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Patty Tiu on Her Retirement: “Everything is Temporary”

Macky Arquilla

Patty Tiu is arguably the most famous Filipino DJ ever. Once reserved for purveyors of famous clubs or tourist spots, Patty brought the industry to mainstream consciousness with high-profile endorsements, features, and award-winning spins. She has repped the country on the stage alongside the likes of Steve Aoki, David Guetta, and Armin Van Buuren, redefining what’s possible for female DJs in a male-dominated scene.

For over ten years, audiences reveled in the 33-year-old’s combination of looks and talent, which made her retirement in January all the more bittersweet. On the one hand, a Rappler piece revealed Patty’s long-standing battle with esophageal cancer, a diagnosis that came at the start of her DJ career in 2011. It was surprising news for many, given her countless energetic performances.

On the other, the condition convinced Patty, who refused to undergo chemotherapy, to make the most of her time. “It is time to answer my bigger calling. To focus and dedicate my remaining days to what will change communities, an entire society, even globally,” she said.

But even with her final set, Patty Tiu teases bigger and better things outside the booth on her socials, such as public talks and business ventures, including dabbling in crypto. We caught up with the iconic DJ about her farewell at Howlers, career highlights, and whether it truly is her last at the turntables. 

We read about your diagnosis. Was this the sole reason for retiring?

“No. I wanted to keep the legacy. I wanted to leave on a high note (No pun intended.) I cannot mentor the next generation of artists if I'm busy as the star. I’ve checked all the boxes I said I would do as a DJ, so it’s time to move forward.”

Can you share an update on your condition?

“I have decided to refuse treatment. I’ve been given a second life and many opportunities to live, and I should be grateful for that. I do not want my body to change and get surgery again. I’ve had 6 of them. I do not want to go through that anymore.

This is the cross I have to bear and whatever life is left in me, I will spend trying to make the most out of it to inspire others and create a better future for those to come. This is my choice and my family supports me.”

How did you decide that Howlers Manila was going to be your final set?

Howlers is the last music festival in Manila, the last big event. In a sense, this was like a poetic nod to the idea of creation and destruction. As we concluded 2022 and started 2023 so did the dawn of a new chapter in my career begin and simultaneously end.”

How did you savor your last show for those who weren’t at Howlers?

“I was vulnerable. I did not hide what I was going through anymore. 

I’ve always played from the heart. But what better way to end a show than to break the barrier between the DJ and the audience? Me going down from the stage was a symbolic message that said, “we are all the same.”

I do not see myself as better than anybody else. I wanted to tell everyone that I'm just like you, a normal human being just trying to make an impact in the world.”

Let’s quickly revisit your career. What are your biggest career highlights?

“Opening for Armin Van Buuren in Mayanmar, getting recognized twice as an award-winning DJ in the EDM scene, and being able to shift from one industry to another (acting, modeling, teaching, etc.) while still getting to return back home behind the booth.”

Your biggest lesson?

“Listen to sets of others. Learn more and continue adapting to new technology in your field. Don’t say “I’m a purist” if you are gunning for longevity. You have to adjust and adapt to what is out there while remaining true to your sound. 

When I play people chant my name, not because of “fame” or because they are “star-struck.” It’s because they love the story behind the sound.”

Your most fun event?

“All the Hydro Manila Series I’ve played in. It’s people from all walks of life and social statuses that just enjoy being sprinkled with water and vibing to the music. It’s also where I did all my crazy stunts like entering the stage while being suspended on a harness.”

What will you miss most?

I will miss being able to have that special connection with the audience as a performer. Those special moments whenever I play a song and everyone in front of me, whoever they may be, it’s as if we can see through each other's souls. 

Any message to the people who will miss you in the booth?

Everything is temporary. 

What’s next?

Watch out. Read the articles. Listen to the news. 

The Eraserheads have reunited thrice since retiring. Is this really the final set?

Like I said, everything is temporary. Things change. 

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