When I think of the local music scene of the 90’s, one band immediately pops into my head … the Eraserheads. This Filipino alternative rock group, also called E-heads for short, is probably the best local band ever. They have sold countless albums and produced so many sold out concerts.
The Eraserheads has captivated many Filipinos with their music. The 90’s band formed by Ely Buendia (lead vocals, guitar), Raimund Marasigan (drums and percussion), Buddy Zabala (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Marcus Adoro (lead guitar) has given life to many great songs.
Many Filipinos love the band’s classic soft and loud rock melody. Listeners appreciated the simplicity of their lyrics. The band’s choice of words is often plain and simple but their songs have always managed to strike close to the heart. It’s great how their songs expressed the significance of big and small events in life. Their metaphorical approach in some of their songs has inspired listeners to read between the lines and appreciate the deeper meaning.
When I was in college, I always enjoyed listening to their songs because it felt like they understood the troubles, pains, triumphs, and even the triviality of life. I somehow felt that the Eraserheads could empathize with their listeners. Many years have passed but I still find myself singing along whenever I hear their songs playing on the background. I believe that their songs will continue to linger in the hearts and minds of Filipinos.
Here are some of the group’s well loved songs and the messages that they conveyed.
Ang Huling El Bimbo – This is one of the best loved songs of Eraserheads. It inspires listeners to travel down memory lane and reminisce about their first love. The song written by Buendia features the innocent puppy love between childhood friends that failed to develop as life led them apart. It ends on a sad note as the girl dies from an accident. The guy finds solace as he daydreams about the dance they had when they were young. He feels a sense of comfort in remembering how happy they were back then.
Ligaya – This courtship song is the first single in the album UltraElectroMagneticPop!. It’s about a simple guy wooing a girl. He vows to respect and love her if she gives him a chance. He may not have a lot to offer but his love is real and lasting.
Pare Ko – Falling in love is not purely bliss. Not every relationship that starts out well lead to a happy ending. Heart aches are part of reality. The hit song Pare Ko is part of the album UltraElectroMagneticPop!. It was written by Buendia. The song centers on a guy talking to his best friend about his love life woes. He shares his thoughts and feelings about being let down. He tells his friend how he hates being made a fool. The song has some explicit words.
Toyang – It is considered as the band’s second hit single from their debut album UltraElectroMagneticPop!. It was written by Buendia and Marcus Adoro. This quirky song is all about love. It focuses on a young couple who embraces a simple life and celebrates the joy of being together. They prove others wrong by building a successful relationship despite their youth.
With a Smile – Many Filipinos can’t help but sing along when they hear this song. This big hit written by Buendia is part of the album Circus. It’s about a guy who tries to lift the spirits of a sad girl. It’s a song of hope and encouragement. It reminds us to keep on holding on even when life becomes tough and hard to bear. Eraserheads conveys the message that there is always a way to overcome every challenge. Other musicians recorded cover versions of this song including Regine Velasquez, South Border and Aiza Seguerra.
Overdrive – This single is included in the album Cutterpillow and written by Buendia and Marasigan. The lyrics are very simple but Filipinos love to sing this song. It’s about the simple joy of driving around, exploring new places and meeting new people.
Torpedo – In 1995, Eraserheads released their third studio album called Cutterpillow. The album became the third biggest-selling album in the history of OPM. Torpedo, one of the singles included in Cutterpillow became a big hit as it explored the emotional side of a guy in love. It seems that a lot of listeners were able to relate to the lyrics of the song. Liking a girl is easy but letting her know about your feelings is a whole different matter. Some guys lack the guts to reveal their true feelings for a girl. In the Philippines, such guys are branded as “torpe”.
Spoliarium - This single is included in Eraserhead’s album Sticker Happy. It was written by Buendia. The name Spoliarium pertains to a painting by Filipino artist Juan Luan which earned a gold medal at the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid. The painting is currently displayed at the ground floor of the National Museum of the Philippines.
The song is quite controversial. Some believe that Spoliarium allegedly tells the tragic story of a starlet in 1980s named Pepsi Paloma (real name Delia Smith). She filed a rape case in 1982 against comedians Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon and Richie D’Horsey. The case was settled out of court and the accused made a public apology to the victim. In 1985, Paloma committed suicide. People close to the young actress said that Paloma was probably pushed to the edge because of the trauma she experienced under the hands of her assailants. There were rumors that Paloma did not claim her own life but she was murdered to prevent her from testifying in court.
A certain portion of the lyrics of Spolarium mentions the name enteng which some believe is Vic Sotto while joey is Joey de Leon. According to speculations, the unnamed thing that was erased in the mirror was their criminal record.
umiyak ang umaga
anong sinulat ni enteng at joey dyan
sa gintong salamin
di ko na mabasa
pagkat merong nagbura ahhh…
the morning cried
what did enteng and joey write in
the golden mirror
I couldn’t read
because someone erased it …
Minsan – Eraserheads released their second studio album titled Circus in 1994. It includes the single Minsan which was written by Buendia. The song is about barkada (friendship). It talks about how friendship is formed by sharing good times, hopes, dreams, and secrets. There comes a time when friends have to part and go separate ways but the friendship lives on. True friendship never fades despite time and distance.
Huwag Mo Nang Itanong – This song is also part of the album Cutterpillow and written by Buendia. It’s a perfect song for men who feel suffocated by their nagging girlfriends or wives. All the complaining and bickering can put a toll on a relationship. Sometimes, striking a balance requires staying calm and keeping quiet.
Alapaap – This is the fourth hit single of the band from the album Circus. It was written by Buendia. It’s about escaping one’s problems and finding a sense of relief and happiness. The song has a controversial side because there are people who equate the lyrics with getting “high”. In fact, Senator Vicente Sotto III petitioned to ban Alapaap from being played on the radio because of its alleged link to the use of drugs. Eraserheads replied to the speculations by sending a letter to the senator.
Photo: Album covers compiled by author.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a full-time mom to a charming young boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog calledHeart of Rachel.