Juan de la Cruz Band

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Juan de la Cruz Band
Origin Manila, Philippines
Genres Manila Sound, Pinoy rock, classic rock, blues rock, OPM
Years active 1968–1979, 2009–2010
Labels Vicor Music Corporation
Blackgold Records
Members Wally Gonzales
Mike Hanopol
Pepe Smith
Past members Sandy Tagarro
Edmund Fortuno
Bing Labrador
Alex Cruz
Bobot Guerrero
Larry Martinez
Tony Rodriguez

The Juan de la Cruz Band is a Filipino rock group formed in 1968 that pioneered what became known as Pinoy Rock. Founding guitarist Wally Gonzales credits his fellow founding member, drummer Edmund Fortuno (a.k.a. "Bosyo"), as having introduced the band's name. In December 1970, the band is lauded for headlining the first open field rock festival in the Philippines. In 1971, they released their first album as a quintet, and thereafter gained momentum when it performed in a rock opera with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the first production of its kind in the country. Juan de La Cruz reinvented itself in 1973 as a power trio and rose to stardom as the premier rock band in the Philippines.


Up In Arms[edit]

The original Juan Dela Cruz Band, consisting of Wally Gonzalez (guitar/vocals), Sandy Tagarro (bass guitar/vocals), Edmund Fortuno (drums), Bing Labrador (keyboards), and Alex Cruz (saxophones & flute), was formed in 1968. (Source: PinoyClassicRock.com) In December 1970, they performed in the Antipolo Rock Festival (the Filipino equivalent to the Woodstock festival of 1969). They were subsequently tapped in September 1971 as the featured rock band in tandem with the Manila Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Redentor Romero) for the Philippine production of the rock opera by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Consequent to his dramatic part as the Judas character in the rock opera production, Sandy Tagarro vacated his instrumentalist role in the group and was replaced by Clifford Ho as bassist.

Upon the conclusion of the Jesus Christ Superstar production, Edmund Fortuno (aka "Bosyo"), Bing Labrador and Alex Cruz (with guitarist Vic Naldo and bassist Marlon Ilagan) formed a splinter group, Anak Bayan which, together with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, performed for another major production run at the Cultural Center, the rock opera, Tommy by The Who.

The versatile Sandy Tagarro returned to the Juan Dela Cruz Band, occupying the drummer's seat as Fortuno's replacement, and also as the band's lead vocalist; while Clifford Ho continued on bass. A musician from the Manila Symphony Orchestra (whom they had befriended in the Jesus Christ Superstar production), Romy Santos (flute/sax/clarinet), replaced Alex Cruz. Rene Sogueco (keyboards/vocal) was also recruited to replace Bing Labrador. In the wake of this major revamp, the Juan Dela Cruz Band recorded its first album in 1971, entitled Up in Arms, which was released by the Vicor Music Corporation under its Sunshine Records imprint. However, complications in the band caused Sandy Tagarro to leave abruptly barely after concluding the Up In Arms recording sessions; not even to pose for the album's photography. Consequently, the group picture for the LP's album cover showed a different drummer (Bobot Guerrero), with Tagarro's name stricken off the personnel credits, with exception to a parenthetical credit of him as composer of one song ("Lady in White Satin"). Bobot Guerrero's entry as the new drummer of Juan Dela Cruz continued through the promotional run of the album and into concerts and club stints.

The Up in Arms album was not a commercial success and had not been reissued by Vicor Music Corporation to date. An unauthorized compact disc translation of the LP (albeit excellently remastered and packaged) by Shadoks /Normal Music (Bonn, Germany) --with spurious bonus tracks from a later edition of the band—is sold in online Internet shops. Wally Gonzales is showcased as a rock guitarist with progressive leanings in this early effort. In several months, keyboardist Rene Sugueco had also left (briefly replaced by Larry Martinez), and bassist Clifford Ho (briefly replaced by Tony Rodriguez). It was during this transition phase that Joey Smith had recently returned to the Philippines from a successful sojourn in Japan, and in 1973 had accepted a cameo singing role at the Cultural Center's "Little Theater" for an abortive rock musical (produced by Carlitos Benavides) based on Erich Segal's novel then in vogue, Love Story, in which the Juan Dela Cruz Band was once again called upon to perform. This was also the period when the members of Juan Dela Cruz and Anakbayan where freely associating and performing collectively as a "supergroup" ensemble in various concerts.

Himig Natin[edit]

The state of Juan Dela Cruz's flux and gradual dissolution led Wally Gonzales to reconvene an all-new powerhouse trio, together with Joey Smith (later a.k.a. "Pepe Smith") as singer-drummer-composer; and with singer-bassist-composer Mike Hanopol. Smith and Hanopol collaborated in Tokyo with Japanese guitarist Shinki Chen in a "free-rock" trio setup called Speed, Glue & Shinki, which had released two seminal albums for Atlantic Records Japan. Rock music historian Julian Cope narrates in his book, Japrocksampler (Bloomsberry, 2007), that Shinki Chen had recruited Joey Smith (and later, Mike Hanopol) from a Filipino rock group called Zero History, which he found performing in Tokyo's mall district. (Wally Gonzales was the guitarist of Zero History.) And thus the vibe of Speed, Glue & Shinky is noteworthy in the earliest contributions of Smith and Hanopol for the Juan Dela Cruz collaboration, especially in the stop-start heaviness of "Take You Home" (revived from the eponymous second album of S,G&S), and the talking blues of "Blues Train".

The ensuing album by the iconic trio of Gonzales, Smith & Hanopol, unfurling its masterly title track, Himig Natin (translated in English, "Our Hymn"), went on to become the anthem of Manila's post-hippie culture and underground radio network, particularly the DZRJ-AM Radio show, "Pinoy Rock 'n' Rhythm"—later on shortened to Pinoy Rock. "Himig Natin" famously rallied Pinoy Rock, which swelled into a movement and provided indicators of its yet-unrealized commercial fuel. The social impact and innovations of the Juan Dela Cruz Band inadvertently became the catalyst for the inception of Original Pilipino Music (OPM) and the viability for diverse, originally-authored musical genres to emerge and thrive in the Philippines.



  • Up in Arms (1971)

credits: Wally Gonzales(guitar, vocals), Rene Segueco(keyboards), Romy Santos(flute/sax/clarinet), Clifford Ho(bass), Bobot Guerrero(drums), Sandy Tagarro (composer)
// produced by Dodie Gonzales
uncredited: Sandy Tagarro (drums, vocals)
LP: (Philippines) Vicor/Sunshine Records TSP-
CD: (Germany) Normal Records / Shadoks Music 013 (dated 2001)
Note: The Juan Dela Cruz management had issued a statement that the above CD reissue is unauthorized. The CD also contains six unverified "live" bonus tracks, which may have been lifted from "The Super Hits Of The Juan Dela Cruz Band / Live And In Concert", which is also tagged as being unauthorized and spurious.

  • Himig Natin (1973)

credits: Wally Gonzales(guitars), Mike Hanopol(bass/piano/vocals), Joseph Smith(drums/vocals)
// produced by Dodie Gonzales
LP: (Philippines) Vicor/Sunshine Records TSP-
CD: (Philippines) Vicor/Sunshine BCD-170 (dated 2004)

  • Maskara (1974)

credits: Wally Gonzales(guitars/vocals), Mike Hanopol(bass/piano/vocals), Joey "Pepe" Smith(drums/vocals) // string arrangements: D'Amarillo
// produced by Chito Ilacad and Snaffu Rigor
LP: (Philippines) Vicor/Sunshine Records TSP-5127
CD: (Philippines) Vicor/Sunshine BCD-165 (dated 2004)

  • Super Session (1975)

credits: Wally Gonzales(guitar/vocals), Mike Hanopol(bass/vocals), Nides Aranzamendez(drums), Joey Smith(acoustic guitar/vocals)
// produced by Dodie Gonzales
LP: (Philippines) Vicor/Sunshine Records TSP-?
CD: (unissued)

  • The Super Hits Of The Juan Dela Cruz Band / Live And In Concert (undated, circa 1977)

credits: Wally Gonzales(guitar/vocals), Mike Hanopol(bass/vocals), Joey Smith(drums/vocals), Nides Aranzamendez(drums)
// produced by Dodie Gonzales
LP: (Philippines) Vicor/Sunshine Records TSP-5249
CD: (unissued)
Note: The Juan Dela Cruz management had issued statements that this release was spurious. Tracks were implied to be original studio tracks with applause merely added artificially.

  • The Best Of Juan Dela Cruz Band (1980)

credits: Wally Gonzales(guitar/vocals), Mike Hanopol(bass/vocals), Joey Smith(drums/vocals)
// production supervision by Adel Arradaza
LP: (Philippines) Vicor/Sunshine Records TSP-5306
CD: (unissued)

  • Kahit Anong Mangyari (1981)

credits: Wally Gonzales(guitars/vocals), Mike Hanopol (bass/guitar/vocals), Joey Smith(drums/vocals), Nick Boogie(drums)
// (miscellaneous tracks) featuring: Lorrie Ilustre, Homer Flores and Mike Hanopol (piano); Chito Ilagan and Danny Bornilla (bass guitar); Edmund Fortuno (drums)
// produced by Mike Hanopol
LP: (Philippines) Blackgold Records BA-5064
CD: (unissued)

  • The Best Of Pinoy Rock (1983)

credits: Juan Dela Cruz
(two tracks only: "No Touch" (M.Hanopol) and "Himig Natin" (Smith-Hanopol-Gonzales/Smith)
// produced by Ernie dela Pena
LP: (Philippines) Blackgold Records BA-5103
CD: (unissued)

  • The Best Of Pinoy Rock Vols. 1 &2 (Collectors' Edition) (1985)

credits: Wally Gonzales(guitars/vocals), Mike Hanopol (bass/guitar/vocals), Joey Smith(drums/vocals/acoustic guitar)
Vol.1: "Himig Natin" (Smith-Hanopol-Gonzales/Smith) // Vol.2: "Project" (Smith-Hanopol), "Nakatagong Mata" (Gonzales/JDLCB), "Sarap Ng Buhay" (Hanopol-Gonzales), "Maskara" (Smith/JDLCB)
// Re-Produced by Johnny Alegre
LP: (Philippines) Blackgold Records BA-5124
CD: (unissued)

Other compilations[edit]

  • Himig Natin / Special Collector's Edition (1994)

credits: Wally Gonzales(guitars), Mike Hanopol(bass/piano/vocals/arrangements), Joey Smith(drums/vocals)
// produced by Vicor Music Corporation and Blackgold Records
CD: (Philippines) Vicor BCD-K-046
Note: This compilation is actually a 15-track hodge-podge of selections from "Himig Natin", "Maskara", "Super Session" and "Kahit Anong Mangyari".

  • Pinoy Rock (undated, circa 2008)

credits: Juan Dela Cruz (eight selections of eighteen total tracks: "Kahit Anong Mangyari", "Titser's Enemi No.1", "Sarap Ng Buhay", "Panahon", "Project", "Balong Malalim", "Beep Beep", "Himig Natin")
// A&R supervision: Alwyn Cruz
CD: (Philippines) Vicor VCD-SA-001

Other members (unrecorded)[edit]

Pre-Millennium (1970s and 1980s)[edit]

  • Tony Rodriguez (bass guitar)
  • Larry Martinez (keyboards)

Millennium era ("Reunions")[edit]

  • Dondi Ledesma (bass guitar)
  • Wowee Posadas (keyboards)
  • Wendell Garcia (drums)
  • Justin Bieber (drums)
  • Gilbert Nogales (drums)

Jerald (KUPAL) Bonifacio

Additional historical information[edit]

A partial reunion of the original lineup of the Juan Dela Cruz Band occurred in the summer of 1974, under the name, Cara Y Cruz, which formed to participate in the National Battle Of The Bands event (sponsored by RC Cola). The nom de guerre was perhaps utilized to circumvent a technicality that only unsigned bands were eligible to participate in the competition. They made two performances: at the Araneta Center (on an improvised stage behind the Smart Araneta Coliseum); and at "Jam Park", a vacant lot leased for the multi-part event in the Makati area, situated alongside the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). The nearly-reconstituted band consisted of Wally Gonzalez (guitar), Sonny Tolentino (bass guitar), Edmund Fortuno (drums), Bing Labrador (organ), Alex Cruz (saxophones & flute), with Jacqui Magno (vocals). Ironically, the group progressed only up until the semi-finals phase of the Battle Of The Bands, after which they again disbanded.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]