Rollan, The Trombone Guy for Kuerdas

Rollan Rama Rafal is the Trombone Guy for Kuerdas. During the entire course of the interview, he has imparted some interesting information about the instrument he plays and his role for Kuerdas.

Initially, he explained how trombone works, what it does as a wind instrument, and emphasized that it’s not the same as trumpet.

He quipped:

“Sa Kuerdas, ako ang naga-play ug trombone; tong dako na torotot. Daghan man gud sa nagatan-aw sa amoa, dili kaila sa pangalan sa akong instrument kay ilang nahibal-an, trumpet na ang tanang pangalan sa wind instruments.”

I requested him to educate us further about trombone and its role in playing good quality music.

Rollan has this to say:

“Ang trombone mao ning bass makahatag ug baga na agi sa amoang duha sa akong partner na si Eric a.k.a. Dodong. Para mobalanse pud ang hait na tone sa iyang trumpet. Mostly, ang ginabuhat namo ni Dodong kay fill-in lang sa mga kanta ug mga solo adlibs pud kung may naa dapat adliban. Kumbaga murag bulak- bulak mi.”

Rollan started playing trombone when he was in High School for the Marching Band.

He narrrated how his journey with trombone began:

“Dili gani ko katuo kay sa una, even katong elementary ko, wala sa akong isip nga mosulod ug Marching Band. Akong pinsan si Dodong kay since elementary, nagjoin pud na sya ug Marching Band ug na-invite pud ko niya ana before pero wala ko jud to gi- mind iyang ginaingon dati kay wala jud lagi ko interest. Pero tong High School na mi, bigla lng ko naka- appreciate ug ing-ana sa klase na music— tong naay formation sa campus sa CAT tapos nagplay sila ug “Cha Cha No. 1” mao ng dili nako malimtan na gi- play nila na bigla nalang ko gusto magjoin sa band. Mao tong time na- appreciate nako ang brass, na- appreciate nako ang music, mao tong pagka- summer, nag-audition ko sa ilaha, pero ang gusto jud unta nko gamiton na instrument kay katong trumpet. Unya kay ang gihatag ni Sir Arnel sa akoa kay katong trombone man. So wala koy choice kung dili dawaton to na instument. Si Sir Arnel, mao ng teacher na nagtudlo sa amoa paano magplay ug brass so katong Second Year High School na mi, officially naging part na jud ko sa Marching Band sa Polomolok National High School.”

I must say that he has quite a good musical background. Thanks to Cha Cha’s influence! 😜 He also shared that he is a natural music lover.

“Bisan sa una pa, love jud nako ang music. Pero ang reggae wala ko pa nailhan jud. Kabalo ko naa si Bob Marley pero wala ko kabalo na reggae diay ang tawag sa iyang genre. Ang paborito man gud nako sa una mga Limp Bizkit, Slapshock, hantod nawala na pud akong gana sa mga saba-saba na kanta, didto napud ko sa mga ballad ug RnB na kanta 😊”

He said that there are now a lot of trombone players in Gensan especially at Holy Trinity College.

When asked if it’s the same for musical bands, he quickly retorted that there’s only a few as most of them are still students and focus more on Marching Bands and there’s not a lot of reggae bands in Gensan.

I expressed my curiousity on the maintenance of his trombone instrument; he said that he cleans it once a
week.

“Pero bisan unsa nimo ka-amping, maabot ra pud jud sa panahon na magluma jud sya; sa halos kada adlaw na gamit, naa jud time na mahulog sya o mabunal.”

When asked of trombone’s price range, he said:

“Kung muingon ka ug local na trombone, naga- range lang sya sa 6K to 7K. Pero kung katong mga high- end na jud na trombone, naa na sa mga 30K pataas. Makapalit man kag branded na trombone nga barato pero kanang mga 2nd hand na or ikapila naka nga tag-iya. Mahal jud sya. Makaupaw ug samot ang presyo! 😂 Mas iba ang tunog atong high- end na trombone kesa atong mga Made in China. Pero mapagtyagaan naman lang kay dili man ka-afford atong tag 30k 😬”

He shared that playing trombone doesn’t really require an appropriate genre as it goes with anything— it can be played solo, jazz, blues, and reggae as long as you put your heart into it.

“…. dapat with heart or dapat may feel jud kung mag- play.”

He’d like to encourage more people to get interested to play trombone. He strongly motivates those that come to him out of curiousity by telling them to enjoy playing the brass as it gives a different kind of high especially when learning the first song.

“Bisan ug magdugo-dugo pa ng akong baba sa sige ug duot sa akong mouthpiece pero worth it lang gihapon kaau kay naenjoy man nako sya ug nakatuon pud ko. Maka- boost pud sya ug confidence. Sa una, ulawon jud kaau ko muatubang ug crowd pero karon dili naman ko maulaw… gamay nalang 😂 pero tungod pud na sa Kuerdas mao medyo nagtaas akong kompyansa gamay sa akong sarili 😁”

I personally got more curious about this wind instrument which prompted me to query how much air and energy is utilized when playing:

“Literal jud na magdugo ang baba, mag- exert jud ka ug buga kung mga higher notes imong kuhaon ug kanang kapoy na kaau ka, kelangan na jud nimo idiin ug mau ang mouthpiece sa lips. Mao ng mga challenging na panahon sa amoa 😊”

Wow! I was speechless! By that alone, I can see the overflowing display of passion. Rollan shared that he takes time to relax and tries to get adequate sleep. It affects the quality of play when his body feels weak because the act of blowing itself requires a lot of energy.

He recalled:

“May kapila na ka beses nga ana ang nahitabo sa amoa. Mga first set pa lng, wala na mi kusog. So, kung wala mi kusog, among playing maapektuhan then pati ang among mga dance moves maapektuhan pud. Dili na mi kasayaw kay bug-at nman kaau among mga lawas 😬”

I asked him to tell me the story of how he was recruited to play for Kuerdas. He narrated that he started to play for Laskuridas in 2008, a local band from Polomolok, South Cotabato. He first heard of Kuerdas in 2009 and all the things he heard was that it’s a reggae band in Gensan that plays so good. His interest and curiousity was piqued.

“Daghan kaau ko madunggan before sa mga tao or even sa akong mga kaila na Kuerdas, maau nga reggae band sa Gensan. So mao to, murag interesado kaau mi na makadungog ug makakita sa ilaha. Tapos tong pagkakita namo sa ilaha sa Oval Plaza, na-amazed jud mi sa ilaha kay maau man sila manugtog. Hantod mao to, nagka- ila ila na mi. Tapos naay mga pnahon na gina- invite na nila among banda kung may mga gigs sila. Ila mi ginapa- play after sa set nila. Hantod na naka- session na mi sa ilaha. Pero before mi naka- session sa ilaha, naa napud mi iba na mga banda na gina- sessionan- Cram, Ganja ug Musikjah. Tapos 2013 gikuha na jud mi as official na blowings sa Kuerdas sa rekomendasyon ni Amigo (German friend ans Manager of Kuerdas) ug ni Caloy na kauban pud namo sa Laskuridas nga gikuha napud as official Lead Guitar. Pero nauna lng si Caloy ug 1 year sa amoa before mi naging member pud sa Kuerdas.

From Rollan’s account of his dealings with Kuerdas before his membership, it appears that Kuerdas has good relationship and camaraderie between and among its co-reggae musicians and doesn’t seem to be threatened at all with the competition.

“Si Onyok ang nagareach out sa amoa bisan sa una pa. Sya jud na ang naga- effort ug nagapangita ug paagi na makontak mi. Bisan karon, mao man na ginabuhat nya sa ubang banda.”

He elaborated on this by saying that attaining respect and good relations with each other is the best way so happiness can be achieved by everyone. According to Rollan, music is a universal medium; when music is shared, love emanates.

He shared that he treats his bandmates like his own siblings.

If I may just quote:

“Ang Kuerdas dili lang kay kabanda nako na. For how many years na nagkauban mi, mura na mi ug manigsuon. Kung kabanda o kabarkada lang turingay nyo, para sa akoa, mubo ra kaau na sya. Pero kung muingon ka ug igsuon ang turingay ninyo, lig-on ang relasyon ninyo sa usag-usa.”

It is very obvious that the band has very strong connection between and among each other. Rollan confirmed that it helps and works to their advantage to achieve good and quality performances on stage.

“Dako jud kaau sya ug tabang. Tungod kay igsuon na ang turing namo sa usag-usa, kompyansa na mi magplay sa stage. Komportable ko nga kauban sila on stage. Samot na ug mogara na pud si Mark sa stage, madala pud mi niya sa iyang energy. So kung komportable mi sa among ginabuhat sa stage, makabuhat mi ug good performances sa stage. Ang stage murag angkonon na niya 😂 sayaw jud sya ug maayo. Mao ng maapil pud mi sa iyang energy. Ang pinaka okay pud kay Mark kay naa jud syay connection sa mga tao. Although may mga panahon jud pud na wala sa mood tungod sa kakapoy ug kanang dili okay ang monitor w/c is naranasan na pud sa ubang banda.”

He expressed that there are a lot of beautiful memories with Kuerdas but the things he can’t forget are the playful moments with them, poking fun at each other:

“Kanang mga kulitan ug asaran namo sa isat-isa. Na hantod karon mao lang gihapon among ginabuhat; kanang murag mga bata bitaw ug katong gina- bully ko nila sa Boracay kay malimali ko magpronounce sa mga words nako pero tungod ato, nakalearn ko sa mga asar nila. Kapila nako napikon sa ilang ginabuhat. Mao ng isa pud sa nakatabang sa akoa na dapat taasan pud nako akong pasensya kay ug mapikon ko, ako man gihapon ang mapilde.”

He confessed that his membership with Kuerdas helped in shaping his views and values both as a person and as a musician. His social skills has improved incredibly and he has learned to play with all his heart.

“Tungod sa Kuerdas, nakabalo ko pano nako itaas akong pagsabot sa akong isig kabanda. Nakatuon ko pano bawas-bawasan ang pagkapikon. Although bisan si kinsa sa amoa, maabot man jud sa point na ala ka sa mood sa mga asaran. Nakatuon pud ko makisalimuha sa ubang tawo na makaatubang nako; tungod kay connected naman ko sa Kuerdas ug nakabalo sila na member ko sa Kuerdas kabalo nako makisama sa ilaha kung makig- estorya sila sa akoa unlike before. Bilang musikero, dako pud ug nahubog ang Kuerdas sa akoa. Ang pagtuo nako dati, basta kung maka- play lang ko, okay na. Pero dili diay na mao. Dapat isapuso jud nako ang akong gina- play. Kumbaga mura sya ug pagkaon nga namnamon jud nako para ma- feel jud ang tinuod na lasa.”

He strongly said that he does his best to elevate his level of playing to achieve a top level performance; Kuerdas brings out the best in him as it’s only with Kuerdas that he practices and rehearses his part and makes sure that he is on top of his game:

“Sa tanang makaya nako, ginabuhat jud nako ang tanan para lang muangat pud ko sa akong playing. Sa Kuerdas lang nako nasulayan mag- sipra sa among mga parts kay sa previous namo na banda, naga- rely lang jud mi sa isa ka tao na mohimo sa among parts. So wala jud mi ka effort- effort before in terms sa siprasipra. Pero tong sa Kuerdas nako, nakatuon ko ug pagpaningkamot na makasipra- dako jud kaau sya ug tabang sa amoa karon ug sa playing na aspeto, iba na jud sya as compared before.”

He humbly told me that they are not the best when it comes to playing skills but their heart is all out when performing and that is manifested on stage which the audience can clearly feel and see:

“Sa pagkatinuod, dili man mi maau. Basic lang among nahibal-an; kung playing ug skills ang istoryahan, layo ra kau mi. Pero tungod siguro nga gina-feel ug gina- enjoy namo among ginabuhat, mao siguro ng maingon sa uban na gatan-aw sa amoa, mga maau daw kuno mi. Pero ang tinuod dili jud baya. Love lang jud namo among ginabuhat.”

I mentioned to him that Gensan is only a small community of musicians; when asked if the musicians are united, he opined with sadness that it is not the case and elaborated further that respect is important to achieve unity:

“Sa akong paminaw, wala jud. Naa lang pipila ang murag dili ing-ana ang panan- aw nila sa ubang banda. OK lang man ang competition basta healthy lang, dili lang mawala ang respeto. Sa akoa lang, respeto gihapon ang pinaka- importante para magkahiusa. Respeto sa bawat banda. Respetohon nato kung unsay ginatawag na “iyaha” o ”akoa.” Kung may mga estorya na madunggan sa ubang tao, dili dayon patulan. Instead, estoryahan sa maaung pamaagi aron dli magdako ang mga issues kung naa man jud.”

Rollan was confident in sharing that Kuerdas still has got a lot of things to offer; it won’t last 14 years if there was nothing more to excite its audience. He mentioned that writing up original songs is the best thing to do; he further mentioned that the Band Major had been exerting too much effort in that aspect as he is the lone member that has the innate skill to perform such role.

“Ang pinakamaayo sa Kuerdas kay magbuhat ug original songs. Naa na si Onyok anang mga compositions na mga bagsik; ang kelangan lang jud kay pungkuan sya 😊

Iba jud kung naay original songs kay dira jud magtatak ang Kuerdas. Si Onyok grabe na iyang paningkamot buhat ug kanta. Sya ra mn gud naay talent ana. Si Caloy may naa pud sya isa nga nabuhat. Lisud jud sya sa tinuod lang.”

Rollan further said that they extend their assistance to the Band Major by giving it their best shot and help motivate each other.

“Always jud si Dodong akong gina-motivate kay kami man ang partner. Kung unsay performance niya, maapektuhan man pud ko. Siguro, ana pud akong way sa pag motivate sa uban nako na kabanda. Dili lang jud siguro ana nga term. Murag gahatag lang ko ug suggestions usahay sa uban.”

When I asked him who he is off- stage, he answered that he is just a simple man. At present, he plays for Kuerdas fulltime. He used to work for Dole as a service provider in the past but he decided to quit because he couldn’t handle the pressure. If gigs are scarce, he assists his wife with her little business.

He also confided:

“… dako pud baya ang tabang sa Kuerdas sa akoa. Tungod sa Kuerdas, nakapabuhat mi ug kanang gamay lang gud na balay pero ang gasto dili sa akoa tanan, tunga mi sa akong asawa.”

Rollan is also grateful that his wife is supportive of his passion eventhough she rarely watches them perform live as she is also busy.

When asked what sort of advice he can give to aspiring bands and trombone players like him, he humbly retorted:

“Dili lang jud sila mawalaan ug gana. Padayon lang sila sa ilang ginabuhat. Kung tyaga lang sila ug pursigido nga magbanda, naa jud nay padulngan. Basta ang importante maging humble lang jud pirme ug ang pinaka- importante, buhat jud ug sariling kanta.”

Rollan never failed to share with me his aspiration and dreams— that Kuerdas may be able to release an album and hopefully will become a hit; one song is enough and they’d be very happy.

“…unta maabot jud namo kung unsa tong among ginapangandoy sa banda ug makabuhat pa si Onyok ug daghan pa na compositions- dako na kaayo namo na nga kalipay.”

He has this to say for his last words to Kuerdas supporters and doubters, and his family:

“Sa mga naga-suporta sa Kuerdas, salamat kaau sa pag-uban ug pagpaminaw sa amoa; unta dili mo magsawa sa amoa.

Sa mga naa pud mga nagaduda sa amoa, salamat pud gihapon kay kamo nagahatag ug kusog na magpursigido mi sa among mga pangandoy.

Sa akong pamilya, daghan kaayong salamat— sa akong asawa, sa akong Mama ug Papa na proud jud kaau sa akoa 😊 ug sa akong mga igsuon ug mga kaparentehan pud na suportado pud kau ko- DAGHAN KAAYONG SALAMAT SA INYONG TANAN 😊”

Eric, the Trumpet Guy for Kuerdas

Setting up a fixed time for this interview with Eric was a bit of a challenge because our schedules won’t meet. Despite that, I truly appreciate the man’s effort; he came well prepared and was all too excited for me to fire away all the questions his way. During the initial stages of the interview, he stuggled as to what language he is going to use; I encouraged him to use the vernacular if that would make him comfortable. He is multilingual thus he used all so he can express himself so much better.

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Eric Emit a.k.a. “Dodong” is 30 years of age, he graduated Bachelor of Science on April 2010. He described himself as a happy person who loves joking around, he is kind, fun- loving, and God-fearing. At times, he isn’t in the mood for jokes when he’s quite busy and has some deadlines to beat.

Eric, Kuerdas’ Trumpet Guy
Eric, Kuerdas’ Trumpet Guy

He used to be a member of Laskuridas from Polomolok, South Cotabato. The band was founded on February 3, 2008- they were a group of classmates and friends in High School but was disbanded when some members focused on their own fulltime careers. Eric was a drummer for Marching Band when he was in 1st year High School and was later promoted as a Trumpet Player until College. In College, he played for the Seniors Band at Holy Trinity College to avail of the 100% scholarship.

Eric is a Photographer and a Computer Artist; he used to be the former owner of Quadrado Photography and Digital Works, he also does insurance on the side as a Financial Adviser for Manulife Philippines, and he plays for Kuerdas too.

He is the Trumpet Player for Kuerdas since January 2013. He does it fulltime and it is his main source of income. He shared to me:

“Nagcommit ako sa Kuerdas kasi sure ang income, happy ako kasi makashare ako ng talent ko when playing the trumpet at the same time maka-income. Sa Kuerdas, okay ang TF namin, tapos happy ako kasi kahit medyo naiiba ang basic rate namin kumpara sa ibang bands, marami pa ring kumukuha sa amin; even kami na mga members, marami ang nag-iinquire sa amin about sa TF ng Kuerdas, iniexplain lang namin ang basic rate tapos about sa “hangyo”, si Angkol Onyok na ang bahalang magnegotiate.”

He also mentioned that he can attest to the fact that many people love Kuerdas. He has known a lot of people since his membership to Kuerdas; he also emphasized that he used to get off the stage with his head down after each performances. But realized that as a performer, there’s still a need to smile even when he is off- stage. He also added that Kuerdas has already gained a fanbase even before he became a member. The fans must have liked Kuerdas because of the way they play their versions, they also cover old and classic songs, and they make their own Kuerdas stylee. Aside from their cover songs, the recording of Kuerdas original songs is also on going and is considered a priority at the moment.

When asked of his style on stage, he has this to say:

“Everytime nasa stage kami, pag fully conditioned at in the mood, sumasayaw talaga kami lalo na pag fast beat; gusto ko kasi maging dancer 😂 Actually, Kinder 1 ako, pinasayaw kami pero folk dance. Sumasayaw din tatlong kapatid ko; ang pagsayaw ko hanggang Kinder 1 lang. Feeling ko ang galing ko kasi masaya si Mama habang nanonood 😊 Love ko ang dancing pero ngayon sa Kuerdas, puede both playing and dancing to the tune of reggae beat.

Pag nasa stage, every songs lumalabas lang ang natural moves lalo na pag ganado, feel na feel ang kanta. Nakakahawa din kasi ang vocalist naming si Mark pag sumayaw, mas ginaganahan ako lalo sabay sigaw ni Angkol Onyok pag climax na. Total satisfaction, san ka pa? Sabi naman ni Mark, pag di rin kami sumayaw, naaapektuhan ang mood niya; every member is considered as a strength ng frontman base lang sa experience ko.”

There are ocassions when he is up to his feet but some members are sick and yet they still have to show their top level performance as that’s what is expected of them.

Eric believes that Kuerdas will have a better future if they can focus on their own compositions — IIsang Bangka, Sakit Akong Buot, Alaala, etc. According to him, if there are more original compositions, there is a higher probability that Kuerdas will be known even more.

He was quoted as saying:
“After maisulat ni Onyok ang song, sabay-sabay namo gina- areglo, sharing of ideas kung unsa ang mas nindot para gwapo ang tunog. Si Carlos nagasulat pud siya; isa sa kanta niya ang “Sinta” gina- play namo. Daghang songs na e- cover dapat namo; “bugsay” jud aron magmove. Naa time wala ko naka- sipra sa songs; lisud kaayo kay ako ang maka-delay. Need jud ang effort bisan asa ka e- butang kay mabyaan ta.”

When he was asked if he feels bad when he’s not able to do his share, he explained:
“Super, lain kaayo ang paminaw. Sa Kuerdas, kami dalawa ang blowings, ako sa trumpet ug si Rollan a.k.a Kalbo 2 sa trombone— magpinsan mi. Si Rollan nagabuhat sa nota namo sa cover songs pati sa dagan sa compositions, siya tanan. Naay time makashare ko ideas gamay lang kumpara sa iya. Pero karon gabuhat nako sarili nakong nota kay always ko nya gina- motivate na maningkamot. Salamat Kalbs, lab u Tol 😀 Maisingit ko lang— always sa gig namo, gina- ask me kung kambal ba daw ming duha. Ana ko dili; mas gwapo ko 😀 pareho daw me ug nawong unsa me ering?” 😂

He shared that Kuerdas helped him in so many ways. He is now more confident on stage. He was also able to sing for an audience even if he’s not a singer. 😀 He finds it an advantage because a lot of people recognizes him.

“Gusto nako i-share tong gipakanta ko sa Boracay unya naka- tip ko 2700 sa Arabo 😀 Feeling proud bisan dili singer 😜 Naay time nga magkanta- kanta ko off- stage; favorite ko man gud ang songs sa Journey. Kabalo na sila sa akoang ginakanta- kanta, unya naay nag-request Faithfully by Journey. First time ko magkanta— nag- refuse ko; dili jud ko 😀 pero ang microphone gihatag sa akoa unya kulba kaayo ko, feeling nako akong espiritu nawala sa akong lawas. Pagkanta nako, piyong ko 😀 namalakpak man ang mga tao 😂 ambot lang kung na- enjoy sila sa akong tingog o hubog lang jud sila. Trip- trip lang ang pakanta nila sa akoa like sa Boracay pagkanta nako nagtindog ang Arabo unya gi butang niya ang ang cash sa akong ulo, sa akong sanina 😊 Nakakanta pud ko sa Boracay japon— same song, after kanta sa likod sa stage, may nagduol sa akoa, unya ana siya “wag ka mahihiyang kumanta,” tapos may tip.

Nakatry pud ko sa gig namo, out-of-town booking, gipakanta ko; pag intro nagpalakpakan ang mga tao tapos 2nd verse, na sya-ok ko 😬 tapos nidagan ko sa backstage 🙈 isa sa pinakalala. Dili ko gwapo tingog, funny lang mao na ganahan guro ang tao. “

When asked how strong is Kuerdas now, he told me with conviction that it is very strong now more than ever:

“Para sa akoa lang, akoa lang ning opinion— very strong karon ang Kuerdas kay full- packaged na. Sa among male vocals na si Mark, werpa na kaayo (power)— charisma, stage performance, and intensity level, the power to interact and connect with the audience, sanay na siya mo-kuha sa crowd plus ang twins pa, sila Lyka and Nika. More on classic and modern songs silang duha. Musically inclined jud silang duha. If si Lyka mo- kanta, kamao si Nika magback-up nga dili masapawan si Lyka. Full blast na. Naga-improve ang playing skills sa tanan.”

It is obvious to the public that the Kuerdas Twin Vocals are a welcome addition to the group. After all the advantages has been laid down on the table, Eric confessed that there is a big adjustment when it comes to their Talent Fees. The Band Major would usually explain to regular clients the impact of this change which is not a major issue for those that believes in the abilities of Kuerdas.

As a musician, he feels satisfied with his playing skills and believes that he can offer better results when he knows his part very well when performing on stage; he can jive and groove to the music with full confidence.

For a musician to thrive for almost 15 years, I asked him if he considers Kuerdas as “LAOS” and has nothing more to offer; he confidently retorted that Kuerdas encountered so many highs and lows over the years but is still alive and standing strong; he unashamedly told me that Kuerdas will continue to thrive for as long as people still want them to play on stage. They will continue to spread peace, good vibes, and love through roots reggae music.

If I may just quote:
“Ang Kuerdas, nakatatak na sa tao. Dili basta- basta makaabot 14 years ang isa ka banda. Daghan pa mapakita ang Kuerdas— karon naga-focus mi sa original songs.”

Eric further shared that each member know each other very well. They have stayed for 4 months in one house together at Boracay Island; there are misunderstandings which is pretty normal but things are resolved straight away. All these experiences made him love each one of them just like his own brothers and sisters.

He also expressed his utmost respect for the Kuerdas Band Major:
“Dako akong respeto sa among leader; dili nimo ma- judge ang tao kung kinsa siya, kung naa siya sa stage or even off- stage. Pila nako ka years sa Kuerdas— nakita nako iyang effort, ug unsa siya ka tinuod nga tao, naa siyay love for music, love sa asawa 😀 ug one thing more, gina- value niya ang each members, pinaka- maayo man ka o dili, para sa iyaha, part ka sa banda, importante kaayo ka. Mao na ang mga reasons nga lab lab nako ang Kuerdas Family kay among leader, mao ng ginapakita niya sa amoa. Padayon ug bugsay mga igsuon!”

He was happy to tell me that his partner supports his passion and all his endeavours.

I asked him for his last words for those who believes in him and Kuerdas and even to those doubters, he was quoted as saying:

“Salamat kaayo sa imoha, oo ikaw! Salamat sa tanan, sa nagsalig ug nagsuporta sa Kuerdas— kaila namo kung kinsa mo 😊

Sa mga igsuon namong mga Musikero, sa mga tinuod namo nga migo nga naa pirmi sa gigs, daghan kaayong salamat.

Sa mga wala naka-appreciate sa amoa, dili pud namo ma- please ang tanan 😀 normal lang jud na, salamat gihapon!

Jah Bless sa tanan, padayon ug bugsay!” #kuerdastylee

Lyka, Kuerdas Female Lead Vocals— Part II

Q: I understand that you have personal aspirations and dreams that’s why you joined national singing competitions. So why join a local band with already 9 members? Have you ever thought that you might lose your personal identity?
A: We joined because we think it is the easy way to get some income- the practical side of it. But as months go by, I can say that if you love music and you keep it in your heart, money is just a perk. The main purpose here is to pursue my passion in music and music has been my love.

Lyka, Kuerdas Lead Vocals
Lyka, Kuerdas Lead Vocals

And particulary reggae music has been an influence to me to be a nature lover and be more optimistic. My mother is a utility worker in our barangay na tinatawag na “tugsok”, the one who picks garbage in a particular area. Yes, she is. And I am very proud of my Mama kasi aside sa nasu- sustain niya ang mga pangangailangan ng mga kapatid ko, nakakatulong pa siya sa ating kalikasan. Hahaha so tagalog 😂🙈

Whenever I sing as Kuerdas, I never thought that I’ve lost my own identity. Mas lalo pa ngang nag- improve especially the way we handle stage presence and intensity of performance. Kuerdas taught me to be more determined and always to be down to earth; they’ve kept on reminding us na “kahit sumikat kayo one day, you must look back to where you’ve started.” We will keep every moral value that they kept injecting in us. PROMISE!

Q: So it never came to mind that you will lose your own identity? Please tell me. Who is Jeselli as a musician?
A: Mali po ba ang answer ko? Na- conscious ako 😬

Q: There are no wrong answers; I am only digging deeper into this because you were aspiring for individual and personal success as Jesseli. Kuerdas is a band; once Kuerdas performs, they are known as Kuerdas and it won’t be Jesseli anymore but rather, Jesseli of Kuerdas. It is now a collective pursuit; it’s a group effort. Achievements are shared; fame and TF is not yours alone. Am I making sense?
A: Yes po, absolutely right. Kasi po as a band and as a team, we always impose unity and respect. And by that, we maintain harmonious sound to the ears of our listeners. When I perform on stage, I do not think of myself on my own anymore, it’s me singing as “Kuerdas.”

Q: Very well said! So when they told you, kahit na sumikat kayo one day, “don’t forget to look back where you’ve started,” do you see fame as an individual or with Kuerdas?
A: Well, both of the choices. (dili lng fame nga word kay maulaw ko 🙈, well known ra😜). Pero mas naging well known kami because of Kuerdas and of the Glory of the Lord.

Q: Please tell me the story how you became a member of Kuerdas? When was that?
A: Angkol onyok reached out to us to be a substitute or shall we say temporary Female Lead Vocalists of Kuerdas when Kuya Mark had his vacation in Germany. So ayon! We started on August 9, 2017 at our first gig at Veranza po na halos kanta namin, mali yong pagka- deliver pero; it was normal kasi first time eh. I know Kuerdas Band is one of Gensan’s pride, bata pa ako niyan. I knew Kuerdas when I was 13 😊

Q: Kuerdas will be turning 15 years next year. Literally, you were only a baby when they started out.
A: Ang alam namin sa Kuerdas dati, nag-cha- chant lang sila sa mga cultural programs pero nag- gi- gig pa pala sila po. I admire their songs so much kasi makabuluhan 😊 Even my friends are so close to Kuerdas; it’s so different from what I expect. My first impression sa Kuerdas- mga bugoy, bastos, and adik kasi mga lalaki man gud puros 😬 (sorry sa word). I’ve been a manhater and it was just like, weeeeeh? Grabe! Every personality is easy to jive on. Walay hassle i-adjust sa ilahang mga ugali kasi they accommodate us very well.

Q: Lol! So they have proven you wrong?
A: Opo. Akala ko lang pala 😬 Maraming namamatay sa maling akala.

Q: Yes. Maling akala by Brownman Revival ang bagay sa imoha na kanta 😜 Wait a second— Mark is back. Is your role still temporary?
A: Hindi na po kasi they officially took us to be part of Kuerdas. 😊 It was August 16, 2017 in our second gig- while we were having our break time, they’ve surprised to tell us that we are now officially part of the family. 💖 KUERDAS BAND.

Q: Congratulations for being a permanent part of the premier reggae band in Socsargen! Now, when you say Kuerdas, they’d say Mark, the guy that sings and dances to those reggae beats. He’s been the sole lead vocals for 14 years. When you came on board, some people say Kuerdas, the band with twin singers. How do you feel to be identified that way?

A: Well, it gave me delightful feeling, as well as honored, kasi sa totoo lang, our career in Kuerdas is alive because everyone in the band exerted so much effort for this. It’s like being a part of their symphony and whenever we start to play and bullet a song, there it comes! Harmonious beat of reggae music makes people step out of their feet.

I have something to share- actually po before I entered Kuerdas, I have my part- time job at Gaisano mall, near grocery. I am one of the crew of Rema House Calamansi. I sell calamansi juice and concentrates.

One day, I saw Angkol Onyok and a kid beside him eating hotdog. Siempre kilala na nako si Angkol Onyok ning ato, kasi weve been in one event sa Youth Achiever’s Award before. Ang akong gibuhat, nagduko ko kasi maulaw ko 🙈 I dunno why. Then I saw a woman walking near him and I was guessing- is that his wife? 😂 ug nagtugma kasi nakilala ko na si Ate Shane 😂 Fastforward, nagkakasabay na yong mga schedules ko sa work at saka sa gigs. Now I have to decide kung ano bang mas matimbang sa akin? Work ba or pagbabanda? Kasi conflict na masyado ang scheds eh. (tantararan!) Then here I am- I chose Kuerdas. Kasi, iba eh. Lalo na pag you really love what you’re doing. Music is a heavy thing for me.

Q: Was it difficult to choose between Kuerdas and your part- time job?
A: At first po 😬 kasi po I pretty much anticipate this decision why I’m here at Kuerdas. I had frequent absences at work, doon po ako medyo nahiya ng pumasok, kasi madalas na; pero I always had the consent of our supervisor 😊 Medyo nanghinayang ako sa work kasi it will somehow open the door for me for my future job. I think every situation naman in our life, there are difficulties in between, pero I overcome po naman by God’s grace.

Q: You are a very strongwilled person and a fighter. Very admirable!
You mentioned that you can sing any repertoire. So when you accepted the temporary role, how did you prepare for the first gig, e.g. vocals, outfit, your overall image, etc?
A: Those are such flattering words- thank you po for saying that. You’re keeping me motivated and brave along the way 😊 We practiced 2x in a week, and Angkol Onyok told us what to wear and most of all, we must wear confidence.

Q: I mean them, they are not just words. Your oozing confidence clearly manifests on your performances on stage. You mentioned that you are willing to wait for the perfect timing, do you see this opportunity with Kuerdas as the big break you have been waiting for?
A: I think this is it 😁 showing what we have to the crowd is a totally big break for us. And everytime we sing, it’s another juncture to pass on 😊- for both (group and as an individual).

Q: What was your reaction to the Kuerdas crowd?
A: At first, I think the crowd are not satisfied with our performance po, pero we eventually developed more confidence and sustained strength with the audience. And also sa mga payo ng Kuerdas members— malalaman mo talaga yan pag na-hook mo na talaga yong crowd, every time na you encourage them to jam over and sing along they, will not refuse 😜

Q: As you know, reggae crowd are very expressive to the beat, they dance, they jump, they sing along… were you surprised?
A: Yes super po! 😊😁 as in it was! I am so amazed by their moves— the way they feel the song, the way they’ve closed their eyes and putting hands up in the air; they are just like worshipping, they want peace of mind and they make every song as their lounge 😊 (especially crowd sa mga Reggae Roots Festival po) maka- shock lang 🙀 I just love them all the way ❤️

Q: Incredibly amazing, isn’t it? At which event with Kuerdas have you highly appreciated the crowd and you’re all pumped up on stage? Tell me what it was like singing for this crowd.
A: Particulary, nong sa Mindanao Roots Reggae po. Kuerdas is one of the frontactors held at Gastrobar. Kasi it was my first time seeing a crowd like that 🙀 pero nasundan pa ng ibang event like Hammock Festival which was organized by mountaineers po— it was simple but rock and roll to the world! 😂 And marami po akong natutunan kasi I don’t really have a nice impression of them but again I was wrong🙈 (Peace to those mountaineers out there). They are the crowd you can’t forget kasi po, they became chain free pag nakasayaw na 😊 not knowing that they are professionals, and they have their own respective professions— some are teachers, leaders, and nurses; sabi sa akin ni Angkol Onyok, thank you Kol. Kaya, shout out sa mga mountaineers po! Saludo 😊

Q: Do you think they will get offended by your impression whatever that is?
A: Siguro po pero impression lng po yon, sorry po sa inyo 😘😞 BUT BUT BUT! I appreciate them soooooo much and I have so much respect for them. Suuuper po 😊 mas na- understand ko sila deeper why they joined such good events. Iba talaga pag nakakasama mo sila po, playing songs will be even livelier! 💖

Q: Apparently, you used to do variety but have since switched to reggae.
A: Opo since I turned to be a reggae singer obviuosly I focus now on one genre. Pero I am still practicing some songs such as ballad pag may time lang po 😊

Q: Do you think you have been accepted by the Kuerdas crowd?
A: Yes po, kasi whenever we blazed up our performance level, we make sure that the crowd will jive and enjoy. 😊

Q: Awesome stuff. I can see that you are passionate about your craft. For how long do you intend pursuing this passion?
A: Well, I can’t assure for how long. But I can assure that for as long as I have this love for my passion, I will pursue this watercraft, “Iisang Bangka.”☺

Q: Most of the Kuerdas members are committed and are headed to one direction— are you on the same page?
A: Yes po, I’m the same way too. A loving band like this will really put you to one direction.

Q: Is it just temporary for you or longterm?
A: For me its longterm po, if others can, why not me? No more, no less. Swak! 💕

Q: Nicely said! How did you adjust to an all-men group?
A: Siguro po, we adjust just like a new relationship sa kanang mag- uyab sa tanan sa ilaha 😂 charaught! Pero bitaw, they treated us as their younger sisters. At first awkward, bisan mag- ngisi ka sa ilaha at first maulaw ka hehe, bisag magkuha ug meryenda pag mag-break time maulaw ka kay basi lantawon uroy ka unya ingnan ug “Hala, lalaki man pod daay ni mukaon” hahaha. 😂 Pero that was only just my imagination pala. Dili sila lisud i- adjust, at first ra. Their personalities kay sobrang easy pakisamahan.

Q: Cool! Naa silay automatic nga mga manghod, dili lang isa, duha jud!!! What else do you think you need to improve on?
A: Hmm siguro po yung aking stage performance 😊 I hope more power pa sa akin by God’s grace. Tsaka hosting skills po— dami ko kasing errors pagdating sa hosting 😬 naalala ko po yung nag gig kami sa Veranza, merong Americano, sumulat ng requested songs, tapos bago ko binasa, I asked him what country he’s from. Tapos parang nag taas lang ng kamay yung Amerikano, then sabi ko “from the U.S?” and he just waved his hands, so I presumed po that my speculations were wrong. And then here I come, binasa ko na ang requested songs tapos nabasa ko ang Hotel California. Biglang nag- sink in sa mind ko baka dito siya galing 😂😂 sabi ko, “Oooooh! From Hotel California! Welcome to General Santos City, Sir”!!!! Hahahahahahaha 😂😂😂 Na- microphone pa talaga ako nun, tapos sabi ni Angkol Onyok “Hoy Kakang! Kanta na (sabay buhakhak) 😂😂😂 Gosh! I just twisted the scene- ayun! Lahat sila tumawa, and some of the crowd. Pero sinabi ko don after, “Oh diba galing kong mag- joke” 😂😂😂 Peace po mahaba 😊
And also po I must improve how to handle thecrowd and to balance my time between school ang gigs. I must be responsible! In Jesus name, help me God 🙏🏻

Q: Thats hilarious!!!! Lingaw kaayo ka! Is there anything you want to say to your family, Kuerdas supporters, and to your Kuerdas Family?
A: To my family:
Music is life but family is lifer haha❤️ having such families of mine are ones who makes me happy and intact every now and then. Salamat po sa full support mga bingsu! 😊 especially sa akong mamay, and kuya; thank you kaayo lovelove💞 also to my dearest friends: Team Sawi, Aroxabo, my love one Babi🌸, the Anthem family and Gang Bang 😊

Kuerdas Supporters:
Playing music won’t be perfect without you guys. You’re a big help to our group, not only to us but to every reggae band here in Gensan. Thank you for just simply following, liking, subscribing on our page on Facebook, Youtube and, Instagram- Kuerdas Gensan. Thank you din po for catching us at our gigs! 💗 Laview all 😘 Keep going with us 😎 Be safe, and Godbless po.

Kuerdas Family:
Mga pare, laban lang tayo 😂😊 More songs to play, more bonds, more atik, more sunluganay aaaand! let us enjoy every beat of the music.🎤🎻🎼🎸 Cipra more songs and be lively always as what I have known you all and realized enough that we are doing great. This is for us and for the Glory of the Lord.

Lyka, Kuerdas Female Lead Vocals- Part I

It was such a pleasure speaking to one of the newest sensation of Kuerdas, Jesselli “Lyka” Balasabas on Lead Vocals.

This is only Part I of the interview. Please take time to read through and know her better.

Q: Hello, how much time can you spare for me?
A: Ikaw na po bahala, basta tanang questions tubagon nako 🙂 I am born to be ready always.
Q: Great! I am excited. Just be yourself lang, ok? Ayaw kaulaw sa akoa. And only share things that you feel comfortable to share for public consumption; take time to reply. No pressure 😊 This is not a test so feel free to express; there is no right or wrong answers. Please tell me something about yourself.

A: Jesselli Balasabas or known as “Kakang” is a hilarious one. Charaught! Haha! 😂 Kasi po ayaw kong nakasimangot, gusto ko happy lang palagi. 😁😊 Me knows how to deal with difficulties in life, kasi po naranasan ko na siguro lahat ng struggles. It started when my parents got separated for some confidential reasons. So ayun, we strive to finish our studies in High School. Naalala ko dati, nagbebenta kami ng pastel, mangga, papaya, popcorn, polvoron sa school namin. Mismong sa campus talaga, not only in our classroom. Hindi po kami nahihiya and besides we have a lot of friends na tinutulungan po kami. I am friendly 😊 Having circle of friends are the best.

Lyka, Kuerdas Female Lead Vocals
Lyka, Kuerdas Female Lead Vocals

Q: Friends are angels sent from the Heavens; they have invisible wings 😜 I saw your photos and videos, you have an identical twin, am I correct? Who is younger or older?
A: Opo, meron po akong kambal; she is younger than me; mas bully sya, hahaha! Sya yong kasama kong gumigising araw-araw, sabay naliligo, sabay umiiyak, kasabay kong humalakhak 😁😂 and life is totally amazing, fantastic, and blessed having a replica; it’s a blessing cos God has poured His best gift on us “singing.”

Naremember ko pa nga dati even in a small amateur kumakanta kami para magkapera kasi walang pambaon ang mga kapatid ko, and even us. Growing without a father figure made us realize that other children are so fortunate. Yes, kasi 4 years na namin hindi nakakasama ang Papa namin, but it’s not a hindrance to stop and just leave our dreams. Tapos na kami sa pagrerebelde— yes we tried but only alak at sigarilyo po and we are not afraid to share this because it has been a part of our journey why we’re here.

Q: I am wowed by your honesty and openness. Thanks for sharing these no-holds barred information. You must be a fun person to be with 😂 Isn’t it amazing that when God poured His gift of music to His chosen humankind, you and your twin were the lucky ones to have received this gift? How young are you, if you don’t mind?
A: Opo pag makasama mo ako di ka ma out- of- place 😁😊 I’m 19 years old, and it’s amazing having a life like this. Challenging kasi yong life ko, and I loved it (na- immune) hahaha!

Yes, it is. Kasi po aside from singing any genres of songs such as Pop, RNB, Classic, Ballad, County; we can dance, we can draw, we can act. Anything that you want as a friend, kakayanin. Kasi yan yung natutunan namin sa mentor namin dati na si Ate Shane: “We must be versatile” kasi humans are made to be flexible in all situations.

Q: At what age did you know you can “sing”?
A: We started singing at the age of 5. When I was 7 years old, it all started then. Apil ug Little Big star, Pinoy Dream Academy, Pinoy Big Brother, Tawag ng Tanghalan, marami pa yon, ang iba di ko na maalala. Hmm, mga national singing contest auditions nasalihan na namin kaso, eto kasing words na “its not our time yet.” We have to wait for God’s perfect timing for us and we are willing to wait 😊

Q: When did you start singing with talent fees?
A: I started singing with talent fees when I was 7; for me yong mga napapalanunan namin sa mga singing contests are still considered as our TF. Pero yong mga regular TF’s na talaga is 13 years old po.

Q: Adulting is real, right? You are so young but your experiences must have made you tougher- ang babangga giba!
A: What do you mean po by adulting? Medyo slow po ako 🙈
Q: I’m sorry, adulting means your experiences were generally for adults but you had to deal with those at such a young age.
A: I see. Opo, life is tough at my young age but still I rise. Never to give up, never to give in against all odds. 😊 As long as we live, there’s still hope knocking.
It was me and my twinny ever since the world began. Kasi for me, she’s my energy in joining contests.

We tried also “bote-bakal” and selling Taiwan shells na kinukuha pa namin sa fish pond with my twinny 😁😬 para may masaing lang.

By the way po, I am a scholar of our barangay. I availed that scholarship to help support myself; I have some allowance for my schooling. I am a Filipino- Canadian College student. Share po, wala lang. Na- remember ko lang.😊

Q: It’s OK to share. Your fighting spirit is commendable. I like that. So how do you deal with failures?
A: I deal with failures by praying. Sometimes I am in tears, but I even get more courageous. Kasi nag- promise ako kay Mama na bibigyan ko pa siya ng simple at magandang buhay/bahay. Of course, I must finish my studies.

Q: You are a strong girl! How many siblings do you have apart from your twin sister?
A: Anim po kaming magkakapatid. Our eldest Ate died when she’s only 2 months old. Tapos kuya ko, then kami dalawa ng kambal ko, tapos second to the last lalaki din, tapos babae po yung youngest sister namin.

Q: That’s quite a big family right there!
A: Our childhood is awesome! We swam on ponds and rivers. Kasi dati di talaga kami nakaka- swimming sa literal na swimming pool kasi kapos sa pera. Share lang po.

Excellent share! This is actually the main purpose of this interview- so Kuerdas followers will know the members individually as a person and what they are like off- stage. Please also note that I only have a couple of main questions. All the rest are based from your shares 😜
________________________________
Please stay tuned for Part II which will deal mostly on Lyka’s journey with Kuerdas.

Boyong, the Little Drummer Boy for Kuerdas

Leonardo Baril Laguiman or better known as “Boyong” is the man behind the drums for Kuerdas. He is 24 years old, single and ready to mingle 😜

Boyong, Kuerdas Drummer Boy
Boyong, Kuerdas Drummer Boy

Boyong had a hard life. As a young boy, he did odd jobs like “Bote- Bakal” and selling of pandesal in the morning so he can help support his family.

At the tender age of 11, he has learned how to play the drums. He then later on became the little Drummer Boy for a couple of bands in Gensan such as Jahmingero, Hail’s Tone, and Kyrstina Louise. He also once worked for Globe Telecom and as a sounds system crew in between.

When he was offered the role to play for Kuerdas, he was no longer the drummer of any bands. He saw it as a perfect and longterm opportunity; hence, he grabbed the offer without second thoughts.

It’s been 15 months since his initial stint with Kuerdas. He could not forget the first event with them. He was quoted as saying:

“Una- una nakong tugtog sa Kuerdas katong August at Veranza last year. Then gina- kulbaan ko kay una pa nako sa ilaha. Isa pa kay master na kaayo sila. Grabe ka- intense to kay bag- o lang ko balik magtugtog. Gina- paningot jud ko sa ka- kulba, halos dili maka- estorya. Uga kaayo akong baba, way laway mu- basa.”

He confessed that he committed a lot of errors that night. He couldn’t tell if the group was annoyed with or laughing at him. He felt very frustrated and discouraged at that point. However, his new bandmates, especially the Band Major, Angkol Onyok, encouraged him; they further egged him on to do more practice, observe each other, listen to the music, and most importantly, feel it. It helped him to boost his confidence when he plays alongside them. When asked of his confidence level, from the initial 6, he is currently at 9– 10 being the highest.

He prepares for a gig by keeping himself relaxed and always punctual at the organizer’s call time. The playlists are all set as prepared by the Band Major, Angkol Onyok.

He has only these words for the Kuerdas Band Major:

“Si Onyok jud ang ulo namo. Pag wala sya, di jud maka- tindog ang Kuerdas. Kung sa tabang lang, daghan na jud like kanang mag- set sa mga clients, ngita og gigs. Then sa stage, mag dala og tao. Buotan na pagka- leader; walay libog ka- estorya. Pag naa ka problema, makatambag sya.”

He was highly charged with emotion when asked about his unforgettable experiences, highs and lows with Kuerdas. If I may just quote:

“Kuerdas. Isa jud ka dako natabang sa akoa… Katong dati, daghan naga- bully sa akoa. Karon, nangawala na. Isa pa, nakatindog ko sa akoang duha ka tiil na lig- on. Naka- realize ko dire sa Kuerdas na it’s family jud ang pagtagad. Tanan naa na dire sa group na ni. Kabuang. Kalingawan. Mga hilak- hilak, etc. Di parehas dati na akong utok, permi ga- duha duha. Sa sulod sa 15 months nako sa Kuerdas, daghan jud na- bag- o sa akoa. Naa jud ang respeto dire ug dire pud ko nahinog ug maayo. Akong dili makalimtan na mga nahimo, kana bang mag- sabaysabay sa tanan. Isa pa, daghan jud ko na- experience dire like mag frontact sa mga national bands.”

He spoke with assurance that he still kept both his feet on the ground; when he’s told off for his mistakes, he accepts them with full humility and takes it constructively.

“Kuerdas para sa akoa — may mga time na kulang pa jud sa barog. Like sa mga time sa praktis, di jud matuman ang time. Then sa mga tugtog, ok naman pero mas ok pa kung dungagan pa jud. Pero at least, naga- bugsay amoang bangka…”

“Kuerdas is the best. Naa na dire sa Kuerdas ang tanang klaseng bondings.”

Some people has this perception of musicians that they smoke, drink, and do drugs. Boyong has this to say:

“Wala ko naga- ing ana. Pero normal nalang na maoy impression sa mga tao sa mga banda pero never jud ko nag- drugs. Smoke and drink lang. Nawong lang nko murag nag- drugs hahaha kay payatot man 😂

He shared that if ever he is made to choose for a reggae song, he’d pick Get Up, Stand up by Bob Marley as this reflects his own life- he keeps on fighting and never gives up in the face of adversities.

For Boyong’s parting words:

“Akong message sa tanan, maningkamot lang ta ninyo kung puede, maningtiil sad. Lahat ng struggle sa life, naay pamaagi tanan. Pagsubok dapat labanan, wag atrasan. Sa tanan pod na followers sa akoa kung naa ba. Salamat mga LODI!”

Please note that when Boyong was being interviewed, he was a bit anxious in anticipation of the unknown; he was also worried that he might not be able to completely comprehend the questions thrown at him when spoken in English. The interview was done using the local dialect which was translated to English for universal comprehension and wider mileage and reach for this page. He confessed that he felt relaxed after the initial tete- a- tete.

Up Close and Personal: Caloy on Lead Guitars

We got the chance to sit down and talk with Carlos Ricardo Estipona. Let’s know him up close and personal.

Caloy on lead guitars for Kuerdas
Caloy on lead guitars for Kuerdas

Q: How long have you been a member of Kuerdas Gensan? What is your role? How did you become a member?
A: Na member ko sa Kuerdas officially since May of 2012. I play Lead Guitars.
Naging member ko kay familiar na ko sa mga tugtog or pondo sa Kuerdas since reggae band member pud ko dati, tapos gina- kuha ko usahay nila Onyok pag absent ilang Lead Guitar player, or mag fill-in pud ko kung absent si Onyok. Naging friends na pud ko sa ila ever since.

Q: So it means member ka previously sa band pud before Kuerdas?
Yup, bandmates nako sa “Laskuridas” si Eric ug Rollan before (duha ka kalbo).

Q: After Ting-Ting, ikaw nagpuli?
A: After kay Roland Eslit ko nagpuli.

Q: Aww! Interesting info. So it’s been 5 years since your membership, how was the journey as a musician? Puyat, kapoy, odd hours. Pano ka naka-adjust? Was there a need to adjust to your routines kung sagunson ang tugtog?
A: So far, feel nako na naa ko sa best position as a musician because I think I have the best bandmates ug murag family na akong pagtan-aw. Although dili smooth ang dalan, determinado japon magpadayon kay naa mi goal. Naa jud ang puyat ug kakapoy pero murag balewala lang kay gina- enjoy jud nako basta ga- play ug music.

Q: I see. You speak with so much fervor and passion about your craft. Was there difficulty or struggle pag- start nimo as a Kuerdas member? i.e. adjusting to each members’ personalities, etc.
A: At first naglisud ug adjust pero naka- adjust man agad kay gina- enjoy man ang ginabuhat. Positive mind setting lang siguro. Yes naa jud struggle at first kay 10 other different personalities ang dapat i- deal pero so far, murag ga- jive ang each other, murag perfect mix kumbaga.

Q: You sound very positive and optimistic. Was there an instance nga nagka- conflict or issue with a bandmate? What was it in particular and how was it resolved?
A: Always jud ang issue or conflict when it comes sa grupo, pero happy ko kay paspas ma- resolve sa amoa kay so far willing man maminaw tanan. Gina- estoryahan kasi in person basta naay dili mao, unya pangitaan dayon ug solution.

Q: That’s awesome! Coming from you, it’s good to hear that the members are openminded and matured enough to handle conflicts. So wala ka nagka- issue with any bandmates?
A: Ako, nagka- issue siguro pero dili serious, isa man gud ko sa naay very strong personality sa grupo. 😂 Siguro kanang pagka strong nako manulti, kasi isa ko sa mga “bully” sa grupo, pero more on sunloganay ra gud na pang lingaw- lingaw.

Q: What are your strengths?
A: Unsang klase na strengths?

Q: Personal strengths that affect musicality, relationships with bandmates, and fellow musicians…
A: Siguro akong strength kay daghan kog ideas sa akong mind. Unya naa koy ear for music na ma- determine nako kung unsay mas maayo or dili when it comes to arrangement sa music, etc. Unya naa koy murag “will” sa mga decisions when it comes sa band music or iba pang endeavors.

Q: You certainly know what you are talking about. Is the group open for suggestions? Once you have this particular idea, you share it with the group, right? How is the group taking the suggestions?
A: Yep. But of course not all suggestions or ideas madawat kay magbase man sa other members, pero so far, willing ug open tanan for suggestions biskan among Band Leader.

Q: Cool! 👍 Naa kay embarassing moment on stage? If yes, paunsa nahitabo?
A: Naa. Like nagtulo akong laway onstage. Lol. 😂😂😂 Nag- estorya ko ato pinabigla tapos nagtalsik akong laway unya naay audience nakakita- gikataw- an ko 😬 Sa Pahayahay to dati, siguro mga 2013…

Q: Bwahaahahha!!! 😂😂😂 Grabeh akong agik-ik ba. Wa pako ka- move on. Ha! Ha! Ha! On a serious note- I should have asked this in the beginning- before you became a member of Kuerdas, how do you see the band as an outsider/ onlooker? Has your perceptions changed when you became a member? When the role was offered to you, did you have second thoughts in accepting?
A: Una- una nakong kita sa Kuerdas siguro mga 2006 or 2007, honestly I was blown away! Ang energy sa performance, ang crowd, etc… Na- amaze jud ko!!!

Tong na offeran ko, siempre 100% YES kay isa sila sa naging influence ug gina- lookup namo while naa pa mi sa dating banda…

Tong naging member na ko, akong mindset at first is: dili ko maka- tuo na maging member ko ug gina- make sure nako na alagaan akong position sa Kuerdas.

Q: Awesome feedback. So how was your membership like? Has it made you a better person?
A: As a person, of course it made me better. Murag na- establish nako to be someone who I want to be. The name “Kuerdas” attached to my name I think gave me or will give me opportunities or privileges na dili nako makuha if wala ko na member sa Kuerdas Band. It gave me an identity kumbaga..

Q: Wow! Beautifully worded. Can you please cite some examples of those privileges?
A: Privileges like you have the chance to know more people in different departments, like government, police, traffic, etc. I dunno if proper pero it’s the truth. Also the opportunity of meeting celebrities. Siguro pud people, particularly other musicians will listen to what I or we have to say when it comes to guitars, gears, music, etc.

Q: It’s alright. It’s a fact and it comes with the job. It’s good that you mentioned that. And while we are at this, does it go to your head? How do you take the destructive criticisms?
A: The VIP treatment because of the Kuerdas name; also we have accessibility but not all the time pud. Sometimes man gud makadawat ug free food, beer, gifts, souvenirs, etc from people or supporters.

Q: For the win noh? As earlier asked, do you feel entitled because of these special treatments you mentioned, did it ever go to your head?
A: Sometimes dili ko makatuo na ing- ana ang mga special treatments but I always try my best to stay humble and I always say “Thank You” kay sa akong isip “dili man ko artista.” Nyahahahaha! 😂
When it comes to destructive comments and criticisms, I don’t take it personally because I know for myself that I’m trying my best to be friendly to everyone especially fellow musicians, although of course I get mad or dissappointed sometimes kay siempre banda nako ang gina- attack. But we can’t deny the fact that haters will always be there no matter what because we cannot impress all.

Q: That’s a pretty good mindset. Haters gonna hate no matter what you do. So better to do your own thing and always give it your best shot.
A: I just have the mindset that Kuerdas is Kuerdas and it’s the truth. Some will accept, while others won’t. But still, we are happy in whatever position we have right now.

Q: That’s right. You can’t please everybody. We discussed previously about your strengths, now may I ask what are your weaknesses?
A: Weaknesses- when it comes to time management and learning or arranging songs, sometimes my patience is not enough haha! Food is also a weakness.

Q: Food is a good weakness. It goes bad when you overeat. How do you address these weaknesses?
A: I just relax muna, take a break and think, then I get back at it again with a clearer mind. I have this goal that I will make my weakness as my strength someday. Again, its easier said than done.

Q: Is performing the only thing you do?
A: As of now, I’m performing and currently studying Masscomm, graduating na hopefully this March. It’s worth mentioning that I’m paying my school tuition fees from my income as a Kuerdas musician.

Q: That’s fantastic! Do you still see yourself performing in the coming years even after you graduate?
A: Yes of course. That’s the main goal for me. I want to perform and make it a career, provided of course na dili pud in poverty. Haha! And I will be proud to say that when I graduate, it’s because of my hardwork and earnings from Kuerdas.

Q: But some say there is no money in music. There is overflowing passion but no money. How do you react to that?
A: I would say it’s the opposite. It’s up to the person on how he will convert the passion into money or opportunity. We are living testimonies that there is money in music. But of course it’s not as easy as they think. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

Q: Wow! I am learning a lot from this exchange. I am sure the Kuerdas page followers will be very impressed! And haters will now begin to love you.
A: Hahaha! They can hate all they want but they can never change the fact.

Q: Right! What else I haven’t asked that you feel important to discuss and let your followers know?
A: Hmmm. Maybe they should know that Kuerdas is very friendly and approachable… and most importantly, being a local musician is a noble career and plays a great role in the local entertainment economy.

Q: Very well said, Mr. Estipona! This is very interesting content. Do you get a lot of those bad impressions? How did it come about?
A: Kay siempre murag naa siguro ga- think na Kuerdas mga hambog, tikalon, etc. Pero so far murag wala man koy concrete evidence na naa koy nadunggan na nag- ingon ug ing- ana.

Q: I am not putting words into your mouth but I want to clarify one thing: wala in your face but daghan behind your back, is that it?
A: Siguro. I just think so pero wala nalang ginaisip kay mas gusto nako/namo happy ug goodvibes. That’s very important in performing, dapat good mood so good music/performance ang outcome. If we always dwell on negative things, it will manifest on stage.

Q: That’s very positive attitude. You need that to stay solid and strong. What do people need to know about you as a person and not “Caloy the Kuerdas Lead Guitarist”?
A: As a person, they need to know that I’m a positive thinker, I always neglect negative things in life if I can. I love my family so much and I am always friendly, and I love kids. Ug hilig ko mag joke permi biskan waley na minsan. I love to read, go watch movies, listen to music- all kinds of genres from death metal to gospel songs. I respect them all as a form of art in their own rite. I also love to just sit down and talk with people, especially intelligent ones kay feeling nako ma- bright kog apil. Ha! Ha! Ha! 😂

Q: I can clearly see that from this exhange. What are the things you value the most?
A: Of course my family especially my Mama, my Kuerdas Family, my guitars, my pedalboard, of course my reputation. I have this obssession or goal na I always want to be remembered as a good person but of course nobody’s perfect.

Q: What is your message to your supporters, bandmates and co-musicians?
A: To my bandmates, I am thankful for the existence of every single one of you, I’m very happy to have you guys as my mates. What we have is something that we should appreciate and take care of. We can do this together and let’s grow to be better together!

To Kuerdas supporters – We thank you so much for showing up at our shows, you are the reason that we are playing music to the best of our abilities and without you, we are nothing. We promise to give back good music for all of you and thank you for the friendship!

To co-musicians – We just continue to support each other and make our scene be known. We are glad that musicians here are close as good friends and if ever there is competition that we cannot deny, let’s make it a healthy one! Good vibes always!

Perfect! You are brilliant! Thanks for your time, Caloy!

Up Close and Personal: Jembhoy on Keyboards

Jembhoy is 23 years of age, he is the Keyboardist of Kuerdas Gensan for more than 2 years now. He started playing his piano keyboard when he was only 11 years old.

Jembhoy on Keyboards for Kuerdas
Jembhoy on Keyboards for Kuerdas

Before playing for Kuerdas, he used to be a member of another reggae band in Gensan, Jahmingero Band. His musical influences were Elvis Presley songs then later fell in love with Bob Marley’s music when he joined reggae bands 3 years ago.

Jembhoy is so young and full of life; he shared that to be a member of Kuerdas is a dream come true for him because Kuerdas was his influence when he was still playing with his previous band.

As an official Kuerdas musician, he confided that he has improved a lot especially in the way he handles himself on stage. He has developed strong professionalism and etiquette. Indeed, Kuerdas has helped him not only to become a better musician but as a better person, too.

Jembhoy has always kept his mind open in dealing with various personalities in the band; he finds sheer pleasure in seeing Kuerdas grow in number and rehearsing new songs that they haven’t played before. New faces meant new friends; new addition to the family that is Kuerdas.

He awkwardly shared that he still gets nervous and anxious when playing for big events. To help boost his confidence, he makes sure that he is well prepared before rehearsals.

In every Kuerdas gig, he feels motivated and sees it as an opportunity and a stepping stone in achieving their goals- and that is for the Kuerdas original music to be heard and recognized by ordinary Pinoys. That is Jembhoy’s greatest goal as a Kuerdas musician. He gladly shared that all members of Kuerdas are on the same page and headed to only one direction.

He is seeing himself in the next 5 years as a better musician but grounded. He loves taking his time in playing or practicing his piano keyboard. As an entertainer or a musician, he wants to be more successful in his chosen career, aiming to share his talent or let people hear his passion.

Jembhoy is very happy to share that he got the full support of his lovely wife. They have 3 beautiful kids- the eldest is 6 years old and the youngest is only 2 months old. Performing for Kuerdas is his bread and butter.

He has the following parting messages:

“To my bandmates, guys I know how hard na atong mga na-agian; I do hope lang na strong and solid gihapon ta. Much respect to all.

To all reggae bands, Padayon ta sa atong eksena, kumbaga one love, one heart. Music makes us unite as one. Jah bless to all!”

Photo Credit: Imahenacion

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Kuerdas Gig Schedules for April 2017

Please do watch out for Kuerdas Band around SOCSARGEN area for the month of April:

April 25 – Margus,Glan, Sarangani Province
April 26 – Veranza, Al fresco
April 28 – Princess del leonor,Kiamba,Sarangani Province (Bikini Open)
April 29 – #GSYF2017 Banla Ecopark
April 30 – Tupi, South Cotabato Gymnasium

I was not informed if they had with them the boss loop station at guitarcenter.com but for sure it is going to be another real time party for reggae lovers out there.

See you all!