Filipino bands

Buddy Zabala speaks up on Marcus Adoro and the Eraserheads reunion

Amanda T. Lago
Buddy Zabala speaks up on Marcus Adoro and the Eraserheads reunion

BUDDY ZABALA. The former Eraserheads bassist performs with Ultracombo, the band he shares with former Eraserheads drummer Raymund Marasigan.

Buddy Zabala's Instagram page

The former Eraserheads bassist expresses support for the alleged victims of his erstwhile bandmate

MANILA, Philippines – The upcoming Eraserheads reunion concert in December has been met with both celebration and controversy, as it brings together all four original members of the iconic rock band – including guitarist Marcus Adoro, who has faced allegations of abuse since 2019.

In September 2019, singer Syd Hartha took to Facebook to say that she was verbally and physically abused by her father, Marcus, who she had just reconnected with at the time. Also in September 2019, Marcus’ ex-partner Bie Ruaro also came forward, saying that she had been physically abused by a loved one – though she didn’t name Marcus at the time. 

Three years later, and the Eraserheads reunion is announced, with Marcus as part of the line-up. Since the concert announcement on September 19, frontman Ely Buendia and drummer Raymund Marasigan have given brief statements on Marcus’ abuse issue, and now bassist Buddy Zabala is the most recent former member of the band to open up about their controversial reunion.

Speaking to Rappler on Friday, September 23, Buddy expressed his solidarity with Marcus’ alleged victims while also saying that he has to abide by however the concert producers decide to resolve the issue.

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Buddy explained that each of the members were invited to join the concert separately by producers WEU. He said that two decades since the band broke up, each of the members is now managed separately, with him and Raymund having the same manager.

On first learning about the reunion concert, he said: “Darwin (Hernandez, his manager) gives me a call and says, ‘Hey, all four of you are free,’ so naisip ko (I thought), wow, okay, I guess we’re all good, meaning…kung ano ‘yung kailangan nila ayusin (whatever they needed to settle) in the past, it’s fixed, and everybody’s steady, willing, and able to do the show.”

“I joined in good faith knowing that everyone else will do the same. Sadly, that was not the case,” he said.

The Eraserheads are known to not be close friends, and among the four of them, only Buddy and Raymund speak and collaborate regularly. The two currently play together in a band, Ultracombo. They initially played with Marcus, but parted ways with him in 2019, when Syd first spoke up against her father.

Before signing contracts for the upcoming concert, Buddy had not been in touch with the other members except for Raymund. He only saw Ely and Marcus in person at a contract signing dinner, before the abuse issue resurfaced. (Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story reported what Buddy had first told Rappler: that he saw Ely and Marcus in person at a photo shoot for the concert. This has been corrected.)

“Until then, I haven’t seen or talked to Marcus yet. I figured, he straightened things out, the ones that needed straightening out,” he said.

Buddy explained that the decision whether to let Marcus play or not is out of the musicians’ hands.

“It would be easier kung ako lang ‘yung makakadecide (if I’m the only one who decides), but I’m not the boss here. It’s an ongoing thing. Whatever the results are, I will have to abide by that, what the prod decides to do with the Marcus issue,” he said.

“It’s so easy to forget we’re not a band anymore. We are a broken up band. We’re all contacted individually, so when I’m invited to do a show with the Heads, for the Heads, ang trato sa’min paisa-isa (we’re dealt with separately)…. So when some fans ask us to make a decision on Marcus, it’s hard to explain that we’re not a band anymore,” he said.

As of this writing, the concert producers have yet to address Marcus’ abuse issue. Buddy said he has been trying to get in touch with them in the past few days. 

“I think they’re trying their best to resolve it,” he said.

Expressing solidarity

Ultimately, he threw his support behind Syd and Bie, and wished them healing.

“I can’t imagine the pain and anguish that Syd and Bie have gone through. I express my solidarity with them. I know that when people are hurt, my fervent wish is for them to get to a place of healing. I sincerely hope all parties start processing what they went through and receive the help they need. They have my support.”

He also stressed that he doesn’t condone any form of abuse and violence, and encouraged people to speak up against it.

“Call out bad behavior when you can and look out for your friends. This vicious cycle should stop. They might be going through something not easily shared or talked about,” he said.

The Eraserheads reunion concert is set to happen on December 22 at the SMDC Festival Grounds.

While many are excited to see the show, others have pledged to boycott it if Marcus stays on the lineup, and Buddy said he understands those who would make that decision.

“When people decide that they’re not going to watch it, it’s kind of sad kasi (because) they’ll miss out on the experience. But at the same time, if they believe that it’s something they have to do, not being there, I totally respect it. I understand,” he said. – Rappler.com

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.