Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Coming back to the Philippines in late 2006 after four years would be an eye-opener I never would have expected. I realized how much I missed the different things I had taken for granted; the beautiful countryside on the way to the Batangas coast, the homely taste of lechon kawali and sizzling sisig that can’t be found anywhere else and the warm sound of the tagalog language filling my ears as I walk thru a crowded Megamall. As I slowly fall in love with my hometown, one thing was not quite right and sadly, it was the most important aspect of Pinoy life for me...the music.

I started hearing negative rumblings through different yahoogroups about the state of the local scene spanning three years since ‘03. Rants from every which way bashed and criticized the “acoustic duo” wave and eventually, it’s bastard offspring, the “pogi rock” genre that presently permeates the country’s popular musical landscape. The only thing going through my mind was, “what the hell is happening back there?”

When Lokomotiv did our Philippine tour last November, I had to see for myself how things really were. It didn’t take any longer than watching one hour of a local music channel to discover the horror that was only hearsay a few months earlier. Video after video of bands with names like Hale, Cueshe, Sponge Cola, Calalily and 6 Cyclemind filled the television screen as one word kept coming out of my mouth, “lame”.


Subsequent videos of a band singing about fake DVDs, a Japanese suicide bomber-named band doing an Apo Hiking Society cover and a group of former alternative rock purists turned bubble gum pop did not make matters any easier. Even if these videos were on the “rock” segment of the show, there was little distinction between them and the pop music that was coming on. I now understood where all the hostility from the rock fans was coming from and was myself getting agititated.

As the band tore through our gigs in different venues and festivals, I got to talk to a lot of our fans and most of them were thanking us for touring the Philippines ‘coz there was finally a real rock band that was playing actively on the mainstream track. I’d ask them why that was the case and they had answers like, “bands like Razorback and Kapatid don’t play much anymore” and “puro pogi rock na lang kasi sikat ngayon”. How could a whole successful pinoy rock scene from the 90’s just disappear into the underground in a matter of months? How could a whole country of rock music fans endure music that has no depth, no longevity and no cojones? Who could the PInoy Rock torch be passed to?

Everything that was getting attention was either too light & cheesy on the right or too aggressive on the left (a distinct characteristic of bands like Queso, Greyhoundz, Sky Church, Sultans Of Snap and Slapshock). No one was representing the middle ground and what everyone seems to underestimate is that the audience of that center is probably the biggest and the most loyal. The situation was finally taking shape in my head and I did not like what I was seeing.

So, whom do I blame for the chain of events leading up to this absurdity? Do I blame the A&R people of record companies who’ve signed these artists? Do I blame the older bands for being content with their status and aren’t playing actively anymore? Do I blame the fans for surrendering to age and conformity? Do I blame myself for leaving the country to pursue my personal aspirations? Reflecting on these thoughts, I decided that instead of pointing the accusing finger, I should be an instrument of change and help get real Pinoy Rock back on it’s feet again. But where would I start? How could I help? Where would I find hope?

Apparently, all I had to do was look into the underground scene for answers. Hanging out in bars around the metro revealed a slew of great bands playing their own brand of original Pinoy Rock that made the hair on the back of my neck stand. They were also armed with much cooler names like Urbandub, Salamin, Salindiwa, Milagros Dancehall Collective, Typecast, Southern Grass and Kinky Hooters. I would discover more astonishing performances in the next few weeks from Reggae Mistress, Coffee Break Island, The Mobsters, Powertone, Gasulina, Lahi and Kastigo.





My spirits were suddenly lifted as if my heart was jumpstarted by high voltage. I knew that my beloved Pinoy Rock is alive and was not going down without a fight. It was now clear to me that when everything seems to be decaying that is where great art is born. This is the genesis of a revolution and I am a part of it. There are uprisings happening all over the country in provinces like Laguna, Cavite, Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Bulacan, Iloilo, Legazpi and more rock n’ roll rebels are joining the cause.

It’s only a matter of time that the underground will be contained no longer and the country will experience the great music that is being made right under their very noses. An earthquake has occurred and a new Pinoy Rock tsunami is coming. Take cover or be swept away.


A new Pinoy rock resurgence has begun and here is the first installment of underground bands that are waiving the flag for the cause. Representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, these bands have only one thing in common...to rock the nation. VIVA LA REVOLUCION!

Red Dela Peña - Vocals
Atoy Arce - Guitars
Laschober Gojar - Bass
Rayman Malaluan - Drums

Formed by guitarist Atoy Arce and naming the band after his rehearsal studio in Marikina Heights, Powertone started off by learning classic rock covers from Deep Purple, Dire Straights and The Knack. Garnering success in a number of local band competitions, the group has moved up from classic rock showband status to writing their own original material. Most notable at this time is the raunchy blues tune, “Kama” that is on their demo cd alongside the mid-tempo rocker, “Bulilyaso”. The group is presently doing the rounds of the Manila bar circuit spreading their rock n’ roll gospel while adding more original tunes to their repertoire.


Siopao – Vocals & Guitars
Ryan Padilla - Guitars
Melvin Lu - Bass
Monch Paredes - Drums

Being in existence on and off since 1998 from multitude lineup changes, hiati and a couple of disbandment, the reformed lineup of E.R.F. is totally new with returning original members Siopao and Paredes. Describing their music as “heavy-alternative”, E.R.F. unites a double-guitar onslaught with Siopao’s powerful and melodic vocals. Their first potential single and video, ‘Sinag’ brings back the hard rock stomp of 90’s rockers Candlebox and Faith No More. The group is currently producing their independent debut album to be released this year and are preparing for their follow-up video, ‘ The Marionette’.


Jeyvi Castillo – Vocals & Guitars
Cramm Ponce - Guitars
Aries Villariez - Bass
Paulo Sison – Drums

San Pedro, Laguna quartet Monks’hood was formed in 1999 and have been actively playing ever since. Going as far as reaching the grand finals of Red Horse Beer’s Muziklaban in 2005, the band are veterans of the Manila live band circuit. Their brand of Pinoy rock is a combination of heavy guitars, steady rhythms and the baritone voice of Castillo. Their first single, “D.Y.I. “ has gotten airplay on RJUR 105.9 and NU 107 and they are presently producing their debut album for a 2008 independent release.


Iking Rañises - Vocals & Guitars
John Comeros - Bass
Bammers Roa - Lead Guitars
Adrian Dal - Drums

Hailing from Cagayan de Oro and formed in mid-2001, Tabularaza became a finalist in the Muziklaban “Battle of the Bands” that same year. The band opted to skip the competition and went to Cebu to record their first 5-track self-titled E.P. and released it in early 2002. They’ve gone on to record two full-length albums; 2004’s “Diversity Issue” and 2006’s “SheWowAh”. Their music is laden with vocal and guitar hooks backed by a tight and powerful rhythm section and topped with Rañises’ melodic vocals and thoughtful lyrics. Tabularaza continues to tour the Mindanao region and regularly visits Cebu and Metro Manila. Southside represent!


Mike "Midnight" Puangco - Vocals, Guitars, Harmonica
Chris "Badfish" Tolentino - Guitars, Keyboards
Ton "Tones" Gregorio - Guitars
Erald Mendoza - Bass
Rhodson Sta. Maria - Drums

House Of Ravens is a blues-rock band based in the south of Manila, with its members hailing from Sucat, Alabang, and Laguna. 
Formed in March of 2006, the band is unique for their use of three, count ‘em, three guitars. An approach never before used in Pinoy rock and rarely heard in rock music itself thru bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult and Molly Hatchet. Still a young band, HOR are honing their skills and perfecting this extraordinary and challenging concept. Success would result in a new and interesting Pinoy rock sound.


JR Cabansal - Vocals
Jam Pendon - Guitars
Jec Dan Borlado - Bass
Daniel Ascano – Drums

Coming out of the Iloilo underground is Christian rock band, M-Jah. This genre of rock doesn’t hold a lot of street cred because of too much “happy, praise the lord” rhetoric, but M-Jah (meaning Mighty God) keep it down-to-earth and on a more personal level. Naming themselves with God’s cool Jamaican nickname should give a good idea where they’re coming from. Heavy guitars, solid backbeats and melodic vocals on their song “Crimson Stain” sum up M-Jah’s sound. As part of the burgeoning Iloilo/Bacolod rock scene, the band has released it’s first independent album, “Cause And Effect” last year and continues to work hard, with other local bands, for more recognition of the Illonggo contributions to Pinoy rock.


Enos Pangan – Vocals
Marco Abelardo – Guitars
Den Madarang – Guitars
Chip Estable – Bass
Patrick Ronquilio – Drums

Reuniting in 2005 after various stints in high school bands in the mid-90’s, Abelardo, Estable and Ronquillo formed Lahi and enlisted Madarang and Pangan later on after the departure of two original members. With the desire to help the country’s hard rock scene spring back to prominence, Lahi employ the heavy riff techniques of classic rock and metal bands of the 70’s and 80’s while combining the melodic qualities of 90’s grunge and alternative music. They’ve already released their “Ang Simula” 5-song EP last year and have just finished production on their full-length debut album with an early 2008 release.


Bhava Mitra - Vocals, Mityapi, Plawta, Gangsa, Kubing
Bhakta Raja - Djembe, Udan-Udan, Gabang, P'tadjong
Saryo - Drums, Tukatok
Agit - Bass
Govinda - Djembe, Bidjang, Kubing, Budjong, Gangsa

Cebu-based Kadangyan continue the legacy of the Pinoy ethnic-rock movement started by stalwart groups Pen-Pen, Ang Grupong Pendong, Joey Ayala at ang Bagong Lumad and Pinikpikan. With members hailing from different regions of the country (Cebu, Iligan, Tacloban & Ifugao Mt. Province), this group could very well represent the Philippines’ diverse cultures and languages in one entity. They combine local ethnic instruments with western, eastern and African instruments and come up with rhythm-laden songs topped with hypnotic chants that puts its listener into a trance. Their busy schedule allows Kadangyan to continue promoting their ideals of peace, environmental concerns and universal humanism as well as promote a new appreciation for Philippine ethnic-rock music.


LC de Leon –Vocals, Guitars
Ciro de Leon - Drums
Mig Dayang Hirang – Bass

If there ever was a band whose name described their music, Reklamo is that band. Formed in early 2006 and consisting of seasoned session musicians, the group is solely dedicated to vent out frustrations, hate and envy towards anything and everything in the form of music. Though that style can get boring and annoying in the hands of inexperienced artists, Reklamo do a good job of augmenting their rants with quirky rock music that’s reminiscent of Frank Zappa, Primus and Mr. Bungle; sort of putting negativity on a silver platter. After the success of two rock singles, “Pat’s Problem” and “Three For One Hundred”, the band represented the Philippines in the World Battle of the Bands held in Singapore last November. They also won the "In The Raw" award at the 2007 NU 107 Rock Awards.