Impressive in its scope, Philippine Modernities: Music, Performing Arts, and Language 1880-1941, edited by University of the Philippines musicologist José S. Buenconsejo, reminds of the various, multiple, and complex ways that Philippine culture and arts were entangled in processes of modernity. A good number of the essays collected in the volume offer insights into the complexities, conflicts, and ambiguities that ensued as colonial Philippine culture and society underwent developments related to modernity. But the volume does not entirely fulfill this potential as many of the essays resort to dichotomous views of local and foreign, homogenizing notions of nation, and a one-way concept of the relationship between economic and cultural developments. Modernism, as a set of styles that express and constitute modern mentalities, receives little attention, as do analyses from alternative perspectives like class, gender, and ethnicity. Nevertheless, the book is an important contribution to the growing body of research on Philippine (post)colonial culture.
Modernities; Modernism; Philippine culture; Colonial culture; Nationalism; Postcolonialism; UP College of Music