Text by: Kimmy Baraoidan
Photos by: Chris Quintana and Kimmy Baraoidan
We arrived a few minutes before midnight at the bus station on April 30. The place was bursting with people. A short-haired middle-aged woman wearing a Nalu Surf Camp shirt was standing in front of the station. We approached her and immediately introduced ourselves. She told us to wait because the bus for photographers had not arrived yet. And wait we did.
On the other side of the station were a group of guys, mostly dressed in walking shorts, A-shirts, T-shirts, and slippers. And of course, no one could miss the dreadlocks that some of them have, ranging from shoulder length to almost Rapunzel-like length – a clear sign that most of them are in a reggae band. Aside from their bags, they were carrying guitar cases, cymbal and drum stands, and percussion instruments of all sizes. Obviously, these were the bands that would jam at the Nalu Music Fest. I searched for a familiar face but found none. I used to be in the band scene several years back, and I was hoping I could find a long-lost comrade but these were all new faces. A bus with a sign that said, “Nalu Music Fest Bands” arrived shortly, and the woman organizer called for the bands. It turned out we were to ride the band bus as well. Our bus left the station past 1:00 a.m. The band members were in a festive mood and were laughing and bantering, cracking inside jokes and one-liners. I thought I was going to be up all night with all the noise, but even before we approached NLEX, I was already slumped on my chair and was catapulted into dreamland.
We reached Baler past 7:00 a.m. and the band members were half awake, struggling with unloading their stuff. Lucky guys, I thought. They have the whole day to sleep and prepare for the music fest at night. We, on the other hand, had just about an hour to prepare to shoot the longboard competition that would last throughout the day. Not that I’m complaining, though. I’d rather be shooting than be sitting in front of a computer eight hours a day. Some band members headed out to the beach and rode on their longboards, swam, or just hung out near the water. We proceeded to shoot the longboard competition.
By late afternoon, we heard a band doing some sound checks in the Nalu Surf Camp. We went inside to find out who was doing the sound check and to check the stage setup as well. A combination of members from reggae bands Engkanto and DreadKnot Used was onstage. They were basically just jamming, and guests, who were mostly in their summer outfits, were starting to hang out and listen to the music. Later on, Kokoi Baldo, reggae artist and “The Voice of the Philippines” Season 2 contestant, joined the jam session. Up next was Las Piñas-based reggae band On the Spot, which members were originally from Tacloban City, Leyte. Morphine Kings, from Batangas City, was a welcome break from the reggae beats, bringing in some good, old hardcore music. Then it was back to regular programming with Collie Herb, another reggae band. Dub reggae is an interesting subgenre because it incorporates electronic music just like what the band Goodleaf did. With them were other reggae artists, including Roence Santos, whose beautifully haunting voice sent chills down my spine, and percussionist Bryan David of Lion and the Scouts, or Jellyfish Man as we fondly called him. He actually looked like a jellyfish because of his hat that covered his forehead and eyes, leaving his long dreadlocks dangling and swinging like tentacles while he was pounding on his Batá drum.