These performers are taking their craft to the streets of Bonifacio Global City.
Street performing, or busking, is not a new form of artistic expression. From troubadours in medieval France to modern-day performance artists in New York City, these individuals have been touring outdoor places for fame and fortune while also bringing enjoyment to the general public by singing, dancing, playing instruments, painting, juggling, miming, you name it.
Bonifacio Global City's arts community supports a group of public artists called BGC Impromptu. According to BGC Impromptu’s Facebook page, the group was “inspired by the street performers/artists found in the cities of Europe and the United States.” By providing artists with free public space within BGC to perform (as long as the acts are wholesome, and artists bring their own equipment), the organization hopes to entertain residents and visitors while they shop, dine, or simply stroll around.
For a better idea of what BGC Impromptu artists actually do, a few buskers shared their experiences on the sprawls of BGC: Blues singer Mykell Gozon; acoustic group Keren and the Pussykets; and acoustic solo artist Prince Valencia.
When did you start performing in BGC?
Keren and the Pussykets: We actually just started July 2013. The band had been playing for a couple of years now in the usual bar scene, until we stumbled upon the idea of trying out for BGC Impromptu and just see how it went.
Mykell Gozon: I started around May this year as I've heard of busking areas in BGC, and I was very interested in doing it.
Prince Valencia: I've been street performing for about 4 months now, and (that’s when) I started in BGC too.
What was the initial crowd reaction when you first performed?
MG: At first they were somewhat confused on what music I played or if I was a disabled person, like the blind buskers you see around the city. But for the most part they were all amazed and entertained.
PV: I'm not the usual straight-up acoustic act so people were intrigued when I used a looper and vocal harmonizer in my performances. They were curious as to how I made the music since I'm a solo act.
KP: The different kind of stares and glances were intimidating, until you get back to the core that you’re there because you want to share your music. We noticed that when we started becoming comfortable eventually, people became more relaxed, too, in watching us.
How is performing in BGC different from performing in other public spaces?
MG: In BGC, it is more structured and (they) also provide some roofing against precipitation. Plus, there's more people to play for.
KP: We always feel like we are never far from home. Performing in BGC does not bring us even a slight feeling of hesitation of whether we are safe or not. We are also well provided with what we need to deliver better performances like power sources, good lighting, etc.
What do you like most about performing in BGC?
PV: I like the ambience and how everyone is friendly, especially the personnel and guards. The crowds are appreciative, and they make it a point that you feel that.
MG: I love the lighthearted and overall happy ambiance in BGC, where people are relaxed, and I like that I add smiles and joy to the hearts of passersby.
KP: We feel safe, and the ambiance is endearing. The foot traffic is also encouraging most of the time.
Are there any disadvantages to playing in BGC?
KP: Honestly, we don’t see any. Yes, we look forward to playing in more places as street performers or musicians, but Keren and the Pussykets will always have BGC on top of the list.
MG: The renewal of the permit is cumbersome, but I know it should be implemented for a systemic approach. The main (disadvantage) is the strictness. Some guards don't allow us to change spots, whereas in literal street performing or busking in other countries the buskers choose where they would play in a certain allotted area based on the acoustics, the crowd density, protection from the weather, time of the day, proximity to another sound source or another busker.
The next time you find yourself in BGC, don’t forget to put your hands together for these artists. World-famous artists like singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté started their careers as buskers, so who’s to say these performers aren’t also headed in the same direction?
Prince Valencia gets some love from two young fans.
Keren and the Pussykets work the crowd at Bonifacio High Street (From left: Keren Lazaro on lead vocals, Auj Lazaro on rhythm guitar, and Mark Dean on cajón)
Mykell Gozon makes High Street his stage for the night.
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