Ukulele Manila

After half a day's worth of walking under the sun last Feb 2 at the GK Enchanted Farm for the Humanity Fair Hearts of Passion 2013, I got acquainted with a group of cool dudes with strings. Ah yes, I was resting on my table when I saw a table's worth of ukulele, and of course, my chumminess was triggered, I asked briefly how much the ukulele was, little did I know, I was already meeting the country's premier ukulele enthusiasts and creator of quality ukuleles in the Philippines, Ukulele Manila. To learn more about my visit at the farm, visit this post.

Learning more about their brand and their interesting Ukulele community, I share with you my eight 'minutes' with Jelzon of Ukulele Manila

1. How would you describe Ukulele Manila?
Ukulele Manila is the healthiest & fastest growing ukulele community in the Philippines that provides venues for Filipino ukulele players & enthusiasts to share, learn, enjoy, and inspire one another through music. 

We hold regular events for all ages in different places like Bonifacio High Street as part of the BGC Impromptu program. We also have Uke Jams at the Enchanted Farm Cafe and a bar jam at Freedom Bar in Anonas. These venues make it a point that we can cater to any age demographic or social unit be it your regular barkada, office colleagues, schoolmates and most especially the whole family. So we are open to all, and we invite all to join our events.

2. What is your best "Ukulele memory"?
A favorite personal uke memory is everytime I play for my daughters (4yo & 1yo), they dance and sing along, yeah every time! With the group, it's when we first held the UMC-001, the first uke we've produced for our own brand.

3. How would you describe the 'lightness' of a Ukulele?

We always share what Jake Shimabukuro, one of the great ukulele players, said: “The ukulele is the instrument of peace, and if everyone played one, the world would be a better place.” We believe so because the uke has a certain something that brings out the best in people. It may be the sound, or the appearance, or the fact that it makes such sound despite its appearance. It is small and is always taken for granted but once you hear it sing, it will just blow you away. I think this factor let's people see that there is always something better and it will happen when you least expect it. This way, the ukulele sort of brings or inspire hope. And at this day and age, we all hope for something better, something beautiful.

4. What started Ukulele Manila?
Ukulele Manila started when a group of uke players wanted to experience high quality ukes. That time, there was really no way for us to get high grade ukuleles locally. We either have one customized or bought online. So we decided it might be a good idea to import branded ukes and sell them. However, in the long run we realized that the uke culture in the country is still young, so there wouldn't be many like us who'd shell out a big amount for a "small guitar". So we shifted our focus and tried developing our own brand. We thought, since the culture is young, why not start with our own and grow with the culture. That way, when the local uke scene matures, we'd be the rockstars :))

So there, we did research on where, how and what to get when making ukuleles. We looked for luthiers/instrument makers. We tried asking for suppliers to make us samples and we chose what best fits our desired specification. The result is the UMC-001 Concert Ukulele. The first batch sold out within a few weeks and now we're on our second batch. 

We have the UM-PUTI SOprano Ukulele and the UMT-001 Tenor Ukulele. More models will be released soon. 

(Among their higher-end models is the 'silent ukulele' below, a bad-ass gwapo ukulele if I may dare say!)

Thank you! Lastly, could you pls share w me a few details

5. It wouldn't be a complete 'interview' for me if I don't ask about an artist's favorite song! What is your favorite song to play on your ukulele?
Sweet Pea by Amos Lee (if I will sing) and Blackbird by The Beatles (kung instrumental lang)

Here's a gurrreat video of how Blackbird sounds like on the Uke! I found this on YT.

6. What is your (fave) ukulele like--name, material, origin, etc (photo pls?)
My favorite ukulele is the UMC-001, it's our flagship product. check the facebook album, it rocks!

7. Who are your musical influences?
Personally, I like Queen, Nirvana, Violent Femmes, VST and Co, Hotdog and most of the bands of the 90's alternative rock era.

8. What's your goal for Ukulele Manila?
We at Ukulele Manila want everyone, as in all people to be able to learn, experience or at least be aware of the real Ukulele music. We work hard so many can appreciate the instrument and not dismiss it as a mere toy. Not only that, we want to promote our heritage as a music loving nation, that we can produce high grade ukuleles at par, or even better than the already established brands abroad. --well said J!

Here are some outtakes (random snapshots) taken while J spoke with T about all these Ukulele awesomeness. They even graciously gave a brief Uke 101 on the spot! :)

Visit Ukulele Manila on Facebook:
Contact info (for inquiries) 09199130179,

So quite randomly, I requested they play a simple song on their ukuleles and yey, they did! What a bright and beautiful day it was to meet new people who are passionate about beautiful music!

What do you think of the Ukulele?


  1. I love this post. One of my favorite songs, "You and I" by Ingrid Michaelson is played with a uke. There is something so friendly and content about the ukelele. Where a guitar calls attention to itself and is competitive, a ukelele knows it play beautiful music and just is. What? Did I just get all philosophical about the uke? Hehe... just trying to say in so many words that this post is cool :D


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