In the history of Pinoy Rock, women have always been present — whether it’s in front of the mic, shredding on a guitar, playing away on a bass, hitting up a fury on the drums, or going to town on the keys. While they may not be as well-known as their male counterparts, they’ve continually carved out spaces for more women to join the rock scene.

With that, we compiled a list of 15 must-listen to songs featuring some of the most talented women instrumentalists in the country from the past to present.

Dahilan — Barbie Almalbis

You can’t talk about women instrumentalists without talking about the one and only Barbie Almalbis. She’s not just a great frontwoman for acts like Hungry Young Poets, Barbie’s Cradle, and the like. She’s also a stellar guitarists. “Dahilan” (Reason) is bread and butter Barbie — spacey electronic elements, her clear voice ringing through your ears, all building up to the booming guitars and drums.

Rose — Cynthia Alexander

As one of the NU Rock Awards alums for Guitarist and Producer of the Year, Cynthia Alexander is one of the best guitarists in the Philippines. “Rose” is full of good old acoustic guitar, a string section, and her soft but strong voice taking you back to the ’90s era of female singer-songwriters.

No Goodbyes — Sandwich

At the core of Sandwich’s sound is none other than bassist Myrene Academia, a former awardee of Bassist of the Year from the NU Rock Awards. “No Goodbyes” is one of the band’s more recent releases, and Academia’s bass lines give the song fullness and depth.

Sigurado — Oh, Flamingo!

Indie band Oh, Flamingo! is made up two women instrumentalists — Billie Zulueta on bass and Pat Sarabia on drums. The two are hailed as one of the best instrumentalists right now, from Zulueta’s melodic and complex bass lines and Sarabia being an absolute beast on the drum kit. “Sigurado” (Sure)

Lundagin Mo, Beybi! — Flying Ipis

All-girl rock band Flying Ipis give reference to Ateneo Psychology Department legend Fr. Roque Ferriols, S.J. with “Lundagin Mo, Beybi!” (Just Jump, Bey-beh!), an anecdote often used in Jesuit philosophy and theology classes that talks about how the only way to learn about something is to do it. Composed of members Deng Garcia (lead vocals), Ymi Castel (guitar), Iris Jumao-as (bass) and Gaki Azurin (drums) during this period, the band channel that energy into a heavy, no-nonsense rock song.

Clingy — Thirds

Math rock trio Thirds deliver good old twinkly emo in “Clingy.” The band — composed of Noodle Perez (vocals/guitar), Levi Reyes (bass), and Nikki Cuna (drums) — are each talented in their own right, but they shine even better as a group.

Bulong !!! — Kitchie Nadal

As Filipino-British musician Beabadoobee put it once: Kitchie Nadal was the blueprint. Beyond just her “Huwag Na Huwag Mong Sabihin” (Don’t Say It), “Bulong !!!” (Whisper !!!) encapsulates that 2000s pop rock sound.

9 to 5 — Tiger Pussy

Cebuano punk band Tiger Pussy has Shak Mancao on the bass and Jan Quilaquil on vocals to help craft the band’s unapologetically loud and in your face sound. Their People You Hate album just turned 10 this year, and in an Instagram post, the group shared that it was “the record that changed the course of our lives forever.”

Hunger — July XIV

Lead vocalist and guitarist Evee Simon leads July XIV with her stellar guitar skills. This shines in “Hunger,” where Simon wrote the whole song — including the memorable guitar riff — and plays the guitar solo in the track.

Weekend — bird.

Surf-gaze rock band bird. has drummer Hannah Jabla keeping time all throughout, with “Weekend” off their oshin. album showcasing how the drums bring the song to life. The record was named one of our top 15 albums and EPs released in 2023, with Editor-in-Chief Bret Jackson writing, “An immediate sense of nostalgia is built into the very core of bird’s full-length record, oshin. Sunbathing in sweet nothings, long drives and experiences you can only access through memory, bird. has taken the best parts of their influences while still delivering a completely honest, salt-infused performance. Mapapaheadbang ka sa lungkot and you’ll love it.”

Soul Searching — Urbandub

The “Giant Sound of the South” wouldn’t be anything without Lalay Lim on the bass. “Soul Searching” off their sophomore record Influence set the tone for the rest of the band’s career, which clinched the Song of the Year at the 2003 NU Rock Awards. Influence went on to win Album of the Year as well, and 20 years after the record’s release, the band finally released it online and on a limited edition vinyl.

Walang Misteryo — Imago

Imago’s 2007 album Blush featured a number of the band’s biggest songs like “Sundo” (Follow), “Taralets” (Let’s Go), and “Ewan” (I Don’t Know). The band had multiple female instrumentalists over the course of their career, such as Aia de Leon on vocals and rhythm guitar, Myrene Academia on the bass, and Michelle Pritchard on violin. “Walang Misteryo” (No Mystery) was the third single of the record, with de Leon and Academia driving the relatively edgier and darker sound compared to other songs.

Eat The Rich — Catpuke

If one thing’s for sure, Pinoy punk isn’t dead, and Catpuke’s signature anti-establishment scream-until-your-lungs-give-out sound is proof of that. This all-female band is part of the wave of women carving out spaces for themselves in the underground scene, and members Jamie, Papat, Grois, and Ten make music that face social structures head on.

Sonic Tonic — Suyen

Suyen makes music that takes you back to the era of grunge — think Veruca Salt, Bikini Kill, and the like. Not only is she the frontwoman of her project, but she also plays killer guitar. “Sonic Tonic” is a prime example of her headbang-worthy and catchy sound.

You Know You’re Not Sorry — Irrevocable

Irrevocable is an emo band full of twinkly guitars and time signatures that jump around before you can even count them. Noodle Perez (also of THIRDS) plays the guitar while Lenian Gaspar leads the band as the vocalist. “You Know You’re Not Sorry” is perfect to scream out — whether it’s because you’re hyped up or sad.

A story featuring some of these instrumentalists appeared in Billboard Philippines’ rock issue, dated Dec. 15, 2023.

Photographed by Jerick Sanchez, assisted by Bryle Albano. Creative Direction by Nicole Almero. Styling by Quayn Pedroso, assisted by Celene Sakurako. Hair and Makeup by Nix Institute of Beauty. Shoot Coordination by Mikaela Cruz. Written by Kara Angan. Billboard Philippines, December 2023.