(On Spending Time with Some Philippine Rock Artists, part 4)
In the previous issue, I listed the musical activities that I and my former band Half Life Half Death had engaged in during our vacation in the Philippines, including the venues where we performed and the bands that we played with like The Camerawalls, Color It Red, Philippine Violators, and The Youth. Now, I’m showing my appreciation for and gratitude to these bands by profiling each of them.
Focusing on the Musical Accomplishments
Many music fans go gaga every time they see their idols and icons, grabbing the rare opportunity having their autographs or taking pictures of themselves with the artists. Sadly though, many of these so-called supporters fall short of something more important—they limit their adoration with their screams and excitement, failing to realize that the best and ultimate way to pay respects to and show appreciation for these artists is to get copies of their music and listen to these contemplatively. A true music enthusiast should be excited not because of the artists themselves but primarily because of the music itself—the very reason these creative individuals have become important cultural icons in the first place.
Bong Espiritu and the rest of Philippine Violators
Many regard Philippine Violators as one of the pioneers and most enduring purveyors of Philippine Punk music. Formed in 1984 with lead vocalist Charlie “Bong” Espiritu as one of the founding members, the band released its debut album in 1987, Philippine Violators at Large!, and followed this up with State of Confusion (1991), Third Offense (1994), and Balanse (1997). With Espiritu as current members of the band are Richard Espiritu (guitars), Glen Reconose (bass), and Gerald Reconose (drums). Recommended songs are “School Violence,” “Sikat Na si Pedro,” and “Lahat sa Tropa.”
During the boom of Alternative Rock in the Philippines in the 1990s, The Youth was one of the genre’s forerunners. It eventually became one of the most popular ’90s-active Philippine bands especially with its novelty-leaning songs like “Multo sa Paningin (Multong Bakla),” “Mukha ng Pera,” “Basura,” and “Tao Po.” Alfred “Dodong” Cruz (vocals/guitars) and Joseph Carrasco (drums) formed The Youth in 1989 with some friends but had eventually established it as a trio with the addition of Robert Javier on bass. They released three full-length albums: The Youth (1990), Album na Walang Pamagat (1994), and the final, Tao Po, in 1997; and then they disbanded. Cruz pursued a solo career, releasing a solo album, Eksperimento, in 2001. Other notable songs include “Supernova Scum,” “Takbo,” “Kapag Nagunaw ang Mundo,” and “Magulo Buhay ng Tao.” After a long disbandment, The Youth is active again although no news yet of an album of new materials. More so, the original trio is now a quartet with the addition of Dhan Almoquira on second guitars and vocals.
Cooky Chua and the rest of Color It Red
Formed in 1989, Color It Red catapulted to commercial popularity via their single “Paglisan,” a powerful ballad of loss and longing included in the band’s debut album, Hand Painted Sky (1994). Fronted by Catherine “Cooky” Chua, the band is currently comprised by Barbi Cristi-Paraguya (acoustic rhythm guitar), Bopip Paraguya (bass; formerly of the Philippine Thrash band Discant X), Edwin “Kwachi” Vergara (electric guitar; formerly of the Philippine Goth Rock band Mere Mercy), Jayvee Torres (drums; formerly of the Philippine New Wave band Ethnic Faces), and Ariel Policarpio (lead guitar; also formerly of Ethnic Faces). Color It Red has four albums to its credit: Hand Painted Sky (1994), Fool’s Circle (1997), Pop Fiction (2001), and Color It Red (2005). Aside from regular gigs at various venues in Metro Manila, the band is working on an album of new materials. For more information about Color It Red and to support the making of the new album, check out the band’s profile on http://www.artisteconnect.com.
Vin Dancel and Jason Caballa—Twisted Halo and Peryodiko
Dancel was the vocalist while Caballa was the guitar player of the Philippine bands Twisted Halo and Peryodiko. Currently Caballa is the guitarist of the band Pedicab. Twisted Halo released an album in 2004, entitled In Loving Memory of the Fearless Exploits of the Bolo Brigade; while Peryodiko a self-titled album in 2009. Pedicab, on the other hand, has two albums to date—Tugish Takish (2005) and Shinji, Ilabas Mo Na ang Helicopter (2008).
Clementine Castro and the rest of The Camerawalls
Formed by Clementine Castro (chief songwriter, vocalist, rhythm guitarist) in 2008 after the split of his former band Orange and Lemons, The Camerawalls is the current flag bearer of Philippine New Wave and Indie Pop music. Aside from covering classic songs by British bands like The Smiths, The Ocean Blue, The Church, and The Lightning Seeds, they also dish out their own brand of rondalla-flavored music. To date, the band has released two albums: the full-length debut, Pocket Guide to the Otherworld (2008), and the EP Bread and Circuses (2010). Recommended songs are “Clinically Dead for 16 Hours” and “Ignore My Weakness, Don’t Ignore Me.” With Castro as current members of the band are Law Santiago (bass), Bach Rudica (drums), and George Carillo (electric guitars). For more information, check out the band’s official website: http://thecamerawalls.com.
Our vacation in the Philippines was really an adventure. We made the most out of our one-month stay there, spending time not only with our respective families, close relatives, and bestfriends but also with fellow artists to enjoy and keep updated with the music scene in the Philippines. We visited diverse places—from the oldest parts of Metro Manila (Quiapo, Intramuros, Tutuban, Divisoria, Baclaran, and Binondo) to the latest posh commercial complex and malls (Glorietta and Rockwell in Makati, Bonifacio High Street in Taguig, and Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna)—not only to have fun but more so to experience our home-country culturally after having been gone for almost a decade. It was really worth the trip!