Hmm, wala nga ang Datu’s Tribe sa Tanduay Rockfest. (Bakit wala ang Datu’s Tribe Sa Tanduay Rockfest Part 2)

To everyone who waited, my apologies for the delayed posting. My brain was already on torture overdrive, distilling 20 years worth of thoughts, experiences, and insights on the music industry, and it really took time to decide on how to finally treat the issue at hand without resorting to producing a litany of sins I’d love the music industry to answer for.

This piece, I address, above all others, to my fellow established musicians in the local rock music scene. Most of us have gone way past that enigmatic “dead at 27” mark, so I think it’s about time we started thinking about the future. Not ours – the music’s.


Like so many others in the scene, I’d like nothing more than to just simply make music, have fun, and deliver the shit out of my bowels at every engagement. But the fact is that I’m forced to deal with the business side of things by default and this necessitates my having to arm myself with as much knowledge of the industry’s inner workings as I can just so my crew and I don’t end up getting victimized.

Since the 90s, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to talk to fellow artists about their thoughts on the music scene and one thing I’ve learned through these interactions is that everybody is privy to some kind of industry bullshit or sob story in one form or another. Whether it’s about greedy label execs, fly-by-night organizers, lopsided contracts, under-the-table agreements, payola and other kickback schemes, or even opportunistic poseurs within our own ranks, these rants have essentially remained the same since I first entered the fray more than 15 years ago.

So, I guess the question is not so much about what’s happening anymore (again, since everyone seems privy to all kinds of dirty info) but rather, HOW the hell they keep on happening and WHY in Pepe fuckin’ Smith’s name haven’t we been able to fix these problems in spite of the fact that WE, the MUSIC ARTISTS, are central to all the wheelings and dealings that take place inside the music industry?

Ironically, the way it’s set up is such that we music artists ultimately find out later in the game that we’re the expendable parts in an industry that feeds off of and, quite frankly, wouldn’t even exist without us. But in spite of this, we seem to be the ones who have the least control or the least say in the way it operates and behaves. If we set aside all the glitz and glamour, the hyped-up showbiz egos, the ”sex, drugs, and rock & roll” ethos, what are we essentially left with? Simply another group of exploited Filipinos. Idolized and held in awe by millions, perhaps, but exploited nonetheless.

Do we still need the production and distribution machinery of the labels? Yes. Do we still need the support of radio and television stations? Yes. Do we still need the professional engagements made possible by a plethora of promoters, organizers, and sponsors? Yes. But the realization that seems to elude most of us is the fact that THEY NEED US MORE THAN WE NEED THEM. And before this gets misinterpreted, I am not suggesting that we junk them altogether and strike out on our own as independents. What’s needed for these kinds of relationships to work is simply an equitable level of give and take that’s based on RESPECT for the RIGHTS of all parties involved. And in our case, what better way to finally push this agenda forward than to ORGANIZE ourselves into a legitimate group that would look out for the welfare of rock artists in the music scene?

Ok, I think I can already hear someone out there screaming, “What the hell’s all this whining about being exploited shit? You’re already a fucking rockstar, asshole!” My intention isn’t to bitch or whine about not being able to get a bigger slice of the fame, fortune, and immortality pie here. Yes, I happen to be part of the privileged few who were able to make a mark in this industry, but it’s precisely that kind of stature which carries both a moral and professional responsibility to look after the interests of like-minded music artists, whether they be of the established kind or, more importantly, those still planning to make their own significant contributions to the field as well (in other words, “Those about to rock.”) \m/@@\m/

This concern becomes all the more critical given that the music industry perpetuates a mindset that favors and rewards repetition, imitation, and replication over innovation and experimentation. Anyone who manages to penetrate the system without getting sucked into its formulaic restrictions still ends up having to deal with a either a variety of unconscionable practices such as those already mentioned above or fall prey to unscrupulous jackasses like Jonas Jejemonias. Whatever the form, what’s important to realize here is that these kinds of practices and personalities are the unmistakable manifestations of corruption inside an industry steeped in its own unique version of patronage politics. To tolerate or turn a blind eye towards these would be tantamount to endorsing our own oppression within the system.

A lot of us are already complaining about how music artists nowadays tend to sound the same, how they get inspiration from the same kinds of styles, the same kinds of groups or individuals, etc. And what are these but the recurring consequences of an industry primarily obsessed with generating mega-profits even if these come at the expense of artist’s rights? Combine that with the gross inability or, worse – lack of willingness on the part of artists themselves to openly challenge the prevailing state of affairs and we ultimately end up with a recipe for self-annihilation.

Halos lahat naman tayo nanggaling sa wala, di ba? Almost all of us probably started out hammering away at knock-off Gibson Guaguas or Fender Pampangas in roach-infested rental studios beside public wet markets. But with a little perseverance, a healthy dose of attitude, and no small amount of luck coupled with the right timing, we were able to penetrate the scene and were eventually able to make names for ourselves. But for each of us who’s able to hang on, how many more actually give up? When you’re a fledgling act facing a drought of fresh opportunities for artistic and professional development, the last thing you’d need is someone like a Jonas Jejemonias exacerbating matters by giving you a different taste of the industry’s inherently self-serving nature, right?

As rock artists, we place such demands on ourselves to become better at our chosen craft. Isn’t it about time that we place the same demands on ourselves to better our lot? The dictates of artistic evolution, real-world survival, and moral conscience now task us more than ever to exert all possible effort into PROFESSIONALIZING ALL ASPECTS of the music industry in order to finally expose and eradicate all the institutionalized practices that continue to oppress, suppress, and repress our kind.

Apart from the music itself, I can think of no greater legacy to provide those yet to follow our lead than to make sure that we do our best to spare them from all the bullshit this industry has had us endure throughout the years. If we truly profess to love the music as much as we always say we do, then shouldn’t we take it upon ourselves to cherish, protect, and nurture it from those who would inadvertently and unwittingly destroy it?

Music is NEVER only about entertainment.

Whenever you’re ready, my friends.



4 Responses to “Hmm, wala nga ang Datu’s Tribe sa Tanduay Rockfest. (Bakit wala ang Datu’s Tribe Sa Tanduay Rockfest Part 2)”

  1. rabin vargas Says:

    sir…i love music as much as you do,kung minsan nakakalungkot dahil madami magagaling na banda sa pilipinas na mas worthy sana pakinggan pero hindi naman napapakinggan ng mga nakararami dahil sa sistema ng music industry at ng eksena…i just hope dumami pa yung tulad nyong musicians na di lang lagi pera ang nasa isip,kundi yung pagbabago at pagunlad di lang ng industriya pati na bansa..tuloy nyo lang sir kasi marami sumusuporta sa inyo,salamat din sa inyo at meron ding nagsalita tungkol sa ganitong isyu.tulong tulong sana ang mga artists na may mabago.fight against the broken system.\m/

  2. jake caba Says:

    patay na kasi ang rock mga unggoy na ang pumalit, sa katunayan gusto rin nila magpa exploit dahil sa make up nila, asan na ung araw na bibili ka ng casette tape para pakinggan sila kasi ang lupit nila ngayon kung wala sa commercial andun sa mtv naka nagsasayaw, bumalik na kayo sir!

  3. I am full support of this sir! Where do I sign up?

    • cabring Says:

      Nagkakaroon ng meetings sa Skarlet Jazz Kitchen (yung dating Ten02) para buuin yung Phil Musicians Guild. Di ko lang sigurado kung gaano kadalas o ka-regular yung meetings. Kung gusto mo sumali, you can ask the management about it. Hindi pa rin ako nakakapunta pero I’ve already expressed my intention to contribute sa group effort.

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