Kritika Kultura Lecture Series presents Jose S. Buenconsejo

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
5:00 PM
6:30 PM
Faura AVR

Kritika Kultura, the international refereed journal of language, literary, and cultural studies of the Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University—in cooperation with CHED-Salikha's Ethnographies of Philippine Auditory Popular Cultures (EPAPC)—will host a lecture by Jose S. Buenconsejo. The lecture—titled "Songs for the Masses: Humor in Max Surban's Folk Urban Ballads"—is on Feb. 12, 2019, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at Faura AVR, Ateneo de Manila University. The event is open to the public.

About the lecture
A growing scholarly literature on the relationship of music to politics in the Philippines has underscored the importance of song performativity as a mass medium. In this paper, I explore what is it in most of Surban’s songs that have struck a resonant chord in the lives of the poor and marginalized Filipinos. A key to understanding this is to look into Max Surban’s songs as satirical social commentaries that his listeners can relate to in their everyday social experience of poverty and deprivation. Surban’s voice in most of his songs, non-sentimental and true to the folk tradition (kanta) from which it comes from, narrates the material conditions of individuals as social types (and not sentimental individuals in mainstream theater). Thus, his songs create what is akin to Bertolt Brecht’s "alienation" effect that enables a critical contemplation on the harsh conditions that the poor are in. Humor is an important palliative ingredient in the reception of Surban’s songs as "novelty." I argue that this masks the social pain that could have led, along with critical reflection, to a positive and enduring social transformation.
About the resource person
Jose S. Buenconsejo is Professor of Musicology at the University of the Philippines College of Music.
About Kritika Kultura
Kritika Kultura is acknowledged by a host of Asian and Asian American Studies libraries and scholarly networks, and indexed in the MLA International Bibliography, Arts and Humanities Citation Index (Clarivate), Scopus, EBSCO, the Directory of Open Access Journals, and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs (ICCTP). For inquiries about submission guidelines and future events, visit or email