FYI: What you need to know about sexual harassment in the local music scene

On November 21 at 6:24 p.m., Adrienne Onday tweeted a thread about her experiences with misogyny, sexual harassment, and predatory behavior in the local music scene. Onday, who has been actively going to gigs since she was sixteen, says that it was other stories exposing sexual predators such as Justine Remalante that inspired her to finally speak up.

“I’ve been consumed by guilt for so long as well — since I’m good friends with a few people in the scene, I was scared to lose those friendships but I know the things these people have said and done to degrade other women,” Onday tells Young STAR. “It actually just so happens that people who haven’t come forward yet have been telling me stories long before today about the disgusting things members of the indie music scene do.” As of writing this, the first tweet of the thread has been shared over 8,000 times.



Who have been accused of sexual misconduct?

Those who have been named in the thread for predatory (or at minimum, creepy) behavior include: Jensen Gomez and Samuel Valenia of Jensen and the Flips, Sud Ballacer of Sud, and Justin Teano of Miles Experience. Ang Bandang Shirley has also been alluded to.


Is this new information?

No. Just as the patriarchy has always been a thing, toxic masculinity and sexually predatory behavior is likely presented in any culture or subculture, and that includes the local music scene. Stories of invading girls’ personal space, looking down on female musicians, and manipulating female fans are known and widespread. “These stories have been going on forever, by the way,” noted musician Mariah Reodica in a Facebook interview. “Even when I was a 16-year old, just starting to go to shows.”


How are people reacting to this?

Samuel Valenia of Jensen and the Flips initially responded to these accusations in his most recent tweets. On November 22, Jensen and the Flips released an official statement and apology. We’ve reached out to Miles Experience, but they have not responded. On November 23, Sud released an official statement on their Facebook page. Vandals on the Wall has announced that they have removed Jensen and the Flips from the lineup of The Rest is Noise, their year-end show. Aly Cabral of Ourselves the Elves has responded to the issue in a tweet of her own. Singer-songwriter Reese Lansangan tweeted this. Coca-Cola released a statement saying that they’ve ended their partnership with Jensen and the Flips. Tandems ’91 tweeted this statement and cancelled their final gig.

An excerpt of an official statement by Nicole Sarmiento of Red Ninja Productions states:

“We are currently trying to gather more information and speak to the parties involved, but sexual assault and harassment is something that is definitely not ever going to be tolerated in Red Ninja.

At the end of the day, while these issues aren’t unique to the independent music scene, we hope that this can eventually serve as a catalyst for everyone in it to learn, be better, more aware and more accountable.”

We also have the official statement of Ang Bandang Shirley through manager Kathy Gener:

“With the information we have so far, it is difficult for the band to address the allegations properly, and we are currently having a conversation on the issue to discuss further action. We recognize this is a serious issue and apologize for allowing a toxic culture to continue through complicity or inaction.

Although this is a difficult time for everyone involved, we believe that this is a necessary step in correcting these normalized wrongs and maybe start getting things right. We support all the victims that have come forward and recognize the courage that it took for them to talk about their experiences.”

As of November 24, the band released another statement on Twitter, with individual statements from Owel Alvero, Ean Aguila, and Joe Fontanilla.


Are these men criminally liable for these actions?

According to the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, rape is only recognized under a very specific set of conditions. It is recognized as rape if the offended party is a minor of 17 years of age, but that only applies to parents, relatives, or guardians. If the offender is none of these things, it is rape, but only if the offended party is under 12 years of age. There is also the unfortunate fact that the law only recognizes rape if the offended party has clearly objected and expressly said “no.” But we know that’s not always how rape happens.

As for sexual harassment, the only thing that addresses that, as far as we know, is the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, and that only applies in schools and workplaces, and the authorities of these spaces. If the offenders are not these kinds of authorities, then they commit, according to Art. 336, “Acts of lasciviousness,” which is punishable by prison correctional. All that said, while the law can do much, it can’t do everything.


Alright, so what kinds of consequences should these men face?

There is no easy answer to this question, but Aly Cabral, who also goes by the stage name of Teenage Granny, summed it up excellently in a Facebook interview. “Some say the victim should address it with the abuser personally, but when the abuser has crossed the line, the victim would no longer feel safe with the abuser. So some people would say that the abuser’s friends should call him out. But change has to come from within that abuser. A million people can call him out but if he doesn’t wanna change, he won’t.”

Adrienne on the other hand, has the following plans in mind. “We’re trying to see if the people involved would like to file cases. The most concrete action I can do now is to get the prods, schools, music fests, and such associations see the thread so they know who they work with and whether they would want to be associated.”


It could be that some of these women have tried to settle these issues privately and quietly, only to have nothing change, and felt compelled to make their stories public. This shouldn’t be held against them.



Given that these allegations came out through Twitter, isn’t this proof of the toxicity of call-out culture?

No. Call-out culture is one thing, holding sexually abusive and manipulative men accountable for their actions is another thing altogether. As Mariah puts it, regarding the trickiness of calling others out, “I don’t think social media is always the best avenue for thought and reflection. However I understand that people are coming from a place of anger because these things have been happening for a long, long time.” The women who are speaking up about their experiences with sexism in the local music scene can continue to do just that. It could be that some of these women have tried to settle these issues privately and quietly, only to have nothing change, and felt compelled to make their stories public. This shouldn’t be held against them.


Are there avenues in which women can open up about their experiences with misogyny?

Grrrl Gang Manila is an organization which aims to create safe spaces for women to talk about their experiences. They’re currently helping to campaign for a Safe Streets and Public Spaces anti-harassment law. Let’s also not forget Gabriela Women’s Party, which has been fighting for women’s rights since the 2000’s. As of late, they’ve been working on an anti-harassment chatbot called Gabbie, which aims to make the reporting of sexual harassment easier.


Men should listen to women’s stories, take them in, and hold themselves to the kind of moral standard that makes sure these kinds of stories don’t happen again.


What do we do now?

Men, specifically, need to learn how to make a space for women’s stories and the anger that accompanies these stories. There’s no room here for “not all men rhetoric,” or to defend the reprehensible actions of an artist, no matter how good their work is. Men should listen to women’s stories, take them in, and hold themselves to the kind of moral standard that makes sure these kinds of stories don’t happen again. And any bystander watching these events unfold, man or woman, should recognize that these women coming forward shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed about telling their stories. If your favorite band or celebrity happens to end up on the chopping block, that’s their fault, not the fault of the victims.


We will continue to update this page as the story develops.

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