Patatag derived it's name from "pateteg", an Ilocano term for one of the indigenous musical instruments in the Philippines, the bamboo xylophone, which is popular among the Kalinga of Mt. Province. The instrument is made of five bamboo segments mounted individually and can be played by just one person or by a group of five, each to every segment.
Patatag opts for the term since it reflects the ability of the members to render songs as one whole group or individually plus the fact that the music it renders is indigenous to the basic masses- the workers and peasants. In essence, Patatag is, according to one of it's founders, "an organization that promotes national and scientific mass culture in the field of music."
The group was formed March 1984 by four friends whose need to express their artistic talents came just in time for the "strongly felt need for more progressive music groups who will popularize Filipino folksongs and ethnic music that express the needs and aspirations of the majority."
By July the same year, Patatag started to broaden it's ranks by inviting other youths and students who have talents and inclination to music. The recruitment was primarily done through invitations while some joined on the recommendation of the founder's friends. From the original group of five, the Patatag members rose to thirteen, six of which are students while the rest are young professionals. Content-wise, the group renders "socially conscious" songs, most of which are gathered from various regions of the country. Most of these are of tribal origins and local folksongs. This does not mean however, that Patatag confines itself within the local setting. Quite the contrary, the group assimilates within it's repertoire such international songs that fit each and every concert, particularly those inspired by Third World poets like Victor Jara.
Patatag had it's formal concert debut October 1984 at the National Press Club when it was sponsored by the Forum For Rural Concerns in commemoration of Peasant Solidarity Week. Most of the songs rendered in this concert tackle the plight of the peasants in the country as well as the aspirations of the peasant movement.
Patatag's second full-length concert was held April 25 and 26, 1985 at St. Joseph's College in Quezon City. The performance was entitled "Ang Buhay ng Proletaryo" and dealt with the toils of the worker, the conditions he confronts and his aspirations. The concert was launched as a cultural commemoration of International Labor Day. The show was a big hit among activists and the progressive circle that it merited a restaging three months later.
The Forum For Rural Concerns, an alliance of agencies and individuals concerned about peasant issues organized "Nagbabagang Lupa- Isang Konsyerto ng Patatag Alay sa Magbubukid" on October 18 and 19, 1985 at the Mater Dei Auditorium of St. Joseph's College in Q.C. This concert (with three parts/modules) paved the way for the first Patatag album.
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