The sun is finally shining for the REO Brothers Band.
Comprised of four siblings — Reno (drums), Ralph (bass), RJ (lead guitar) and Raymart (rhythm guitar) Otic — this band of brothers was displaced from Tacloban when super typhoon Yolanda hit the city last year.
Homeless and penniless, they moved in with a relative who lives in Quezon City to start a new life. Thanks to the kindness of strangers (like ex-singer Rannie Raymundo), they ended up with a regular Tuesday gig at Primos Cuisine and Lounge, a new music spot in Greenfield District, Mandaluyong City.
“We thought it was just a wild dream, a nightmare,” Ralph recalls the early morning of Nov 8 when Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) made landfall in the province of Leyte.
Coconuts Manila recently spent an entire afternoon with Ralph and his brothers for Coconuts Sessions, a new Coconuts TV series where we ask Southeast Asian musicians to play live sets in unlikely settings.
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“We were so scared. In our minds we were ready to die. It was like the end of the world. All we could heard were the howling wind, heavy rain, gushing water, and people screaming and crying outside,” says Ralph.
Despite these challenges, the REO Brothers quickly picked up the pieces of their damaged lives. In December, they debuted in a fundraiser organized by ABS-CBN and became instant poster boys for Pinoy resilience. Their repertoire? Hits from the 1960s, from The Beatles to Beach Boys and Elvis Presley.
On March 11, the REO Brothers won’t just be helping themselves — they’ll be raising funds for their hometown in #PinoyRelief Benefit Concert, a star-studded concert at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York where they will rub shoulders with fellow performers like Jennifer Hudson, Jessica Sanchez and Charice. Apl de Ap and recent Oscar awardee (composer) Robert Lopez will also make an appearance.
“We’re excited to go to New York and it’s not something we expected to happen for us,” says Ralph. The brothers leave for the US today and will stay for two weeks. Apart from the concert on Tuesday, they are not sure of what else is in store for them.