Atlas Network Feature: May 2020

Pele "Durian Funk"

What are your favorite memories of tea-time?

Memories of tea…Well, I started to become a regular tea drinker about twenty years ago when I used to work at Amoeba Records on Haight Street in San Francisco.  My good friend Kwame and co-worker at that time got me hooked on Earl Grey Tea.  We all used to go to the coffee shop next door to Amoeba called “Rockin’ Java” and get our daily cup of tea there.   Me and some friends used to throw Open Mics there every Monday night for several years…we had it popping.  A lot of emcees and musicians came through there from all over the globe, those were some good times and favourite memories of tea as well as many Hip Hop adventures for me.  From there, I started to explore a lot other teas, mainly green teas.  I used to go to the local Chinese tea merchants throughout San Francisco. It was like a tea dispensary, they had big glass jars full of all these different varieties of teas, herbs and roots.  Those teas were a little expensive though at the merchants so that didn’t last too long, I ended up finding my go to tea at a local co-op  - Honey Ginseng by the People’s Republic of Tea.. that’s been my daily tea.  But since I moved back to the Philippines, I mainly drink calamansi or luya (ginger) with hot water now because I haven’t found really any good teas.  But recently, I just found a spot that sometimes has my Honey Ginseng tea, but the price is expensive cuz of the shipping, so that’s now like a treat for me.  I also have a peppermint plant that I also use to mix with calamansi and hot water on the regular.  

What are your thoughts on &/or relationship to earth medicine? 

There’s a saying here in the Philippines and around the world in many indigenous cultures.  Lupa ay buhay, land is life.  This saying and perspective is what I also hold true to my world view.  That we all come from the Earth and will eventually return to the land when we transition on.  The Earth/the land gives life to all and nature is where all medicine comes from.  Since I moved to the Philippines about five years ago, I have been able to witness many communities practice their earth/natural medicine and live thru the mantra that land is life.  Taking care of the land and the land taking care of them.  From roots, herbs, plants, vegetables, fruits and other combinations I’ve seen communities use this earth medicine …I am still learning myself, right now I just have a small garden growing ginger and local vegetables and plants and we also have a Malunggay tree and Langka tree. 

My vision within the near future is to start a small sustainable organic farm (growing veggies, fruits, herbs, roots and plants) also with a music studio and small sanctuary.  That’s the goal, any one listening want to support my vision and help manifest into reality please holler at me:) 

What is YOUR medicine?

My medicine I would have to say is combination of a few things…

Meditation and breathing.

Exercise, dancing and doing other physical activities. 

Music, art and having creative outlets.

Eating well and resting well as much as possible.  

And herb (which is now hard because of the situation where I live smh).  

I haven’t had steady health care for over twenty years, thankfully I haven’t had really any major health problems, but in learning my health and my body over the years the above mentioned has been my medicine and way to stay healthy and balanced.  

What are your current community building projects and what sparked this interest? Products/recent releases?

Building community is always at the center of all the things I do.  I have been an educator and high school teacher for more than a decade now as well as a community organizer and advocate. But as of late I’ve been really focused on building community through music, dance and Hip Hop, going back to my roots and the culture I was raised in.   Last year I came back to the music, dance and the Hip Hop community and released a mixtape called Durian Funk which is composed of funk, soul and disco music from the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Out of this birthed Durian Funk Productions which is basically representing everything I’m doing now creatively. I’ve released several mixes, remixes and a beat tape in the first quarter of 2020.  Things were starting to really lift off with gigs and project then you know COVID happened :/.  Before the pandemic hit I had a weekly DJ residency in Davao and had been DJing regular gigs and competitions for the different dance communities from Breaking to Dancehall to Krump to House to Open Styles and everything in between.  It’s been really refreshing connecting with the different dance communities in the Philippines. Getting to witness the local flavour and all the up and coming generations and seeing their energy and rawness.  

Also, as of late I’ve been building online with B-Boy Mouse from SAS Crew/MZK and their grassroots youth development program called the Kapayapaan Project.  They are based in Luzon and the Visayas.  Now with the current quarantine situation I’m having to adapt and be creative like everyone else right now. So I started a weekly online Live Stream entitled Durian Funk Radio.  On top of playing music that I love for the public, the live stream show is also a benefit for both the Kapayapaan Project as well as the Lumad (indigenous) advocacy work of Liyang Network in Mindanao.  Both of these community building projects I hold close to me and I am passionate about.

 Also, I’m working on some projects with local emcees and vocalists from the Philippines as well as from the states that I’m excited for.  Reconnecting with old homies like Bambu, Kiwi, Nomi (Powerstruggle), you hehe, and a bunch of close homies that I get to reconnect with from the Bay and all over. Also, making new connections with a lot of local Philippines emcees and vocalists too.  At this point, I’m just having fun and doing what I love to do and building relationships with like-minded people, it’s been a blessing.

What is your vision for the next year?

Let me think about his one a little more:)


Spotify and other streaming sites...



Youtube | Pele Durian Funk

Mixcloud | Pele Durian Funk

Instagram @pele.durianfunk

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