Hacienda Luisita even up to this time.
It’s different, however, with Pres. Duterte. Through thick and thin he has stuck it out with him. He now helps Pres. Digong in actively pushing for the Federalism Movement to the grassroots level.
How does he do it? “I cite from prevailing situations. Say, out of the 100 pesos earned by your province today only 9 percent pesos goes back to the coffer of the province in return. In Federalism, it is the total reverse. Why should the central government get much of the share from the hard earnings of your province?” he pointed out to buttress his argument.
Backing up the aforesaid advocacy of Freddie Aguilar is the Filipino Artists, Musicians and Entertainers Society (FAMES) founded by Jograd dela Torre, Zander Khan, Toto Natividad, Jojo Lobiano, etc. with Lito Camo as president.
This with the support of the “Friends of Freddie Aguilar, Ang Tunay Na Boses Ng Masa,” successfully organized by Bayani Balt, chairman of the Christians and Muslims for Peace (CAMP), and Domingo Cañero, national president of Hukbong Federal Ng Pagbabag.. Another solid group supporting Freddie is the Tau Gamma fraternity nationwide mobilized by Teng Ares and Ana Lou Chua-Olivar whose members include top showbiz celebrities like Luis Manzano, Jhong Hilario, and Jopay Paguia of Sexbomb who is a member of Tau Gamma Sigma Sorority.
In this connection with his “Parangal Levi Celerio” award, we asked him if he had any fun memories with the National Artist?
“Oo naman, marami. One time, we discussed para ma-legislate at madagdagan naman ang pension ng mga National Artist dahil sobrang liit talaga ang tinatanggap nilang monthly sa ngayon.”
What prompted you to become a Muslim? “Mahabang kwentuhan ito,” stressed the singer. “Before that for several years I was a man literally without religion pagkatapos kong maging isang Christian, at Iglesia ni Kristo. It was part perhaps of my endless search for the Faith. During those years in a manner of speaking I communicated directly and personally to God. Until dumating nga ‘yong kontrobersiya na kesyo ini-exploit ko raw ‘yung underage girlfriend ko that time, remember? But look, sino nga ba ang nag-exploit sa isyu na ‘yon on hand? Hindi ba ang media? Until may nag-suggest sa akin from some of my Muslim brothers in Maguindanao who were close to me dahil they have been my beneficiaries in my fundraising concerts before na mag-convert na raw ako into their religion. I asked my girlfriend, kung okay sa kanya. Hindi siya pumayag baka raw makakaapat pa akong babae na pakakasalan. I consulted her parents who willingly gave their go signal and wholehearted endorsement dahil sila raw ay that time sobra na ring naapektuhan sa pangyayari. That did it.”
And what made you decide to run for senator this coming election? “Galing ‘yon sa mga sanga-sanga at nagkakaisang sincere wholehearted suggestions and endorsements from my Muslim brothers and other inter-faith sectors throughout the country. Among other reasons which are listed down in my vital agenda of advocacies for my election platforms, gusto kong matulungan si President Digong na maisulong at magtagumpay ang Federalism movement sa ating bansa.”
Do you have a go-signal from Pres. Duterte? “Yes, of course,” he ended.