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Pinoy rock
Stylistic origins Rock - Manila Sound
Cultural origins 1960's Manila, Philippines
Typical instruments Vocalsacoustic guitarelectric guitarbass guitardrums
Mainstream popularity Hugely popular in the Philippines from the 1970's to 1980's, massive mainstream popularity as undercurrents of OPM from the 1990's to present.
Derivative forms Pinoy reggae
Other topics

Pinoy Rock, or Filipino Rock, is the brand of Rock music produced in the Philippines or by Filipinos. It has become as diverse as the Rock music genre itself, and bands adopting this style are now further classified under more specific genres or combinations of genres like Alternative rock, Post-grunge, Ethnic, New Wave, Pop rock, Punk rock, Funk, Reggae, Heavy metal and Ska. Because these genres are generally considered to fall under the broad Rock music category, Filipino Rock may be more specifically defined as Rock music with Filipino cultural sensibilities.



One of the first popular Filipino rock stars was Bobby Gonzales, whose major hit was "Hahabul-Habol." Eddie Mesa, another teen idol from the period, became known as the "Elvis Presley of the Philippines." Back then, many Filipinos referred to Rock bands as "combos," many of which used nontraditional instruments like floor-bass bongos, maracas, and gas tanks.


In the early 1960s, as electric instruments and new technology became available, instrumental American and British bands like The Shadows and The Ventures flourished. Filipino instrumental bands arose as well in this period; bands like The Deltas, The Celtics, RJ & the Riots, The Technicolors, The Downbeats, The Hi-Jacks, and The Electromaniacs. These bands spawned the first Filipino singer-songwriters.

In 1963, the so-called British Invasion brought bands like The Beatles to mainstream audiences worldwide. Their widespread popularity and their embrace of the counterculture injected the possibility of socio-political lyrics with mature comments on real life into popular music. Immensely influenced by this new breed of British artists, many Filipino bands began adopting similar musical styles.

Maria Cafra logo.


Into the early 1970s, Filipino music was growing more nationalistic and socio-political in nature, as well as using Tagalog more often. Popular or Pop music still dominates the airwaves with artists such as the Apo Hiking Society and Hotdog. The songs like "Ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko" (The Miss Universe of My Life) of Hotdog combined Filipino and English words within the same song. This helped innovate the so-called "Manila Sound". OPM (Original Pilipino music) also became popular.

However, emerging social and political consciousness somehow creeped in to the industry with the traditional allied genres that are folk and rock music. Folk musicians included Freddie Aguilar, Asin, Florante. (In 1978, Freddie Aguilar's debut single, "Anak", became the most commercially successful Filipino recording in history. The song became known also in other Asian countries and in Europe). Perhaps Asin, a folk ethnic band, was the first commercial band to successfully bring a pro-environment song to the airwaves with "Masdan Mo Ang Kapaligiran". Also famous for providing subtle rebellious (anti-Marcos dictatorship sentiment was growing at that time) and peace messages behind its skillful vocal harmonizing. Asin gave the masses hits such as "Bayan Kong Sinilangan (Cotabato)", "Balita", and "Pagbabalik".

Juan Dela Cruz Band, a Garage Rock- and Blues Rock-influenced group consisting of drummer Joey "Pepe" Smith, bassist Mike Hanopol, and lead guitarist Wally Gonzales, are often credited for ushering in the first "rock & roll revolution" in the Philippines that lasted from the late '60s to the late '70s (also known as the Golden Age of Pinoy Rock). Considered by many to be the "grandfathers" of Pinoy Rock, they played a large role in re-awakening national pride through their bluesy Tagalog rock songs at a time of English-dominant music in the local scene. During a Woodstock-esque concert in Luneta Park, the group performed their original "Himig Natin" for the first time.

Being influenced by the counter culture, the bands of the 70's were known to have never been sidelined commercially and sometimes took the center stage by storm. The radio station DZRJ, particularly the AM weekend "Pinoy Rock and Rhythm" show hosted by ex Fine Arts student from PWU named Dante David a.k.a. Howlin' Dave, provided the much needed support and publicity to Pinoy Rock during this era.

Today, many music journalists refer to the works of these pioneering artists as Classic Pinoy Rock, perhaps to distinguish them from the works of relatively younger Pinoy Rock bands, especially those that emerged in the 1980s through the 1990s.


In the early up to mid-1980s, Pinoy Rock became the music of Filipino protesters. Gary Granada and the band Buklod had socially relevant lyrics for their songs. Aguilar's Bayan Ko (My Country) became an anthem during the 1986 EDSA Revolution. A subculture rejected this kind of socially aware lyrics.

The most popular Pinoy Rock band in the Philippines in the '80s was arguably The Dawn, whose early songs were largely influenced by New Wave and Post-punk, the dominant Alternative music genres in the Philippines during that period. The Dawn came to prominence in 1986, when its independently released single "Enveloped Ideas" became an instant favorite among listeners of DWXB-FM 102.7, a now-defunct FM radio station popular in the mid-'80s that heavily played New Wave, Post-Punk, and similar genres.

Many music journalists and enthusiasts, as well as musicians themselves, attribute the flourishing in the mid-'80s of New Wave- and Post-Punk-influenced bands to DWXB-FM, which began playing independently released singles of unsigned local bands. This helped many of the struggling bands in this era to achieve cult status. These bands included Dean's December, Ethnic Faces, Identity Crisis, and Violent Playground, all of which were able to record and release their respective albums in the years that followed.

Other Pinoy Rock groups took their cue from these pioneers and started recording their own songs; and this proved beneficial to the Pinoy Rock scene, which brought back creativity and originality to the awareness of fledgling musicians. Among the lot, The Dawn, Afterimage (band), and Introvoys proved to be the enduring and more successful. Each was able to sustain a relatively long career.

DWXB-FM went off the air on June 9, 1987. The new Cory Aquino-led government began sequestering properties owned by her predecessor Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies, including the home that DWXB-FM beamed from. DWXB-FM was revived as an online radio station on September 10, 2005, by Sutton Records, with the original DJs broadcasting from Manila.


During the start of the decade, The Hayp, Introvoys and After Image were among the prominent bands enjoying mainstream recognition. But their collective popularity was later overshadowed by younger bands that eventually emerged. An underground music scene was already burgeoning in some unknown bars in Manila. Red Rocks(whom later became Club Dredd), together with Mayric's and Kampo(also Yosh on the mid 90's), were the only venues where unsigned bands were allowed to play their own songs. From Powerpop, shoe-gazer, alternative rock (Eraserheads, Color It Red, The Youth, Feet Like Fins,Advent Call, Athena's Curse) hard rock,heavy metal (Razorback, Askals, Wolfgang,Dahong Palay ) hardcore, punk, and death metal (Skychurch, Tame The Tikbalang, Loads of Motherhood, The Wuds,Yano, Bad Omen, Rumblebelly, Deifago).

To add to the plight of the underground bands, radio stations wouldnt play their music due to the payola system in the radio industry. This was true despite the fact that most of these bands, if not all, have self-produced albums (indie). But LA105.9 challenged the current system by providing a venue for the bands to broadcast their original songs. Pinoy Rock enthuthiasts were finally elated to hear their favorite underground bands ruling the airwaves.

Radio station LA 105.9 had advocated Filipino rock music, encouraging original amateur (even if poorly recorded) singles and gave new avenues for emerging bands outside organized underground concerts. Rock n' Rhythm, a local music magazine also support this scene with news and updates, even featuring band interviews, album and concert reviews carrying on the torch that the defunct Jingle and Moptop(popular rock music magazines during the 80's and 70's, respectively)have entrailed. The band explosion opened avenues for non-traditional artists as well, like Intermidya for example.Their musical instruments looked like materials from a junk shop glued together and they have names: Sandata#1,Sandata#2,Baby Sandata...etc.

The commercial success of Eraserheads paved the way for more Pinoy Rock acts (Rivermaya,Rizal Underground,The Youth)getting record deals. Some brave all-female bands got signed(Kelt's Cross,Tribal Fish,Agaw Agimat) and a few solo artist as well(Maegan Aguilar, Bayang Barrios, DJ Alvaro). Rappers crossed over with great success(Francis M with Hardware Syndrome, Erectus), despite some earlier controversy with Hiphop bashing alledgedly incited by some artists. These bands adopted a variety of influences both in image and music; many fell under a particular genre; however, crossing over of styles is most often inevitable.

Sad to say, but around 1994 the height of the pinoy band scene was exploited up to its wits. Bands were guesting almost everywhere from noontime TV show,movies,to drama sitcoms like Malaala Mo Kaya. Even the Miss Universe held in the country was not spared.

rise of NU 107.

Although the 90's was more inclined to be about pop rock bands mentioned above, a huge percentage of Filipino rock fans were ardent supporters of the more creative and independent Filipino underground community. Diverse not by its name alone, these underground musicians were not easily attracted to mainstream pop sensibilities and grew their own market without the support of corrupt major labels that some critics and artists viewed mostly damaged Filipino music careers.

A big chunk of these bands shared the same ideology of refusing to be exploited. It was only a matter of time when two factors piracy and technology brought major labels to reconsider their business dealings. In effect, most underground musicians secured their own spots in the Metal, Gothic, Punk and Hardcore genres.


In the early 2000s, Hip hop, reggae, acoustic, and R&B-influenced bands dominated the Philippine music scene, causing Pinoy Rock to take a backseat. Only a number of Pinoy Rock bands had managed to stay in the mainstream during this period. In 2003 a not so well known home-educated DJ started playing in a small bar and restaurant known as GWEILOS, DJ RO helped promote the club every Monday night while there was an emergence of Filipino Rock Bands like Bamboo, Orange and Lemons and Kitchie Nadal that only started performing in Gweilos and eventually became popular. In 2004, Pinoy Rock once again gained prominence, with the rise of yet another wave of Filipino Rock bands. During this time, the Pinoy Rock music scene in Cebu had exposure.

2001 saw indie band The Pin-Up Girls, made up of former Keltscross members and underground musicians, signing to Know-It-All Records in Tacoma, Washington, making them the first Manila-based band to sign with an international label. This development caused quite a negative reaction from the Manila rock scene as most musicians deemed the band unworthy of such acclaim.

The Pin-Up Girls released an EP worldwide called "Taste Test" that sold out. Know-It-All then printed a new batch dubbed "Taste Test: The Expanded Menu". The lead-off single "Caress" hit number one on the New Jersey/Internet-based radio

2004 also saw the emergence of the first Philippine virtual band, Mistula. With the internet as their stage, Mistula comes alive through their official website, a fusion of music, graphic art, literature, photography and other art forms.

2005 further ushered in the mainstream buzz on Pinoy Rock, and along with it bands that leaned more towards pop sensibilities. During this time, Pinoy Rock, more than ever, gained mainstream exposure.

pogi rock was born.

In recent years as well, bands like Urbandub, Chicosci, Slapshock and Typecast have also played in other countries such as Singapore, the US amongst others. Some have even garnered nominations and recognition from internationally-based Publications and award-giving bodies. This is mainly attributed to the effect of the internet and globalization on almost anything including music, as listeners from other countries can now see and hear songs and videos of bands overseas without leaving their country.


See also

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