“Things do not happen by chance… it is destiny.” These are the words that puts simply describe the unprecedented events that changed the lives of the band who hailed from Tacloban, REO.
REO is not just an ordinary band from the province that was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) on November 8, 2013. Unraveling the success story of the “band of brothers from Tacloban“, Reno, RJ, Raymart and Ralph, collectively called the REO Band, was one of the most amazing and touching stories we have heard, in the aftermath of Yolanda. Rannie Raymundo (the singer) and his business partners gave them the biggest break in their lives, giving REO a regular spot in their resto bar, Primos Cuisine and Lounge, playing great music Tuesday and Friday nights. Men with golden hearts include their mentors Reynaldo Fuentes and Tom Banguis Jr., who gave them hope and brought them back to life in the world of entertainment. Today, everyone who has heard their story embraces this miracle. God works in amazing ways.
REO came from the initials of the first letter of the brother’s name (R), their middle name (E), and their last name (O).
Rey Otic, father of the four boys, proudly shared how fate brought them ‘back to life‘ after their struggle from Typhoon Yolanda. Fuentes was an old acquaintance by the Otic patriarch and was the one who introduced them to Banguis, who was a friend of Rannie. Rey recalled that one time in the past, Fuentes gave him a business card when they first met in Tacloban which he kept and would have made it for use if by chance that they go to Manila. Fuentes instructed Rey that should they be in Manila, anytime, they should make correspondence.
Years passed and both not knew that a tragic incident in Tacloban would be the way for them to cross path once more.
After days of no food and their shelter washed ashore, Rey decided to bring his family to Manila to look for opportunity to survive living. With only Php 200 in hand and some loose change, the Otic family came to Manila with washed-out instruments hoping to find a good source of living out of their background as musicians.
Rey remembered that he still have Fuentes’ calling card – which was already crumpled wet , and quickly informed Fuentes of their whereabouts. Fuentes immediately called Banguis, without knowing if these young boys are good or not, recommended the band to Rannie and immediately, this good-looking singer-songwriter gave them a slot for a sort of audition for the resto bar on the night of November 28. Primos is located in the newest hub in EDSA Shaw, the Greenfield District.
On that Thursday night, REO set up first time on Primos stage. Backed-up only with their talents and faith in the people who helped them reach that far, REO strummed their first chords and everything was history.
Rannie, who has an ear for pure talent, saw the boys potential. But more than that, it was their story that rocked the house of Primos. Jsut as the boys were continuing their sets, pledges, donations, and emotions poured on their first night. People continued to came in that night as words reach out to even those who were not on the venue. “It was the power of social media that broke loose and pull people to come to Primos to see the great performance and hear the story of REO,” said Rannie.
One customer even pledge that he shall shoulder all of the boys instrument and replaced it with brand new equipment.
Truly the scene was a moving and touching scenario. God made wonders for these boys and their family.
The clamor didn’t stop on that as Rannie asked them to go back the following night where more guests were excited to watch them perform Beatles and 60s hits, as well as modern songs. This time, an executive from ABS-CBN took notice of them and immediately included them on the stations special Christmas show – perhaps, REO’s biggest break and biggest venue, so far. The REO brothers got a standing ovation at a concert graced by over a hundred Kapamilya stars and celebrities at a full- packed Araneta Coliseum last December 12. The show “Kwento ng Pasko, Pag-Asa, at Pagbangon (2013 ABS-CBN Christmas Special)” was aired Dec. 14 and 15, 9:30 PM on Channel 2.
“Sobrang saya po. Hindi namin to ini-expect talaga. Grabe, sobrang saya,” exclaimed RJ in an interview with ABS-CBN News after their applauded performance at the coliseum.
News spread like wildfire and during their gig a few days after back in Primos, more guests enjoyed their sets and that was the night our team witnessed how great these young boys as they belted out rock n’ roll and modern songs just like the original artists they are covering.
Even TV host Willie Revillame was impressed of their performance to the extent of making a promise to bring them back to Tacloban for a benefit show which the popular host shall provide everything – from the clothes they’ll wear, instruments, plane, etc.
Truly everything happens for a reason. And though for these young boys who are aged 17, 19, 21, & 24, this happened unexpectedly, they believed that it’s all work by the hands of God.
They may have lost home in Tacloban but they found a new place in the golden hearts of many people where they can rebuild their family back together and continue living as they spark hope for other Tacloban survivors.
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