A fast-growing number of cars flood Malugay Street and adjacent roads. Cab drivers are left wondering what could possibly draw so many passengers to B-Side, The Collective on a warm Saturday afternoon. “Anong meron? Gig? Concert?” one takes a guess. They know little of the huge preparations that have taken place for what is about to transpire.

Meanwhile, this is no mystery to the 883 attendees who are present to honor the memorable eight-year climb and the home Red Ninja Production has built for their fans. They each know exactly what they had come for.

Head Ninja Nicole Sarmiento stands true witness to all the hard work the time-tested organization has put in since 2009. From Red Ninja’s beginnings as a live events production group, their expansion as a management for artists, to a passionate team and full-grown family, she’s seen the entire evolution.

Setting up in BSide! #redninjayear8fest

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You guys have been around since college, how does it feel now that it’s become your career? Did you expect it to get this far?

Honestly, no. The first event we did was on April 20, 2009 in RJ Bar on Jupiter street. More or less, my cousin and I were together on Holy Week. Tapos sabi niya sa akin, “Uy marami kang kaibigan na tumutugtog, ako rin, marami akong kaibigan na tumutugtog.”

After a year my cousin left, so nasanay na lang ako. We just kept doing it, and doing it, and doing it. Honestly last year, I was planning Year 7, I was like “Shet! Seven years na pala. When I was in the Amplify office talking to them, sila yung nagsabi na “Uy! Grade one na Ninja!” I only realized how long Red Ninja has been around since year 7. That’s when I said “I want something big.”

Seeing now that it’s come this far, what would you say is the biggest sacrifice you had to make in order to get it to where it is now?

For at least the past year, I’ve been trying to look for day job. I guess it’s not a sacrifice, yung day job cause mas masaya ako sa Red Ninja. When I entered the corporate world, I always said Red Ninja is my balance between corporate life and the real world. Kumbaga, it’s where pwede akong maglasing, pwede akong magwala. [laughs] I quit. I went back to school. And then I quit fighting to look for a job again. It’s one of the most difficult things to do na pag may nagsabi ‘Ok game, kukunin ka na namin pero nine-to-five.’ In my head, ‘but … yun yung mga oras na nagmemeeting ako.’ So actually, yung pinakasacrifice niya is having a regular salary. I always have to wait for ‘ok may gig ako, makakakuha ako ng ganito.’ But according to my parents, ‘at least you’re happy.’

Over the eight years, Red Ninja dabbled in organizing events, band management, etc. Is there anything Red Ninja hasn’t done that you’d like to do in the future?

Bring in an international artist.

Relive the Red Ninja 8 Festival through the photo gallery below: