Filipino bands

Lighting up the OPM scene with Baguio rock band Dilaw

Juno Reyes

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Lighting up the OPM scene with Baguio rock band Dilaw

Members of Baguio rock band Dilaw for their newest single 'Orasa.'

Photo/Warner Music Philippines

The minute Dilaw sets foot on stage – be it at a cramped bar or on vast concert grounds – each of its members are transported into a world of their own, where feeling the music coursing through their veins is the only thing that matters

MANILA, Philippines – This year, an OPM tune titled “Uhaw (Tayong Lahat)” broke the charts and took the Philippines by storm. Local radio stations would blast the four-minute song each day, and social media users would make it the soundtrack of their romantic woes.

Amassing over 100 million Spotify streams, the song’s catchy chorus, “Bakit uhaw, sa ‘yong sayaw, bakit ikaw?” has unsurprisingly become ingrained into the minds of Filipinos. The musicians behind it? A rock band from Baguio: Dilaw. 

But Dilaw has proven that they’re more than just the band that sang “Uhaw (Tayong Lahat).” The Baguio ensemble has numerous other tracks under its belt that are just as singalong-worthy. Now, they’re back with “Orasa,” a brand new lyrical masterpiece that puts a refreshing yet heartbreaking spin on romance. 

Two sets of siblings, one goal

Dilaw started out as a duo composed of vocalist Dilaw Obero and guitarist and self-proclaimed “macho dancer” Vie dela Rosa. The band has since expanded into a six-piece collective loaded with talented musicians who all share an undying love for playing their hearts out. 

When lead guitarist Leon Altomonte saw Obero and Vie lined up for a gig in Baguio, he knew he had to be a part of that. Dilaw’s current drummer Tobi Samson eventually began playing for the band full-time, too, as he was already drumming for the former duo’s recording studio. 

Soon after, Leon and Vie’s siblings followed in their brothers’ footsteps and joined the pack. En Altomonte plays the keys and synths for the band, while Wayne dela Rosa stepped in to be the bassist. 

“There are pros and cons to being in a band with your sibling. Siblings have a way of getting each other that no one else can understand. That means it’s easier to share information, and that also means it’s easier to get on each other’s nerves. So, this whole dynamic has been a balancing act. But at the end of the day, I really like performing with my sibling,” said Leon. 

Vie shares the same sentiments. While petty fights may happen sometimes, the fun of sharing the stage with Wayne outweighs it all. 

Minsan sinasabi rin namin na magkapatid sina Dilaw at Tobi (Sometimes we also say that Dilaw and Tobi are brothers),” Vie joked. 

It’s clear that this unlikely dynamic has worked wonders for Dilaw. Putting each of the members’ specific abilities together, the musical shapeshifters easily take on blues, jazz, and rock – and sound amazing doing so. 

And it isn’t just love that Dilaw has a penchant for singing about. Their songs “Caloy,” “3019,” and “Maskara” all manifest political nuances meant to criticize the oppressive systems that we’re forced to exist in. Without a doubt, one of the ways the band draws in so many fans is its sound-bending versatility.  

Built to last

2023 has been extremely eventful for Dilaw. Aside from topping the local music charts with its breakthrough hit “Uhaw (Tayong Lahat),” its members appeared in their own documentary, participated in TV shows, performed at numerous gigs and festivals, and even released two singles. Throughout the crazy year they’ve had so far, their relationship as a band has only gotten stronger. 

DILAW. En, Leon, Vie, Wayne, and Dilaw pose around drummer Tobi. Photo from Warner Music Philippines

“My favorite part of all this is definitely playing live with my bandmates because it’s not every day you can find bandmates that you think you can spend your life with,” said Dilaw keyboardist En. 

“[My favorite] is probably my least favorite as well. It’s confusing, but it’s probably being with these guys because we have different personalities. It’s interesting and fun,” shared Tobi. 

Ako, favorite ko ‘yung [napakita ako sa] TV kasi proud ‘yung nanay ko sa akin doon eh,” Vie quipped, lightening the sudden sentimental shift in atmosphere. 

(My favorite thing about all of this is being on TV because my mom is proud of me for that). 

But if there’s one thing the band could never live without, it’s obviously their genuine passion for music as a means of storytelling – so much so that they can even sing about what you ate the day before. 

Kahit anong pumasok [sa utak ko], kahit ‘yung ulam ‘nyo kahapon (Anything that comes to mind, even your meal yesterday),” Vie exclaimed. 

The minute Dilaw sets foot on stage – be it at a cramped bar or on vast concert grounds – each of its members are transported into a world of their own, where feeling the beat of the drums, the electric hum of the guitars, and the funky synths of the keys is the only things that matters.

Championing local talent

Dilaw is one of the acts that has indubitably paved the way for the Baguio music scene. The City of Pines is home to a ton of young talents that have yet to make it big, so Dilaw hopes to one day see their fellow Baguio natives get the attention that they deserve. 

“The whole reason we’re doing this is so that we can promote music to our community and help build the local music scene. So that the generation after us can do it without having to move all the way down [to Manila], or they can do it from their home base up in Baguio,” explained Leon. 

While the OPM crowd in Baguio has already come a long way, there’s still much to do to harness the potential of budding musicians – and Dilaw has one resounding piece of advice.

“Strike while the iron is metal!” the six members shouted in unison. 

It makes complete sense. You don’t have to wait for the iron to be hot when you want to make music. Iron will always be metal, so you might as well just go for it even if success isn’t guaranteed. 

“Just do it. Do it lang nang do it. Walang mangyayaring masama. Kung mayro’n man, singilin ‘nyo ko sa impyerno,” Dilaw’s frontman and namesake said, drawing laughter from his bandmates. 

(Just do it. Just keep doing it. Nothing bad will happen. If something bad does happen, charge me in hell). –

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