Timothy Bernardino and Stephen Fortes tune-up to the rhythm of their dreams

Photo by Ian Carlo Arias/ THE FLAME

Having always been musicians at heart, two Artlet alumni have found a home in their band, Where’s Ramona?. When their simple dream of becoming musicians was born inside Room 4N of the Tan Yan Kee building, Timothy “Moti” Bernardino and Stephen “Tep” Fortes, with the encouragement of their bandmates, began to treat music as their other half in life during and after college.

Pursuing a dream may sometimes contradict with one’s customary routine; however, this did not apply to the two friends who both pursued their passion, which made them who they are now: musicians. Behavioral science alumnus Moti and journalism graduate Tep made their way into the world of music and found friends for keeps along the way.

Dream chasing

Despite being new to the OPM scene, Moti (drummer) and Tep (bassist) of Where’s Ramona? are already making waves through their unique type of music which they create and perform alongside Mic (vocalist), Ivan (lead guitarist), and Koko (rhythm guitarist).

Their peculiar band name, which has caught the attention of many, was inspired by the fictional band called Where’s Fluffy from the film Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and the fictional character Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim VS The World, films which Mic really liked.

Looking back on how it all started, the band’s humble beginnings will always be memorable for them.

Photo by Ian Carlo Arias/ THE FLAME

Naalala ko pa nung first gig namin na like less than ten people at the bar and they’re really drunk and they’re half asleep. Tapos ngayon ang lakas ng loob namin na mag-EP launch. Nakakatuwa lang,” Mic says.

It has only been three years since their debut, but they have already gained a lot of supporters. The way their fans show genuine support for them tells the band that they are on the right track.

“It really means a lot to us na nandito ‘yung friends namin. We’ve been [doing gigs] for three years tapos parang ang dami na pala naming kaibigan na na-meet along the way […] it’s very humbling on our part,” Tep says.

Discovering interests

Though they are now building their dreams together as a band, the drummer and bassist each had their own start with music which encouraged them to hone their musical talents on their own until they finally began polishing their skills together.

“It started [at] a very young [age]. Siguro noong mga five years old ako, naaalala ko ‘yung tatay ko kasi mahilig siya mag-play ng old records from jazz to metal, Britney Spears, ‘yung mga pop. […] Tapos noong mga seven years old ako, [tsaka ko sila] nagustuhan,” Moti reminisces.

Meanwhile, the young Tep never imagined that he would become a musician.

“I used to play the piano when I was a kid pero hindi ko pinursue kasi nag-taekwondo ako, so ginive up ko siya, pero noon pa lang mahilig na ako makinig ng music,” he recalls.

As graduates of AB, being in a career that is a far cry from their programs has proven to be useful for them since the moment they formed the band.

“[K]asi ‘yung values na tinuturo, madadala mo siya hanggang [magtapos ka]. […] Sa’min kasi sa journalism, mamumulat ka sa mga nangyayari sa paligid. I think being an artist, the very fact that I am aware of my surroundings helps me create something [meaningful] for society,” Tep ponders.

Keeping the dream alive

While they both live for music, Tep and Moti work as a research analyst and human resources personnel, respectively. Even though their day jobs demand a lot of time, the Artlet musicians devote themselves to the band and never stop bringing music even to their workplaces.

“[‘P]ag nag-wo-work ako, robot ako. ‘Work, work, work,’ walang kahit ano. Parang pupuslit lang ako ng Spotify para mabuhayan ako kahit papaano. Pero once na lumabas ako ng office, ayun na, nakikinig na ako. I am me when I am not working,” Moti says frankly.

Tep always brings his music with him despite his hectic work schedule.

“Normally [‘pag] may work, normal human being pa rin [ako]. ‘Pag nasa stage ka na ng adulting, you have to work, you have bills to pay, everything. Pero kunyari kapag nasa kwarto ako, I still play music. So para sa akin, I’m still a musician off-stage. I always think of songs or [play] chords in my head,” he shares.

None of the other band members think that Where’s Ramona? would be the same without Moti and Tep.

Na-shape ‘yung band namin kasi nage-exist silang dalawa. Where’s Ramona? wouldn’t be Where’s Ramona? without these two […] ‘Pag nawala sila, may kulang, may butas, and I don’t think anyone can fill that. It has to be Tep and Moti,” Mic says.

As Where’s Ramona? continues to grow and thrive, Moti and Tep already have something in their minds for the future of their beloved band. As they slowly step out of their comfort zone, they have learned that making sacrifices for their love of music is nothing compared to the joy they get from performing and from the people who listen to them. FMARY NICOLE P. MIRANDA

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