Text by: Kimmy Baraoidan
Photos by: Chris Quintana and Kimmy Baraoidan
Authentic. That’s the first word that came to my mind when I experienced the performance of reggae artist Kokoi Baldo during the Nalu Music Fest last May 1 to 3, 2015 in Baler, Aurora. I first saw Kokoi on stage on the first day. It was a hot and humid summer afternoon. We had just finished shooting the longboard competition. We went over to the Nalu Surf Camp when we heard some live music. There were barely any audience members yet. The guests were probably still curled up in their air-conditioned hotel rooms, hiding from the scorching heat. That or they were still in the water, cooling themselves down or riding the waves on their longboards. Warming up the stage were members from DreadKnot Used, Engkanto, and later on Kokoi Baldo. They were having a ball with their jam, and we were enjoying the music, too.
I only had a taste of Kokoi’s performance that first day, but I immediately took a liking to him because of how he carried himself. At first glance, Kokoi looked just liked every other reggae musician in the music fest – sporting long dreadlocks, clad in an A-shirt, walking shorts, and slippers. He also had a cap and shades on. What made him stand out, to me, was he was confident but not arrogant. He seemed sure of himself as an artist, not a hint of pretentiousness in his body. Instantly he got me curious. Initially I didn’t know that Kokoi was a famous personality. It was only later I learned that he was a contestant in the second season of “The Voice of the Philippines.” I hardly watch local TV nowadays, except for the news, so I was behind on all these reality TV shows. Hailing from the island of Boracay in Aklan, Kokoi was introduced to the world of reggae when he was still a little boy. On his blind audition for “The Voice of the Philippines,” he said that his mother used to sing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” while doing the laundry, and the rest was history.