How Pinoy Beatles group survived 'Yolanda' and got to America

By Don Tagala ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Mar 11 2014 12:51 PM | Updated as of Mar 12 2014 11:25 PM

 

Reo Brothers in NY for 'Yolanda' benefit concert

NEW YORK –The Reo Brothers, a boy band composed of four Filipino siblings from Tacloban who survived the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan), arrived at the New York's JFK International Airport on Sunday.

They are popularly known as the "Beatles of the Philippines".

The Reo Brothers first captured the hearts of many Kapamilya viewers during ABS-CBN's Christmas Special "Kwento ng Pasko: Pag-Asa at Pagbangon" last December.

In Yolanda's aftermath, the Otic family had to make a difficult decision that would change their life forever.

Bringing with them only their guitars, a few clothes, water, and a pocket full of candies, brothers Reno, RJ, Raymart, and Ralph Evasco Otic left their typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City to find a better life in Manila.

"Kinabahan kami kasi, sabi ng mga tao, meron daw mga preso na nag-akyatan sa mga school kasi agawin ang pagkain, tapos nangre-rape ganun," said Reno.

Little did they know that one magical performance on television would bring them a step closer to their dream of making it big outside the small city of Tacloban.

Their story of survival, together with their amazing Beatles music, got them their biggest gig yet—a performance at the Madison Square Garden alongside international superstars Jennifer Hudson, Jessica Sanchez, Apl.de.ap, Charice among others.

"Pinoy Relief" is a benefit concert that would benefit the survivors of typhoon Yolanda.

"Unti-unting natutupad yung mga pangarap naming. At the same time, nakakatulong din kami sa mga kababayan naming nasalanta ng bagyo," said Raymart.

Just a few days before their trip to New York, their first overseas trip ever, the group was denied visas to enter the US.

"Akala talaga namin hindi na kami makakarating dito dahil na-deny yung unang request namin for a visa," said Tomas Banguis, road manager of the group.

"One of the issues is the boys have never been outside the Philippines before, which made getting the visa that much more difficult - they and I persevered, and we're able to turn it around and they were able to get their visas, and for that I'm grateful to the Embassy," said US immigration lawyer, Michael Gurfinkel.

When the group arrived in New York on Sunday afternoon, they wasted no time exploring and enjoying the Big Apple before the big day at the Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

"Hindi ako makapaniwala. Hindi namin naiisip na mapupunta kami dito, kasi nung nasa Tacloban kami kuntento na kami sa buhay namin noon doon," said RJ.

Ralph added, "Pangarap ko po na magka-album kami, siyempre sumikat, yun po magtuloy-tuloy pa rin yung bonding ng grupo namin na hanggang matanda na kami, tumutugtug pa rin".