Filipino Pioneers of Reggae: Coco Jam

I recently bumped into a discussion of what reggae group/band first came in the Philippine music scene. Some said that it is Spy which apparently not the first reggae band. At some point, someone mentioned Cocojam, Eurasia and Tropical Depression. Well, there is really no exact information of who is really the first ever reggae band in the Philippines. Most people would gauge it on popularity but I think it’s not how it’s measured. Famous or not, that is not exactly the point.

Well, if ever it is Cocojam, I managed to gather bits and pieces of information of the band. Got it from a Friendster account. I am not sure if this is reliable enough, maybe it happened somehow.

COCOJAM has pioneered and stayed alive in the music scene with its own brand of original sound. Through the years, it has played pivotal roles in festivals and concerts.

  • 1980 – Cocojam was the only band in Palawan playing at the Kamayan Restaurant.
  • 1985 – Cocojam started playing in Mayrics pioneering in reggae music here in the Philippines.1988 Cocojam played at the Coconut Palace Halloween Party with regular gigs in Larry’s Bar, Fire and Rain, La Caribe and Paper Moon. For five years (1990 -1995) they played at the Kalye Bar and Restaurant in Legaspi Village in Makati.
  • 1990 – a UP Diliman sorority sponsored CocojamMIN a solo concert at the Music Museum (February 1990). They played at the Baguio Arts Festival for three years (1990 – 1992 ), Woodstock Cebu (1990), Kageban
  • 1996(Feast of the Forest) in Palawan, Sapon Ti Pasok (Rite of the Harvesting of the Grain) in Sagada (1995) and at the Roxy Park in Boracay Island for one month in 1990.
  • 1992 – In Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro Cocojam lived in the island for seven years (1992 -1999). Cocojam planned and played at the Full Moon Parties in Kalaw Place and the Annual Puerto Galera Music and Arts Festivals in White Beach.
  • 1999 – Cocojam together with Stairway Foundation worked on a collaborative piece entitled GoldTooth, A Street Childrens’ Musical. In its response for the need in educating the children of the horrors and bad trips of street life, Cocojam penned the music for GoldTooth. The musical was performed at the GSIS Museum in March of 1999. It was then brought on a European Tour through the help of the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA). Together with 17 streetchildren, Cocojam performed in Europe, at the World Forum for Children in Helsinki, Finland. They also performed at the UN Palais for the 10th Anniversary of of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 2000-2005 – Now based in Manila, Cocojam has done the Full Moon Parties at the Villa Romana in Baguio City. They have followed through with gigs from Lucena, San Pablo, Puerto Galera, Cebu and Davao. They have been part of various gimmicks and tours such as the Oktoberfest, NU Independence Day Celebration and the recently concluded Ooh-lola, Reggae Skaravan.

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COCOJAM has done two albums. Their first album, Lakambini under the Viva-RJ Records was released in 1992 and got the band a nomination for the Best New Recording Group at the 1992 Awit Awards. Their second album, Cocojam, was released in 1996 under Neo Records. These are a compilation of all original songs with music and lyrics by Rolly Maligad, point man of Cocojam.

Rolly has also written songs for Binky Lampano (Manyikang Lansanagan) and Lolita Carbon (Bayle ta). Tropical Depression also did a cover of Lakambini in their second album.

image by Rain Contreras


Herbert Kikoy

Surigaonon by birth, Butuanon by heart and now an adopted son of Cebu, Herbert is a hobbyist photographer who focuses on Food, Sports, Travel and Festivals photography.