by Philippe Recto
It was never meant to be mainstream…
A sound only the young would be inspired by. The Filipinos have always rebelled against the onslaught of the powerful and overwhelming. Thus, giving birth to such heroes as Lapu-Lapu, Andres Bonifacio, Jose Rizal, and others alike. Rock n’ Roll along with its off-springs of various genres such as Hard Rock, Punk Rock, Alternative Rock, Heave Metal, Hardcore, Fusion Rock, and so forth were all formed from rebellion. The devil’s music some would say. But is it really evil driving the forces of our favorite loud sound? Or is it only a title labelled by mainstream and money grabbing labels and stations? Who knows…For the fans of “rock music”, it doesn’t matter. It just gave them something to rebel against that made our music louder and more necessary to express.
With little access to some of the best equipment, the Filipinos still managed to find a voice with their talents. From the days that the Spaniards introduced guitars to our humble little country in southeast of Asia, Filipinos took to the string instrument with pride and love. As it blossomed with the musical influences of The United States and Europe, A distinct sound was born. A sound that did not resonate with the majority, but pounded and thumped in the hearts of those who wanted more than just the ordinary. Who knew that such an unpopular theme of music would elevate a mass following, disappear, re-ignite, and become legendary in a span of a few decades. For the few who thrived and performed in this lonely path, only they understood the hardships, the stressful evenings, the long nights, the travel, the ringing in their ears, and the stained sweat on their instruments. Some go on to become the legends they deserve to be. Others fade away in time and obscurity. Some were able to turn this path into a career, others lost it all for the sake of those magnificent moments on stage.
Along the hardened, rocky and impoverish road the Filipino rock artists took, some beloved musicians were lost, and voids left empty in their honor. Some migrated away to 1st world countries to escape the dead ends that most rock musicians faced. Some carried on with day jobs. Others just hung up their instruments and decided “no more”.
As years turn to eras, the music changes. However, the heart and soul of the rebellion carries on. It’s inspiring to see a new generation of artists carrying on a tradition of loud amplifiers, pounding drums and cymbals, and memorable vocals and lyrics. From cover bands, to original artists, the obscure to the famous, “Pinoy Rock” continues to be a tradition worth holding dear to our hearts, thus becoming a Filipino heritage of its own. A culture preserved only by the young and the young at hearts. A culture that graced our radio stations, television screens, local bars, fiestas, colleges, and high schools. A tribe of energy that formed locals into legends, and music into history.
I was once told that “Pinoy Rock” is dead. Our radio stations flushed out, our television sets full of K-Pop and Electronic Dance Music, Cheesy love songs and Rap, how can one deny it’s soon to be dead existence. The sound has been kicked, beaten, defamed, dishonored, disowned, and left for dead. But we know the truth. As long as our people feel the oppression of the powerful, Pinoy Rock will stand bleeding and battered, but never weak, never disheartened, and never broken. The wave of Dance music, pop music and rap has washed away its importance quickly disappearing into a fad. So to the one’s who believe that “Pinoy Rock” is dead, my only response was the response that we fans hold dear in our hearts. With a fist in the air and my index and pinky fingers up, I declare…Long Live “Pinoy Rock”. \m/.
Philippe Recto is a well respected bass player, who has shared the stage with rock greats, Perf De Castro, David Aguirre and Wolf Gemora, among others. He is currently based in San Diego CA. Follow him on Facebook by clicking here