It’s difficult to describe Strangebrew to someone who hasn’t seen it before, or to explain the magnetic appeal of such a low-budget, high-effort show. But twenty years since it last aired, nostalgic Gen Xers were reminded of this fever dream of a documentary show through a post from its director.
Airing in the early 2000s, the series was helmed by these cool UP kids who had found a post-collegiate hangout in the legendary alternative-music radio station NU107. Sometime in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the radio station was at its peak popularity, and had spun off into a UHF channel called UNTV.
Like NU107, the channel wasn’t as polished as its mainstream rivals, but it had a grungy charm and took a lot of chances. Strangebrew was one of its original shows that became a cult favorite—helmed by director RA Rivera and starring Tado Jimenez and Angel “Erning” Rivero, it riffed off traditional documentary formats to tackle serious stories not head on, but sideways.
For an episode on the urban poor, for example, the crew interviewed people who lived beside the railroad tracks. The episode features lighthearted interviews about goats, historical trivia, and dream sequences— with no warning whatsoever about which part they were serving up.
RA Rivera commemorated the two-decade mark since the short-lived program aired on a Facebook post that coincided with Angel Rivero’s birthday. “Thank you to everyone who helped, supported, believed, or were hassled in the making of this program,” he wrote, in Filipino. “To the bosses who gambled, and the staff who stayed up late, thank you.”
This article, Strangebrew, that freaky, groundbreaking documentary show, is now twenty years old, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.