By Gabriel Kuhn
I interviewed Tweety (Choke Cocoi, Staid) about straight edge and politics in the Philippines for the upcoming PM Press book X: Straight Edge and Radical Sobriety. She provided a detailed history of the straight edge scene in the country, which could only be included in abbreviated form. For all you punk nerds out there, here is the full version!
Straightedge in the Philippines became very active in the late 1990s. The band Feud and the Takefour Collective were very notable in the scene. The TakeFour Collective ran the first sXe record label, organized most of the shows with sXe bands, and, in 1999, brought out a zine called “The Conspiracy Zine.” It was the result of a collaboration between the Regala Brothers Butch and Dangie, who did the zine “Get in Touch,” and Feud’s bassist Mic, the editor of “Step Forward” zine.
The late 1990s to 2010 were the glory days of straightedge in the country. TakeFour collaborated with other labels and promoters to bring touring hardcore bands to the Philippines. Three of the best shows were Vitamin X in 2005 and Second Combat and Have Heart in 2009.
TakeFour also released some of Feud’s recordings as well as those of bands with sXe members like Forgiveness Denied and Bystorm. There was also the “It’s All in Our Hands” 3-way split featuring Feud, Halt the Battle, and Play. Furthermore, TakeFour released a couple of compilations with different pinoy hardcore punk bands. You can find the full catalog at their Bandcamp page.
Feud formed in 1997 as a political sXe hardcore band. They were featured on several compilation albums, including “More Than the X on Our Hands” (2000), “Take No Heroes” (2003) and “Pilipinas Thrash Detonation” (2010).
Still Ill Records took over from TakeFour Records when the Takefour collective folded. It is run by Mic and Dangie of the band Veils. They remastered Feud’s “For the Sake of Unity” CD and released it in vinyl with Mutilated Noise Records in 2014.
Feud was very active until 2003, then playing on and off until 2008. After a break, the band reunited in 2010. It is still active, but not all members are sXe anymore.
While Feud was on hiatus, Raymond and I formed Staid in 2008, together with Led from xThe Weaponx. We asked Easy from Half the Battle to play bass for us. Staid was very active until 2012, often opening up for touring hardcore bands. Their demo was released by Whatever It Takes Records from Malaysia in 2010, and a CD by Still Ill in 2018. They were also featured on the international “Youth Crew” hardcore compilation from 2010.
In the province of Batangas, One Against All formed in the late 1990s, and Forgiveness Denied played with an all sXe line-up from 2005 to 2007. Unfortunately, their drummer Denver, an outstanding drummer of the scene, passed away. He also played drums for Bystorm and Value Lasts. Forgiveness Denied’s vocalist John Velasco is now running Violent Delight Records in the US. Their bassist Bryan had other sxe bands like Take Action, xThe Weaponx, and Life Barrier.
In Laguna province, Mihara played with an all sXe line-up from 2005 to 2009. Mihara still exists but is no longer a sXe band. Some of the guys from the band formed Crucial as a sXe band in 2009. One of their members, Angela, now sings for Value Lasts. His Divine Grace was a sXe band formed in 2016, but with their vocalist working abroad, the remaining members formed Define in 2017.
In Quezon province, bands to note are Unforce (formed in 1998), Bonded by Conviction (2003–2005), and Action Speak (formed in 2012), with Neil from Think Positive Records and xConvictionx Records being an influential figure. Unforce released a CD in 2012. Neil, a founding member, makes that new members of the band are sXe.
In Visayas, there are awesome hardcore bands but unfortunately no sXe bands. Gardo, Armed, PPMP, Window Sill, and Thought have sXe members.
In Mindanao, hardcore bands like Outraged, Point of No Return, Dienasty, and Strength made a name for themselves in the hardcore scene, but few members are sXe. In South Cotabato, there is a skate/barber shop called Backside, which is owned by Kevin who plays for Strength.
There weren’t only men on the sXe scene. The online platform Straightedge Pilipinas has a lady founding member, Tin. Tin also organized the first Climate Action Festival in Quezon City in 2009, which featured an exhibition on wastefulness and disposable lifestyles, talks, and vegetarian/vegan food. The festival ended with a show featuring bands like Staid, NFS, Mihara, and Crucial.
Tin went on to win the 2018 Gilbert F. White Thesis Award, presented by the Hazards, Risks, and Disasters Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers. She also received the 60th Anniversary Doctoral Scholarship Award from the Bartlett Development Planning Unit at the University College London. Currently, she is working on a research project about critical genealogy and institutional ethnography, looking at the Metro Manila Flood Management Master Plan and Informal Settler Families Housing Program.
From 2008 to 2010, Julie and Rann ran a zine collective called Riot Kids. After that Rann, who is from San Pablo City in Laguna, started making her own zine called “Believe.” When Rann got married to Dan, they started a zine called “Together.” Now, they are residing in the US and running Get Up and Go Records.
Guys like Gilbert Santos and Lance were behind the first animal rights march in the Philippines in 2018. It was a success and they are hopeful that more people will join the march next year. Gilbert, fondly referred to as “Egg” by others in the scene, owns a clothing brand called Declaration of Purity and organizes shows, among them the annual Egg Day in October.
Most straightedge bands in the Philippines are short-lived. The reason probably is that there are only few sXe kids in the scene, with many of them moving abroad and some breaking their edge.
Fortress and Move from Batangas and Define from Laguna are currently active sXe bands. Move’s “Our Time With You” CD was released by Conviction Records in 2017.
Having few active sXe bands in the Philippines doesn’t mean that sXe is gone because there are sXe members in bands such as Value Lasts, Prayer of Endurance, Veils, Indifference, Barred, and Clean Slate.
Recently, Sleeping Boy Collective and Still Ill Records were working on the Judge Philippine tour, and some of the guys from the Sleeping Boy collective, who have organized shows for foreign touring bands, are also sXe.
Interview conducted in late 2018. Posted August 2019.