, May 22, 2024

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‘Spoliarium’ and the persistence of myth (or is it simply gossip?)

  •   3 min reads
‘Spoliarium’ and the persistence of myth (or is it simply gossip?)

Photo from: Ely Buendia's Instagram Account

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

- From the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Ely Buendia has shattered the widely-held myth surrounding the song “Spoliarium,” but he doesn’t think that will change people’s minds.

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

“Are you disappointed? Pero pustahan tayo kahit sinabi ko na 'yan, the myth will still go on."

For decades, fans have been insisting that the song was about the rape of starlet Pepsi Paloma in the late 1980s. Paloma filed rape cases against several television celebrities. She would later commit suicide.

Dumilim ang paligid
May tumawag sa pangalan ko
Labing-isang palapag
Tinanong kung okay lang ako
Sabay abot ng baso, may naghihintay
At bakit ba 'pag nagsawa na ako, biglang ayoko na?
At ngayon, 'di pa rin alam kung ba't tayo nandito
Pwede bang itigil muna ang pag-ikot ng mundo?
Lumiwanag ang buwan
San Juan, 'di ko na nasasakyan
Ang lahat ng bagay ay
Gumuguhit na lang sa 'king lalamunan
Ewan mo at ewan natin, sino'ng may pakana?
At bakit ba tumilapon ang gintong alak diyan sa paligid mo?
At ngayon, 'di pa rin alam kung ba't tayo nandito
Pwede bang itigil muna ang pag-ikot ng mundo? Oh
Umiyak ang umaga
Ano'ng sinulat ni Enteng at Joey diyan
Sa gintong salamin?
'Di ko na mabasa 'pagkat mayro'ng nagbura
Ewan mo at ewan natin, sino'ng nagpakana?
At bakit ba tumilapon ang spoliarium diyan sa paligid mo? Hoh-hoh
At ngayon, 'di pa rin alam kung ba't tayo nandito
Pwede bang itigil muna ang pag-ikot ng mundo
Ang pag-ikot ng mundo, ang pag-ikot ng mundo…


‘Spoliarium’ is a dark, melancholic song. The cryptic lyrics are part of the appeal, and the reason why fans have long been poking for hidden meanings and allusions. Buendia says it’s one of his best songs.

The entry for the song in the band’s wiki section in fandom.com (http://fandom.com/) talks about the “urban legend,” naming the celebrities and the supposed back story. It also carried a screenshot of a newspaper story on Paloma committing suicide.


Who were "Enteng" and “Joey"?

The former frontman of the Eraserheads  said the song emerged from a drinking session over gold-flaked cinnamon schnapps.

"Alam niyo yung drink na Goldshläger? So we were drinking that, and that gintong alak, that’s what it meant. It’s all about getting pissed drunk," he said.

The song’s “Enteng" and “Joey” were roadies for the band, and not the nicknames of two celebrities.

“They were roadies. Kaya first time ko nabasa 'yun, that urban legend, sabi ko, ‘Wow, okay ‘to ah.' There really is, sometimes, 'yung mga coincidence like that, you have no power over that. It just happens," he said.

But Buendia does admit he likes the myth better.

"Well, Spoliarium is one of those cases really, the myth sort of taken over the facts and I kinda like it. I kinda like the myth because as for the meaning of the song it’s just, also again it’s just really mundane,” he added.

Urban Legend or Chismis?

Buendia and his legions of fans have often referred to the back story as an urban legend.

An urban legend is basically a widely-shared story, both familiar and bizarre, disgusting and beguiling, offered as warnings or cautionary tales. The rise of new media helped propagate these twisted tales and they endure because of  constant sharing and repetition.

“Spoliarium” straddles the line between legend and gossip. The Paloma rape case was a major scandal in the 1980s involving major celebrities, one of whom is now the Senate president.

What happened that night has been fodder for showbiz columnists during that time. With social media, the song’s supposed provenance is often invoked by bashers or trolls targeting said celebrities.

The so-called inside story is in a way bizarre and revolting, and offers a warning to readers. And with its constant retelling and embellishments, what may have started as a piece of fiction is now accepted as fact.

So is it urban legend or chismis? Will someone give me a shot of that cinnamon schnapps? - JS

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