Reggae was introduced in the Philippines in the early to mid-'70s largely through the radio (DZRJ), and Marley records But the first local reggae band - Eurasia - was formed until the mid-'80s, with Sammy Asuncion on guitar, Rico Velez on Bass and Rene Santos on drums. When Eurasia went their separate ways, Coco Jam stepped into the breach and filled the local folkhouse circuit with the distinctive reggae beat.


Cooco Jam's founder is Rolly Maligad, who cut his teeth in the late '70's on standard folk tunes - Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Don McLean - as one-half of an outfit called Ric and Rol. He switched to reggae in the mid-'80s, putting together a line-up that included Noli Aurillo on guitar, Rene Santos on drums, and a trio of women back-up vocalists. The band played regularly ar Mayric's in Manila and Larry's Bar and Kalye in Makati.

Coco Jam's personnel have changed over the years. Ace guitarist Jun Lopito took over the guitar chores when Aurillo left for Thailand. Veteran musician Rico Velez returned from Zimbabwe to play bass guitar while Nowie Favila (Now of Ang Grupong Pendong) and later Edmond Fortuno occupied the drummer's seat.

By: Ernesto M. Hilario | The Sunday Chromicle February 9, 1997