Inside Frame Vol. 4

He’s the guy you want to go to when it comes to skateboarding. Scurrying the crowd from one end of the skate park to the other at FRAME’s monthly skate jams, Jeff radiated as he swooshes on his signature F***ing Awesome deck. The true OG “Kuya Jeff” walks us through his journey into skateboarding and his love for punk rock in Inside Frame Vol. 4.

How did you get into skateboarding?

I started skating when I was 5 on a Penny board and 4 years later upgraded to my very first skateboard, a gift from my father. In the early 90s, all the kids in the Philippines were all into basketball and skateboarding culture was not mainstream. But I found myself chasing after dudes who were 6 to 10 years older and watched them with my jaw wide open as they cruised down the streets on their old school wooden skateboards.

The interest stayed and fast forward to 2003, I discovered some of the best skateboarders in my town at the Bulacan Provincial Capitol Park and Tampoy Indoor Skate Spot, owned by one of my skate friends. This is when I picked up on “technical” skating, such as flip-tricks, grinding on ledges, rails, and dropping stairs.

My buddies and I created a skate crew called “Skateaholics” and formed this special bond. We would ride together and then go back to my cousin Redmond’s place and watch skate videos. Redmond played a huge role in shaping my destiny with skateboarding. He was so advanced when it came to the sports and so inspiring, and I learned all the best tricks from him.

Without the Internet around so much and basketball being the mainstream interest, where did you get all the skate content from?

Most of the content was from the streets and watching the guys, but we also found some gems in bookstores in the city that had Thrasher and TransWorld Skateboarding magazines. I learned about pro skaters from the US and Europe, who you don’t normally see in X Games. From these magazines, I also discovered other skate brands and sneakers such as Vision Street Wear, Lakai, DVS and Emerica – beyond what was available in the local market at the time which were Converse, Vans, and Airwalk.

What other significant discoveries did you find during your skate journey?

There were a lot of times when we saw punk band performances at the competitions we went to in different cities and provinces. This is when we also learned about the underground music scene. So the four of us in Skateholics decided to start a band (some of the guys were already in a band). It was a hardcore punk band “Flat Rail” with all originally composed songs. I was the drummer of our band.

The band has a really special spot in my heart even now because our music was our way of protesting peacefully against what was happening to our motherland at the time. The government was allowing mining companies to destroy mountains to mine gold. Punk music for me was a way of showing anti-war and anti-racism.

I’m still continuing my passion here in Dubai, as a drummer of “The Undecideds” group. I’ve met my fellow band members by skating at the Union Fountain Skate Spot. Similar to my previous band in the Philippines, we are also all Skateboarders. We came to realize our mutual interests in punk-rock, when we are wearing a Punk Band T-shirts like Misfits, Ramones, and G.I. + The Idiots. You can still see us playing with some Underground Punk Gigs here in Dubai.

A skater and a musician. What’s a must have album and favorite band?

Rancid’s And Out Come the Wolves. Rancid is one of my favorite bands. I can finish listening to the whole album in one sitting from track 1 to 19 without skipping a single song. My top favorite bands are Rancid, Operation Ivy, and Cock Sparrer, but if I had to choose one it would be Operation Ivy. This was the original band from which Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman came from before forming Rancid. I love how Operation Ivy made a Ska-Punk music and their songs about daily struggles but having a good time at the end of the day really goes in tune with how I approach my life.

Skateboarding. What does it mean to you?

It has taught me every valuable lesson in life. Skateboarding is one of the few sports that does not discriminate the skater by race, financial status, or education level. The moment you jump on that skateboard, your profile on paper becomes meaningless.

It has also taught me that if you fall down seven times, stand up eight. You will fall so many times trying to nail that trick, but you will never see a skater give up just because it takes a hundred attempts. It can be a competitive sport, but the beauty I see in skateboarding is that you can just push on your skateboard and have fun. Maybe that’s why skaters give off that laid back, cool vibe haha.

With all that’s happening right now (skate parks closed, outdoor activities limited, no gathering etc), how do you see the skate culture changing?

When the UAE imposed a lockdown as situations worsened with the COVID-19 and outdoor activities were limited and skateparks closed, there was a growth of DIY trends amongst the skateboard community. People were building ramps, kickers, grind ledges and more. Our team at FRAME were inspired by the passion of skaters and how not even a global pandemic can stop skaters from skateboarding, so the FRAME team responded with virtual skate jam events.

FRAME Skate Jam 13 “ZOOM Edition” was successful with a good turnout with friends who missed the art of skateboarding and getting together and having a good time. The upcoming 14th edition will be digital gathering as well. Online communication platforms have been a great help in keeping us connected. I am no fortune teller so this question’s a tricky one. So of course, virtual gathering can never replace the real jams, but I think this is time for all of us to work on our perseverance and patience – not to give up when something knocks you out.

As a long-time fan of the skate culture, can you tell us what’s special about FRAME’s skate brand selections (and to someone who might be new to this culture?)

FRAME allows you to experience the same exclusivity as that of Supreme store and Dover Street Market. I’m a big fan of Supreme Skate Shop and the Supreme Skate Team, since the time of Ryan Hickey and Peter Bici to Jason Dill and Sean Pablo. FRAME carries the same brands as that of Supreme store, and you can build the same skate setup as Supreme riders, such as Fucking Awesome decks, Hockey decks to Independent Trucks.

Items on the wish list?

  • Independent Titanium Trucks: It’s hard to find trucks and this is the lightest trucks from Independent.
  • Polar ‘93 Denim: I love how these fit – semi baggy fit that lets you skate comfortably and gives that mid-90s vibe.
  • Comme Des Garcons Shirt Classic Logo Tee: The design is simple and Sean Pablo was also a model for the Comme des Garcons Shirt.
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