It was bright out.

The day two teams from two very different brands came together to play dress-up, skate around, and take some photos in an abandoned amusement park.

It was bright out.

This was meant to be a place of fun and carousel rides and cotton candy in perfect (almost) Tagaytay weather. Today it stands, albeit barely, as a shadow and in the shadows of what it intended itself to be. It was glaringly deserted from one graffiti-covered wall to the other. Spray paint, skateboard truck skid marks, and the unmistakable sepia tint of being forgotten wrapped around every inch of the sprawling space.

It was perfect.

“We started out as friends,” Raoul, reppin’ TITAN, said as we all finally finished taking in the scenery and began walking in. “Back in the day, it was just an idea. Then the respect developed and here we are now.”

THE’s Dino waxed nostalgic, “Lahat tayo naglaro ng basketball at lahat tayo sumali sa liga”, he shared. “We’re also fans of the game and fans of the Titan brand. ‘Yung mutual respect ‘yung nagpaandar nito.

THE Clothing is what and who and where many point to when asked to identify what and who and where all this started. They did the heavy uphill lifting, before reaching the summit and kicking the boulder down the slope to bring a style, and a movement, to everyone it could take with it. Like an avalanche, massive in size and in strength, it all began with a small click, a single clap, a tiny but important voice in the stillness to begin the chaos.

They were streetwear before streetwear was even a thing. They’re everything streetwear aspires to be, yet is nothing like what it often is. Since 2007, their messages inspiring World Peace and promoting the Philippine Subculture have been told through every means possible: from vintage graphics, to ukay-ukay designs, movie inspirations, punk and more.

Those in the know, argue about many things, but know one thing to be undeniable. In these here streets,

THE, the brand, is the brand.

Everyone will agree, except maybe them.

The mutual respect they speak of, a shared admiration from Cubao to Deer Valley, it comes together and to fruition in the very reason we’re here, in a possibly-haunted old carnival, in the painful heat:

The Sixth Man.

Auggie Fontanilla, the artist-to-blame for all of THE’s madmen endeavors, brings a theme, the theme, to light, “We feel like we’re still underdogs, the sixth man. But even if we portray ourselves as the sixth man, we still stay true to our roots. Just like how the sixth man sticks to his role.”

And that, is why we were under the sun, skating and shooting in a beautifully painful abandoned funhouse: because of the Sixth Man.

At the core of what TITAN is, and always will be, is the love of the game. Every single little intricate detail of basketball adds up to weave the fiber that TITAN is made of. Everything. From the hoarse baritone of a coach yelling on the sidelines to the sharp, crisp swish of a free throw shot perfectly. From the look in the eye of the superstar watching the shot clock count down to right before zero, to the same exact look in the eye of the guy on the bench, who knows he can do it just as well, if not better.

Up until this point of the long season so far, TITAN has told every basketball story it can. Now, finally, fittingly, it turns around and looks to his bench for added firepower. Joining the long line of super-subs before them, from J-Crossover to PJ Simon, from JR and Lamar to Tubid and The Slasher, now comes a collection ready to drop 30 in limited minutes.

The Grim Reaper figure, a long-standing staple in the THE catalog, represents this spark, this second-unit leader, this – forgive the pun – stone cold reserve killer. Death comes not to ask or bargain. Death comes to take. The sixth man cannot afford to wait to warm up or for the game to come to him. He must take his shots, early, and often, and whenever he desires. The reaper lurks, his shadow casts dark over everything. His arrival is quick, abrupt. The sixth man’s effect on a game is instant, immediate. A killer cross, or a nasty stepback, maybe even a mean amount of range, these are the many versions of the scythe that the reaper carries, that the sixth man has in his package. They’re meant to freeze their targets, to strike fear in them, to get past, jump over, go around, finish.

This aesthetic is carried throughout the collection, featuring staple pieces found in every closet—tees, hoodies, sweats, as well as accessories like water bottles, towels, and caps. It also includes, because it absolutely should, a basketball jersey and shorts. Look good, play good. Feel good, be bad.

This, the game, is life and death.

These, the streets, are life and death.

And it is the moments strung up in between – like the milliseconds coming off the clock at the end of regulation – that’s where we live, that’s where we are.

Two teams, two different brands. One common understanding about the stakes, about what it requires to come off the pine, from the woods of Deer Valley to the urban jungles of Cubao: “Pagpasok pa lang namin sa scene na ‘to, we knew that we had to step up” Auggie says. “Talagang make it or break it.”

Death is Certain. Life is Not.

Death is at the scorer’s table, chomping at the bit, waiting for his chance to come at you.

He was there with us that day, because of course Death would hang out in a ghost-town amusement park.

Thankfully, it was bright out.

Bright enough to see the details in all black, the sun beaming, shining a glare that was almost white. And then for a second, we saw it. A lightning bolt in his hand, a 22 on his chest.

He’s on our team, on the team.

The Replacement Killer.


Photos by: Aliver Cedillo of THE