Why Bamboo left the band

Posted at 03/09/12 7:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Singer-composer Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac sat down with "Headstart" host Karen Davila on Friday to talk about his life and the reason why he decided to go solo.

Mañalac used to be the frontman of Rivermaya and Bamboo, two of the biggest rock groups in the country. Their songs were popular among Filipinos of different generations.

He made his exit from Rivermaya in 1998 to form his namesake band, which he left last year.

"It's probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. Initially, it was basically me, but then when we all sat down, it was pretty mutual," Mañalac said. "You know it's time. They all agreed."

So why did he leave Bamboo at a time when the band was immensely popular?

"I just thought that we were tired. There was no joy in what we were doing. It's been a couple of years already. People always think it was a spur of the moment thing, but even maybe, three years back, we already sat down. That maybe it's time we walk away from this," Mañalac explained.

"There are arguments, but I don't think that's the main reason. For me, it was just time to move on. I don't want to come home heavy-hearted. I love my music, it's my job, it's what I do. But then, I don't want to sacrifice my family, my friends, my home."

Mañalac has spent time in the United States before forming Bamboo, taking on odd jobs from selling shoes to being a bus boy.

He said these have made him feel more human, a far cry from his life as a rock star here in the Philippines.

"I wanted to better myself as a person first, and as a musician second," said Mañalac, who admitted that he was an "accidental musician."


Mañalac denied that his decision to go solo had anything to do with disagreements with his band members, particularly with bassist Nathan Azarcon.

"He's like a brother to me. We're just going through some brotherly love right now," the former Bamboo vocalist said, smiling.

"It happens. It happened with the band, it happened now. We all move on and I think time will heal everything... I can't even say it's a fight. This is all after the fact that the band disbanded," he explained.

Asked if he and his successor in Rivermaya, Rico Blanco, were not in good terms, Mañalac said: "We just don't see each other, we're in totally different circles. But we don't fight."

He is also open to the idea of sharing the stage with Blanco in the future. Blanco, like Mañalac is also working as a solo artist after leaving Rivermaya in 2007.

"Of course, it can happen," Mañalac said about the proposed concert.

Bamboo's former members have formed a band called Hijo just months after Mañalac made his exit.

Like a true professional, Mañalac expressed his support for the new group. "I'm happy for them," he said.

Going solo

After getting enough rest and inspiration, 36-year-old Mañalac returns with a solo album titled "No Water, No Moon."

"It doesn't sound the same as the old Bamboo (band). Basically, it's just me. Before with the band, it's collaborative, you pass ideas around," he explained. "This is pretty much my vision, my music."

"I used to say it (being Bamboo) is the loneliest job in the world. I guess the solo thing's changed it," he added.

Asked if he feels any pressure since his former bands were able to deliver chart-topping songs, Mañalac said: "None at all. I'm a moment-to-moment guy. At this moment, right now, I'm happy where I go."

Aside from creating new music on his own, Mañalac is also one of the performers on ABS-CBN Sunday variety show "ASAP." He is also set to hold a concert at Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.

"It's something I never thought I would do, but it's been great," he said about his latest stint in "ASAP."