Dinosaur Juniors: Datu’s Tribe
Vocals: Eric “Cabring” Cabrera
Guitar 1: Del Visperas
Guitar 2: Ceferino “Dos” Pacio
Bass: Mel Visperas
Drums: Gerald “Dax” Dacayan
Datu’s Tribe was formed in UP Los Baños in the wake of Motion: Battle of the Bands, a music competition sponsored way back in 1989 by the UP Chi Epsilon Sorority. Although the event itself did not produce any worthwhile group to speak of, it did give the school community the unique opportunity to see the best individual music talents on campus. A few months after the competition, newer and better bands began to form. These groups eventually laid down the foundations for what was to become the alternative band scene in UPLB and foremost in the group of fledgling talents was the starving-artist band, Datu’s Tribe.
Retired: Dos Pacio & Dax Dacayan
New Drums: Ian Cabanilla
During its formative years, Datu’s Tribe covered songs from acts such as Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Skid Row, The Cult, and Juan de la Cruz. But even during those early years, the overflow of collective creative energy eventually led the band to the inevitable: the creation of originals that were set apart from the rest in terms of content and musical innovation. The lyrics were biting, sarcastic, acid humor at its best; the music was an eclectic mix of influences ranging from mainstream pop to thrash metal.
Datu’s Tribe music resisted classification, but the thematic content still integrated the band’s creative output into a recognizable package. It was this dynamic that made the band an unpredictably fresh and disturbingly attractive alternative to the prevailing music acts of the time.
After years of on and off gigs on and off campus, the band was fortuitously given a chance to make a demo recording of three original compositions, Praning, Kuwento ni Del, & And I See. Of the three, Praning was submitted to the Pinoy alternative music radio station LA 105.9, where it received massive airplay and eventually went on to hold the no.1 spot in the station’s countdown for six straight weeks.
Popularity bolstered the band’s reputation and paved the way for performances at rock bars such as Mayric’s and Club Dredd and at major concerts within Metro Manila. It was, however, the entry into Club Dredd that was to make the most impact on the band’s future as the club’s owner, Patrick Reidenbach, would soon offer to manage the band. It was clear to everyone that the group was about to deliver a more significant blow to the local music scene.
Management eventually brokered a deal with Universal Records, and in August of 1995, the Datu’s Tribe debut, Galit Kami Sa Baboy, was released into a music environment mushrooming with rock fanatics. The album contained 10 solid tracks that poured more gasoline into the fires started by the Big Three of 1994: The Youth, Yano, & The Eraserheads. Along with Datu’s Tribe, acts such as Teeth, Wolfgang, Razorback, Mutiny, and many others, released albums in 1995 and established the supremacy of Pinoy Rock in the local airwaves for several years.
After reaching sales of 20,000+ copies in a few months time, Galit Kami Sa Baboy achieved Gold Record status. A nomination in the Awit Awards for Best Rock Group, recognition from the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Eric Caruncho as the “Best New Group” of 1995 (Sunday Inquirer Magazine’s Best of 1995) and numerous other accolades from fans and music critics alike made the band’s status in the local music scene unassailable.
Major tours in Baguio, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon Province, Iloilo, Antique, Davao, and Gen. Santos, as well as major cause-oriented youth concerts all over Metro Maniila helped the band earn a reputation for creating unclassifiable, gut-wrenching, acid-witted songs that promoted social and political action and awareness. By the end of 1996, Datu’s Tribe had already become a household name in thousands of broken and/or mildly dysfunctional family homes all across the country!
Retired: Ian Cabanilla
New Drums: John Manalo
The late 90s saw the gradual decline of the “alternative” music scene as the supersaturation of the fickle local market with rock bands with rock brands of all types mutated the music into an experience that was just too much of a good thing offered too much. Along with the decline, the continued existence of Datu’s Tribe was becoming questionable primarily because two of its members (Del and Mel Visperas) were still based in Los Baños. The cost of performing mostly in rock bars in Manila soon became prohibitive and major gigs were coming fewer and farther in between. Although the drive to perform was still present, financial and domestic pressures eventually forced the band into early retirement.
Then, like sprinklings of ash on a death anniversary cake, Club Dredd closed its doors on Independence Day, 1998 to bring the era to a somewhat ironic close.
Cabring went back to fulltime teaching at UP.
Del went into part-time teaching, played in a retro-band and found a new love in tennis.
Mel eventually went into full time work at DOST.
John played in a blues band for a while before leaving for the US.
August 2004 – March 2005
After being haunted for 7 years by ghosts of dead-at-a-young-age-through-suicide musicians who prophesied that if Datu’s Tribe was not given another chance, its members would die of frustrated stardom syndrome, Cabring & Del decided to bring the band out of retirement and began work on tentative projects while searching for a new crew.
Cabring eventually hooked up with bass player André Umali who in turn asked Dax Padiernos (his batchmate in UPIS & part-owner of Purple Haze Resto & Bar) for help in acquiring a new drummer for the group. After a couple of try-outs, the group finally decided on Dax Padiernos as the new drummer. Mark Noval, guitarist of hardcore thrash outfit Genital Grinder, was added to the final mix in March.
Starting with “feeler” performances at Purple Haze, the revitalized band eventually played successful gigs at the UP Integrated School, the UPLB Fair, Gweilo’s Eastwood, the Megamall Arts@Music Festival, Rockista Reloaded, Music Museum, and the Rock Salad concert in Bulacan State U. Internet fansites, radio guestings at NU 107’s Gweilo’s Hour, Tapsi Rock, plus a new generation of listeners and supporters all coalesced into a surprisingly refreshing realization: Parang hindi nawala ang Datu’s Tribe.
With a top-of-the-line computer system, a mixing console, a couple of thousand pesos, blood, guts, and gray matter forced into creative inspiration by liters of alcohol, the Pseudo-Acoustic Bogus-Live! EP desperately entitled FAT BURNER was born on the last week of March 2005 and released (100 initial copies out of 1,000 planned total) on April Fools Day. With demand far outstripping supply and availability, God knows what futures will be created, reshaped, or destroyed by the rebirth of Datu’s Tribe!
Retired: Dax “Maxximum Biodaxx” Padiernos & Mark “Dr. Kram L’avon” Noval
New Drums: Paolo "Octopao" Delarama
But that’s not all! Add a new full-length album in the works, the local rock music scene gearing up for resuscitation, the country’s socio-economic development indicators at an all-time loveable low, and it appears that the band’s resurrection couldn’t have come at a more desperately opportune time.
Rest easy, ye dead-at-a-young-age-through-suicide musicians! DATU’S TRIBE IS ALIVE AGAIN!
Vocals: Eric “Ngirbac Arerbac” Cabrera
Gitara: Del “DelVis PressMe” Visperas
Bass: André “DarakStar" O'Malley
Drums: Paolo "Octopao" Delarama