The Cebu City Music scene

The Cebu City Music scene

A Story by Moonwind Belmont

a reflection on Cebu City music scene reality (still circa 2008 then again it still applies today)


Let me put on my Winamp first. I’m playing this old song from the band called, Forty the Band. Some of you newbies may have never or will never hear this song. But for the chosen few of my age, it’s a song from an era when being in a band was not just your everyday kind of thing to do. You had to have a handsome vocalist who can screech out song lyrics ala Steel Dragon. Your Guitarist had to have 100-km/h hand speeds.  Band members should be longhaired, regardless of Straight, wavy, curly or as if you went through an army of rhinoceros and lived to tell the tale. Most of all, you had to have the most important thing in a band. You had to have Talent…

I’m not saying bands in Cebu today have no Talent. In fact we are way better than those certain bands in Manila posing to be alternative…sheesh Cueshe alone can kick their a*s. Although there was a time that the real OPM in Manila was dominant. It was a golden age when bands like Afterimage, Alamid, Datu’s Tribe and the Youth ruled the scene. The first wave of the Eraserheads (Ultra and Circus era) was the finest the band could have ever been. Waving a heavier more Metal sound was Snakebite Religion, Sky Church, Breed and my personal favorite Death By Stereo.

While these bands kicked a*s in Manila, Cebu had it’s own thriving underground scene. Although I knew the Gods of Cebu BTU, Forty the Band, Pyramid, Armand and the Sikatuna Rappers and the Abyss paved the way. My eyes were opened to the Cebuano Band scene during this most memorable time called the Showground Era. I get depressed when I recall these days of my high school life for the Showground Era was a time when Cebu’s best of the best in the underground scene attained sort of a “Mainstream” audience yet retaining its underground touch. The trend then usually was your band had to play a heavy metal song (usually from Metallica) then you would have a composition that had an E minor power chord. No clean tones only heavy distortion. The Boss Gadget Metal Zone and the DOD effect Death Metal were hot commodities. Longhaired people clad in black and wayfarer shades paraded around malls. Bands such as Militia, Moby Dick, Invictus, Damian Paniki, Abraham’s Bosom and Shrapnel were the Lords of the Local Music scene. The opening of the First Artist Dais at the Rain tree mall supported bands such as The first generation of Sheila and the Insects, Stage crew, which before played covers from Pantera (bet you young ones never knew that) The Asphalt Geeks, my friends Maypond and of course the more mainstream local underground bands such as My Creed, A-Z, Kry, Mr. Moustache and Whiteside wall. Ah yes the good old days…

Although ever since I was in high school I was part of a band (and in Don Bosco during those days, we were one of the best) it was only around 1998 that I became more involved in the underground scene. I became part of a band whose members well, were remnants of the showground era. My guitarist (also a good friend of mine) has a reputation of being one of Cebu’s Guitar Gods.( if you read this bai, kbw btaw ka na maau gyud ka you are just to humble to admit it) and a vocalist who eats Skid Row songs for breakfast and a drummer well, he works in a bank now hehehehe. But I never found any other band who would put Dreamtheater, Skid Row, Mr. Big and Metallica and some glam hits from Heart and Warrant in their repertoire. A friend told me BOANG ra daw ang mutukar ani mga songs. I guess boang gyud mi hehehe.

It was during this time I met the who is who in Cebu underground scene. I remember we would hang out at artist dais along mango avenue (the only real underground haven). Sharing a cold beer, listening to the band playing. On the day Artist Dais closed, I remember the chicharon was on the house and the put the beers up on sale at Php 13.00 per bottle. We went home at around 4 am. I was with my other band then, a blues-rock band called Mr. Sinister. Sad but I guess life goes on. In fact some of the bands I mentioned ceased to exist. Others moved on to explore other genres of music. Some swallowed their pride and became show band members. A lot of money indeed but you get to play songs way out of your influence. Others simply put an end to their music life and concentrated on work, studies or their new families. A new trend in the band scene arose and the good old days were lost in the sands of time…

After College, I started working November of 2004. I cut my hair short, shaved my whiskers and removed my earrings. My bass guitar collected dust in my room and the only time I would hold a guitar is when we have a drinking spree which rarely happens nowadays that most of my group is to preoccupied with earning one’s keep. The MP3 collection in my office computer only had stuff that’s 1996 below. You could imagine that my music collection belonged to the Jurassic Period although a colleague here in the office shared the same music idealisms as with me. Time passed and the music never changed, until one day I hosted a concert in my old university.

There is these 2 new types of music that I consider the “TREND” today. One is this thing Rap metal what is commonly is known as Hardcore.. Imagine Limp Biscuit. Linking Park, Gorilla-Z and a whole host of other similar sounding bands. These bands usually have 2 vocalists or should I say a vocalist and a SHOUTER. Or sa bisaya pa TIG SHAGIT. I can’t comprehend their music although I tried listening to it and even though I consider myself a music lover, I can’t appreciate it at all.

Off-shot from this type of music is this form of music called PUNK. I very much respect Green day but the rise of bands such as Simple plan and other same sounding geeks slices the these Genre into 2…The Real punk or what I jokingly called SMELLY PUNK because most of the people who are into this kind of punk rarely take a bath, walk around in clusters wearing skin tight clothes that even ants have no breathing space. Taking in Cough syrup or what is also known as “ to shoot” while listening to the doors, the Ramones, Sex Pistols or the Cars. On a local edge, the Urban Bandits, I.O.V, Philippine Violators paved the way for a Punk’s not Dead era blasting the airwaves with a couple of best selling underground hits.

Then it comes to this genre I called COLORED PUNK. Their attire is a cross between hip-hop and punk alternative. Here’s the deal, a bright colored shirt, oversized pants showing off boxer shorts, a cap and a lot of metallic chains mounted on black leather hide for ornaments and you now have your colored punk. If you want to have a lot of groupies then this my friend is the genre for you. For no apparent reason girls go gaga over bands like them. During a concert at my old university I was amazed on how a colored punk band was jumping all over the stage, guitars and all and not hitting each other. And these girls behind us were laughing and screaming as if they were saying, “ my legs are open wide I’m yours.” Call me old fashioned or something but I can never imagine myself a member of this kind of band. In all my years as a musician, I never found out what it is to have groupies or girls clinging to you. I guess we can all be artistic but in your own sense of well-being. I guess I always rebelled against what was the trend and this is the price I pay. Being a virtuoso has it’s own costs.

I’m in a band again, and I’m still playing the same old music that I’ve been playing ever since I played my first bass lines. I still don’t expect to be chased by a horde of screaming girls because first of all that’s not my style. Next I only vouch for the respect of the icons in the music scene who have gone before me and have either shifted to a new genre of music where the money is easy or have gone through their last round up and stepped back into the shadows of quiet life. I don’t expect to make any money from this band (although I wish we can scrape up a few measly bucks for Practice fees and some rhum) but then again, respect is something even millionaires can’t buy.

© 2011 Moonwind Belmont

Author's Note

Moonwind Belmont
I have been playing almost the same genre of music ever since the day I have learned to play in a band. It has always been GLAM ROCK, Some kind of METAL or HARD, CLASSIC ROCK. Now, I've been experimenting with GOTHIC SYMPHONIC PROGRESSIVE METAL alongside my OPM Rock.

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Added on October 5, 2011
Last Updated on October 13, 2011


Moonwind Belmont
Moonwind Belmont

Cebu, 7, Philippines

I'm a musician by heart and have been blessed with this talent since I was a kid. I am also a writer but it seems I have lost the touch when I entered this reality called the "WORKING WORLD". I used t.. more..