By Jen Freeman
When disaster strikes, one thing that can surely be counted upon is the resilience and community spirit shown by Boracay island’s residents, as evidenced in this case by the Boracay Island Musicians’ Association (BIMA).
Following the six-month closure, long term island residents and beloved performers Butch Bautista (a resident of Boracay since 1986) and Dean Santamaria (resident since 2012) were inspired by the plight of their fellow musicians to create an organization with a view to assisting its members in receiving emergency fund aid and disseminating much-needed advice and information to all of those left jobless as a result of the unexpected hiatus. The five-member BIMA council was then formed, together with members ArtPaul Sison, Apple Andion Sison and Miggy Angelo.
Since most of Boracay’s hotels, bars and establishments were forced to lay-off their staff and performers during this time, the island’s musicians were set adrift without means to sustain themselves and their families, and BIMA became an invaluable resource and support network, for members unsure of their legal rights or eligibility to claim Emergency Employment payments from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
A lively and well-attended three-day fundraiser concert was held at Bom Bom Bar and Pat’s Creek Bar (both of which remained open during the 6-month rehabilitation period), in aid of BIMA members, while at Nigi Nigi Nu Noos ‘E’ Nunu Noos bar and beach resort, an entirely new band was being formed.
The six-member Calamity Survival Band, as it was soon dubbed, took life due to the island’s closure, as displaced musicians came together to create an entirely new group, performing their rock, pop and country repertoire nightly at the resort bar and restaurant for the few remaining residents. Due to their huge success, the band is still performing together to this day.
Fast forward almost two years and BIMA is still going strong. Now with 160 island-based members, an online chat group on Facebook keeps them linked-up, providing relief musicians for those who are unable to attend their set unexpectedly, and the organization aims to be able to provide help and support for individual members during times of ill health or bereavement.
Meanwhile, BIMA is still hold fundraising gigs and events, this time for other worthy causes both on the island and beyond.
Since Boracay reopened to the public in October of 2018, concerts have been held in aid of the fire victims and their families at both CityMall and Ambulong, where many homes and livelihoods were razed to the ground, and for the families of the Boracay Dragonforce dragon boat team members, seven of whom drowned in a tragic accident in September last year.
Most recently, the aforementioned Nigi Nigi Nu Noos bar played host to an afternoon-long event to raise funds for victims of the Taal Volcano on Luzon Island, the eruption of which saw thousands of people evacuated from surrounding towns and villages, and others with homes completely destroyed.
The concert, held on Sunday, February 2, brought together over 30 of the island’s best-loved performers for a day of rock, blues, jazz, ballads, and folk music, with both all-time favorite classics and current hits taking center stage.
A total of PhP27,166 was raised by BIMA for the Red Cross fund for Taal victims; a combination of on-the-spot-donations and a generous percentage of bar and restaurant sales contributed on the day by Nigi Nigi Nu Noos.
For further inquiries regarding the Boracay Island Musicians Association, contact Butch at (+63 948) 782 8295.