Pinoy Rocks

Frontman of 90s band Grin Department passes away

Geneviere "Bong" Pascasio, lead vocalist of  90s rock band Grin Department, died Saturday morning, Nov. 10, due to colon cancer.

In May this year, local papers reported that Pascasio was suffering from chronic abdominal disease. Charity concerts were held to raise funds to defray the mounting costs of the continuing treatment of his ailment. An appeal for financial assistance and blood donors was launched on Facebook in his behalf.

His daughter, Gege, vocalist of the punk band The Manatees was reported to have written on her Facebook page: ""May you rest in peace dad. I love you so much and we will miss you... You legend!"

Producer and sound engineer Robert Javier tweeted, "...paalam, Bong Pascasio, Grin Dept. kita-kita tayo sa finals..."

Another fan tweeted, "Sad sad story for all the 90's kids. :|"

Sexual puns

Beginning in the mid-90s, Pascasio's Grin Department became a fixture in the Pinoy rock music scene mainly due to their wacky compositions rife with sexual puns and innuendos. Some of the more memorable songs crafted by Pascasio and mates include "Miss U," "Count to Ten," "Hubo't Hubad,"  "Syota ng Lahat," and "Ocho Pa."

While their music did not break new ground, sounding closer to contemporaries Siakol and Yano, frontman Bong Pascasio made up for it with his excitable onstage presence while waxing ecstatic about philanderers, cheats and the female anatomy.

It helped immensely that their simple songs were easy to sing along to so most of the Grin Department concerts would have crowds singing along with the band. The rest would inevitably laugh out loud when the lyrics went on to deliver their erotic payload. A few of their concerts were actually stopped by local authorities because of the "adult" content of their songs.

Platinum sales

It was actually such transgressions that first earned them notice by a DJ in the now defunct LA 105 FM, once the home of local indie music. Grin Department would later record four albums for Vicor, their first two releases generating platinum sales in the late '90s.

The story of Pascasio and his band's rise to prominence is also the story of four young men from nowhere who made it big in the industry on their own terms. Grin Department started as street-serenading friends, most likely harmonizing over alcohol until they got their literal act together—leading to their discovery and eventual recording career.

In their records and their performances, Grin Department made people happy even if their songs were risqué. If only for the funny memories he left behind, Pascasio will be remembered as a unique individual who found his own voice during the second renaissance of Pinoy rock.

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