I heard the news today, oh boy: four kids trampled to death in a stampede during the Musiklaban rock contest/concert in Amoranto. A hundred or so kids — and they are kids, because most of them look like they’re barely in their teens — in black shirts emblazoned with obligatory “anarchy” and punk bands’ patches, unable to enter the packed stadium, crashed into the gates of Amoranto.
Upon crashing, the pangkistas (local version of that 80s Brit cultural phenomenon called “punk”) rushed into the crowd to evade pursuing guards and cops, thereby causing a stampede. When the dust in the moshpit cleared, two kids (one only in his underwear — black, of course) were dead and the other two rushed to East Avenue Medical but were likewise pronounced dead.
Riots and stampedes are common occurances in concerts, especially ones featuring bands whose songs’ lyrics have only one word: “growl.” Allan, a colleague and a reformed pangkista, made an acute observation. He said trouble is sure to occur when local “metal” acts Queso, Chicosci, Slapshock or Greyhoundz perform. Of course, even the garden variety “pangk” bands are not spared, as long as they pass the decibel requirement.
This I believe, having been to one UP Fairs too many. This year’s Feb. 14 Fair night was particularly illustrative, with hordes of pangkistas from a nearby high school demolishing the feeble GI sheets that separated the paying from unpaying devotees. Even burly fratmen were no match for the kids who charged into the fair grounds with reckless abandon, triggered by Audie Avenido ang Co.’s sonic assault. The next day, Joms’ orgmate (sis of “punk momma” Dada N.) related to me that the trespassing kids may have been her high schoolmates. During high school, her male classmates would yearly plan their “attack” of UP Fair. The reason, she nor I can fully comprehend. I suppose it may have something to do with punk as a social movement that encourages devotees to “defy” authority or its symbols (the sight of yuppies must have irked them). Either that or they must have liked the band too much but did not have the money to pay for the ticket.
In any case, the incident revealed a lot about the nature of today’s youth. Punk may be considered “laos” (not the country) in the streets of postmodern London, Manchester or Liverpool, but it certainly lives on in the ghettoes of Payatas, Commonwealth and Roxas District, among the youth whose parents labor in factories and sweatshops all day for measly pay. These are the kids of today who are disgruntled and disgusted, their seething anger at the world, at government, at society, ready to explode, in whatever form, from moshing to gang wars, from petty crimes to drug addiction.
I fervently look forward to the day when this fury of our begotten youth will be fully harnessed for socially liberative ends. In the meantime, we will continue to grieve for our dead pangkistas.