Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Oh, No, Not Ely Buendia (The Poet as E-head)

Hearing in the news Eraserhead Ely Buendia's recent heart attack, I realized how afraid I was of losing this musical icon. (I breathed easy when an update announced he was mending nicely after an angioplasty.)

It isn't just because he is young (36, just about my oldest son's age), popular, talented. Just how talented: hardly in his prime, he has had his band's compositions revived, a tribute preceding that paid to the Apolinario Hiking Society (APO), another iconic band.

It would have been a monumental waste! I mean there should be a hundred more songs inside the guy, blocked arteries, faltering heart, and all. Songs he has yet to compose and sing. Songs which uncannily sound like poetry -- young-sounding yet timeless, pinoy-flavored yet universal.

He sang for the young of his generation, using the "now-language," sometimes the jargon of the streets, occasionally the cusswords of the angry and frustrated as many of our youth are prone to be. All these -- without sounding crass or vulgar, still managing to be lyrical.

He spoke for other love-sick young men when he sang, his guitar whimpering:

Ilang awit pa ba ang aawitin, o giliw ko
Ilang ulit pa bang uulitin, o giliw ko.
Tatlong oras na akong nagpapa-cute sa yo
Di mo man lang napapansin and bagong t-shirt ko.

Freely translated:

How many times will I sing my love
How many times will I reprise my love song
I have been strutting around you for hours
I have on a new shirt .. you looked but didn't see)

In Spolarium, Ely reeks with angst. In turn, we, the sung to, recognized as our own his sense of "stop the world, I wanna get off."

Umiyak ang umaga (hmmmm) -- anong sinulat ni Enteng at Joey dyan
Sa gintong salamin di na mabasa pagka't merong nagbura
Ewan ko at ewan natin sino ang may pakana?
At bakit ba tumilapon and spolarium dyan sa paligid mo?
Ano ngayon, di ko pa rin alam ba't tayo nandito
Pwede bang itigil mo na and pag-ikot ng mundo


The morning wept -- hmmm
Erasing the handwriting on the golden mirror
I can no longer read what Joey wrote there.

You and I will never know who masterminded this
Who made the world so colored and yet so broken
Like a painting blown to smithereens.
No, I still don't know why we're here
Somebody, please, stop the world from turning.

The Eraserheads disbanded years ago but they live on as the "one, the only, the irreplaceable Pinoy rockband." Much like the Beatles, to whom they have often been compared. "But thats blasphemy," Ely himself protested in an interview.

I don't think so -- at least, not on the scale John Lennon's "we're-more-popular-than -Jesus -Christ" pronouncement was decades ago.

Anyway, I am just glad Ely is bouncing back nicely. Who knows that the close brush with his mortality doesn't inspire more and better songs? And who knows that the crisis the head E-head met won't trigger the band's regrouping? Hope springs eternal, doesn't it?


pining said...

Hiya Anna! thank you for visiting my blog :).. that was a shocking news about Ely, thank goodness he's okay now.

PS.. I love the way you write; so poetic.. :)

Prab said...

I was talking with my frienda about this, and I pointed out that most artists who became "iconified" had to die. Such as John Lennon, Aaliyah, and Eva Cassidy. She became horrified when I said that maybe that's where Ely was headed.

Don't get me wrong, I want him to survive, I was merely playing devils advocate.

sexy mom said...

oh, yes, the ely buendia. when i heard the news, i felt sad - he is too young!

a reminder, perhaps, to that the Lord, that we are so blessed. at this age, 40+ (never mind what the + is), i am amazed as to how He has kept most of us healthy and happy and maybe, sometimes, insane. happy weekend!

annamanila said...

Pining! We have an MAS going? That's mutualadmirationsociety. Yes, thank goodness.

Prab! :(

Sexy Mom! Ah, yes, you, we are blessed. And Ely may yet grow to a blessed and ripe old age too ... with his songs growing, ripening with him. That is, if he takes care.

Prab said...

You have to admire the guy though, he came from a gig or two before he had a heart attack. No worries, he'll get well and start writing songs again. Let's just hope he listens to his body this time, so that this doesn't happen again.

I'm a fan of the guy.. don't sue me. ~_~

On a lighter note: Another friend told me that you'd think the E-heads came from Ateneo and Parokya ni Edgar came from UP. It's weird how the music scene produces things out of the ordinary.

annamanila said...


In a sense, swerte nga si Ely. He was given an early warning. I got a friend, one attack and that's it .. didnt know what hit him.

Ah the battle of the schools. Basta magaling naman parepareho in their own way. Pero my next favorite band is Orange and Lemons.

I would have missed the E-heads music if it werent for my children. During our out-of-town trips, they wouldn't play anything else. So their music just grew in me. Now, they're saying: You're not Pinoy if you don't know Eraserheads.

quint said...

Interesting observation by Prab. The early death of icons. From our history. Rizal, Bonifacio, del Pilar. The Romantic poets Shelley and Byron. In Hollywood - James Dean, Marilyn Monroe. And the Kennedys. (But the Kennedys are a different story I suppose .. what a great and tragic family.)

But our Ely should escape that fate. As Anna says, he has been forewarned. :)

pining said...

Hi Anna :) just dropped by to say hello.. and I tagged you!

pining said...

Hi Anna :) just dropped by to say hello.. and I tagged you

dimaks said...

With the lyrics translation, some other came up to my mind -- bitoy's then bubble gang MEV (Music English Version) and of course there's the MTV (Music Tagalog Version). I hope you are watching / have ever watched Bubble Gang of GMA7.

dimaks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
annamanila said...

Dimaks! Yes, of course, I watch Michael V. Another gifted Pinoy in showbiz, ha. Kung baga another pop-culture heritage to preserve.

Wacky translations! No matter what ... Walang nanay! Super grabe!!

vernaloo said...

I got teary-eyed when I heard about the news too. I don't want Ely to die. I practically grew up with his music...oh well, the E-heads' music. I'm happy that he's well now.

I do hope that he can bounce back in the music scene and write songs again. Songs like the ones he made when he was still with the E-heads. His songs before are so different from the ones he's composing nowadays.

There was this news months ago about him in The Buzz. It was reported that he went "amok" in Libis shouting that his life is miserable and that his recording company just conned him. Christy Fermin commented "ganyan talaga pag laos na" I don't know but I felt hurt with her comment.

Sorry medyo napahaba ang comment ko :)

annamanila said...


I guess like most true artists, Ely is temperamental, angsty, non-conforming. And maybe he's had it with exploiters in the business.

Christy Fermin said what? Laos or malalaos hardly seem to apply to an artist already assured of his place in the sun. Nothing more to prove, sabi nga.

A trivia which might interest you: he and other e-heads were being interviewed by a panel of writers from PDI when one of the writers noted he had an absent look and was slouched on his chair. "Are you bored, Ely?" -- one of the interviewers asked. Ely said: "Nope, I always look like this."

Malapit na daw lumabas yung ultraelectromagnetic jam part ii. How true?

annamanila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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