#TheSugboanon: Inside The Mind Of Ysa Alquizola – Music Event Organizer, Artist, & Mental Health Advocate

Meet Ysa, an inspiring Sugboanon who continues to shape Cebu’s music and art scenes while breaking mental health stigmas one gig at a time.

Sitting in a cozy cafe, Ysa Alquizola’s green hair shines brightly as she shares her story with a warm smile. Ysa, a woman in her early 40s, has been a force in the music production industry since she was just 16 years old. Despite the challenges she faced, she’s always found strength in nonconformist music genres like punk rock, ska, metal, and hardcore.


Ysa values her independence deeply, describing herself as a nomad at heart. “I’m a cat mom, a traveler, and a nomad,” she says. Stripped of all her professional roles, these are the identities she cherishes the most. Her journey is one of self-reliance and personal growth.

When asked about her source of inspiration, Ysa’s answer is simple yet powerful: herself. “I always will myself, maybe because for the longest time I’ve been independent. The hyper-independency in me is superb; I find inspiration within. Because sometimes, if you always depend on others, especially for your happiness, you will never be fully happy,” she explains.

“Happiness is a self-decision.”

– Ysa

This self-driven approach has allowed Ysa to navigate life’s ups and downs with resilience. Her story is a testament to the power of self-belief and independence, inspiring others to find strength within themselves.


“Maybe my lowest point was when I committed suicide for the first time,” said Ysa as we dug deeper into her mind. During her teen years, she has always have thoughts of self-harm, but never went through with it; however, the age of 34 came and unexpectedly, the unhealed soul in her made a way out: Ysa committed suicide.

Photo from Ysa Alquizola

“I was very happy, then the next day, I woke up at the hospital. That was it.”

– Ysa

At 34 years old, Ysa came to Cebu to celebrate the music scene’s anniversary. She hosted the event and cheered with long-time friends and colleagues as they had breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. “I was so happy and then pag uli dayun nako sa Manila, I listened to a Regina Spektor song and opened the medicine cabinet,” recalled Ysa. “I took all the pills and I woke up in Makati Med after, and that was it. Wa ko kasabot ato.”

Ysa was at her highest peak during her attempt and she hasn’t been diagnosed yet, however, she has been having an inkling towards self-harm since she was 15 years old due to familial challenges, “I dreamed of drinking clorox, or jumping from a building, but I never did it. Then I realized, when you commit suicide, it’s not always in the depressive state; either you’re at the peak and you’re about to dive or at a depressive stage heading to the peak.”

Photo from Ysa Alquizola

In her recent years, Ysa has been pushing for mental health awareness as she aims to educate everyone about its importance. “I met a lot of people who also did it before and survived, so now, I may say I’m a suicide survivor. I cope with it through therapy because for the longest time, I denied the fact that I needed that and I know that some people can relate to it.”


Born in the country known to be hospitable, kind, and always smiles through struggles, Ysa discussed with us how there’s a huge stigma attached to mental health awareness and suicide prevention in the Philippines. “People don’t talk about it; it’s like nothing. Our brain is the main function of everything in our body and we usually neglect it, but once it shuts down, everything shuts down. That’s what most people don’t realize: how important mental health is and how important it is to talk about it,” said Ysa.

“Talk about it and maybe people will understand you better.”

– Ysa

Ysa also stressed the difference between educating and manipulating people, “It’s not an excuse nga naa kay mental health issue that you’ll be a shitty person,” she said. “You still have to work on it. Just like any other diseases, you still have to get medicated and ask for help.”

As she spent her early years in a challenging household, Ysa emphasized the need for a person to heal mental health issues before bringing in a child in the world, “For those parents right now, also consider fixing your own mental health so kids will grow up in the right state of mind. You don’t wanna raise kids right now and they will grow up to be broken people and then we ask them nganong ing ana imung life? Well, it’s how you raised them!”

“What you don’t have, you can’t give. If you don’t have kindness in yourself, you also can’t give kindness.”

– Ysa

“Sometimes when you become an adult, ma-okay na nimo nga giabuse ka because you thought that’s your kind of normal or you can also be abusive to the next person because you thought that’s the kind of love that you can only give to the person due to how you grew up,” shared Ysa as we talked about her relationship status and how mental health can affect loved ones and the future generation. “You become what you hated”: sometimes, you hate your parents for being this, and the moment you focus on that hate on them, little by little, you will not know nga ikaw na. The mental state of a person is very important when it comes to nurturing.”


Photo from Ysa Alquizola

The underground music has been Ysa’s outlet, “Dako kaayo ug part ang music sa akong entire existence. I started at 16 or 17 sa music scene and, I just knew now that I’m older, that it’s where my happy place is. It plays a big role til now in my 40’s. Music was there and still is here all along with the community.”

Ysa started organizing music events early in life, thanks to Charles Calang (vocalist of the Queen City Crew band) who introduced her to the scene. She ended up building her own empire sooner as she continues to embrace a persona when joining gigs and concerts.

“The music may be loud or chaotic, but the people were nice.”

– Ysa

BlaxkBox 6000 started last November 2022 when Ysa and Keni wanted to produce a Christmas gig for the punk/hardcore underground scene. The initial one-time event turned into a collaboration of more than 10 gigs in a year. And when it came to deciding on a name, the two got creative with the spelling and placing the zip code of Cebu, 6000, for a more customized and targeted production company title.

Photo from Ysa Alquizola

The music production has grown its numbers from originally two women (Ysa and Keni) behind its curtain to more women being and getting involved. Kristin and Sabby joined the team last October 2023 and just this March, Chin and Irish completed the entire full women’s circle.

For the upcoming years, Ysa’s team looks forward to catering to more newbies in the scene, “I think it’s time to accept new people in the music scene because we’re not getting any younger. We need a legacy. Ang pinakanindot man gud would be to educate them, who they are, what they are. That’s why one of the gigs that I created was Mixed Signals.”

Photo from Ysa Alquizola

Mixed Signals is an event where pop rock, punk rock, hardcore, metal, and other underground music genres come together to enjoy a night of celebration and camaraderie. “Somehow, this might be too good to be true but then nindot man gud siya kay we don’t have to be divided just due to our genre. Ganahan man gud ko nga somehow there will be a venue for musicians, even if they don’t have the same genre, but if they are in the same venue, they can talk about it. They can share both their music. We already held four Mixed Signals and I can see the acceptance sa idea.” 


Photo from Ysa Alquizola

Music and art come hand-in-hand together in Ysa’s mind. She showcases her happy thoughts through music production while she releases her emotional state through art.

On being asked how she manages her creative blocks, Ysa shook her head in humor and disagreement, “I don’t,” she said. According to Ysa, one of her struggles as an artist is to be inspired or motivated to paint. But, she repeated the importance of knowing your limits wherein she said that when she thinks she can’t meet the deadline or that her schedule is hectic, then she says no to those inviting her for an art exhibition. “This is where I can channel my emotions. I always make art out of my breakdowns,” shared Ysa.

“Music and art balances my life because music is my happy pill while my art is an expression of the dark & deepest side of me.”

– Ysa

Selling her art pieces is not Ysa’s forte as each canvas is filled with her heart and soul, a physical memory-holder for the depressive states she survived from. A particular artwork comes to her mind when asked about her most valuable piece, and she considers it as a treasure that she can only give to someone she also values and trusts with a piece of hers.

Photo from Ysa Alquizola

Ysa Alquizola’s life demonstrates that there is hope even after facing numerous struggles and challenges. Her story is about recognizing limitations, embracing imperfections, and breaking silences.

As an inspiring Sugboanon, Ysa’s goal is to welcome anyone interested in learning about music, the arts, and mental health awareness as she herself continues to grow into a better individual each and every single day. And for her parting words with us, she reminds everyone to speak up and make a decision to be happy

Know of any inspiring Sugboanons? Share it to us in the comments below!

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Lenie Lañojan
Lenie Lañojan

"Everyone deserves a chance to fly" - WICKED
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