From Wikipilipinas
Jump to navigation Jump to search

To read this article in Filipino, see this Rivermaya.

Rivermaya is a Philippine rock and alternative band formed in 1993. The band has produced a number of platinum albums and no.1 hits through its more that 10 year reign in the Philippine music industry. Dubbed as the “Banda Ng Bayan”, the band has been an icon to new and uprising bands. They spawned the hits such as "Ulan", "Kisapmata", "Elesi", "Nerbyoso", "Faithless", "Balisong", and "Inosente Lang Ang Nagtataka". The band has also been awarded and given numbers of recognitions to different music awards and spectacles. Two of their videos are currently introduced internationally for being chosen by Star World channel.


With the rise of the band revolution in the Philippines in the early 1990’s, with a number of bands coming out with rock and alternative singles, producer and manager Lizza Nakpil and prominent director, Chito Roño decided to manage a yet unnamed band. Rico Blanco auditioned to play rhythm guitars and keyboardist while Nathan Azarcon presents his bass guitar skills to the management. The two primarily became the first members of the band. The initial line-up was then with guitarist Kenneth Ilagan and drummer Rome Velayo, with Blanco doing vocals. Jessie Gonzales was recruited to handle the role of lead vocals while Velayo was replaced by youngster, Mark Escueta. The group in constant member changes then was replaced with Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac as the lead vocals and Perfecto de Castro on lead guitars.

The five members (Blanco, Mañalac, Azarcon, Escueta, and de Castro) formed the original Rivermaya. Rivermaya was chosen among the hundreds of possible names suggested by Blanco, who at that time was very fond of the name of another band, Rizal Underground establishing a nationalistic fervor on music.

As in any starting bands, Rivermaya was at odds on penetrating the music scene. Underground club scenes were very prevalent at the start of 1993 wherein bands performing will be discovered as they were watched and heard. Known rock areas during the time were the infamous Red Rocks and Club Dredd. In these scenes, Rivermaya stages their first performances.

With Blanco’s songs ready for recording, the band recorded and released their first self-titled album under BMG Music with “Ulan” as their first single. Rivermaya became popular on the mass and underground alike making their first album reached a platinum status with other hits like concert favorite “Awit ng Kabataan”, “Bring Me Down”, and the rock ballad “214”, which enjoyed no. 1 spot on many music and radio charts, removing Eraserhead’s hit “With A Smile” from its month long lead.

Though the band is getting big recognitions and response from sales and gigs, guitarist de Castro left the band. He stated that Rivermaya’s music does not suit him noting that this is not his preferred kind of sound. He formed a short-lived group, Tri-Axis.

The success of their first album was surpassed by their second album, “Trip”. At the album production, Blanco has taken the place of de Castro as the new guitarist making the album a sort of recorded documentary on Blanco learning to play the instrument. Trip again reached the platinum status with hits like “Kisapmata”, “Himala”, and “Panahon Na Naman”, later two more singles from trip, "Princess of Disguise" and "Flowers" also became hits.

The success continued on their next singles and albums. After their 3rd album release, "Atomic Bomb", frontman Bamboo left for the US to live with his family.

Bamboo and Blanco strengthen their duets on songs while performing and audience started to notice Blanco and his song creations. His talent on lyrics and music was perceived. With the blessings of the departing frontman, Rivermaya decided to continue to play as a three-member band with Blanco back at doing the vocals, his first role during the band formation, and at the same time in guitars and keyboards.

The band released their 4th album, “It’s Not Easy Being Green” which spawns the hits “Nerbyoso”, “Shattered Like”, and “Rodeo”. Jay John Valencia was hired as a session guitarist for live shows. Blanco, now as the main vocalist, incorporated his own style in the album and suggested a rockier side. The band’s style made a transformation in terms of sound and music. Blanco sang the songs intended for Bamboo in the way he envisions them while writing.

The year 2000 completely seals the changes on the band releasing their 5th album “Free”. The album is indeed free to download on their site and remains a top-billed and favorite to many hardcore fans. The singles “Faithless” and "Ambulansya" became hardcore underground faves.

The Rivermaya management had a major issue relating to the character and attitude of bassist Azarcon which led to his firing on 2001 leaving Blanco and Escueta as the sole members of the Rivermaya. Azarcon formed the group Kapatid (band), with Karl Roy afterwards. Fans and the music industry were now debating on the future of the band. [1]

Known as the heart and soul of Rivermaya, Blanco never gave up and decided to continue the band’s craft. The solution led to the search of new members. Three members were pirated and auditioned to fill in for the strings part. The new guitarists are Kakoi Legaspi (from blue’s band Mr. Crayon) and Mike Elgar (from 7 Foot Junior). Japs Sergio (from Daydream Cycle) was chosen to be the new bassist. In comes the new Rivermaya evolution.

The success of the band’s singles and albums continued once again proving the prowess of Blanco in doing songs. The band released the albums “Tuloy ang Ligaya” and “Between the Stars and the Waves” producing hit after hit like “ Umaaraw, Umuulan”, “Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby”, “ A Love to Share”. “Bali Song”, “Sunday Driving” and “241”.

In between the promotion of the “Between the Stars and the Waves” album, the band released the massive hit “You'll Be Safe Here”, which was also the theme song for the ABS-CBN television series, Spirits. Rivermaya was also chosen to sing the SEA Games official them song,”Posible”.

Also during this promotions that Legaspi was sign-off the band due to changes in priority.

The band also released a live and acoustic concert album. The album consists of band’s hits including “Alab ng Puso”, which was used by national athlete boxer, Manny Pacquiao during his entrances. It was also during this point that Rivermaya was signed for commercials and other theme songs such as telecommunication company, Globe with “Makaaasa Ka”.

The band was from then on dubbed as the “Banda ng Bayan (Band of the Nation)” winning numbers of awards and recognition in different awards spectacle. The band was chosen as the Philippine music representative and performed at the sold-out crowd in the MTV Asia Awards held in Thailand.

To solidify the success of the band, Rivermaya released their greatest hits album which reached the gold status in just 7 days.

The year 2006 marked the release of the band’s latest album, “Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo” with the carrier single “Isang Bandila” penned by Blanco. Other songs were all remakes. The album and its songs were made and dedicated by the band as a sign of respect to their music roots and idols with Blanco asking personal permission for the songs from the respective bands. The album has currently added the songs “Golden Boy” and “Inosente Lang Ang Nagtataka” on their hit lists. Rivermaya performed at the latest MYX Music Awards with Identity Crisis to render their original hits, “My Sanctuary” and “Sumigaw, Umawit Ka”.

At the end of March 2007, Rivermaya again scored another first for the Philippines as their videos, “You'll Be Safe Here” and the recent video remake “Bali Song” were chosen as the first Asian artists to have full-length music videos featured on the Star World Channel. Star World is known in giving top-rated US and UK entertainment to Asia.

Blanco's Departure

After weeks of rumours and talks, it has been confirmed that chief songwriter and frontman, Rico Blanco had left the band on May 2007. The band’s last gig with Blanco was during “Metrology 2” (a trifecta gig consists of Pupil, Sandwich and Rivermaya) at The Metrobar, Quezon City. Some signs had been present during the gig, an intense Rico, in the middle of performing "Umaaraw, Umuulan," reportedly shouted, "Isang huling malupit!" (Give me one spectacular one!) Rivermaya's bassist Japs Sergio then seconded by telling the crowd, "Lakasan n'yo pa, huli na ‘to!" (Make it louder, this is the last one!)

Rico uttered that the gig is memorable because it was held at the same place where a then-inexperienced Rivermaya played its first ever gig as an opening act for the legendary Eraserheads. (Metro Bar was known as Kampo during the '90s.) Fans also noted Rico's happiness that night for he shared the bill once more with former Eraserheads members (Ely Buendia, now with Pupil and Raimund Marasigan who now fronts for Sandwich).

In the heels of Rico's departure came another rumor saying that the talented singer-songwriter would pursue a solo career and would be known simply as "Blanco." There are reports that there we’re already scheduled events for Rico’s solo act alongside his debut as a designer for Human Clothing where he also models at.

Drummer Mark Escueta made a statement in Rivermaya's mailing list that the band would carry on without Rico Blanco. There are unconfirmed reports that remaining members will launch a reality-based TV search to find a replacement.

Rivermaya previously survived the departure of Perf de Castro, Bamboo Mañalac, and Nathan Azarcon simply because they're not the chief songwriter "Rico was the most important component of that band because he supplied the hits. It was the same when Ely left the Eraserheads. Inasmuch as the other members wanted to continue, they just found it hard to fill in that huge void," interviews said.

Chronology of lineup members

Lineup as of May 2007

  • Mark Escueta - Drums
  • Mike Elgar - Guitar, Vocals
  • Japs Sergio - Bass, Vocals

2004-2007 Lineup

  • Rico Blanco - Keyboards, Guitars & Vocals
  • Mark Escueta - Drums
  • Mike Elgar - Guitar, Vocals
  • Japs Sergio - Bass, Vocals

2001-2004 Lineup

  • Rico Blanco - Keyboards, Guitars & Vocals
  • Mark Escueta - Drums
  • Kakoi Legaspi - Guitar
  • Mike Elgar - Guitar, Vocals
  • Japs Sergio - Bass, Vocals

1998-2001 Lineup

  • Rico Blanco - Keyboards, Guitars & Vocals
  • Nathan Azarcon - Bass & Vocals
  • Mark Escueta - Drums

1995-1998 Lineup

  • Bamboo Mañalac - Lead Vocals
  • Rico Blanco - Keyboards, Guitars & Vocals
  • Nathan Azarcon - Bass
  • Mark Escueta - Drums

1994-1995 Lineup

  • Bamboo Mañalac - Lead Vocals
  • Perfecto De Castro - Lead Guitars & Vocals
  • Rico Blanco - Keyboards, Guitars & Vocals
  • Nathan Azarcon - Bass
  • Mark Escueta - Drums

1993-1994 Lineup

  • Jessie Gonzales - Lead Vocals
  • Kenneth Ilagan- Lead Guitars
  • Rico Blanco - Keyboards, Guitars & Vocals
  • Nathan Azarcon - Bass
  • Rome Velayo - Drums


  • Rivermaya (1994)
  • Trip (1996)
  • Atomic Bomb (1997)
  • Remixed (1998)
  • It's Not Easy Being Green (1999)
  • Free (2000)
  • Alab ng Puso Limited Edition Mega Single (2001)
  • Tuloy ang Ligaya (2001)
  • Live and Acoustic (2002)
  • Between the Stars and Waves (2003)
  • Liwanag sa Dilim Special Edition Between the Stars and Waves (2004)
  • You'll Be Safe Here EP (2005)
  • Makaaasa Ka (2005)
  • Posible (2005 Southeast Asian Games Theme Song) (2005)
  • Rivermaya: Greatest Hits 2006 (2005)
  • Rivermaya Asian Compilation CD (2006)
  • Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo (2006)


  • Ulan
  • Awit Ng Kabataan
  • 214
  • Bring Me Down
  • Kisapmata
  • Himala
  • Panahon Na Naman
  • Hinanahap-Hanap Kita
  • Elesi
  • Kung Ayaw Mo, Huwag Mo
  • If
  • Nerbyoso
  • Shattered Like
  • Rodeo
  • Faithless
  • Ambulansya
  • Alab ng Puso
  • Umaaraw, Umuulan
  • Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby
  • A Love To Share
  • Balisong
  • Liwanag Sa Dilim
  • You'll Be Safe Here
  • Makaaasa Ka
  • Posible
  • Sunday Driving
  • 241
  • Isang Bandila
  • Golden Boy (Ethnic Faces cover)
  • Inosente Lang Ang Nagtataka (The Wuds cover)

Commercial Endorsements (Local)



  • The band’s single “Isang Bandila” is the theme song for the ABS-CBN News and Public Affair program, Bandila.
  • Japs Sergio’s brother, Dok (from the 90's band, Teeth) is also the bassist of Ely Buendia’s new band, Pupil. Buendia is the frontman before of Eraserheads, the greatest competition of Rivermaya during the 1990’s.
  • When "Balisong" was released internationally, the spelling changed to "Bali Song". However, it is not related with the Indonesian place called Bali. [2]
  • The hit, 214, has gained massive mystery to what the meaning means. Different meanings were suggested such as 1) 214 – February 14, 2) 214 – Am I Real (first lyrics of the song), and 3) 214 – “to won for”. Blanco stated during their Radio Romance performance that he would reveal the meaning 10 years after, instead a song called 241 was released.
  • Himala” is the first video made by Rivermaya.
  • Their second album, “Trip” was designed by world-renowned X-men cartoonist and designer, Whilce Portacio. The album features caricatures of members in their suggested artworks: Blanco is with Liv Tyler, Escueta with his pet Iguana, Azarcon in a traditional Filipino scene, and Bamboo in the world of Dr. Seuss.
  • If” is the first single released by the band not penned by Blanco. It was made by Azarcon.
  • Rivermaya is the only Filipino artist with more than one single with two music videos."You'll Be Safe Here" and "Balisong" both have two music videos.


Original Source

Original content from Wikipedia under GNU Free Documentation License. See full disclaimer.