What is HIMIG MASA?
HIMIG MASA is a Filipino music collective in Ottawa that seeks to raise awareness about the struggles of those who face oppression, and to build links of solidarity with those who are fighting for human rights and global social justice.
Over time, the membership of the group has evolved and so has the flavour of its music. In its early years, the group performed folk songs composed by cultural activists in the Philippines and Canada. Today, original compositions about social and political realities of the day are the defining feature of HIMIG MASA.
In many ways, HIMIG MASA is not your typical band. It is made up of first and second generation Filipino immigrants from different walks of life, brought together by the desire to imbue social meaning into music by focusing on the lives of people who face or struggle against oppression. The group’s efforts to reach out to people and communities are purely on a volunteer basis, and limited by the time that can be carved out of its members’ busy lives.
What the group has achieved so far is partly due to support provided by others – Neptunes Music Workshops through its community-spirited events, social activist organizations/networks that organize events to celebrate grassroots milestones such as May Day and International Women’s Day, and other volunteer musicians who have contributed to the music produced by HIMIG MASA.
A Brief History
The early beginnings of HIMIG MASA can be traced back in 2010, when a group of Migrante Ottawa members got together to perform at community events to bring attention to the situation of migrant workers and broader social justice issues. Its first CD (Hawak Kamay, Kababayan) was released in 2014 as a community fund-raiser for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. A year later, a second CD was released by the group (Moving Mountains for Change).
More recent CD releases of HIMIG MASA are original compositions by Nona Grandea, who is now the lead vocalist of the group. In 2018, the CD Album with the feature track “A Day Away” contained the first wave of her original work. This was followed by a second album called “Tyranny” released at the Grassroots Festival on April 28, 2019. A third album called “Times We’re In” was released in 2023.
As a singer, songwriter and musician who migrated to Canada roughly three decades ago, Nona’s musical influences are eclectic – a reflection of her desire to closely intertwine powerful and meaningful lyrics in the folk tradition of Bob Dylan and music inspired by rock bands such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Santana. Ultimately, her music is inspired by the struggles of everyday people for whom the music is written.
Other core members of HIMIG MASA are: the group’s drummer, Raelle Bautista, a self-taught drummer who came to Canada as a migrant youth in his early teens; and back-up vocalist Mariedel Labuga, who came here as a temporary foreign worker a number of years ago, and has since made Canada her home.
Check out the video release of the song A Day Away on YouTube.
Check out the most recent video release of the song Don’t Give Up on YouTube.
You can listen to other songs of HIMIG MASA at himigmasa.bandcamp.com
To contact HIMIG MASA, you can send a message to [email protected]