Scene Report: Pampanga, Philippines April 2006

Pampanga Scene Report 2006 (Philippines)
by Francis (The Istukas over Disneyland)

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History, Culture, Tradition…

The Province of Pampanga is located in Central Luzon bounded by Provinces such as Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan and Bulacan. It takes 1 and a half hour bus ride from Manila City.

The Province has a population of about 1, 618,759 and land area of 218,068 while fifty one percent of the area is devoted to agriculture; land utilization is fast shifting to the urban mode. San Fernando is the capital town of Pampanga. Juan Capitan Fernando, a Spanish cavalry officer on August 31, 1775, founded it. He named it in the honor of the soldier-saint, King Ferdinand III of Spain.

In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo volcano awakened from a five-century slumber. Devastating lahars, unleashed by heavy monsoon rains have scrambled down from the flanks of the volcano wreaked huge losses to towns like Bacolor, located in the heart of the province was among the most affected areas.

Pampanga has sites of World War II like the Death March Marker, which is now the railroad station in San Fernando. The start of the horrendous train ride of Death March marchers en route to Capas, Tarlac.

Kamikaze Museum located at the residence of the noted Pampango artist, Dan H. Dizon. It has World War II mementos, particularly those of Kamikaze pilots of Japan. Other interesting facets of the Museum are the different helmets used by the Axis and Allied powers of World War II.

The Malaya Lolas of Mapaniqui, Candaba, victims of mass rape during World War II. The Malaya Lolas were abducted and then raped by Japanese Soldiers after witnessing the massacre of their men folk. With only 70 members remaining, they are asking the Japanese Government for public apology.

The Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia and people are very religious in terms of folk festivals and tradition like the Apu Iru Fluvial Procession in Apalit begins June 28 when the ivory-faced image of Saint Peter, sitting on the papal throne, is transferred by boat from its permanent shrine in Calapangan to Sulipan, and ends June 30 when it is returned.

Thousands of devotees line both sides of the river shouting, waving leaves and flowers and splashing in frenzy as the layered pagoda bearing the statue passes by. The floating pagoda, which bears not only the statue but also brass band and about 70 people dancing the kuraldal, is pulled not by a tugboat but by swimmers, who call themselves the Knights of St. Peter. One incident happens when the pagoda sink into the river because of over loading of people riding on it.

The Kuraldal of Sasmuan occurs during the week of the town fiesta on January 6, when Kapampangans (people of Pampanga) from neighboring towns gather in front of the Chapel of St. Lucy and dance for favors all night. As soon as the Mass ends at 8 P.M., the brass band signals the start of non-stop dancing that lasts till 3 A.M. barren women are said to get pregnant after the festival, but with all savage gyrating that the womb takes, one should not wonder anymore.

The Aguman Sanduk of Minalin is celebrated in the afternoon of January 1, while the rest of the country takes a nap after the New Year’s Eve revelry, and there’s no one to catch the boys and men of this sleepy fishing town wear their mother’s lipstick and put on their wives dresses.

This strange and largely secret tradition began in 1934; even mayors and parish priests are said to have also joined hundreds of men who parade annually in the street in full transvestite bloom. At the end of the day they choose the Aguman queen, who is usually the ugliest of the cross-dressers. It’s part parody of Kapampangan machismo and Pampangan pulchritude, two biases enshrined on the altar of Kapampangan values; it’s part protest against, and liberation from, gender discrimination and repression; it’s part attempt to stage their version of the Gay Parade.

Biyernis Santu (Good Friday) is the holiest day in Catholic Churches, but definitely not in the puni-makeshift alternative chapels where folk Kapampangans hold their alternative Holy Week rituals.

Here they read the pasyun (the bible of the masses) and welcome hundreds of flagellants who insist on mutilating themselves instead of just go to confession to ask forgiveness of their sins. The stark contrast between the pomp and pageantry of Catholic rituals in churches, and the raw, bloody folk practices in the streets.

In the Madapdap Resettlement, populated by uprooted Bacolor families, there’s a shocking road show where men pursue and beat up a cross-bearer, followed by a series of crucifixions. In Magalang, penitents crawl like worms on the dirt road for several kilometers, rubbing and bruising their skin and covering their bodies with dust.

Environment…

The Bird Sanctuary of Candaba has migratory egrets and indigenous birds like the rare salaksak and batala can be observed especially in the dry months when the fishponds in the swamp turn into rice fields. That’s the time when large numbers of egrets descend on shallow pools teeming with snails and small fish. A dust-choked side trip deep into the pinak (swamp) will lead to villages located on the demarcation line between Pampanga and Bulacan.

The Agricultural Sectors are monitoring migratory birds who are believe bringing the Avian Influenza or commonly known as Bird Flu. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has decided to limit its geo-hazard study of Central Luzon to 19 municipalities exposed to landslides from the Sierra Madre Mountain ranges at the region’s eastern seaboard. The MGB identified 40 towns in Pampanga for geo-hazard assessment due to an expected rainy La Nina phenomenon this year.

In its initial list, the MGB included the following places in its geo-hazard study: Masantol, Macabebe, Sasmuan, Minalin, Sto. Tomas, Apalit, Lubao, Floridablanca, Porac, Mabalacat, Magalang and the City of San Fernando, all in Pampanga. But people in the usually flood-prone plains say they are already used to flooding, and some of them even welcome floods, which provide them with rich fishing grounds. It would be alright for them to shift their concentration on the landslide prone areas. Landslides lead to more fatalities than floods.

Economy…

The minimum wage rate in Pampanga is 239.50 pesos ($4.70) per day.

When the US Bases left the Country, Clark Economic Zone (one of the bases of the Americans) in Angeles City created jobs to near by towns and even near by provinces. San Fernando has gained economic growth when it was declared a City but we could not hide the fact that most of Filipinos are working abroad to support their families because this is the only chance they have to give their families back home a better living even though they’re far away from their wife and children’s. Imagine the wage rate per day while supporting 4 children’s.

Politics…

Well I guess the defeated Candidates for Mayors last 2004 in San Fernando City Elections will wait next year to run again after the Commission on Election re-counts the ballot boxes last year. The defeated Candidates said that there where mass cheating on the last May 2004 Elections. The Vice-Governor of Pampanga has accused the Governor of pay-offs from quarries in Bacolor and Porac, which should be use for the Provincial Funds. The cost of one truckload of sand is 300 pesos (if am not mistaken) while Commission on Audit gave the jurisdiction case to the Ombudsman.

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The Scene…

The first band I saw in 1992 are the Holocaust playing Anarchy in the UK and Boy’s Don’t Cry at the foundation day of Pampanga High School (where I took my secondary) and they were the guest in that battle of the bands. I got in contact with them and at that time, they disbanded and other members formed Nancy’s Donut and Bihag ni Bahag.

The first ever-DIY gig held in San Fernando was the Punk Reigns and I do believe that gig started a crack in history and development of our local scene here in Pampanga. Among the band’s were Bad Breaths, Smell My Brief, Mother Toix, Dead Marcos, The Unknown, Nancy’s Donut, the Istukas over Disneyland, Boredom, Frustrated Youth and Bihag ni Bahag.

Nancy’s Donut, Bad Breaths and Bihag ni Bahag were given a slot to represent the province of Pampanga for the compilation entitled Building Bridges Breaking down Walls under Middle Finger Production.

Yeah it’s true, almost all of the bands started in schools and from there I meet the band’s of University of the Assumption like Urban Assault, Pedro’s Playground, Public System and Sisihin ang Kalbo while at Don Bosco Academy are Pope John Paul and the Addicts.

I admit the scene in Pampanga (concentrated in San Fernando City and Angeles City) is musically oriented; there are no info shops, squats, radical spaces and collectives on those days. You can easily spot the local bands on schools, battle of the bands, concerts and every Saturday, band members could be seen on the McDonald intersection conducting meetings. They even name the Scene of Pampanga, Awakening Echo of 1994 and later change to the Pampanga Notorious Scene.

In 1995-1996 new bands like Kristine and the Psychomotic Disorder, Itty Bitty Tittys, The Great Morons, Parents and the Rebel Kids, Crazy Beat are making moves but the truth is the local bands in San Fernando are divided because of pity old school mentality.

I publish Notorious fanzine in 1996 and the first issue was mostly interviews of local bands in Pampanga and some are clippings taken from foreign magazines, it reaches 10 issues and I stop publishing the fanzine in 2000. The 11th issue is nearly finished but when I decided to work it out in my cousins PC, they accidentally deleted the files.

My ex-band mate fanzine Middle Class has release 3 issues, Scanner Brain publish by Jaydee (ex-Robinhood Crew) only reaches 3 issues, his brother Jonah publishes Kulangot has reaches 9 issues (if am not mistaken) and Nerry of Marcos Cronies, Raw Meat fanzine only reaches 2 issues.

As of now there is no fanzine being publish in Pampanga.

In the period of 1996 to 2000, new bands are formed from the ashes of the old bands like Front Action Group, The Rejecteds, Popo and the Coots, Marcos Cronies, Chrome, Cross the Line, Robinhood Crew, Cocktones while DIY gigs were held on function halls, on our friends house but once in a blue moon because the rental of musical equipment, venues are already expensive.

Most of the local bands concentrated on playing gigs in nearby provinces and cities like in Tarlac City, Bataan, Bulacan, Lucena City and Manila. Recording Studios are very rare in Pampanga, bands manage to record their demos on walkman recorder whenever they rehearsing and in the late nineties, rehearsal studios manage to offer 4 track recorders but some of the new bands travel to Manila to record their songs on a decent recording studio.

Lost demos of Urban Assault, Cocktones, Kristine and the Psychomotic Disorder, the Istukas over Disneyland, Robinhood Crew, Front Action Group, the Rejecteds and the Great Morons, few of these demos are now on my hands and I hope the long proposed Pampanga Compilation will come to reality?

To tell you the truth, the local bands were more interested in playing covers songs from their favorite bands rather than composing their original songs that’s why most of them didn’t had the chance to record their original songs before they disbanded. I still remember this compilation cassette tape entitled Tatlo laban sa Sistema (3 against the System) from Angeles City, I haven’t got the chance to get a copy (maybe because of lack of distribution, few copies were pressed) and the only band I remember on that Compilation are Dead Hungry Species.

DIY bands…

Okay the following bands are located on the Province Cities, San Fernando and Angeles. Where most of the local contacts reside, organize gigs; distribute local and foreign records/fanzines.

Cross The Line:
plays melodic punk and was formed by Marly and Kevin (ex-the Istukas over Disneyland). Their 2003 rehearsal demo is still out including 8 original songs and I do hope they could release their debut album soon.

They recently played at Club Skid Mark last December 2005 and in my opinion they should hit studio to record their beautiful songs. I know Family and School is their main reason but it will be great if they can spare an hour or two to finally record on a decent studio all of their songs.

I don’t know if they will record 3 songs for the Indonesian Compilation done by a member of Straight on View (?) Because the guy wanted them to record their songs on a decent studio but I guess the guys are flat broke at the moment?

contact: Kevin Salinas / #457 A. Bonifacio Street, Phase 2 Brgy. Maimpis, San Fernando 2000, Pampanga, Philippines

Promise End:
this band is a side band of Kevin (Cross the Line) and they have recorded 3 rehearsal songs and I find them similar to Emo bands with screaming voice on the chorus of the song. The last time I saw them was in September 2005 at the DIY not EMI gig and from then on I never heard any news from them. I think the band laid low for a while and I do hope they could manage to continue what they have started; a demo is a good start though.

Amanova:
they recently release their CD-R EP entitled Colors and it contains 5 songs melodic punk and Ska. My only comment with their demo is the guitars, Aljay told me that they didn’t bring with them instruments and guitar effects, as they know the studio will provide them. Well it will be better to re-record the guitar parts and bring with them effects and am sure this demo will be a stunning re-release.

This band is composed of ex-members of Cold Reboot and Struggle for Survival (SFS); damn I lost the demos of these 2 defunct Punk bands.

contact: Alfred James Sadeste / Gordon Street, Phase 2 St. Jude Village, City of San Fernando 2000 Pampanga, Philippines or Alfred’s email

Spit End:
their debut cassette tape entitled Wises Is He Who He Knows That He Doesn’t Know will be release under Nervous Records (Malaysia) this summer. It will contain 12 songs including a rendition of Urban Bandits Blood On Every Heart.

I think the band will also produce a Philippine version of their debut album for local distribution, two hundred maybe and it will be produce by DIY not EMI Production and Love from Hate Distribution. They recently joined an Indonesian Compilation and they are about to hit the rehearsal studio for their new songs.

contact: Gerald Miranda / # 476 Phase 2 Brgy. Maimpis, City of San Fernando 2000 Pampanga, Philippines or ghe88, spitend yahoo, and visit + download a few mp3s at myspace.com/spitend

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The Istukas Over Disneyland:
we’ve recently recorded 12 new songs with a new line up but we run out of money for mixing the songs☹. The band 2nd album O Guinu (Oh Lord) was release by Cat Food Money Records last August 2005 while the split-CD with Crashed Out (Indonesia) was release by Maloka Distro and Kepala Eskorbuta Records in July 2005.

All Been Said Before was re-release by Cat Food Money with colored cover on CD-R format while Nikudan Records (Poland) re-release the songs from the band’s debut album with 7 songs from O Guinu CD.

Listen & download a few songs here: Istukas page

go here for an old interview.

contact: Francis Jordann L. David / Blk. 6 Lot. 21 Phase 1 St. Jude Village San Fernando 2000 Pampanga, Philippines or infoi_notorious, jakemaglanque.

Marcos Cronies:
They are still in the process on putting the puzzles to finish their debut album. I recently heard their new songs such as Political Man and No Solution and I say this band improved a lot. I think Shameless Records and Love from Hate Distribution will feature these 2 songs on a local compilation.

Their Skaciety is still out under Shameless Records and recently they played in Baliuag, Bulacan organized by Ska City United. Personally I mind if their vocalist is not well singing Ska songs and normally the guys of Marcos Cronies knows that but I appreciate their effort in running their Ska combo and contribute to the DIY Scene.

contact: Emil Pangilinan / 12-25 Chester Street, Villa Leoncia 2009 Angeles City, Philippines or marcoscronies yahoo

Discrepancies:
Boy this band is a copy right of At The Drive In and I’ve been seeing them for quit sometime now but I really hope they could record their songs and release a demo. I still remember when they covered In My Eyes by Minor Threat and lend us their instruments. I saw them last December 2005 at Club skid Mark and they still stick to At the Drive In musical style.

contact: Alvin Condes / Narra Street corner Malipajo Street, L & S Subdivision 2009 Angeles City, Philippines or cond_s yahoo

Chosen Rejects:
they didn’t played last December 2005 at Club Skid Mark and my friend told me the band is now based in Mabalacat, Pampanga. I think they still play Rancid songs and I don’t know if they will release a demo soon?

Ska Haze:
I haven’t saw this new band from Angeles City and Ricky (Marcos Cronies) told me that he help this band recorded 3 songs and they finish recording a 10 song demo. Actually I invited them to join the Pampanga Compilation but they turn it down. Well hope for the best to this new band.

Productions…

Real McCoy
responsible for the SOL and Vivisick Philippine tour 2005 in Pampanga with monetary help of course from DIY bands in Angeles City and San Fernando City. Members of Marcos Cronies are behind this production and their last project was at the Club Skid Mark in December 2005 and early January 2006, Punk/Ska/Reggae/Metal shows every Friday and Saturday of the said months but sad to say the owner of the Club wanted to increase the entrance fee and the guys of Marcos Cronies says “No”.

Yes it’s true, putting up shows in Pampanga now is impossible especially with the big lost of Nicolas Tinio Hall (the only venue who allows Punk and Metal shows with cheaper rental) in Angeles City.

Almost all of the productions putting up shows where banned from the Function Hall because of the rumor of sexual indecency near the venue by unidentified gig goers on the Vivisick show according to the Security Guard of Sta. Maria Village.

I want to take this opportunity to clear our side from the gig review of Chronicore fanzine issue no. 5 regarding mandatory contribution to band members. Yes it’s true that we ask financial contribution from the Pampanga bands (including us organizers, of course) to put up the SOL and Vivisick Philippine Tour 2005 in Pampanga.

All of us question the contribution and debated and some even called it “Band Fee” but in the end we all contributed 500 pesos ($10 dollars) per band to sum up the finances (venue, instruments and even property damage) but still the money isn’t enough to cover all the expenses and the organizers had to pay the remaining balance. The only mistake we’ve made is letting people come in when Vivisick are about to play. You know we don’t care about the money; we only want to precede the show and think about the problem later.

I know there are a lot of problems in organizing a DIY show and single-by-single we learn from it. I could imagine the headache of other DIY Organizers here in the Philippines.

DIY NOT EMI:
the first show these guys (Spit End / The Istukas over Disneyland) put up was in September 17, 2005 at St. Jude Multi-Purpose Hall. Actually this gig entitled “DIY not EMI” was cancelled twice because of lack of venue. Yes as the title of the show, DIY as it is. We’ve rented two speakers, borrowed drums, guitars, bass, amplifiers, and extension cords while the Pampanga Bands contributed monetary help in paying expenses. We accidentally use Marcos Cronies guitar amplifier for the bass guitar, next thing we knew the amplifier broke down☹ and until now we haven’t still pay the guys of Marcos Cronies.

It was a lot of fun even though the neighbors wanted the show to be stopped. It is really hard to find a venue to held gigs here in San Fernando and most of the time, their darn expensive. We recently finish the videos taken from SOL and Vivisick Philippine Tour 2005 here in Pampanga and are now distributed by DIY not EMI and Love from Hate on CDR.

Distribution…

Love from Hate:
small record distribution and you can find them at gigs. It just started last year and we mostly distribute Fanzine, CD-R and few Original CDS. We duplicate records on CD-R, photo-copied the front cover and lay in the lyrics and information from bands like Brigada Flores Magon, Les Partisans, Bolchoi, SMZB, Autonomia, Apatia-No, Los Fastidios, Ya Basta and we still had several records we want to distribute so hoping in the future we could find time to work on them.

In one CD-R we include 2 albums from bands to cover the 80 minutes space of a CD-R and sold them for 50 pesos each ($1.00) for local distribution. The first release by LFH was the Istukas over Disneyland All Been Said Before in 2003 and this coming summer we will co-production with DIY not EMI Production for the Philippine release version of Spit End’s Wises Is He Who He Knows That He Doesn’t Know.

The proposed Pampanga Compilation is still under process and hopefully if money allows we could release it soon. It will contain rehearsal and studio recordings from defunct and active DIY bands here in Pampanga.

Email: infoi_notorious

Arts…

Kalye Lakandula Gallery:
this Gallery is managing by Bong, his into photography and most of his work are displayed at the gallery located in the heart of Angeles City. The Gallery is conducting a Poetry Reading every year and also Folk Singers and Acoustic Guitar groups conduct shows at the Gallery. I encourage Artist to check out this place and if you’re looking for a place to conduct projects like Film showing, meetings, exhibits please visit the Gallery.

The guys of Marcos Cronies organize a gig in September 18,2004 at the Gallery entitled This is Ska, Punk & Oi! but most of the neighbors complain the event and some throw rocks to the people at the Gallery.

Address: Lakandula Street, Pulungbulu, Angeles City.

END.

contact Francis: here