After losing a string of scheduled gigs over a shocking controversy, global brand Coca Cola has dropped independent band Jensen and the Flips from their roster of featured artists in “Coke Studio Philippines.” The project is a weekly program on TV5 that promotes Original Pilipino Music.
The announcement came three days after allegations of the band’s sexual harassment surfaced and went viral on Twitter.
On November 21, user Adrienne Onday—a BA Sociology student of University of the Philippines Diliman—spewed a series of tweets (via Twitter handle @_tapsilog) about “misogyny, sexism, and predatory/manipulative behavior in the local independent music scene,” all allegedly based on personal experience.
Shortly after, other netizens went public with similar stories, not only involving Jensen and the Flips but other independent bands as well. Hiding their identities behind Twitter handles, the posts accused members of such bands as Sud, Ang Bandang Shirley and MilesExperience, to have made inappropriate invitations and attempted sexual advances.
Pressured by mounting allegations, Jensen and the Flips’ Sam Valenia admitted having forced himself on one of the girls, which prompted online music magazine Vandals On The Wall to immediately withdraw their invitation for the band to play at its annual event “The Rest is Noise Year End.”
“We are reaffirming our position: We do not and will not condone, tolerate, or enable any vile or reprehensible behavior that exploits and abuses women,” the statement dated November 22 read.
A day later, organizers of UP Fair—a week-long student music festival that attracts more than 12,000 attendees each night at UP Diliman—also dropped Jensen and the Flips and Sud from their 2018 lineup. They were scheduled to play from February 13 to 17.
“[We] stand firm in our fight against violence, harassment and discrimination. In response to this, we condemn the acts done by these artists [Jensen and the Flips and Sud] and have unanimously resolved to avoid inviting these acts in our lineup. We empathize with the victims…” read part of UP Fair’s official statement.
Over the weekend, the bands in question started releasing their own statements on their respective online accounts.
Jensen and the Flips extended their “sincerest apologies to those who are directly involved.”
“An apology will never be enough to make [up]for all the things have been done in the past… Trust was lost with productions, event organizers, partners and supporters. We know this is hard to rebuild and respect their decisions regarding established commitments…” Jensen and The Flips noted.
Sud, meanwhile, apologized for some allegations and but insisted others were “untrue.”
“We recognize the actions that have caused everyone, especially the women that have come forward with their stories, and though some of the allegations are untrue, we sincerely apologize for the ones that have caused women to become uncomfortable. We are sorry. It was never our intention for our actions to come across the way they did…”
Finally, Ang Bandang Shirley categorically denied what they claimed to be “insinuations.”
“We categorically deny any insinuations of predatory behavior or sexual abuse. However, our misconduct contributes to a larger culture of toxic masculinity that allows for these problems to perpetuate.
“We recognize that as men, we have been afforded privileges that have made it easier for us to be in situations that cause discomfort for others without our knowing, and we resolve to be more conscious with how we conduct ourselves.
“We want to apologize to all that we have offended through our words, actions and carelessness.”
As for Coca-Cola, they issued the following statement regarding its contract with Jensen and the Flips: “In light of the recent allegations involving one of the artists in Coke Studio, the Company has decided to terminate our partnership with the [said]band. Coca-Cola is firm in our commitment of cultivating an environment that respects women—not only within our workplace—but in how we do our business and campaigns…”
As of press time, MilesExperience has not released an official statement on the controversy.