Itís really funny the way most Cebuano bands crave for the chance to play in Manila, while in Manila, the bands there would do anything for a gig in Cebu. The pasture must seem greener on the other side. For both sides.
The last time our band was in Manila, we stayed at the house of our manager, Boom. Part of the place was being occupied by another band, they called themselves Riot and they played old-school punk. Our rooms were just beside each other. Interestingly, the juxtaposition at the doorway was very apparent. Our Chuck Taylors against their Doc Martens. Yet even though we embraced divergent music forms, we got along pretty well.
One time we found ourselves in their company enjoying cold gin pomelo in the wee hours of the early morning. At one point, Leo, he played bass, told me their band was thinking of relocating to Cebu. Imagine that, a Manila band seriously thinking of trying their luck in Cebu. The look of instant bewilderment he got from me must have been really telling. He seemed surprised by my reaction probably half-expecting Iíd go out of my way to stoke the embers of his warming idea. Instead, a dousing with cold water he got. I spent a good part of the rest of the night dissuading him from his ideas about trying it out in Cebu.
I love Cebu and Iíve always been proud of my province but he had gotten all the wrong ideas about the scene in the southern city I like to call the Philippinesí bellybutton. True in some ways the scene was thriving, but in many ways, it was still wanting.
Mainly, itís all about the difference in scale. Cebu simply is not as populated as the Greater Manila Area so as a matter of simple economics, you simply canít make as much money doing fewer gigs in fewer bars attended by fewer people who spend on average lesser money.
If you want to play music and make money, youíre better off doing it where you get to play more often for more people. In Manila, itís a common thing for bands to play two, three, sometimes, four gigs a night in different venues. You canít do that in Cebu on a regular weekend. In Tagalog, the term for crisscrossing the metropolis to do different gigs is ĎLagarií. Itís no coincidence that that word doesnít have a Cebuano equivalent.
I could have gone on Ďtil forever talking about the million more reasons why Cebu bands, ours included, make Manila their Mecca, except the sky outside was getting brighter by the second. Daybreak had come. I hoped Leo at that point was beginning to see the light.