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.