Filipino artists

Ely Buendia debunks ‘Spoliarium’ myth, shares real meaning behind Eraserheads classic

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ELY BUENDIA. The Eraserheads frontman shares the real meaning behind the band's songs.

File photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

The song's real meaning is more mundane than people think
Ely Buendia debunks ‘Spoliarium’ myth, shares real meaning behind Eraserheads classic

Contrary to popular belief, the Eraserheads song “Spoliarium” is not about the rape of actress Pepsi Paloma.

The band’s frontman Ely Buendia revealed the song’s true meaning in an episode of Saab Magalona and Jim Bacarro’s podcast, sharing that the song was actually about drinking.

“‘Spoliarium’ is really one of those cases where the myth has sort of taken over the facts and I kinda like it, I kinda like the myth because the actual meaning of the song is just really mundane,” he said on the March 8 episode of Wake Up with Jim and Saab.

He then shared that the song was inspired by the liquor, Goldschläger – which is referred to in the song as ‘gintong alak’ (golden booze).

“We were drinking that, and then ‘gintong alak,’ that’s what it meant. It’s all about getting piss drunk. That’s what it’s about,” Buendia said.

He also revealed that the “Enteng and Joey” mentioned in the song were the band’s roadies – and not comedians Vic Sotto (nicknamed Enteng), and Joey de Leon.

In 1982, Sotto and De Leon, along with fellow comedian Richie d’Horsie, were accused of raping Paloma, then 14 years old, and her fellow actress Guada Guarin. Though the accused denied the claims, they publicly apologized to her on national TV before she dropped the charges against them. Paloma was found dead in an apparent suicide in 1985.

“Spoliarium,” part of the band’s 1997 album Sticker Happy, was widely believed to be about Paloma’s rape, with some saying that the song narrates the drinking session during which the crime allegedly happened. Many also believe that the song, named after artist Juan Luna’s famous painting, references De Leon, who is also a painter.

Nung first time ko nabasa yun (when I first read it), that urban legend, naisip ko, wow okay to ah (I thought, wow this is good)? There really is sometimes coincidences like that, you have no power over it,” Buendia said.

“We were just drinking. It’s about a hangover, basically. But you know, whatever people want to think about that song, it’s fine. That’s the beauty of it,” he said.

Pero pustahan tayo kahit sinabi ko na yan (let’s bet even if I said that), the myth will go on,” he said. –

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