U2 makes history on its first ‘human rights inspired’ concert in Manila


Irish superstar rock band U2, has made history in the Philippines with its first ever concert on Wednesday at the Philippine Arena. The Joshua Tree Tour, is a grand stage for Bono’s positivity-fueled spiels that often pumped up the crowd, according to entertainment reporters.

“Thank you for your patience. It took us four decades to get here but we feel so welcomed,” Bono told the audience.

“It has been a long road for us. But it doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as we get it in the end,” he added, praising the Philippines for its “exciting and kinetic energy.”

The group went beyond mere entertainment by honoring 12 Filipino women and activist groups in a special segment called “Herstory”, said to be the idea of the group’s frontman Bono, a staunch advocate of human rights.

Cheers rose as the images of “Pinoy Power” (Filipino Power) flashed before an estimated 50,000 people at the venue, recognized as the world’s biggest indoor arena.

“Herstory” montage of photos of women around the world who had made an impact on politics, protest movements, LGBTQ, women’s and civil rights, literature, music, business and sports, flashed on the enormous video screen backdrop as U2 played “Ultraviolet” (Light My Way), performed near the end of the three-part show that went for almost three hours.

Bono was heard saying, “For Maria Ressa,” before performing the song. Ressa is one of the most well-regarded journalists in the world, who has made a powerful enemy in President Duterte.

Among the 42 images of women representing different countries, shown in order of appearance, were those of Philippine Revolution heroine Melchora Aquino, feminist group Grrrl Gang Manila, anti-violence group One Billion Rising, women’s rights movement #BabaeAko, zarzuela artist Maria Carpena, theater actress Lea Salonga, former President Corazon Aquino, politician Pia Cayetano, news website CEO Maria Ressa, activist Lidy Nacpil, human rights activist Joan Carling  and climate advocate Marinel Ubaldo.

“The thought was that we are currently living in a time when we could really use a more feminine spirit in our leadership, and a way to illustrate this might be to celebrate some of the great female pioneers of the past,” U2 creative director Willie Williams said on the band’s website about “Herstory”.

“Herstory” was actually a brainchild of multimedia artist Alice Wroe, whose project “combines feminist art, education and activism to engage people of all genders in celebrating women’s history—particularly women who have been left out (systematically or otherwise) of the traditional, historical canon.”

Early in the concert, the band played “Bad” with snippets of David Bowie’s “Heroes” as Bono cited “everyday heroes,” including volunteers at Philippine Red Cross and “journalists, the truth tellers.”

Bono have also stressed on the importance of press freedom in between the last few songs, putting “Beautiful Day” in context.

After performing “Beautiful Day,” Bono pointed out, “Human rights churn out human wrongs, that’s a beautiful day. When sisters around the world go to school with their brothers, that’s a beautiful day. When journalists don’t have to worry about what they write, that’s a beautiful day. When women of the world rewrite history as HERstory, that’s a beautiful day.”

Some of the U2 fans braved the two-hour trip from the capital Manila to the venue in Bocaue, Bulacan province. Traffic getting out of the venue after the concert took three hours to dissipate. (Source: Inquirer.net/PEP.PH)