If there is one persistent notion that must be vanished, it is that the whole Philippine archipelago is a postcard-pretty sunlit tropical paradise with sugary white beaches, where people sway to exotic ethnic rhythms and everyone smiles a lot under coconut trees and they like to put lovely little garlands around your neck.
The 21st Century Republic of the Philippines– capital city Manila– is a much more complex animal. The only true thing among the aforementioned clichés is sunlight– insufferable, harsh sunlight falling down hard on a strange place full of even stranger contradictions. It’s a collision of cultures, a chaos of industrial/monoxide smoke, karaoke noise and cheesy love songs. High rise condominiums and malls sit side by side with mountains of garbage and squatter shanties. It boasts of a high literacy rate but politicians must be able to sing and dance the QMacarena or some ubiquitous standard during campaign period. The biggest Roman Catholic nation in Asia has a population feeding on Korean and Taiwanese telenovela, Japanese anime, noontime game shows with gyrating scantily-clad dancers. Farmers in the middle of murky rice fields talk on multimedia capable mobile phones. The electronic beeps and bleeps of music videos collide with raucous karaoke jukeboxes. Tribesmen in the far north smoke fake Marlboros, wear counterfeit Tommy Hilfiger jeans and sing Tom Jones tunes; little island kids dance to mainstream hip hop.
This place is a melting pot of sounds that defy easy categorization. Despite the average Westerner’s stereotypes (most of the time, stupid and insulting; i.e. ‘Oh, you people actually have e-mail?!’) , parts of Manila are a breeding ground for some of the best hooks, melodies and grooves, a wide spectrum of styles ranging from indiepop/rock, techno, house, jazz,, new wave, punk, avant garde, etc. We have stuff that our mainstream recording industry usually ignores.
Enter Terno Recordings, coming to you from traffic jammed and dust-enveloped Manila. Yes, it’s a Third World Hell Hole, but not all of us live in thatched roof huts, and we don’t have frigging tails.
‘Terno’ is a word of Hispanic origin (In case you slept through history class, we’ve been a Spanish colony for 500 years). As a proper noun, it is the national attire for women. As an adjective, it means ‘to match’, an indication of a state of symmetry and proportion– something which definitely does not describe contemporary Philippine society. It sounds good, anyway.
Terno Recordings is the brainchild of Toti Dalmacion, a Manila-based DJ, vinyl collector, musician, and impresario who has evolved to be one of the most progressive figureheads of the scene. A preacher of the gospel of taste, he has exposed Metro Manilans to a wide range of musical styles ranging from both indiepop and rock to modern dance to bossa and everything in between. Among the acts he has brought in include Juan Atkins, Alec Empire, Derrick May, Doc Martin, Josh Wink, Jazzanova, Derrick Carter, Richie Hawtin, Laurent Garnier, Ken Ishii, Swayzak, Stacey Pullen, Fantastic Plastic Machine, Nathan Coles, Q-Bert, The Lotus Eaters, D’ Sound, China Crisis, just to name a few. He definitely doesn’t live in a hut. And he has e-mail.
Terno Records is determined to bring to the world some of the finest new music with a Filipino twist: indiepop/rock, jazz, house, techno, and everything in between. Yes, some of us actually know these things.