1. Twelve years of Waray music.
Back in 2003 when most kids felt that Waray was archaic, WAMUF or the Waray Music Festival made local vernacular music relevant again by hosting young Waray musicians on its events.
Suddenly, there was a deluge of contemporary local music in local clubs and regional radio stations. WAMUF launched several regional music stars like La Familia, Exuduce, Banal (now of On the Spot), Ivor, Bolingling, Campo Xanto, Jay Di, Kirby Cabonce among others.
2. It survived a supertyphoon.
Just like everyone in Northeast Leyte, WAMUF was affected by Yolanda in 2013. Prior to the disaster, the event had a strong support among local businessmen. Yolanda changed all that. The years that followed after Yolanda have been very difficult.
The organizers, out of respect for those who perished during the supertyphoon, opted not to stage the event in 2014 and 2015. WAMUF also lost the support from local businesses that were hit by the storm. As Leyte started to recover in 2016, the provincial government, a few businessmen and a Facebook drive by friends helped fund the resurgence of the festival.
Now WAMUF is set for its 2017 edition.
3. Waray artists from everywhere get together at WAMUF.
Bands and artists from all across Eastern Visayas play together on one night during WAMUF. This year’s edition features Slingshotz from Catbalogan, Josh Manoza from Calbayog, Haganas from Burauen and other artists from the Metro Tacloban area.
4. Reunions and comebacks.
This year’s WAMUF will be the venue for the reunion of La Familia, Tacloban’s modern hip-hop pioneers. Splintered around 5 years ago, Exoduce, Lay-lo, Jean Claire and Tenki regroup this year for a performance that will surely be legendary.
Alternative-rock-world music band Campo Xanto also returns to WAMUF. After taking a hiatus in 2005, the Red Horse Muziklaban 2 grand national champions return to the Tacloban gig circuit. Expect to hear their underground Waray hits on this year’s WAMUF.
Slingshotz will also stage a comeback. This group has always represented Catbalogan City well with their aggressive hip-hop flows and soulful RnB runs. Carl, the group’s main man says that the band has evolved into a band with live musicians.
5. More Rex Makabenta
Locals can’t get enough of this former sideman, now singer-songwriter who writes lyrics with depth and then ties them with beautiful off-kilter melodies.
Rex Makabenta, who is the grandson of the Waray literature giant Eduardo Makabenta, is a favorite among WAMUF followers. Aside from his soft, troubadour style solo performance, he will do an extra set with his Baby Dinosaur band in this year’s festival. His set with the band will feature his grittier and louder songs. We love Mano Rex!
6. The younger artists.
While many regulars of WAMUF have played in the yearly festival for a long time, the event also features up and coming artists. The most prominent of these young artists for this year are:
Jay Di – Probably this young rapper is the most popular hip-hop artist in Eastern Visayas these days. His videos on Facebook and YouTube always go viral. During the day, this young man works for an airline company, by night time he transforms into a creative maelstrom. He produces his beats, he composes his raps, he plays instruments on his records and then he moonlights as an audio producer in his own DIY studio.
Josh Manoza – Representing Calbayog City, Samar, this teenager wields an acoustic guitar and plays originals with enough Waray #hugots to mesmerize the Waray millennial. His songs exhibit pop maturity which belies his young age.
7. The other artists in this year’s line-up.
Piskatz – Ska that is forward-looking best describes Piskatz. Ska and disco? Check. Ska and Surf? Check. Ska and Cha-cha? Check. For a genre that relies on tried and tested formula, Piskatz comes off as a breath of fresh air. The band is composed of surfers and long boarders so expect a lot of songs about waves and living life to the fullest. Most of the songs of Piskatz are in Waray.
Repapipz – The band has matured well and has perfected its mélange of spoken word, grunge, punk and garage. If Bob Dylan decided to do slam poetry with a backing garage band, he would surely sound very close to Repapipz.
The band’s front man, Alnel is hilarious with his spiels. But do not let that fool you, the guy writes and delivers poetic lines camouflaged with hilarious topics like a tomato school project, a duck superhero and walking away from fights if you do not have the numbers. This is not just a must-see band, it’s a must-listen-to band as well.
Exoduce – This once prolific rapper is still active even if he already has a flourishing corporate career in Cebu. Exoduce actually filed a leave from work just to be able to reunite with his La Familia buddies and perform his infectious and head-bobbing solo work in this year’s WAMUF.
Cuadrilla – Always plodding on, this group returns to WAMUF to play its latest materials. The hip-hop outfit is “grass roots” and proudly DIY. Cuadrilla delivers rap that is replete with stories about their lives and their communities.
Haganas – Many do not know that there is a band in Burauen, Leyte that has a huge following in Luzon and the rest of the country – the band is called Haganas. This band’s views on YouTube easily pass the 1.5 million mark.
Their most popular songs are “Love kita Noon, Pero Di na Ngayon” and “Sikat na si Caloy”. In 2013, the band got heavy radio airlplay across the country as they released their Synergy Records backed album. The band anchors itself on the grit and perseverance of its veteran members. Today, the band continues to play together in their hometown but there are plans to tour Manila soon.
They garnered a top spot in the national Global Battle of the Bands sometime in the early 2000s and have never looked back since. Haganas will play their Waray songs in this year’s festival. Waray tunog kalye rock is Haganas.
8. It’s free and it is set on a park plaza.
Enjoy the Waray music for free at the RTR plaza. The place of the event is spacious and relaxing, with just the right number of food stalls and tents around it. It’s a sweet place to enjoy the incoming Tacloban fiesta and to soak in the local vibe. This year’s WAMUF is set on the 15th of June, 7PM at the RTR Plaza in Tacloban City.