From Storm Survivors to International Performers: REO Brothers

With the shirts on their backs, guitars on their hands, this foursome brothers survived the fury of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan); as REO Brothers band, they might just take the world by storm!

I had the opportunity to meet them as they provided the dance music for a 1960’s Beatles-themed party. (Their band name honors their parents, Reynaldo and Elizabeth Otic [think Eph. 6:2!])

The four-man band members are Reno (drummer), Ron Joseph (lead singer), Raymart (rhythm), and Ralph (bass). Twenty-four year old Raymart (named after Raymart Santiago) spoke on behalf of the band on this [English translation] Butterflyinthespring chat.

“We thought we would all die…we swam in seawater, at times in levels higher than our heads. We prayed for God to save us… After two hours of [raging] typhoon [Yolanda/ international name “Haiyan,”] we saw the destruction, the deaths all around us. After several days when basic needs of food and water ran out, hospitals were full, we were worried about [how to survive] the next day.

After five days, I went to City Hall where with the intermittent internet, I was able to contact my brother in Manila who told me that we could ride with my brother-in-law (a bus company driver) whose forthcoming route would happen to be from Surigao to Manila via Tacloban. The next day, [Brother-in-law] passed by for us on a two-day trip to Manila inclusive of getting stranded in Samar.

In Manila, about fifteen of us stayed with my brother in a small apartment. We all helped one another in whatever way we could to survive.

This was when my Papa remembered that back in 2012, a year before Yolanda, during a Lion’s Club event where we performed, a man approached us to give his [business] card with an offer that if we ever got to Manila, he would help us. At that time, we were unfamiliar with Manila and knew it would be expensive, so we thought nothing of that.

But Papa kept the card in his wallet [which survived the typhoon]. When he pulled it out, it was wet, the writing undecipherable. He dried the card in the sun. After a week [with the writing now readable!], we were able to call the man and he was able to introduce us to a businessman. This gave us an opportunity to play at a bar and [one thing leading to another,] we got invited to guest at the ABS-CBN Christmas Special at Araneta Coliseum. That night, we were all nervous because the big stars of ABS-CBN were performing. When our turn came to play, there was a technical sound problem and for ten minutes, the instruments weren’t working. [Just silence… you can imagine the audience’s disposition].

We didn’t expect what would come next… that after our performance, the big bosses of ABS-CBN would give us a standing ovation and the crowd was happy!

That was our big break [which started the ball rolling]. Our video became viral. Later, we got invited to a fundraising event at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. We were thinking, ‘Is this a dream?’

More people invited us and we performed in London; after that, the Philippine Embassy invited us to play in Tokyo for Independence Day; we went on to perform in Australia, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Hawaii, Bangkok.”

What are your success secrets?

  • 1 We didn’t give up. We continued with what we had.
  • 2 In spite of all the events that took place, God gave us an opportunity to live. He saved us.

How can you say it was God who saved you?

During Yolanda when we were all crying thinking we were at the brink of death as it seemed like anytime, the evacuation center we were at was going to just fall apart, we just kept praying and praying for God to save us.

What’s your relationship with God like?

He’s a friend, a Savior, someone I can always approach… of course, always with thanks.

Would you like to share a Christmas message?

Merry Christmas to all! If at any point we feel alone, let’s think that God is there… for those who feel like they are losing hope, there are many ways to rise again. Our family and friends are there and of course our God, Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s believe and keep the faith. We will overcome our problems.


The guests enjoying REO Brothers’s Beatles medley 😍 (video from CB❤️):

Video Interview with Raymart:

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