Wikalele: The Ukulele Like You’ve Never Heard It Before

At the first mention of the world “ukulele”, you’d immediately think of beaches, surfers with bleached dreads having fun in the sun, and sweet, cheerful melodies about peace, flowers, and waves crashing to the sand. The small stringed instrument isn’t something you would associate to the heavy-sounding riffs and lyrics of alternative music. Wikalele, a ukulele-dominated music event held last August 1 at Sev’s Café, Manila broke all clichés usually associated with the small string instrument.

The small, homey café in the middle of Manila bore witness to the variety of emotions displayed through choice words and well-arranged music. People who went to the event thoroughly enjoyed the bursts of creativity they received from the artists who shared their works.

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Poets from White Wall Poetry painted images with their words. They discussed a myriad of topics, from politics to the city’s everlasting problem with garbage. Their well-placed words touched even the hardest of hearts that was present that night.

Music soon accompanied words as musicians began singing their pieces about relationships, heartbreak, the dynamics of a relationship where one half is an OFW, and the problem every single guy wants to have: Grabe, bakit ang pogi ko?

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Justin Grace Mariano, Leo Valdez, Pao Gumba, Kalabopis, I-Mo, and the Ukulele Philippines Ensemble gave the audience tunes to hum along to for days. They performed a myriad of songs, from originals to covers of famous songs such as Muli, Torpe, and Tikman.

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The crowd grew expectant as each performer sang his last note or spoke his last word, as the main course was set to arrive. BennyBunnyBand got everyone wild from the moment they got on stage until they bowed and said good night. The infectious energy, lively songs, and vocalist Benny Giron’s Michael Jackson-esque moves caught the attention and fascination of the crowd.

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The explosive three-piece is composed of Giron on vocals and ukulele, Ess Bodilla on bass, and Jhenico dela Cruz on drums. They pleased the crowd with their foot-stomping originals such as Ikaw Na, I’m Coming, Kamandag (Pogi Problems), and the so-energetic-it-will-make-you-smile Dear Laarni. They stood out among the other performers, as they were able to bring out such a dynamic and lively sound from an instrument that’s been synonymous with lazy afternoons, surf boards, and sun-kissed skin tones.

Everyone got their fair share of feels and fun at Wikalele. It gave the audience a peek to what the ukulele can do and how it can contribute to the growing and morphing face of Filipino music.


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