Filipino spoken word artist Patrick De Belen talks about creating viral election video

2019 was an unforgettable year for Canada’s political scene — and a breakout moment for a Filipino Canadian artist whose spoken word video aired on national TV during CBC’s live election special. 

Patrick De Belen, the man behind this spoken word video, recalled his excitement and challenges when CBC approached him to capture the Canadian experience during the federal election.

In collaboration with a Filipina, Victoria Marie, who sang the tracks, and Zlender for the musical arrangement, “Raise Your Voice Above the Noise” was born.

“I was really excited, but I was also very nervous to add a voice to something so important to Canadian history.  It was a difficult piece to write because I have to speak on behalf of so many different people and their thoughts as a Canadian for the elections. The main message was trying to capture the fear and apathy of a Canadian voter but also trying to address the pride and civil duty of being involved in your electoral system.”

 Spoken word may sound like rap but according to De Belen, it’s a mixture of poetry, rap, public speaking, performance and theatre.

The 27-year old artist shared the controversial experience that birthed his career and how his Filipino identity is naturally embedded in his creations.

 “I performed this piece at my talent show about the education system.  The entire school got up and started clapping for me but then my Vice Principal and my Principal suspended me for 2 weeks…

Ever since then, I made a mental choice that I wanted to do spoken word for the rest of my life.  As a member of the diaspora as Canadian-Filipino, I think any poem I write is a Filipino poem.  Even if it doesn’t say anything about being a Filipino, I am a Filipino.”

After his video went viral, de Belen has been sought out by many companies for commission work. He’s also working on a love poem about Toronto that he will be releasing soon.

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