In the belly of Cubao's constantly shifting landscape lies Cubao Expo, an architectural anachronism dwarfed by the new buildings being erected in the district. Originally known as Marikina Shoe Expo in the 70s, the commercial center was repurposed in the early 2000s to cater to people with a penchant for the bohemian experience. Cubao Expo currently houses about a dozen restaurants, pubs and shops selling esoterica that lure thousands of visitors each year.
Among the most popular shops within the commercial center is Vinyl Dump—one of the few remaining music stores in the country that still supply vinyl records. Started by music enthusiast Joel Devicais, Vinyl Dump is the favorite go-to place for a growing number of record hunters in Metro Manila. “Market for vinyl records is getting bigger, the demand becoming higher,” Joel shares about people's rekindled interest towards the medium.
Vinyl records are supposed to be long obsolete. Yet, despite the convenience now offered by digital music through CDs and MP3s, people still surprisingly continue to yearn for the distinct raw sound and quality of vinyl records. “In terms of lifespan, a vinyl record can last forever as long as you take care of it,” according to Joel. “If a band has a vinyl record, they're unique, they're different, their music will last. You can always play vinyl records, but with CD’s, you can play it at most 15 times, then if the silver coating on the CD wears out, you cannot play it, anymore.”
The younger generation's obsession with vintage also appears to fuel vinyl record's resurgence, and the medium's renewed popularity is quite evident in Vinyl Dump's broadening clientele; it's a common sight to see younger audiophiles standing side by side with veteran collectors thumbing through the shop's crates full of timeless gems. “Sometimes, I'm surprised that even younger kids prefer vinyl – it’s something to see kids as young as 9 looking for a Beatles album. The younger kids really dig the bands that were popular during the '60s."
Joel himself began his fascination toward records when he was still young. “My mother had a beauty parlor. I remember the days when I had to steal from her beauty parlor just to buy records and up to now my mother doesn't know it,” he confesseses. From a young age, Joel has amassed thousands of records which later on paved the way towards opening up his very own record store in the mid-2000s. “I created my market through hardship. I used to go on foot, sell records house to house, to some friends and also through the internet.”
Being officially in business for almost a decade now, Vinyl Dump's collection still continues to grow. From prog rock to OPM, Vinyl Dump has all the essentials Filipino music lovers will ever need. Joel maintains that Vinyl Dump is merely a hobby for him, but looking at his record collection and the other vintage items in his store, it feels like it has been his life-long occupation.