REO Brothers overcome visa issues ahead of first US performance

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

March 10, 2014

NEW YORK – The “Beatles of the Philippines” arrived at New York’s JFK International Airport Sunday.

The “REO Brothers” is a boy band composed of four Pinoy siblings from Tacloban who survived the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda.

The REO Brothers first captured the hearts of many Kapamilya viewers during ABS-CBN’s Christmas special “Kwento ng Pasko: Pag-asa at Pagbangon” which aired last December.

In Yolanda’s aftermath, the Otic family had to make a difficult decision that would change their lives forever.

Bringing with them only their guitars, a few clothes, water and a pocket full of candies, Reno, RJ, Raymart and Ralph Evasco Otic left the typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City to find a better life in Manila.

The eldest of the Reo Brothers, Reno Evasco Otic said, “We were terrified after Typhoon Yolanda. There was violence everywhere; prisoners managed to get out…there was looting everywhere…and women were being raped.”

Little did they know that one magical performance on TV would bring them a step closer to their dream of making it big outside the small city of Tacloban.

Their story of survival, together with their amazing Beatles music, got them their biggest gig yet – a performance at the Madison Square Garden in New York. They’ll perform alongside international superstars Jennifer Hudson, Jessica Sanchez, Apl de Ap, and Charice among many others.

“Pinoy Relief” is a fundraiser that would benefit the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas.

Raymart Evasco Otic said, “We are slowly realizing our dreams. And it’s a bonus that we’re able to help other victims of Typhoon Yolanda.”

Just a few days before their trip to New York, their first overseas trip ever, the group was denied visas to enter the US.

REO Brothers’ road manager, Tomas Banguis said, “We thought we would not be able to come here in the U.S. because our visas were initially denied.”

US Immigration Lawyer and TFC’s ‘Citizen Pinoy’ host Attorney Michael Gurfinkel said, “One of the issues is the boys have never been outside the Philippines before, which made getting the visa that much more difficult. We persevered, and we were able to turn it around and they were able to get their visas. For that, I’m grateful to the U.S. Embassy.”

So when the group arrived in New York Sunday afternoon, they wasted no time, exploring and enjoying the Big Apple before the big day at the Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

RJ Evasco Otic said, “I couldn’t believe it that we’re here in the U.S. and how far we’ve come from Tacloban. We were contented with the life we had there.”

Our dream is to have our own album, become famous. I hope we continue to play together as a group, for years to come,” Ralph Evasco Otic said.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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