Eyes on the road: Stephen Speaks clarifies red light incident in Manila

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Eyes on the road: Stephen Speaks clarifies red light incident in Manila
Rockwell Ryan Ripperger, frontman of pop band Stephen Speaks
Philstar.com / Kristofer Purnell

MANILA, Philippines — American pop band Stephen Speaks, fronted by singer-songwriter Rockwell Ryan Ripperger, clarified an incident involving his tour crew, a Grab driver and a traffic enforcer.

Stephen Speaks was in Manila for a series of performances, including the returning in-person UP Fair for the first time post-pandemic. 

"Our Grab driver just got pulled in Manila over for running a red light, and my tour crew bribed him with a selfie with me to let us go. He said he sings 'Passenger Seat' at the karaoke bar," wrote Rockwell in disbelief that it actually worked out.

"Passenger Seat" is the hit single by Stephen Speaks that became popular in the Philippines in 2003, four years after the song was initially released. The singer-songwriter acknowledged the song as the band's most popular track.

Several Facebook users, however, were a bit critical that Rockwell and his tour crew had to bribe in order to avoid consequences, prompting the singer to include an addendum to clarify what happened.

Rockwell explained that their Grab driver showed the traffic enforcer, who flagged them down, his dash cam to prove he had cleared the stoplight but could not make it all the way through because someone had stopped in front of the car.

"You all need to chill out, we aren’t criminals here. I saved that kid from a traffic ticket he didn’t deserve," continued Rockwell, comparing the explanation to a sports replay. "I offered to pay the traffic ticket for the kid, because he didn’t do anything wrong. You haters need to relax."

The singer-songwriter even said in the comments that the driver nearly began to cry when he was almost ticketed. The singer said he was only recognized when he began singing "Passenger Seat."

Other social media users were more humorous about the incident, even referencing lyrics from the aforementioned track: "And I've got all that I need right here in the passenger seat, and I can't keep my eyes on the road knowing that she's inches from me."

In an exclusive interview last week with Philstar.com, Rockwell shared how much he loves visiting the Philippines, especially to "stage-crash" public stages so he could be around people.

RELATED: Stephen Speaks on returning to the Philippines, evolution of love songs

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