Show must go on: How Boracay's closure created the Calamity Survival Band
In this June 2018 photo, Calamity Survival band continues to perform in Boracay island despite the closure.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

Show must go on: How Boracay's closure created the Calamity Survival Band

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - June 19, 2018 - 10:01pm

AKLAN, Philippines — Before April 26, musicians were performing to full-house crowds in the different business establishments on Boracay .

When the island was closed to tourists, they found themselves performing to an audience of a few to none.

With or without an audience, the show must go on for the Calamity Survival Band. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

But the show, as they say, must go on so six of them converged and were absorbed by a beach resort and sports bar on Station 2.

The unfortunate circumstance fortunately led them to forming a six-member group later on dubbed by Nigi Nigi Nu Noos E Nunu Noos’ owner as “Calamity Survival Band.”

“We were formed because of the closure,” band’s keyboardist and vocalist, Dean Santamaria told Philstar.com.

“We just formed this group because we were the only ones left on the island,” added guitarist and vocalist, Mike Deniega.

Santa Maria shared that Jason, the owner of the sports bar, decided to keep it open regardless of the bleak state of the business.

“It was the owner who gave the group that name, as the closure of the island was due to its State of Calamity, which our president declared. Residents of the island will have to survive until its opening,” he added, explaining the origin of the band’s name.

READ: Boracay rehab may go beyond 6 months

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 475 on April 26 and declared a State Of Calamity in Boracay's three barangays: Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapak. The proclamation officially closed the world-famed island to tourists to allow environmental rehabilitation.

What made them stay

Since members of the band come from various backgrounds, each has a different story to tell.

Emman Alim, guitarist and vocalist, and Dave Gandola, bassist and vocalist, were the two original performers at Nigi Nigi.

Santamaria said the owner advised Alim and Gandola, who were still under contract, to take in members to form the group.

Alim has been living in the island for almost three years. He is now staying with wife, and fellow vocalist, Ja Recio.

“We still have a contract, the two of us, for one year. We just brought them in,” Alim said.

Meanwhile, Santamaria, who has been on the island since 2012, said he was a performer at the Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel before he joined the band.

The keyboardist said he stayed on Boracay because he sees no point in leaving. He said he is just waiting for the island to reopen.

“We’re lucky that the owner of the hotel where my wife works took us in, to be the security for the place. Just like that. It’s one of the factors why we stayed,” Santamaria said.

The keyboardist said that the band’s drummer, King Ell Soriano, who has been on the island for six years, has also been offered a place. Soriano’s wife just gave birth and needed to stay.

“At least, the owner, granting that even if our rates were lowered, at least they have a place to stay and they have food,” he said.

Deniega, has also been on the island since 2012. He was originally a performer at the Ambassador in Paradise Resort in Station 1.

Band changes since island closure

With the island’s closure came changes in the band’s daily operations and income.

For the Calamity Survival Band, there's no choice but to wait for the island to be reopened to tourists. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

The Calamity Survival Band members said that most of them just moved to Boracay for work.

“Everybody wants to earn. But because of the closure, whether we like it or not, we will comply with the government,” Santamaria said.

“From businesses to residents alike, everyone is trying to make ends meet the best they can while the government and its agencies are doing their jobs to rehabilitate and fix the place,” he told Philstar.com.

Deniega said that their talent fee has gone down to a fifth of what they used to earn.

“We live with it because it's better than nothing,,” he said.

The closure has also affected when the band performs.

Before the island ‘s closure, bands on Boracay usually start the sets at around 8 or 9 p.m. and play until midnight. 

“We start at 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.,” Santamaria said, adding the island implements a noise curfew.

The band also noted that the bar, which used to be filled to capacity, now has “close to zero” patrons.

The Calamity Survival Band is just one of the groups of artists who have kept at it despite the closure.

The band continues to keep the music alive on the island and the jamming continues even when there are no guests.

The band said it is looking forward to the island's projected reopening in October, although they acknowledge that the closure could stretch on beyond six months.

"It will be a long wait," a band member said.

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