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Rivermaya is a Filipino rock band. Formed in 1994, it is one of several bands who spearheaded the 1990s Philippine alternative rock explosion. Rivermaya is currently composed of original members Mark Escueta and Nathan Azarcon, together with Mike Elgar. Former original members include Rico Blanco, who had been the original songwriter of the band and vocalist Bamboo Mañalac, who later formed the band Bamboo and later went on his solo career. Rivermaya is listed in the top twenty five biggest-selling artists/act in the Philippines as of present.[2]

Rivermaya in 2016 (from left to right : Azarcon, Elgar, Escueta, and Peralta)
Background information
OriginMetro Manila, Philippines
Years active1994–present
Associated acts
MembersMark Escueta
Mike Elgar
Nathan Azarcon
Past membersRico Blanco
Bamboo Mañalac
Perf de Castro
Japs Sergio
Kakoy Legaspi
Jayson Fernandez
Norby David
Ryan Peralta



Earlier formation (1993)Edit

The band's predecessor consisted of Jesse Gonzales on vocals, Kenneth Ilagan on guitars, Nathan Azarcon on bass guitar, Rome Velayo on drums, and Rico Blanco (invited by Azarcon after seeing him play his portable piano rendition of Metallica's "Seek and Destroy") on keyboards and backing vocals. They were managed by Lizza Nakpil and director Chito S. Roño who had the intention of molding the group into a rock show band. The group was then called Xaga.[citation needed]

Classic line-up and mainstream success (1994–2001)Edit

Rivermaya's classic line-up was composed of (from left to right) Mañalac on lead vocals, Azarcon on bass guitar and backing vocals, Escueta on drums, percussion and backing vocals, de Castro on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Blanco on keyboards, guitar and co-lead vocals.

In the process of grueling practice sessions, Ilagan, who left the band due to personal reasons, was replaced with Perfecto "Perf" de Castro who owned the rehearsal studio where the band used to jam; Azarcon's childhood friend Mark Escueta replaced Velayo who left due to undisclosed reasons; and Azarcon's schoolmate Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac replaced Gonzales who was asked to leave the band. With Bamboo as frontman, the band members disbanded Xaga and formed the band Rivermaya, a name suggested by de Castro. They started putting together original songs like "Ulan" [Rain], "214", and "Awit ng Kabataan" [Song of the Youth] (mostly composed by Rico Blanco) in demo form for prospective recording companies.[citation needed]

By November 1994, the band had released its first album, the self-titled Rivermaya, and its first single was "Ulan"; followed by "214".[citation needed]

Citing artistic differences with the management, Perf de Castro was adamant in leaving the group in late 1995 and returned to his project band "The Blues Trio", a band later renamed "Axis" until its final inception as "Triaxis." The band continued as a quartet and Rico Blanco became the full-time guitarist while Nathan Azarcon's friend J-John Valencia filled in as session additional guitar player on live shows.[citation needed]

The band's second album Trip contains the singles "Kisapmata" [Blink of an Eye], "Himala" [Miracle], "Flowers", "Princess of Disguise" and "Panahon Na Naman" [It's Time Once Again]. Whilce Portacio, creator of the X-Men's "Bishop" and co-founder of Image Comics, designed the album art for Trip.[citation needed]

In 1997, the band released its third album, Atomic Bomb, with the single "Hinahanap-hanap Kita" [Always Wanting to See You]. The album gained positive responses from listeners and received heavy airplay from radio stations.[citation needed] During this period, Rivermaya also released the Rivermaya Remixed album, put together with the help of DJ Toti Dalmacion of Groove Nation.[citation needed]

Departure of Bamboo Mañalac (1998)Edit

The band then embarked on a US and Canada tour in 1998. Despite the band's successful tour, It was also at this time that Bamboo Mañalac decided to stay in the U.S. with his family. His last show with the band was on October 10, 1998 in Oakland, CA. (he eventually went on to form his own band, Bamboo in 2003).[3]

Rivermaya decided to forge on, with Rico Blanco taking on lead vocals and released their fourth album, It's Not Easy Being Green on February 15, 1999 containing the singles "Nerbyoso" [Nervous], "Shattered Like", and "Rodeo".[citation needed]

The band released its fifth studio album, aptly called Free, entirely for free on the Internet as well as on CDs distributed at their gigs. Free went on to be named "Best Album of 2000" at the NU Rock Awards.[4]

Second evolution of line-up (2001–2007)Edit

In February 2001, Nathan Azarcon departed from the group to focus on other musical interests, leaving Rico Blanco and Mark Escueta as remaining members. Japs Sergio (from Daydream Cycle) filled in on Azarcon's position in gigs. They were later signed with Viva Records and released an EP "Alab ng Puso" [Fire of the Heart] an original soundtrack for the film of the same name which starred Robin Padilla. The EP also featured a remix by Raimund Marasigan's Squid 9. By Summer of 2001, J-John Valencia (who had been a session guitarist for the band since 1995) has left the band. By May 2001, the lineup was changed as they recruited familiar local guitar heroes, Victor "Kakoy" Legaspi (from blues band Mr. Crayon) and Mike Elgar (from 7 Foot Junior), with Sergio officially absorbed in the band as well. They later began writing songs recording for their 6th studio album. The new line-up made its first performance at NU Pocket Concerts in Alabang Town Center on June 2, 2001. It would allow Rico Blanco to handle vocal duties full-time during live shows.[5]

By August 2001, the band had finished recording for their 6th studio album, Tuloy ang Ligaya, which was released on October 24, 2001 ['The Fun Continues'] and released singles including "Umaaraw, Umuulan" [Sometimes It Shines, Sometimes It Rains] and "Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby" [Don't Be Mad Anymore, Baby]. Their music videos won the Favorite Group Video in the MTV Pilipinas Music Award in 2002 and 2003, respectively. The video for "Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby" won a special award for Highest Jump in the same event in 2003.[citation needed]

On October 22, 2003, they released Between the Stars and the Waves containing the singles "A Love to Share", "Balisong" [Butterfly Knife], "Sunday Driving", "Table for Two", "241", and "Atat" [Eager].[citation needed]

They were nominated in the MTV Asia Awards 2004 for Favorite Artist Philippines, which was won by Parokya ni Edgar.

In mid 2004, Legaspi resigned from the band for undisclosed reasons, he then later performed as a session player with other musicians such as Julianne Tarroja, and Peryodiko, among others. Thus, the band became a four-piece line-up once again and has been there ever since.[citation needed]

International success (2004–2007)Edit

On February 5, 2005, the band won Favorite Artist Philippines in MTV Asia Awards 2005.

The band found a variety of partners who commissioned such works as "Liwanag sa Dilim" [Light In The Dark], "Posible" [Possible] (Southeast Asian Games' Athletes Anthem) and "You'll Be Safe Here".[citation needed]

"You'll Be Safe Here", originally created as the theme for the ABS-CBN TV series Spirits was released as an EP by Warner Music Philippines and became the song that MTV Asia selected for performance at the 2006 Asia Awards. Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child introduced the group, and they were backed up by Thailand’s Royal Symphony Orchestra during live performance. It was the first time that a Filipino band was invited to perform in the event.[citation needed]

An album of compiled works, titled "You'll Be Safe Here", was distributed in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.[citation needed]

Rivermaya embarked on a series of Asian tours, including at Thailand's Pattaya Music Fest (2008, 2009) as well as Singapore's Mosaic Festival (run by The Esplanade); and Bangkok's Fat Fest as well as in Indonesia's MTV Staying Alive show.[citation needed]

In the Philippines, the Rivermaya Greatest Hits 2006 album on Viva Records was followed by an album dedicated to its music heroes: Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo ['One Root, One Blood']. At the end of March 2007, Rivermaya scored again another first for the Philippines as their videos, "You'll Be Safe Here" and the recent video remake "Balisong" were chosen as the first Asian artists to have full-length music videos featured on the Star World Channel.[citation needed]

Also during this time, Rivermaya has been often referred to as "Banda ng Bayan" [The Band of the Nation], a nickname they share with Parokya ni Edgar.[citation needed]

Departure of Rico Blanco (2007)Edit

On May 24, 2007, Rico Blanco officially announced his departure from the group citing personal reasons. His last performance with the band was on May 4, 2007 at the Metro Bar. Despite the rumors that the band would eventually disband, both Rivermaya and its management denied the rumors as a result.[6]

After Rico Blanco left, Rivermaya released a new single, "Sayang" [Such a Waste], penned and sung by Japs Sergio and described by the band as "an open letter to the fans", the single premiered on June 22, 2007.[citation needed] In addition, Studio 23 announced the selection of Rivermaya to create the new theme song for the station. The new song is titled "Sumigaw" [Shout] and marks the release of a second single in two months for the band, accelerating Rivermaya's pace for new songs rapidly (in previous years, the band had managed to release only a single every 12 months).

On August 11, 2007, during a mini press conference held at Mogwai Bar and Café in Cubao's Marikina Shoe Expo, Rivermaya released its all-new 5-song Bagong Liwanag ['New Light'] EP, which hit stores nationwide starting August 15. This 5-song EP is released on the band's own label, Revolver Music, and licensed to Warner Music Philippines.[7]

Third evolution of line-up (2007–2011)Edit

Rivermaya held auditions for a new vocalist. The auditions was televised on Studio 23, which was titled Bagong Liwanag. Aside from the band members, main judges are Rivermaya manager Lizza Nakpil, The Dawn guitarist Francis Reyes, and Razorback bassist Louie Talan. On October 24, 2007, then-18-year-old Jayson Fernandez (usually spelled as "Jason") was announced as the winner and new member of Rivermaya.[citation needed]

On January 21, 2008, Rivermaya released the album entitled Buhay ['Life'] with the carrier single "Sugal ng Kapalaran" [Gamble of Fate] penned by Sergio with both Fernandez and Sergio doing the vocals, while Elgar and Escueta do backing vocals. During this time, the band parted ways with manager-director Chito Roño.[citation needed]

Rivermaya has played in Singapore at the Marina Bay New Year Countdown on December 31, 2008 while in September 2009, the group is the first Filipino band invited to perform on 3 different stages at the 2009 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix and in the same month and year, the band released the album Closest Thing To Heaven with the track "Dangal" [Dignity] as the carrier single.[citation needed]

Band name ownership disputes (2008-2009)Edit

After allegedly discovering several acts of misappropriation of funds involving the bands' royalties and talent fees, then Rivermaya band members announced that the band had parted ways with their longtime manager Lizza G. Nakpil on October 29, 2008. She was charged with the crime of estafa, sued for damages, and the court issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction forbidding further contact with Rivermaya.[8] Also in October 2008, longtime member Mark Escueta filed his own application at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), solely in his name for Rivermaya but was rejected by the IPO. In August 2009, a decision of the IPO confirmed that the "Rivermaya" name ownership of the trademark belongs to Nakpil. However, in October of the same year, Escueta was granted with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City. The TRO prevents Nakpil from claiming sole ownership of the "Rivermaya" band name while the case and appeal issued by both parties are still being studied by the court, thus allowing Escueta to continue using the band name regardless of the IPO decision as there was no Entry of Judgment/Execution that has been issued.[9]

Fourth evolution of line-up (2011–2016)Edit

Rivermaya line-up in early 2011; left to right: Peralta, David, Elgar, Sergio and Escueta
Rivermaya line-up from 2011-2016, David left the band in 2016.

On February 22, 2011, Rivermaya's official Facebook page announced that they would release their music video titled "Remenis" [Reminisce] and will formally introduce their new members, Ryan Peralta who was the band's regular session player and Norby David of the band Overtone.[citation needed]

Departure of Jayson Fernandez (2011)Edit

On August 28, 2011, Jayson Fernandez left Rivermaya after 4 years with the group citing musical differences as the primary reason.[10][better source needed] Paolo Valenciano (son of Gary Valenciano) of Salamin, Pochoy Labog of Malay and Dicta License, and Vinci Montaner of Parokya ni Edgar simultaneously filled in as temporary lead vocalists for some occasional gigs weeks after Fernandez's departure.

Panatang Makabanda and mini-reunion (2012-2016)Edit

After taking a brief hiatus, in November 2012, Japs Sergio posted on his official Facebook page that he left Rivermaya, in order to pursue his new band, Peso Movement. Since 2012, Mark Escueta, Mike Elgar and Norby David simultaneously switched over the lead vocal duties.

On March 19, 2013, Rivermaya released the album Panatang Makabanda ['A Vow for the Band Passionate'].[citation needed]

On January 9, 2016, members from the original classic line-up consisting of Perf de Castro, Nathan Azarcon, Mark Escueta and Rico Blanco were re-united at 19 East, Muntinlupa City after an invitation from de Castro following his gig. It was also Escueta's 40th birthday. The gig, which they dubbed as a "secret mini semi-reunion", was composed of Rico Blanco on keyboards, de Castro on guitars, Azarcon on bass guitar and Escueta on drums. Blanco and de Castro simultaneously switch over lead vocals all throughout the performance while Azarcon and Escueta provided backing vocals. Bamboo Mañalac was invited as well however it was reported that he was out of the country on that date. Mike Elgar and Ryan Peralta are reportedly present backstage watching the original members perform.[11]

Fifth evolution of line-up (2016-present)Edit

Departure of David and return of Azarcon (2016)Edit

On February 12, 2016, the band released the music video for "Tayo" on Facebook and later uploaded on YouTube on March 9, 2016.[12][13] On March 6, 2016, bassist and vocalist Norby David posted a statement on Facebook that he quit the band primarily claiming it was ultimately a lack of communication as the reason for his departure.[14] Days after his departure, former members Japs Sergio and Nathan Azarcon took over bass duties in live shows. Later on, Azarcon have permanently replaced David and returned full-time to the band after 15 years.

Sa Kabila ng Lahat and present status (2016-present)Edit

In mid-2016, the band began recording for their upcoming 13th studio at Tower of Doom Studios in Diliman, Quezon City with former member Japs Sergio co-producing the album. On May 22, 2017, the band signed with ABS-CBN-owned record label Star Music and later announced that it will release its 13th studio album, Sa Kabila ng Lahat.[15][16] The first single, "Manila" was released on June 14, 2017.[17] On September 7, 2017, the band released a lyric video of their second single, "8 to 5". The album was released on September 15 on all digital platforms nationwide and an album tour was also announced.[18][19] Rivermaya was recently awarded as the newest MYX Magna Award 2019 for contributing OPM Rock band history and they're honored last May 2019, they're the 3rd OPM Rock Band honored and won as MYX Magna Award after Eraserheads in 2012 & Parokya Ni Edgar in 2014.


Current members
  • Mark Escueta – co-lead vocals (2011–present); drums, percussion, occasional guitars (1994–2011, 2018–present); guitars, occasional percussion (2011–2018); backing vocals, occasional lead vocals (1994–2011)
  • Mike Elgar – co-lead vocals (2011–present); lead guitar (2001–present); keyboards (2007–2011); backing vocals (2001–2011)
  • Nathan Azarcon – co-lead vocals (2016–present); bass guitar (1994–2001, 2016–present); backing vocals (1994–2001)
Current touring members
  • Aiman Borres – keyboards (2017–present)
Former members
  • Rico Blanco – lead vocals (1998–2007); co-lead and backing vocals (1994–1998); guitars, keyboards (1994–2007)
  • Bamboo Mañalac – lead vocals (1994–1998)
  • Perf de Castro – lead guitar, backing vocals (1994–1995; touring 2019–present)
  • Kakoy Legaspi – guitars (2001–2004)
  • Jayson Fernandez – lead vocals, guitars (2007–2011)
  • Japs Sergio – bass guitar, occasional lead vocals, occasional backing vocals, occasional guitars (2001–2012; touring 2016)
  • Norby David – co-lead vocals, bass guitar, occasional acoustic guitar (2011–2016)
  • Ryan Peralta – drums, percussion, keyboards (2011–2018; touring 1998, 2008–2010)
Former touring members
  • J-John Valencia – guitars (1995–2001)
  • Martin Jamora – keyboards (1998–1999)


Rivermaya performing at U.P. Diliman (2007)
For a full, detailed list, see: Rivermaya discography


  1. ^ "Rivermaya releases new single "Pilipinas, Kailan Ka Magigising?" after four years". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  2. ^ "20 to try: Filipino albums". September 23, 2009.
  3. ^ "Why Bamboo left the band". ABS-CBN News. March 9, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2013. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ "Rivermaya music, videos, stats, and photos".
  5. ^ Sergio, Japs (2017-12-03). "Japsuki - May nag tag sa akin nito, a few days ago..." Facebook. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  6. ^ Ancheta, Michael (2007-05-28). "PEP EXCLUSIVE: Rico Blanco no longer with Rivermaya". Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  7. ^ "Rivermaya launches 'Bagong Liwanag' EP". GMANews.TV. 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ Godinez, Bong (22 October 2009). "TRO over band-name ownership issued against Rivermaya's ex- manager Lizza Nakpil".
  10. ^ "Log In or Sign Up to View".
  11. ^ "Original Rivermaya Members Perform at 19East". 10 January 2016.
  12. ^ "Facebook: Rivermaya - Tayo". Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  13. ^ "Rivermaya - Tayo (Official Music Video)". YouTube. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  14. ^ "Parang Relong Made in Japan: Norby David Leaves Rivermaya". Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  15. ^ "Rivermaya to release 12th album under new label". Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  16. ^ "Rivermaya contract signing". Star Music (via Facebook). May 19, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  17. ^ "Rivermaya - Manila (Official Music Video)". Star Music (via YouTube). Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  18. ^ "Facebook - Rivermaya: "Kahapon 2nd single, next week buong album na!..."". Rivermaya (via Facebook). Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  19. ^ "Rivermaya - 8 to 5 (Official Lyric Video)". Star Music (via YouTube). Retrieved September 8, 2017.

External linksEdit