which is to say there are many reasons for Cynthia Alexander’s leaving for Seattle. none of them is about the lack of support for her music in these shores. this short essay responds mostly to the Francis Brew piece, which painted a narrative that actually made it seem like Cynthia was upping and leaving, complaining and whining, about nation. all untrue.
the interview with Cynthia on which this is based was arranged by Rogue, for a feature piece in the August issue.
So Cynthia Alexander is leaving. And no, it isn’t as grim or sad as we’ve been made to think, nor is it someone whining because she has no support. Contrary to the narrative we were all treated to soon after the Send-Off series poster was put out on social media, this leaving is not about another artist saying goodbye to third-world Philippines for greener-pastured America. Not at all. You would have heard as much at her Conspiracy gig last week; she’s been saying it in interviews too, but it seems no one’s listening, no one’s publishing her story.
Which is really this: the opportunity to do music elsewhere fell on her lap, and she decided to say yes. Cynthia knows she is lucky to even be faced with this choice whether or not to leave, even luckier that she got the support of local cultural institutions and individual artists who sent recommendations for her artist visa. The latter as such is a measure of both her artistry and the kind of support she’s gotten in good ol’ Manila. Quit the lack-of-support narrative, it didn’t come from her, nor is it true for this act of leaving.
And utang na loob do not speak of Cynthia in the same breath as of the dime a dozen diva. We all know she deserves better than that.
In fact, it might do all of us well to stop muddling this narrative with our own notions of nation and identity, creativity and independence, because the story in and by itself is filled with endless possibilities for an artist like Cynthia. We color this leaving with our own sadness and helplessness, and we cease to see how it is an exciting time for this artist. We color it with our frustrations about the state of music and culture in these shores, and we fail to see this as an act of full of hope: for the Pinoy musician in general, this woman’s creativity in particular.
Know to say a proper goodbye, Pilipinas. Own up to your personal emotional narratives of this leaving. Find it in yourself to wish her happy trails. Any of us who have been affected by her music owe her this much.