FOUR floors were filled with fans who watched Rockwell Ryan Ripperger, known as one-man band Stephen Speaks, perform at the Ayala Center Cebu last Feb. 25. His mall tour was done immediately after the”Passenger Seat” singer wrapped his benefit concert tour for the Marawi troops entitled “Alive to Fight,” which is also the name of his upcoming album.
“After the benefit tour, I was supposed to go home but I made a mistake. I thought I was going to JB Music store and look at instruments, but I ended up in the office building. So I walk in their headquarters and they weren’t expecting me there,” shared Ripperger.
“So then I met the chief operating officer and marketing people and they asked me if I wanted to go on a mall tour and I said, ‘Yeah.’ So I changed my ticket and stayed here longer. It was the best mistake I’ve ever made, just walking into JB Music which I thought was their music store.”
The artist initially played his new songs for his upcoming album “Alive to Fight,” which is an album dedicated to the soldiers who fought in Marawi. The album will be released this year, proceeds of which will benefit the soldiers in Marawi.
The mall tour began in Cagayan de Oro (CDO), then dropped by Cebu and ended in Davao.
“CDO was really fun. Over 2,000 people at the mall with three storeys packed all the way from top to bottom. Everybody loved it. I’ve had 12 to 13 shows since I’ve been here and it’s so exciting,” said Ripperger in an interview backstage after his Cebu gig.
The artist also talked about his current advocacy, which is rehabilitating the reefs in Concepcion, Iloilo.
“I have been into aquariums for 17 years—it’s my hobby. I’ve had maybe 12 to 13 different coral reef tanks right now. I buy some fragments of corals and then I grow them out and then I take pieces of that and I trade them with other people. I have a huge collection of corals so when I went to Iloilo, I went snorkeling and I found some really beautiful areas but there are also some areas that were just dead as far as the eye can see and it broke my heart because I love corals. I’m very passionate about it so I told them that I know how to fix that,” said Ripperger.
The initiative to create a foundation for the rehabilitation of corals came from the artist himself as he was more than willing to share his passion not only for music but also for coral reefs.
“We (will) set up a garden equipped with an artifical reef and when we go to the healthy areas, we take small pieces from those healthy corals, bring these back to the garden, break them into small pieces, grow them out and then take them to the damaged reef and then plant them where the damaged reef is and then it will eventually grow back,” Ripperger shared.
The Provincial Government of Iloilo agreed with the advice. The government will match whatever money Ripperger comes up with and start a coral reef restoration foundation to be named Stephen Speaks Foundation.
During his Cebu performance, the artist shared with his audience a funny story about trying out videoke for the first time.
“I went out with some of the staff in the hotel we’re staying in and I said I want to go to a videoke bar and we did. They played ‘Passenger Seat.’ So I sang my own song. I got a score of 51. Then I sang Jay-Z and I got 100. I guess I can do Jay-Z better than my own music apparently,” said Ripperger.
The artist looks forward to more projects in the Philippines because of the overwhelming support of his Filipino fans.
“This country has been so good to me and really put food on my table for the last 15 years,” added Ripperger.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on March 14, 2018.
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