Last updated
Origin Metro Manila, Philippines
Years active1994–present
Associated acts
Website www.rivermaya.ph
Members Mark Escueta
Mike Elgar
Nathan Azarcon
Past members Rico Blanco
Bamboo Mañalac
Perf de Castro
Japs Sergio
Kakoy Legaspi
Jayson Fernandez
Norby David
Ryan Peralta

Rivermaya is a Filipino rock band. Formed in 1994, it is one of several bands who spearheaded the 1990s Philippine alternative rock explosion.


Rivermaya is currently composed of original members Mark Escueta and Nathan Azarcon, together with longest serving guitarist Mike Elgar. Notable former original members include chief songwriter Rico Blanco and vocalist Bamboo Mañalac, who later formed the band Bamboo and later went on his solo career.

Rivermaya is listed in the top twenty five biggest-selling artists/act in Philippine history as of present. [2]


Earlier formation (1993)

The band's predecessor consisted of Jesse Gonzales on vocals, Kenneth Ilagan on guitars, Nathan Azarcon on bass guitar, Rome Velayo on drums, and Rico Blanco on keyboards and backing vocals whom Azarcon recommended after hearing him play his portable piano rendition of Metallica's "Seek and Destroy" during the audition process. They were managed by Lizza Nakpil and director Chito S. Roño who had the intention of molding the group into a rock show band. The group was then called Xaga.[ citation needed ]

Classic line-up and mainstream success (1994–2001)

In the process of grueling practice sessions, Azarcon's schoolmate Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac replaced Gonzales who was asked to leave the band; Azarcon's childhood friend Mark Escueta replaced Velayo who left due to undisclosed reasons; and Ilagan, who later left the band due to personal reasons, was replaced with Perfecto "Perf" de Castro who owned the rehearsal studio where the band used to jam. With Bamboo as frontman, the band members disbanded Xaga and formed the band Rivermaya, a name initially suggested by de Castro. They started putting together original songs like "Ulan" [Rain], "214", and "Awit ng Kabataan" [Song of the Youth] (mostly composed by Rico Blanco) in demo form for prospective recording companies.[ citation needed ]

By November 1994, the band had released its first album, the self-titled Rivermaya, and its first single was "Ulan"; followed by "214". Both songs were critically acclaimed.[ citation needed ]

Citing artistic differences with the management, Perf de Castro was adamant in leaving the group in late 1995 and returned to his project band "The Blues Trio", a band later renamed "Axis" until its final inception as "Triaxis." The band continued as a quartet and Rico Blanco became the full-time guitarist while Nathan Azarcon's friend J-John Valencia filled in as session additional guitar player on live shows.[ citation needed ]

The band's second album Trip , released in 1996, contains the singles "Kisapmata" [Blink of an Eye], "Himala" [Miracle], "Flowers", "Princess of Disguise" and "Panahon Na Naman" [It's Time Once Again]. Whilce Portacio, co-creator of the X-Men's "Bishop" and co-founder of Image Comics, illustrated the album art for Trip.[ citation needed ]

In 1997, the band released its third album, Atomic Bomb , with the single "Hinahanap-hanap Kita" [Always Wanting to See You]. The album gained positive responses from listeners and received heavy airplay from radio stations.[ citation needed ] During this period, Rivermaya also released the Rivermaya Remixed album, put together with the help of DJ Toti Dalmacion of Groove Nation.[ citation needed ]

Departure of Bamboo Mañalac (1998)

The band then embarked on a US and Canada tour in 1998. Despite the band's successful tour, It was also at this time that Bamboo Mañalac decided to stay in the U.S. with his family. His last show with the band was on October 10, 1998 in Oakland, CA. (he eventually went on to form his eponymous band in 2003). [3]

Rivermaya decided to forge on, with Rico Blanco taking on lead vocals and released their fourth album, It's Not Easy Being Green on February 15, 1999 containing the singles "Nerbyoso" [Nervous], "Shattered Like", and "Rodeo".[ citation needed ]

The band released its fifth studio album, aptly called Free, entirely for free on the Internet as well as on CDs distributed at their gigs. Free went on to be named "Best Album of 2000" at the NU Rock Awards. [4]

Second evolution of line-up (2001–2007)

In April 2001, Nathan Azarcon departed from the group to focus on other musical interests (later revealed he got kicked out due to unruly off-screen behavior), leaving Rico Blanco and Mark Escueta as remaining members. Japs Sergio (from Daydream Cycle) filled in on Azarcon's position in gigs. They were later signed with Viva Records and released an EP "Alab ng Puso" [Fire of the Heart] an original soundtrack for the film of the same name which starred Robin Padilla. The EP also featured a remix by Raimund Marasigan's Squid 9. By Summer of 2001, J-John Valencia (who had been a session guitarist for the band since 1995) has left the band. By May 2001, the lineup was changed as they recruited familiar local guitar heroes, Victor "Kakoy" Legaspi (from blues band Mr. Crayon) and Mike Elgar (from 7 Foot Junior), with Sergio officially absorbed in the band as well. They later began writing songs recording for their 6th studio album. The new line-up made its first performance at NU Pocket Concerts in Alabang Town Center on June 2, 2001. It would allow Rico Blanco to handle vocal duties full-time during live shows. [5]

By August 2001, the band had finished recording for their 6th studio album, Tuloy ang Ligaya , which was released on October 24, 2001 ['The Fun Continues'] and released singles including "Umaaraw, Umuulan" [Sometimes It Shines, Sometimes It Rains] and "Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby" [Don't Be Mad Anymore, Baby]. Their music videos won the Favorite Group Video in the MTV Pilipinas Music Award in 2002 and 2003, respectively. The video for "Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby" won a special award for Highest Jump in the same event in 2003.[ citation needed ]

On October 22, 2003, they released Between the Stars and the Waves containing the singles "A Love to Share", "Balisong" [Butterfly Knife], "Sunday Driving", "Table for Two", "241", and "Atat" [Eager].[ citation needed ]

They were nominated in the MTV Asia Awards 2004 for Favorite Artist Philippines, which was won by Parokya ni Edgar.

In mid 2004, Legaspi resigned from the band for undisclosed reasons, he then later performed as a session player with other musicians such as Julianne Tarroja, and Peryodiko, among others. Thus, the band became a four-piece line-up once again and has been there ever since. [ citation needed ]

International success (2004–2007)

On February 5, 2005, the band won Favorite Artist Philippines in MTV Asia Awards 2005.

The band found a variety of partners who commissioned such works as "Liwanag sa Dilim" [Light In The Dark], "Posible" [Possible] (Southeast Asian Games' Athletes Anthem) and "You'll Be Safe Here".[ citation needed ]

"You'll Be Safe Here", originally created as the theme for the ABS-CBN TV series Spirits was released as an EP by Warner Music Philippines and became the song that MTV Asia selected for performance at the 2006 Asia Awards. Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child introduced the group, and they were backed up by Thailand’s Royal Symphony Orchestra during live performance. It was the first time that a Filipino band was invited to perform in the event.[ citation needed ]

An album of compiled works, titled "You'll Be Safe Here", was distributed in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.[ citation needed ]

Rivermaya embarked on a series of Asian tours, including at Thailand's Pattaya Music Fest (2008, 2009) as well as Singapore's Mosaic Festival (run by The Esplanade); and Bangkok's Fat Fest as well as in Indonesia's MTV Staying Alive show.[ citation needed ]

In the Philippines, the Rivermaya Greatest Hits 2006 album on Viva Records was followed by an album dedicated to its music heroes: Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo ['One Root, One Blood']. At the end of March 2007, Rivermaya scored again another first for the Philippines as their videos, "You'll Be Safe Here" and the recent video remake "Balisong" were chosen as the first Asian artists to have full-length music videos featured on the Star World Channel.[ citation needed ]

Also during this time, Rivermaya has been often referred to as "Banda ng Bayan" [The Band of the Nation], a nickname they share with Parokya ni Edgar.[ citation needed ]

Departure of Rico Blanco (2007)

On May 24, 2007, Rico Blanco officially announced his departure from the group citing personal reasons. His last performance with the band was on May 4, 2007 at the Metro Bar. Despite the rumors that the band would eventually disband, both Rivermaya and its management denied the rumors as a result. [6]

After Rico Blanco left, Rivermaya released a new single, "Sayang" [Such a Waste], penned and sung by Japs Sergio and described by the band as "an open letter to the fans", the single premiered on June 22, 2007. [ citation needed ] In addition, Studio 23 announced the selection of Rivermaya to create the new theme song for the station. The new song is titled "Sumigaw" [Shout] and marks the release of a second single in two months for the band, accelerating Rivermaya's pace for new songs rapidly (in previous years, the band had managed to release only a single every 12 months).

On August 11, 2007, during a mini press conference held at Mogwai Bar and Café in Cubao's Marikina Shoe Expo, Rivermaya released its all-new 5-song Bagong Liwanag ['New Light'] EP, which hit stores nationwide starting August 15. This 5-song EP is released on the band's own label, Revolver Music, and licensed to Warner Music Philippines. [7]

Third evolution of line-up (2007–2011)

Rivermaya held auditions for a new vocalist. The auditions was televised on Studio 23, which was titled Bagong Liwanag. Aside from the band members, main judges are Rivermaya manager Lizza Nakpil, The Dawn guitarist Francis Reyes, and Razorback bassist Louie Talan. On October 24, 2007, then-18-year-old Jayson Fernandez (usually spelled as "Jason") was announced as the winner and new member of Rivermaya.[ citation needed ]

On January 21, 2008, Rivermaya released the album entitled Buhay ['Life'] with the carrier single "Sugal ng Kapalaran" [Gamble of Fate] penned by Sergio with both Fernandez and Sergio doing the vocals, while Elgar and Escueta do backing vocals. During this time, the band parted ways with manager-director Chito Roño.[ citation needed ]

Rivermaya has played in Singapore at the Marina Bay New Year Countdown on December 31, 2008 while in September 2009, the group is the first Filipino band invited to perform on 3 different stages at the 2009 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix and in the same month and year, the band released the album Closest Thing To Heaven with the track "Dangal" [Dignity] as the carrier single.[ citation needed ]

Band name ownership disputes (2008-2009)

After allegedly discovering several acts of misappropriation of funds involving the bands' royalties and talent fees, then Rivermaya band members announced that the band had parted ways with their longtime manager Lizza G. Nakpil on October 29, 2008. She was charged with the crime of estafa, sued for damages, and the court issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction forbidding further contact with Rivermaya. [8] Also in October 2008, longtime member Mark Escueta filed his own application at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), solely in his name for Rivermaya but was rejected by the IPO. In August 2009, a decision of the IPO confirmed that the "Rivermaya" name ownership of the trademark belongs to Nakpil. However, in October of the same year, Escueta was granted with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City. The TRO prevents Nakpil from claiming sole ownership of the "Rivermaya" band name while the case and appeal issued by both parties are still being studied by the court, thus allowing Escueta to continue using the band name regardless of the IPO decision as there was no Entry of Judgment/Execution that has been issued. [9]

Fourth evolution of line-up (2011–2016)

Rivermaya line-up from 2011-2016, David left the band in 2016 while Peralta left in 2018.

On February 22, 2011, Rivermaya's official Facebook page announced that they would release their music video titled "Remenis" [Reminisce] and will formally introduce their new members, Ryan Peralta who was the band's regular session player and Norby David of the band Overtone.[ citation needed ]

Departure of Jayson Fernandez (2011)

On August 28, 2011, Jayson Fernandez left Rivermaya after 4 years with the group citing musical differences as the primary reason. [10] [ better source needed ] Paolo Valenciano (son of Gary Valenciano) of Salamin, Pochoy Labog of Malay and Dicta License, and Vinci Montaner of Parokya ni Edgar are among the notable personalities who simultaneously filled in as temporary lead vocalists for some occasional gigs weeks after Fernandez's departure.

Panatang Makabanda and mini-reunion (2012-2016)

After taking a brief hiatus, in November 2012, Japs Sergio posted on his official Facebook page that he left Rivermaya, in order to pursue his new band, Peso Movement. Since then, Mark Escueta, Mike Elgar and Norby David simultaneously switched over the lead vocal duties.

On March 19, 2013, Rivermaya released the album Panatang Makabanda ['A Vow for the Band Passionate'].[ citation needed ]

On January 9, 2016, members from the original classic line-up consisting of Perf de Castro, Nathan Azarcon, Mark Escueta and Rico Blanco were re-united at 19 East, Muntinlupa after an invitation from de Castro following his gig. It was also Escueta's 40th birthday. The gig, which they dubbed as a "secret mini semi-reunion", was composed of Rico Blanco on keyboards, de Castro on guitars, Azarcon on bass guitar and Escueta on drums. Blanco and de Castro simultaneously switch over lead vocals all throughout the performance while Azarcon and Escueta provided backing vocals. Bamboo Mañalac was invited as well however it was reported that he was out of the country on that date. Mike Elgar and Ryan Peralta are reportedly present backstage watching the original members perform. [11]

Fifth evolution of line-up (2016-present)

Departure of David and return of Azarcon (2016)

On February 12, 2016, the band released the music video for "Tayo" on Facebook and later uploaded on YouTube on March 9, 2016. [12] [13] On March 6, 2016, bassist and vocalist Norby David posted a statement on Facebook that he quit the band primarily claiming it was ultimately a lack of communication as the reason for his departure. [14] Days after his departure, former members Japs Sergio and Nathan Azarcon took over bass duties in live shows. Later on, Azarcon have permanently replaced David and returned full-time to the band after 15 years.

Sa Kabila ng Lahat and present status (2016-present)

In mid-2016, the band began recording for their upcoming 13th studio at Tower of Doom Studios in Diliman, Quezon City with former member Japs Sergio co-producing the album. On May 22, 2017, the band signed with ABS-CBN-owned record label Star Music and later announced that it will release its 13th studio album, Sa Kabila ng Lahat . [15] [16] The first single, "Manila" was released on June 14, 2017. [17] On September 7, 2017, the band released a lyric video of their second single, "8 to 5". The album was released on September 15 on all digital platforms nationwide and an album tour was also announced. [18] [19] In 2018, Peralta voluntarily left the band in good terms prompting Escueta to switch back to playing drums. Rivermaya was recently awarded as the newest MYX Magna Award 2019 for contributing OPM Rock band history and they're honored last May 2019, they're the 3rd OPM Rock Band honored and won as MYX Magna Award after Eraserheads in 2012 & Parokya Ni Edgar in 2014.


Current members
  • Mark Escueta – co-lead vocals (2011–present); drums, percussion, occasional guitars (1994–2011, 2018–present); guitars, occasional percussion (2011–2018); backing vocals, occasional lead vocals (1994–2011)
  • Mike Elgar – co-lead vocals (2011–present); lead guitar (2001–present); keyboards (2007–2011); backing vocals (2001–2011)
  • Nathan Azarcon – co-lead vocals (2016–present); bass guitar (1994–2001, 2016–present); backing vocals (1994–2001)
Current touring members
  • Aiman Borres – keyboards, keytar, synths (2017–present)
Former members
  • Rico Blanco – lead vocals (1998–2007); co-lead and backing vocals (1994–1998); guitars, keyboards, synths (1994–2007)
  • Bamboo Mañalac – lead vocals (1994–1998)
  • Perf de Castro – lead guitar, backing vocals (1994–1995; occasional touring 2019–present)
  • Japs Sergio – bass guitar, occasional lead vocals, occasional backing vocals, occasional guitars (2001–2012; touring 2016)
  • Kakoy Legaspi – guitars (2001–2004)
  • Jayson Fernandez – lead vocals, guitars (2007–2011)
  • Norby David – co-lead vocals, bass guitar, occasional acoustic guitar (2011–2016)
  • Ryan Peralta – drums, percussion, keyboards (2011–2018; touring 1998, 2008–2011)
Former touring members
  • J-John Valencia – guitars (1995–2001)
  • Martin Jamora – keyboards (1998–1999)


Rivermaya performing at U.P. Diliman (2007) Rivermaya at up.jpg
Rivermaya performing at U.P. Diliman (2007)
For a full, detailed list, see: Rivermaya discography

Awards and nominations

YearAward Giving BodyCategoryNominated WorkResults
2000 NU Rock Awards Album of the Year"Free"Won
Producer of the Year"Free"Won
2001 NU Rock Awards Song Of the Year"Ambulansya"Nominated
2002 NU Rock Awards Artist of The YearN/ANominated
Song of the Year"Umaaraw, Umuulan"Nominated
2005 NU Rock Awards Music Video of the Year"You’ll Be Safe Here"Nominated
2006 MTV Pilipinas Music Awards Favorite Group in a Video"Sunday Driving"Won [20]
MYX Music Awards Favorite Music Video"You'll Be Safe Here"Won [21]
2007 MYX Music Awards Favorite Media Soundtrack"Isang Bandila" for Bandila Nominated [22]
NU Rock Awards Drummer of the Year(for Mark Escueta)Won [23]
Guitarist of the Year(for Mike Elgar)Nominated [24]
Bassist of the Year(for Japs SergioNominated [24]
Best Album PackagingPaolo Lim for Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo Nominated [24]
2008 MYX Music Awards Favorite Collaborationwith Raimund Marasigan for "Inosente Lang Ang Nagtataka"Nominated [25]
NU Rock Awards Best Music Video"Maskara"Nominated [26]

Related Research Articles

Bamboo (band) Filipino alternative rock band

Bamboo was a Filipino alternative rock band formed in 2003 by lead vocalist Bamboo Mañalac, bassist Nathan Azarcon, lead and rhythm guitarist Ira Cruz and drummer Vic Mercado.

Bamboo Mañalac Filipino musician and singer

Francisco Gaudencio Lope Belardo Mañalac, popularly known as Bamboo Mañalac or simply by the mononym Bamboo, is a Filipino American musician and singer-songwriter. He began his career as vocalist and original frontman of Rivermaya and later fronted his own band, Bamboo. Bamboo band disbanded in 2011 and Mañalac then pursued a solo career and released his first solo album, No Water, No Moon.

John Paul "Japs" Ricafranca Sergio is a former bassist/vocalist/guitarist/songwriter of the Filipino band Rivermaya and the current guitarist/vocalist/frontman for the band Peso Movement.

Rico Blanco Filipino musician

Rico Rene Granados Blanco is a Filipino singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actor, endorser and entrepreneur. He began his career as one of the founding members, and served as the chief songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist of the Filipino rock band Rivermaya from 1994 until 2007, and has been a solo artist since 2008.

<i>Youll Be Safe Here</i> 2005 EP by Rivermaya

"You'll Be Safe Here", an EP by OPM band Rivermaya, featuring the song with the same name which was first used as the theme song to the 2005 ABS-CBN TV show Spirits. It has 2 music videos where the 2nd music video used an advanced technology that translates the lyrics of the song. This song was also played at the 2006 MTV Asia Awards. Rivermaya was the only Filipino band to perform in the awards show.

<i>Between the Stars and Waves</i> Album by Rivermaya

Between the Stars and Waves is the 7th studio album of the Filipino rock band Rivermaya. It has been released on 2003 under Viva Records. It has 15 tracks.

<i>Rivermaya</i> (album) 1994 studio album by Rivermaya

RiverMaya is the debut self-titled album of the Filipino rock band, Rivermaya. Containing 11 tracks, it was released in 1994 on BMG Records (Pilipinas) Inc.. It is the only album to feature Perf de Castro the band's original lead guitarist who left the group the following year.

<i>Live and Acoustic</i> (Rivermaya album) 2002 live album by Rivermaya

Live and Acoustic is a live album and the ninth overall album of the Filipino rock band, Rivermaya featuring Slapshock. This is a 2-disc album and has 22 tracks. The album has been released under Viva Records on July 6, 2002. This is the band's first live album filmed and recorded on May 18, 2002 from the "Double Trouble: Akoustik Rampage" concert at the Music Museum, Greenhills, San Juan.

<i>Tuloy ang Ligaya</i> album by Rivermaya

Tuloy ang Ligaya is the 6th studio album of the Filipino rock band Rivermaya. It was released in 2001 under Viva Records.

<i>Bagong Liwanag</i> 2007 EP by Rivermaya

Bagong Liwanag is an EP and the 11th overall album of the Filipino pop rock band, Rivermaya. It has 5 main tracks, 5 instrumental tracks and 2 audio messages which also included demos of songs from their upcoming album. It was released under Warner Music Philippines and released in 2007.

<i>Trip</i> (Rivermaya album) 1996 studio album by Rivermaya

Trip is the second studio album from the Filipino rock band Rivermaya. It has 13 tracks and released under BMG Records (Pilipinas) Inc. in 1996. It is the first album that introduced Rico Blanco as the band's full-time guitarist after the departure of Perf de Castro a year earlier.

<i>Atomic Bomb</i> (album) 1997 studio album by Rivermaya

Atomic Bomb is the third studio album from the Filipino rock band, Rivermaya. It has 16 tracks and was released by BMG Records (Pilipinas) Inc. on 31 January 1997.

It's Not Easy Being Green is the fourth studio album by Filipino rock band Rivermaya.

<i>Free</i> (Rivermaya album) 2000 studio album by Rivermaya

Free, is the fifth studio album from the Filipino rock band, Rivermaya. It has 10 tracks and was released by the band independently, literally given away for free which is another first for any Filipino artist or artist previously signed with a major label. “Free” was also named Album of the Year in the NU Rock Awards 2000. This was the last album to feature Nathan Azarcon who left the band in 2001, he eventually returned in 2016.

<i>Buhay</i> (album) 2008 studio album by Rivermaya

Buhay is the ninth studio album of the Filipino rock band, Rivermaya. It contains 16 tracks and was released under Warner Music Philippines on January 21, 2008. This album is the first of Rivermaya without Rico Blanco as the band's vocalist. He is replaced by then 18-year-old Jayson Fernandez, who won the search for a new vocalist in a series of reality TV auditions. The band members took turns on vocals with the arrangement that whoever wrote the song, will be the one to sing it. The band has released four singles from this album, "Sugal ng Kapalaran", "Maskara", "Sleep" and "Ligawan Stage ".

Nathan Azarcon Musical artist

Nathan Peter Hachero Azarcon is a Filipino musician, nationalist, songwriter, and producer. He is currently the bassist, vocalist and one of the founding members of Filipino rock band Rivermaya. He was also a member of Filipino rock bands Pinikpikan, Kapatid and a founding member of Bamboo and Hijo.

"Ulan" is the first single released by Filipino rock band Rivermaya and also the first single released on their debut self-titled album in 1995. The song was produced by Chito S. Roño and Lizza G. Nakpil.

"Kisapmata" is a song written by Rico Blanco for the Filipino rock band Rivermaya. It was released as the lead single from their second album, Trip, in December 1995.

Mark Edward Penabella Escueta is a Filipino musician and one of the founding members of the Filipino rock band Rivermaya.

Sa Kabila ng Lahat is the twelfth studio album by Filipino rock band Rivermaya. The album was released on September 15, 2017 nationwide and digital format through Star Music. This is the first album to feature bassist Nathan Azarcon after his departure in 2001 and the last album to feature drummer Ryan Peralta who left the band a year later.


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Preceded by
"Grip Stand Throw" by Sandwich &
"Serve In Silence" by Wolfgang
NU Rock Awards
Album of the Year
"Free (Rivermaya album)"

Succeeded by
"4-Track Mind"