IT WAS any band’s worst nightmare.

Publico, a budding alternative rock band, was all ready for a gig at Freedom Bar in Anonas, Quezon City. But nervousness seeped in, and they ended up playing with instruments out of tune.

The unfortunate event could have easily shattered their hopes of becoming the “next big thing.” Yet Thomasians Dane Policarpio, Rommel “Badong” Rodriguez, and Louie Azcona, and Southeast Asian College student Farley Tumbaga turned a faux pas into a big motivation.

“What happened in Freedom Bar inspired us to work harder than ever,” said Azcona, a Business Administration major.

And defy the odds they did. Last October 17, Publico rose from the ruins when they bested nine other bands in the ICON band fest sponsored by the Faculty of Engineering. They used the prize to buy only a microphone, but they knew their remote dream had become possible.

Small beginnings

Since then, the band has successfully released an Extended Play (EP) album containing the songs “Soccerfield,” “Samantala,” “Bukas Nalang,” “Ganda,” and “Tao Po (Ako Ang Masa).”

The band also participated in a bar tour sponsored by Gadgets Magazine and Liveraide, and were Orange and Lemons’ front act during the MTV VJ Hunt held at the University of the Philippines last Feb. 11, 2005.

But despite their growing prominence, Publico still takes most pride in performing before its home crowd.: the Thomasian community. And why not? Their first gig was during the Pay High Dance held at the Engineering Complex last Dec. 17, 2004. For them, it was by far, their most unforgettable gig.

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And then there was Paskuhan 2005.

“Performing for Paskuhan 2005 was the most unforgettable gig for us,” said Azcona in an interview with the Varsitarian. The loud cheers from fellow Thomasians, he said, gave the band a reason to perform better.

Publico also performed in the UST Architecture’s Week, with three other indie bands—including Kamikazee and the now-disbanded Barbie’s Cradle. They also fronted Kjwan during the UST leg of the MTV VJ hunt.

Like any underground rock band, Publico’s journey was not exactly a bed of roses. “We can’t necessarily please everyone. What’s more important for them is that we get to entertain the people who like us,” said Policarpio. Publico entertains with their own sense of music and performing style. “We try not to blabber much in between songs,” added Tumbaga.

As for them, the challenge that lies ahead is to be recognized not only as a rock band but also as a “Thomasian” rock band.

“We hope that, like other Thomasian bands before us, we can help raise the University’s name when it comes to producing excellent musicians, specifically rock bands,” said Azcona.

The “students by day, and musicians by night” consider the formula of proper time management in effectively balancing studies with music-making. Policarpio, a dean’s lister in the last semester, proves that studies and music do not make a lethal mix. The 18-year-old Information Management major is also a member of the UST Programming Team that won second place in the recent C++ Programming contest held in Mapua Institute of Technology, Makati.

“As long as you have the passion for what you do, you will most likely succeed,” Policarpio said.

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Even if they are fueled with the ardor for music-making, the band sees the total actualization of their dreams after graduation. While most bands leave their studies to work on their music, The Publico quartet see themselves as a band with day jobs. “We would like to focus on our studies first,” said Azcona.

“We give much priority to our studies as we do to our music,” added Policarpio.

And with the band slowly gaining a flock of supporters, Publico sees themselves with feet firmly planted on the ground.

The band’s profiles and music demos are available in their official website, www.tunogpublico.741.com. R. R. C. Agramon

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