'80s Pinoy punk pioneers reunite for special gig

Rick Olivares

Posted at Oct 01 2017 08:27 PM

“Ilan 'yung nasa Katrina’s nung unang gig namin,” asked Betrayed frontman Buddy Trinidad. 

About 10 hands were raised among the several hundred that trooped to the B-Side Collective in Makati for "Eighties Enough," that reunion of Pinoy punk rock bands from the 1980s that rocked Makati on Saturday.

“Nakikita niyo ba 'yung katcha na 'yan sa likod kung saan naka sulat ang ‘Betrayed’? 'Yan ang original.”

And on a rainy Saturday night, these bands – most featuring their original line-ups – in a show organized by Lock & Load Productions, brought back a taste of nostalgia and good old-fashioned punk rock. 

It has been more than three decades since Collision, Phil. Violators, The Wuds, Betrayed, and Urban Bandits (along with many others) performed their brand of the sonic fury that is punk rock in these tropical shores. Katrina’s, Brave New World, Tommy Tanchanco and Twisted Red Cross, Howling Dave and Pinoy Rock and Rhythm to name but are but a few bywords of the past that are now spoken with reverence. However, today’s newer punks know all the words to the songs -- anthems if you will.

Of the evening’s show, there were few cover songs – The Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer,” The Damned’s “Love Song”, and The Ruts’ “Babylon’s Burning” were performed. 

“Back then, the audiences accepted that we were performing original songs,” related Trinidad before Betrayed took to the stage. “Maybe that is why the punks and fans embraced the Pinoy punk movement. It was something that we could own. Something we could be proud of and placed next to our records of the Ramones, The Clash, and the Sex Pistols.”

The Pinoy punks are now older, but time has not diminished their fire one iota. When The Wuds took the stage and performed their classic “Nakalimutan ang Diyos” that takes potshots at the material world, the trappings of fame, as well as corruption and the ills of society, the crowd sang along to lead singer Bobby Balingit and spat out every word. 

“The song is valid and important today just the way it was back when we first performed it,” later affirmed Balingit who shirt bore the message “pagkain hindi bomba.” 

When Pinoy punk first took form back in the 1980s, contrary to popular belief not everything was protest music. 

“Meron mga patama 'yung songs pero hindi lahat,” bared Urban Bandits frontman Arnold Morales. “Yung iba kasiyahan, katuwaan. Fun lang. Meron kanta na galit, meron hindi. Meron mga tungkol sa buhay at meron din nonsense. Walang pinagkaiba sa mga pop and rock songs na kung ano anu yung topic. Siguro yung kultura, yung look at image yung naiba talaga noon. Bago lang kasi.” 

“Even back then there was ‘fake news,’” related Betrayed drummer Manny Pagsuyuin. “There were published reports that punks were ‘mga Satanista.’ Pero hindi naman.”

Urban Bandits drummer Roel Dela Cruz remembers being stopped by the old Metrocom cops and being searched for drugs, weapons, and any articles that could cause anarchy.

The older punks like Dennis De Vera, who now holds a job at Middle Finger shop at Cartimar, Recto, said, “Wala naman matandang punk noon kasi bago lang ang punk rock. Now, nagsitandaan 'yung mga nasa '80s at iba na ngayon, meron na 'yung DIY (do it yourself) ethic at meron mga trabaho or pamilya na.”

“Back then, punk rock shows were organized at the Philtrade Center, Katrina’s, Red Rocks, Ultra, even in garages. Sometimes, in parking lots,” added Pagsuyuin. “Aside from the Brave New World shows, wala masyado nag-organize ng gigs. Now you have promoters and places like B-Side, Mow’s, or Dark Side Bar to name a few for punk rock.” 

Of the night’s performers, it was only The Wuds and Phil. Violators that have continuously put out albums. However, decades after their seminal releases, Betrayed and Urban Bandits are at work for their next albums.

“You know why we are still around,” summed up Trinidad who perhaps was also speaking on behalf of all the other bands that performed for the evening. “I read an article about the Rolling Stones where the secret to their longevity is – space. While they are close, they don’t always hang out. They give time for themselves so when they get together, they miss it. They miss everything – the shows, the magic of performing, of being with their bandmates.”

And they rocked with the crowd going nuts, slamming to Pinoy punk classics such as “No Future sa Pader,” “Never Meant to Be This Way,” “Patay Buhay,” “I Don’t Care,” and “Freedom” in the pouring rain in steamy conditions at the B-Side Collective.

And that is why we cannot get enough of the '80s.