REO Band, a story of surviving and rebuilding after the Haiyan Storm as a Family

We all know about the storm that ravaged and destroyed thousands of lives in the Philippines. Particularly in the areas around Tacloban.

The Filipinos are eternally grateful for the outpour of support from the Global community in the relief and rebuilding efforts.

This article is just one of the great stories about the kindness of human spirit and the things that happen in a person, or persons life that cant be explained on how things are connected.

This is the story on how the REO Band (a literal band of brothers ) found their voice being shared with the rest of us.

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This guy is Mr. Rey Fuentes. He grew up in Tacloban and occasionally travels back for business and family matters. The story goes like this.

Rey was in Tacloban – way before the storm as was able to watch the REO band perform and was astounded in the way the band played and got to talk to the dad. While talking Rey gave the Dad( Reynaldo Otic) his card and said” Call me whenever you are in Manila, I’ll help if you need anything.” that was in June 2012, in other trips, Rey would meet with them to provide them with cd’s and other stuff that would help them in their music.

So time went by and the Haiyan storm came. The Otic Family ( the band and and their parents) lost everything in the storm except  a guitar. The family decided to get out of Tacloban and try rebuilding in Manila. Taking the bus from Visayas to Manila took they 2 days, with literally those clothes on their back, the guitar, some water and biscuits.

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Once they got to Manila, the Dad, remembered he had the card of Rey (which was unfortunately very, very wet. So. they had to wait till it dried) They called Rey and they set up to meet in Trinoma. Rey from personal experience new that the band was good, and called Tom Banguis an old friend of Rey in the advertising agency brought them to a band practice and had them play 3 songs. Tom impressed called up another friend, Bobby Caparas – of Primos Cuisine and set up a meeting for Rey and Bobby to talk about giving the boys a chance to play.

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To make the long story short, Bobby allowed the boys to play on Thursday to the crowd gathered at Primos, and to the surprise of everyone, they were able to raise 37,000 php that night and a pledge of one of the customers to buy them all new instruments. The REO Band was also asked to come back friday to play again.

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The rest is now history, the REO band also played in one of the shows of ABS CBN for the benefit of Tacloban, They now play regularly every Tuesday at Primos bar.

This story goes to show that, people you meet along the way will at sometime in your life be able to help you, or you will be able to help them. Things happen for a reason, and that there are still a lot of good people on earth.

Here’s a short video of the boys – by the way -they are awesome!


Here is a short story from of one the guys that help the band find their voice.

By the way – REO means

R – all the names of the brothers and the dad start with R

E – is the maiden name of the mom

O – is their last name.

         From Despair in Tacloban to a Dream Performance at the Araneta!

 This just about summarizes the past 3 weeks journey for a band of 4 very young brothers, rendered homeless and penniless by the storm surge in Tacloban, to the standing ovation of an admiring audience at the Araneta Coliseum for the ABS-CBN Christmas TV special last Tuesday, December 10 and shown nationwide in a 2 part-telecast the following weekend.

 To the Araneta audience that night they not only represented musical prowess but also the appreciation of their admirable, inspirational story of leaving their devastated hometown, heart-broken, armed with their faith and belief in themselves, and rose from the deepest pit of despair with their talent.

 Its a story that they will now be shared with their devastated province mates and millions of their countrymen with the support of Star Records, which is about to launch their very first  recording album early next year.

 They arrived in Manila about 3 weeks ago. They had no money, virtually the only clothes they had were what they were wearing during the trip, but with God’s blessing, they were able to save their all-important guitars!

  I was contacted by a friend in the marketing profession, Rey Fuentes, retired former client at Johnson & Johnson and a Taclobanon, to help this young band, who fortunately made it to Manila after literally begging the bus company to allow them to ride with the promise of payment in Manila, where they made it after 2 long days, subsisting on biscuits and candies, and now sharing in the small apartment of a relative, 8 of them cramped in a room, all sleeping in the floor. Rey asked if I could audition the band and check if they stood a chance of making a living here in Manila. I auditioned them 2 days after, and I ended up clapping!

 I called up a friend who manages  Primos music lounge in The Hub, Greenfield District to give these boys a break, even just for a meal and “some transport money.” He asked for my assurance that he will not be embarrassed with his patrons and then booked a slot the very next evening, as an accommodation to me.

 Their very first night was a rousing success, with the owners of the Primos music lounge and the patrons in fact passing the hat around and raised P37,000! Since then, they have performed in many different venues, generating the same enthusiastic reception.

 I wrote friends, including former colleagues at ABS CBN about their story, who quickly moved to include the band as a special highlight in the “Pagasa at Pagbabangon”  fund-raising concert for Tacloban victims at the Araneta.  After the Christmas special where they were the only performers who sang encore numbers, they have since been featured at Umagang Kay Ganda,  TV Patrol, Showtime and Bandila.

 These boys are the REO Brothers Band- Ralph, (bass guitar) 17 years old; Reymart (rhythm guitar), 19, RJ (Lead guitar), 21 years old and Reno (drummer) 24.

You can watch the “REO Brothers Band” Tuesdays every Tuesday night at Primos Cuisine and Music Lounge, The Hub, Greenfield District (former EDSA Central). I guarantee that it is going to be a great musical experience for you and your friends!

Tom Banguis, Jr






Ron is a happily married man for more than 10 years, the father of 3 boys. Loves to write about places that he visits. And works in the BPO industry.