by Levy Abad
One of the best Filipino-Canadian Metal bands in Manitoba, Immortal Sacrament, during its heyday in 2012, was comprised by Paul Magnaye (vocals), Marron Verzosa (guitar), Niko Guilbang (bass), Victor “Vic” Bautista (guitar), and Joseph David (drums).
How did Immortal Sacrament start?
Magnaye provided the answer when I went to interview him at his house on February 10, 2017, about the history of the band. He told me that it started out in 2008, with the band name L.A.D. David told me the same information. When I asked him what L.A.D. stood for, Magnaye jokingly said that it meant “Living at Dads,” referring to adults who still live with their parents.
L.A.D.’s original members were Magnaye, Chris Pangan, David, and Michael Borja. The band’s moniker was kind of a provisional name; because during that time, they were still thinking of a better name. They were able to come up with something better by October 16, 2009. After performing as a front act to the Winnipeg concert of the visiting Philippine Alternative Rock band Pupil, they decided to adopt Sacrament as the new name of their band. They also started writing original music.
David said that it was one of the judges at a local “Battle of the Bands” that they participated in who suggested to change their name. Apparently, Sacrament is a common word; they need something unique. If one would search ‘Sacrament’ online, then the automatic hits would have referred to the religious meaning of the word. Besides, there is already a Metal band named Sacrament [an American band that was formed in 1989, in Pennsylvania, United States].
Even the ’90s-forming American band Lamb of God might get a hit; its fifth studio album is titled Sacrament. That was enough to convince the guys to add ‘Immortal’ to their name, to make it unique without sacrificing the name recall that their name Sacrament had already gained in the local scene.
Mid-2009, Pangan and Borja quit the band for personal reasons. Niko Guilbang replaced Borja; Vic Bautista and Marron Verzosa became the first and the second guitar players, respectively. The name Immortal Sacrament was legitimized in 2011, when they joined the competition “My Band Rocks,” at Dylan O’Connors Irish Pub, winning three consecutive battles and eventually emerging as the overall winner during the finals, held this time at Henderson Draft House.
In late 2011, David left, joining Pangan in another band named Ethnica. Bautista left too—who had to concentrate on his work and family. Magnaye said that afterwards, he and Verzosa became the core of the group. By the ensuing year, Immortal Sacrament consisted of Magnaye, Verzosa, Ronnel Villamar on guitars, and Jolo Mejia on drums. Magnaye also mentioned that the band wanted to acknowledged fellow Filipino musician Mandy Bustarde, for he was the one who introduced Immortal Sacrament to the Metal community in the city outside of the Filipino community and who convinced the organizers of “My Band Rocks” to give Filipino bands a chance.
David said that the major musical influences of Immortal Sacrament were System of a Down, Killswitch Engage, and Bullet for My Valentine. This was reaffirmed by the journalist Alfie Vera Mella, who featured the band, in 2014, in his column “Sa Ugoy ng Musika” in the local community newspaper Filipino Journal. Asked where they get the songs that they covered, Magnaye said “We usually cover famous Metal songs that get regular airplay on Winnipeg’s Rock station Power 97.”
The awesome thing about Immortal Sacrament is that they also write their own songs. Initially, Magnaye and David wrote the songs; and then Bautista started contributing too. I personally listened to some of their songs on their FB page, and they really sounded great. It feels like a really wasted talent if they would not be able to emerge with their original music in the community at large.
On March 8, 2014, Immortal Sacrament performed in Brandon, at the North Hill Inn. In addition to that, the band got to perform also at bars and other events such as The Zoo/Ozzy’s Bar in Osborne Village, Club3D at Kirkfield Motor Hotel (3317 Portage Avenue), Dylan O’ Connors Irish Pub (2609 Portage Avenue), Henderson Draft House at Curtis Gordon Motor Hotel (1011 Henderson Highway), Rookies at Central Hotel (201 Melrose Avenue .E), The Cavern (112 Osborne Street), Chugfest at Rigdeville, “Rock against Ignorance” at West End Cultural Centre, and the FAMOUS-produced 2014 Pinoy Rock Fest held at Jimel’s International Cuisine (A-1045 St. James St). Mella, in the same article, described Immortal Sacrament aptly as the “ultimate Filipino-Canadian Metal band in Manitoba.”
I messaged some of the members of Immortal Sacrament to ask for quotes. Pangan’s short reply was, “The experience was totally different and new to me. I was never a Metalhead until Paul [Magnaye] introduced me to the genre and after having watched Slapshock during the Philippine Metal band’s concerts in Winnipeg. Furthermore, it was during my time in Immortal Sacrament when I began learning how to write original materials. We also had the opportunity to share our music outside the Filipino community, becoming well-received even by non-Filipino Metal music enthusiasts. The experience was really amazing; it also brought out other fledgling Pinoy players hiding in the shadows who also got inspired to start writing their own songs.”
Borja: “Our first gig as Immortal Sacrament was at The Cavern in Osborn Villlage. Nobody knew us. Four Asians playing Heavy Metal in Winnipeg? This can’t be real, right? People thought that we were a joke, but we proved them wrong. From that night on, we started building connections outside of the Filipino community and invitations started to come.”
In my visit at Magnaye’s home, I asked him also for a quote; he said, “As an artist, one should not stay in one’s comfort zone because music is unlimited. You will never grow if you stay in your comfort zone. One must always explore. I am happy that we were able to help in paving the way for other musicians in the Metal scene.” He added enthusiastically, “It is a great ride, one of the best, having been a part of the music scene.”
*Levy Abad is a freelance writer, a singer-songwriter/recording artist, a member of Migrante Canada–MB Chapter, and a founding member / program coordinator of Winnipeg Multicultural Human Rights Forum. He has released three albums: Canadian Experience vol. 1, Never Give Up, and Rhythms of Compassion (Canadian Experience vol. 3). He is currently working on his fourth batch of works, titled I Love Canada. You may contact Abad via email@example.com or on Facebook.
For this issue, our readers’ column features one of our occasional contributors—the local musician and cultural activist Levy Abad, profiling one of the best Metal bands our Filipino community ever had.
(This column is reserved for the readers of Filipino Journal who have something to say about particular issues concerning, but not limited to, the Filipino culture especially politics and current events. So, if you have something to say, write it down and then submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we find your article befitting our standards, we will publish it here.—Ed.)