[This is a feature on a Maranao rock band named Warna. I noticed this band in April, 2004 while covering a rally in Marawi City. I wonder how the band is doing now.]
Marawi City (April, 2004)– There is a big rally in the town center here. Emotions are high, and the sun is, too, but for the five young Muslim men standing quietly on the sides, conditions couldn’t have been better.
After a series of fiery speeches criticizing the national government’s alleged anti-Muslim stance, and with the placard-carrying, Allahu akbar-chanting crowd already worked up, the young men make their move.
They take over the stage, lay down some wires, throw some switches, and with “weapons” in hand, start blowing everyone away — with rock music.
It hits everyone in their soft spots. Even raging rallyists at the rally here (in support of the one led by Robin Padilla in Manila April 6) are reduced to tears.
Such is the power of Warna’s music, an up and coming Maranao alternative rock band, that Maranaos here are taking notice.
Composed of Dino Mamangconi on vocals, Yasrani Ibrahim on bass, Alexander Alag on lead guitars, Carding Ali on rhythm guitars, and Fahmie Aguam on drums, Warna is taking Marawi and Lanao del Sur by storm.
And with their catchy riffs influenced by alternative greats like Greenday, Creed, and the Foo Fighters, and meaningful lyrics that tell of real experiences in the land of promise, Warna is not having a hard time winning Muslim fans.
Frustrated over the decades-long conflict in Mindanao, the members of Warna, who are all residents of Marawi and are still in their twenties and early thirties, decided to use musical instruments instead of guns to try and make Mindanao a better place for everyone.
“Hindi namin kaya makipagbarilan o ano, so we just do it through music, through the words,” says 21 year-old Yasrani who is taking up a management course in MSU-Marawi.
Yasrani says that every moment on stage is a chance for the band to spread its message of peace.
Also, according to lead vocalist, Dino, 31, the band’s other purpose is to let the rest of the country know about the Muslims and the Maranaos, the great people of the lake.
“That is what the name, Warna, is all about – color,” Dino explains. “We show the true color or characteristics of the bangsamoro people through our songs.”
Dino, like Yasrani and rhythm guitarist, Carding, also study at MSU-Marawi. He is studying to be an accountant, while Carding, the eldest of the band members at 33, is still mulling whether to finish his Management course or not.
Lead guitarist Alexander is 27 and a computer science graduate of the IliganCapitolCollege in nearby IliganCity. He works as a DJ for 96.9 dxEM FM radio in Marawi.
The band’s drummer, Fahmie, 21, is a third year accountancy student in MSU-IIT also in IliganCity.
However, Warna only began playing at rallies recently. And a very strong influence on the band’s choice of gig venues and ultimately, change of heart, is Doc. Norma M. Shariff and her son, Aga Khan, who write songs for them to play.
Doc. Shariff is the head of the Meranaw Ethno Cultural Institute while Aga Khan is an aspiring politician. Mother and son write songs to inspire the bangsamoro people.
Dino is close to the Shariffs and it wasn’t long before Doc. Shariff began asking Dino to play the songs she composed. Soon after, members of the band also started writing songs that reflect the Maranao world view.
“We used to play covers only but after we tried playing relevant songs, parang iba na,” says Yasrani, “I realized merong i-cocontribute pala.”
Warna is now busy playing at rallies all over Lanao del Sur because, “Medyo in demand,” drummer Fahmie explains with an embarrassed smile. (Rex Godinez Ortega, 2004)
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Rex Godinez Ortega
All pictures taken from myspace.com.