Goodbye, kaleidoscope world  

Posted by Laya in ,

One of my more vivid high school memories is watching some of my classmates perform during a Linggo ng Wika activity, wearing the requisite Filipiniana costumes... and hopping to the beat of "Mga kababayan ko, dapat lang malaman nyo, bilib ako sa kulay ko, ako ay Pilipino... (My countrymen, you should know, I believe in my color, I am Filipino)"

It was the early 1990s, and this new song was all the rage, even though it was rap, a far departure from the ballads and love songs that we were used to. Who could resist the upbeat lyrics? "Kung may itim o may puti, mayroon namang kayumanggi, isipin mo na kaya mong abutin ang iyong minimithi... (If there are blacks and whites, there are also browns, just think that you can achieve what you dream about)"

Then there was the rapper himself. Whenever we saw him performing on TV, he looked no older than we were, in his baggy clothes with a kerchief on his head.

Francis M.'s "Mga Kababayan Ko" was my first introduction to rap music. (Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" was a dance track to us.) For me at least, it was the first rap song, introduced as such, that made it to the Mindanao hinterlands where I was born and grew up. It was the rap song against which all others were measured. The artist, too, was the one against whom all other artists were measured.

More than fifteen years later, he still was. There are other rappers out there now. But the Master Rapper stood out because he sang about something different. Of a genre usually viewed in a negative light, he made something good. Instead of singing about angst, violence and gore, he sang about brotherhood, patriotism and Filipino pride. And because of that, I am glad that of all the rappers there were and could have been, his songs were the ones that reached us first.

In 2007, working at a BPO, my co-workers and I made it a tradition to go out for videoke at least once a month. After singing our lungs out, we always turned the last two songs into community choruses. Those songs were always the same: Orange and Lemons' Pinoy Ako (Pinoy Big Brother Theme), and Francis M.'s Kaleidoscope World.

Months later, it said on the news that Francis M. had leukemia.

Today, a friend told me that he is gone at the young age of 44.

Unbelieving, I searched the internet for confirmation. Yes, it was true. He's gone.

Rest in peace, Master Rapper, and thank you for the songs. Above all, thank you for giving us pride in our nation and our race, for inspiring us to dream, for reminding us that although the world might seem grim and bleak, like a kaleidoscope we can shake to create new shapes and images, the power to change it is always in our hands.

...Every color and every hue, is represented by me and you. Take a slide in the slope, Take a look in the kaleidoscope. Spinnin' round, make it twirl, in this kaleidoscope world.

In Memoriam Francis Magalona, March 6, 2009.

Photo of Francis Magalona by mela sogono on flickr; licensed under Creative Commons License BY-ND-2.0.
Photo "Youth Hands" by Avondale Pattillo UMC on flickr; licensed under Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND-2.0.

This entry was posted at Friday, March 06, 2009 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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