PiliSkaPinas had done it again raising the bar last Saturday night as I hold witness to a historical musical event that unfolded. The event billed as The 2nd MANILA SKA FEST. The first one was held last 2008 if I'm not mistaken as I fondly remember that rainy night that they asked me to emcee the show.
And now I am back for another round of duty, hands down to the folks at PiliSKApinas , mainly Mae of Shuffle Union for upping the ante! I had noticed that the vibe is somewhat different this time around because during the first year it was somehow tense, nervously waiting for something unnecessary to happen, a fucking drunk bonehead moron almost ruined the show last time. But now it's much more relaxed probably because a camaraderie amongst the people within the scene is slowly building up that I felt kinda at ease now rather than before. This is a good sign for the things to come that evening. With a bottle of beer in hand i surveyed the surroundings and lo and behold! Cubao X was once again invaded by skinheads, rude boys, mods, casuals and punk rockers as the regular patrons of the place mainly hipsters and fashionistas and wannabes with their 80's throwback threads, glow stick electro muzak and cowboy boots stood in awe.
As sharply dressed people spend their weeks worth of wages dancing and singing along to the bands as they laughed and drank copious amounts of alcohol. I saw long lost friends that i knew from way back passed by me as I nodded and shook their hands and giving them high fives. Old faces abound and so does young bloods as far as my eyes can see with their Fred Perrys', Ben Shermans', Lonsdales' and Doc Marten boots. The whole place was beaming with nothing but fun fun fun! Take note that the beer at Mogwai and the other shops that sold beer was already gone before the whole shebang ended. I've noticed that these always happen when the sort of people who loves ska and punk rock comes along Cubao X. (case in point Bisikleta Productions and Trash Radio Manila's Louie Louie event and PiliSkaPinas's 1st Manila Ska Fest).
For those of you who have no idea what ska is all about you can easily Google it and watch it at Youtube but there is nothing much satisfying and much more enjoyable when you experience it first hand instead of staying at home, sitting in your chair staring at your computer screen and dream and drool about it I strongly suggest you get off your ass and buy some records and go and support your local ska band.
But just to give you a hint here's a little information about how this music began in the Philippines and the birth of ska and Jamaican music in general. During the 60s you can hear the great comedians Panchito Alba and Dolphy singing a song about family planning under the guise of Toots and The Maytals's song called Monkey Man and the star for all seasons Vilma Santos rendition of Millie Small's version of My Boy Lollipop done originally by Barbie Gaye and Vilma Valera a Filipina singer and actress sang a Desmond Dekker tune (go figure it out). and in the early 80s a group of pre teen singers named The Nailclippers sang Pass The Dutchie a song originally done by The Mighty Diamonds then in the 90's you could hear ska at the movies where in Vic Sotto together with the late great hip hop artist Francis M, Michael V and Richie D' Horsie spoofed Prince Buster's produced song Oh Carolina by The Folkes Brothers and of course not to forget Yoyoy Villame's original version of his hit song Magellan with his band The MB Liner Rondalla is influenced by ska's grandaddy - mento. The music itself in the beginning when it landed to our shores was more of a novelty thing but Reggae on the other hand is more on the serious tip since day one bands like Eurasia, Coco Jam and Tropical Depression sang about politics and everyday life of the common man but as the years progressed what had been deemed as a novelty thing it would later evolve into a more serious form of music picked up by the people who loved Jamaican music mainly the skinheads and punk rockers.
In the 80's as punk rock took a hold of Asia the music began to take shape via Brave New World Concerts, groups like The Lost Boys who arguably is the first ska band in the Philippines during that year. Punk band Betrayed were the very first to embraced reggae, Skavengers and Skalawags embraced ska. (members of the band consist of Tropical Depression, The Jerks and Tame The Tikbalang) These pioneering bands planted the seeds of ska. This music would eventually gain more local adherents in the 90s through the greatest band that consolidated it was none other than Manila's finest Put3ska comprised of Philippine's punk and reggae stalwarts that things starts to fall into place.
Fast forward to 1998 A couple of British expats namely Northern soul enthusiast Shane Cosgrove and Darryl Skataba Orchard along with members of Put3ska developed a monthly event called Club Ska Manila through this endeavor the ska scene was further developed This music was worshiped by its new found disciples and clubs like Mayric's (now called Sazi's Bar) and Club Dredd went from strength to strength as if there was no end in sight. The type of people who attended these venues is crucial importance to the scenes strength and future development. They were generally like-minded escapist who refused to be directed by the music and fashion barons that proliferated the airwaves. They had their own ideas of what good music was and what shit was. Ska bands slowly coming out of the woodwork eventually due to the tireless efforts of the men and women behind Club Ska Manila some of the bands that came from that time period will eventually put out independently produced records by the time Y2K had started groups like Jeepney Joyride, Skabeche, Shuffle Union and Coffee Break Island to name a few. Through this the scene burst wide open gaining commercial ground a sign of a bright future to come but the scene had a bad reputation during those days violent fights broke out too much aggro threatens to halt its growth.
As the years progress so does the scene continue to flourish gone were the days when some people have second thoughts on going to a gig to watch a great a ska band play that's because of the tumultuous past it had represented back in the day. Today the torch bearers spearheaded by like minded people consisting of the old and the new have picked up the pieces and learned from the past mistakes and is now determined to keep it from happening again.
The fire is still burning as the scene had sprung from left to right from north to south, east to west you can hear ska music from Cebu City, C.D.O. down to Bicol region and Baguio City. The Rudies All Around from Angono started to do events, Bisikleta Productions and Skamax, Tellayouthska crew from Batangas City and To People Who Ska from Bulacan and small underground collectives scattered all around Metro Manila. They are now the keepers of the flame they helped propagate this addictive form of music for us to enjoy now and hopefully the next generation will pick up and then pass it on to the next.
The seeds were sown by these people who took Jamaica's finest export and called it their own. Big thanks to the people who had bled, lived, breathe and fight 24-7 365 days of the year for this music in keeping it alive and well. Last Saturdays festivities is a positive sign that the bad things that had happen in the past is best kept in that era. I hope things will be much bigger, brighter and better in the near future, time to move forward everything is changing but let us not forget the tradition that had kept this scene alive for years and is continuing to do so.
As i have said last Saturday that its much fun and much better if all of us can get along this time around. Now is the time to stop the hate and the petty bickering within the scene. Now is the time to give the middle finger to the outside forces that threatens to malign the scene that we all love. The Specials sang that It doesn't mean you've got to hate him It doesn't mean you've got to fight. Being mean and intimidating doesn't earn respect in my mind bullies are intolerant of contrary opinion, domineering and rather cowardly so please stop it now. After all you are not that different from the person beside you, who love listening to ska, punk rock, reggae or whatever music he or she is listening to. If you take a closer look at it is all the same. All things are related in one way, shape or form all we have to do is to respect each other through this it will guide our morals and eventually gain respect. As Desmond always say U-N-I-T-Y. and so does Sham 69 shouted if the kids are united we will never be divided.
Big up to PiliSkaPinas for the uber wonderful night! And thanks to the bands and the crowd who kept their cool. Nuff' respect! I raise my beer to all you mates! CHEERS!
if you wanna know more about what PiliSkaPinas is all about its humble beginnings and where will it be heading in the future do check this site: http://clubskamanila.multiply.com/journal/item/1