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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 1 September 1998

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Artists in Alliance
Every person is a friend waiting to be found
There is a village in the making | Jesus Manual Santiago

It was a year ago when I received a call from a long-lost friend, Siddharta of Bangalore, asking whether I could meet him and his Algerian friend.

The following evening at a watering hole for writers and artists, I had a sharing of stories and beer with Siddharta and her friend from Algiers, Nadia. In between poetry reading and some music, I heard about an alliance quietly doing its part in making this world a better place to live in. I was given some reading materials to augment what little I gathered from them. I said I'd go over the materials and give my reactions the next day.

The following morning, over coffee, Nadia told me more about the Alliance for a Responsible and United World. She was so full of enthusiasm, so vibrant and hopeful, that she appeared to me as the personification of the ideals of the organization she was telling me about. She then wondered whether I would be interested in attending a forthcoming conference in Brazil. In response, I gave her a copy each of my two cassette recordings, requested her to listen to my songs and to please be kind and frank enough to tell me afterwards what she thinks about them - whether my songs could serve as credentials for participation in the conference. If so, I promised to write a song for the Alliance.

That same night, I read again - this time with more care and interest - the Alliance documents. After this second reading, I knew I would be writing a song about the vision of the Alliance. Immediately, a line came to mind: "There's a new world in the making". I thought it would be a good line for a song.

Since then, every night during the next couple of months, I agonized over that line. But I couldn't think of the next line. What's happening to me, I asked myself. Why couldn't I go beyond the first line? Why could I not move on?

Then one evening, while lying in bed, unable to sleep, I found the answer. My stumbling block was the term `new world'. The term brought back images of the dark years in the Philippines. Those were the years of martial law when the so-called `new society' was being built by the dictator. I realized that all these years, I had associated the term `new' with the 'new society' of brutality and repression.

Meanwhile, I found the term 'world' as too intimidating, too abstract, too unrealizable, something I could not even visualize.

That was why I opted for `the village'. It is more palpable, more concrete, easier to picture in one's mind, and therefore easier to realize. And it is modest. It is the basic socio-political unit. Every person-every living thing for that matter-- comes from a village, one way or another. Also, `village' means the soil, the land. Even as we let our dreams run wild, we must keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.

I got out of my bed, grabbed a pen and a sheet of paper, and let the song write itself.

It is said that every person is a friend waiting to be found. The song was the fulfillment of a promise made to a friend I had the fortune to find.

Jess Santiago

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There is a village in the making
Return to Top | Every person is a friend | Jesus Manual Santiago

There's a village in the making
For the hungry and oppressed
For the helpless and the dying
The uncared-for and unblessed
It's for those whose lives are battered
But who keep on living on
It's for those whose dreams are shattered
But who keep on dreaming on

There's a village in the making
For the silent and the silenced
The unlettered and the nameless
The disabled and displaced
One may speak in ones and zeroes
Or in signs and muted calls
Yet the language of the heart
Is the mother tongue of all

There's a village in the making
A community of friends
Who refuse to yield their hope
to the sirens of despair
There's a village in the making
It's no dungeon in the air
Come together and in friendship
Build this village of our dreams

There's a village in the making
For humanity in pain
Where the sun is source of healing
And no acid stains the rain
It's the home for all the homeless
The forsaken and forlorn
It's for people of all ages
And the children yet unborn

There's a village in the making
From the ruins of our greed
It's for people of all color
Of all gender and all creed
For the flora and the fauna
And the future of us all
For the child that dwells in each of us
And the friend we have in all.

Dream on...

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Jesus Manuel Santiago
Return to Top | Every person is a friend | There is a village in the making

He was born to poor parents in the sleepy little town of Obando, 17 kilometers north of Manila. He grew up among fisherfolk and farmers, selling candied bananas, ice drops, game spiders, comic books and newspapers in order to put himself through public school. As a college student, he worked as a bookkeeper, janitor, dishwasher and clerk in small firms. From this background he drew the diverse experiences that would later be relieved in his poems and songs.

His poems have been published in national and international magazines and anthologies. He was declared Poet of the Year twice in a row (1978 & 1979) by the Institute of Philippine Languages. He has translated into Filipino Lu Hsun’s "Diary of a Madman," Arthur Miller’s "Death of a Salesman," and some poems and songs by Latin American and Afro-Asian writers.

As singer-composer, he has produced two cassette albums of his songs--Halina (1991) and Obando (1993). He received the "Mother Country Award" from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in recognition of his role as the prime mover of the people’s music movement in the Philippines.

From 1983 till 1989, he served as program coordinator of the Cultural Action Program of the Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD). He organized and facilitated the Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on People’s Culture (1986 and 1988). Presently, he is the international linkages officer of PANULAT (National Union of Writers in the Philippines).

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