In a music genre dominated by men, the women of rock dot the scene from the center: Myrene Academia is one such example of the few among many. As one of the most recognizable voices on radio, her trademark “lazy drawl from a smile” was copied by other announcers during that time. She was literally the voice of NU107 and as its program director, she was the tastemaker behind its exceptional music curation and the driving force that got the station to where it was in its heyday. 

As a bass player herself, she became instrumental in cementing the distinct sounds of Sandwich and Imago during pivotal moments of both bands. She was recognized at the 2006 NU Rock Awards for her work on Sandwich’s Five on the Floor and Imago’s Blush, which spawned respective singles “Sugod” and “Sundo.” Today she extends her platform to other potential talents.

Billboard Philippines got a short play by play from Academia to help map out rock music in present-day Philippines. Bands today might be surprised to learn that Myrene has always had her ear to the ground, often among the first to hear the newest work coming out.

“Back in the ‘90s, the audience was very segregated. Rock versus hip-hop, that sort of nonsense,” she recalls. “But now everyone is more broad and will listen to any combination of genres. This, I think, is a wonderful thing.”

Her Not Radio program on NU107, at its height, exposed listeners to artists and songs from the underground and indie rock scenes, as curated by her watchful ear. Anyone keen on discovering new music then would be wise to “catch the semi-automatic radio show” – as referenced in Sandwich’s “Grip, Stand, Throw.”

Over the years, Academia has kept attuned to the latest acts fronting the rock scene, which explains her optimistic outlook. “In terms of sound, the harder sort of rock is waiting for a resurgence. Right now, the audience seems to be into more pop-rock stuff,” she observes. “Also home recording is getting easier so this really encourages the kids to create new music.” 

Asked which artists she thinks are best representative of rock music today, she named one after another: “Ena Mori, One Click Straight, Oh Flamingo, Zild, Blaster, Unique — all new and modern, great songwriters and performers.” She adds, “The future is great.”

And, as for which recent work among today’s bands was the standard to follow, she swiftly dismissed the idea: “Can I just say they should have fun and be themselves?”

On the topic of whether she thought audiences for local rock music have changed, Academia affirmed the observation but said it is always for the better. Of course. And they should, because each generation is different from the last one. Stagnation is death.”

This story originally appeared in Billboard Philippines’ rock issue, dated Dec. 15, 2023.