Fate can be a funny thing sometimes, and it leads us to connections we never really expect. Our latest connection was the opportunity to meet up with Jett Ilagan, an artist who hails all the way from Laguna. Jett asked us to accompany him around Baguio to share his craft to our city. This is part of his tour, which started in Laguna and led up north to Baguio.
Jett Ilagan is a performing street artist, a musician to be more precise, and he brings to the streets what is usually confined within the walls of a bar or dance club. He plays electronic music, going by the stage name “Escuri”. Equipped with his portable sound system and his sampler (a device into which sound tracks are fed so they can be played at the touch of the many buttons and knobs on it), he performs at different areas, immersing his sound waves with varying environments.
As far as we know, we have yet to experience anyone else performing electronic music in the random, populated areas in Baguio, so we and Jett were really excited to make this happen. And to be honest, we were quite anxious about how the people were going to react to Jett’s performance.
Our first stop was Session Road, specifically at the terminal to Mines View, underneath the notable graffiti-embellished building accross Jollibee. The audience was composed of people waiting for their jeepney ride home. As Jett inconspicuously prepared his equipment, we braced ourselves for what was about to go down. Imagine the sounds of a bustling Session Road at 8pm – cars passing by, horns beeping, footsteps of people rushing to go home, and the conversations (or absence thereof) between the people waiting in line. Then suddenly, music.
The experience was new and exhilarating to us as we observed the changes in the background. Heads were turned to check the commotion out. The people passing by slowed their steps. The sounds of the cars was overlapped by the sound of Escuri’s ambient electronic music. There were reactions. A different kind of life was brought to the area, and that was the whole goal. One quotable conversation we overheard went something like this:
Girl: What’s he doing?
Mother: He’s playing music.
Jett’s project is also an experiment on how his music would sound when mixed with different environments, so we brought Jett to Burnham to try playing at Burnham Lake. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating so instead we went for another performance at the Rose Garden, which was occupied by Pokemon Go enthusiasts to give them a bit of background music as the players caught their Pokemon. Escuri garnered the same reactions and we were happy to notice the people crowding around his area to listen to the music.
Jett had also been very insistent about playing in a tree-filled area to see how the sound would register, so we brought Jett to John Hay and trecked across muddy land to give the trees a little performance despite a little bit of rain.
Lastly, Jett had organized to play in the underground area of Maharlika, in a shop that sells Baguio souveniers, and it made for a really great and unique photo op.
The question that’s probably on everyone’s mind is, “Why is he doing this?” Jett tells us that he believes music is for everyone and that electronic music shouldn’t be limited to parties and bars because not everyone has the luxury to go to those places, so he wants to make electronic music accessible to the public. It is in this way that he wants to contribute to society as he develops his craft and his identity as an artist.
Jett Ilagan’s mission is an inspiration to us and is something to replicate for the betterment of ourselves and the people around us. As Jett has been very expressive about how he enjoyed his experience in Baguio, like the sights, trees, mountains, weather, and city life, we hope that he comes back to Baguio to bring more life to the usually mundane streets.