Monday, January 22, 2007

Ely Buendia

IT WAS A usual afternoon in the gymnasium when we hit the rest room and the showers after our PE classes. Together with my male classmates, we secured our own comfort zones to wash ourselves after a grueling two hour sessions in the gym. Some went straight into a cubicle, only heaven knows whether they peed or they did something extraordinary there. Several others were already shirtless washing themselves with plain tap water coming out of the faucet. I was the first to enter the restroom and little did I know that I will come across a thing that will change my perspective about one of the few things in life that I love very dearly – music.

It was a cassette. An audio tape that can only be played with a cassette player that seems to be nearing extinction nowadays due to the advances of technology following the trend that was the vinyl record. The tape was left saddled and bare in the bathroom tiles just beneath the door of one of the lavatories. There was no album cover, just the tape inside its case.

Then I read the words embedded in its being. Some were weird enough for others to immediately throw it in the garbage as if it contains material of explicit in nature like Punk Zappa, Punk Zappa Three, No Royalty Album Filler #9, Alkohol, Bato, Insomnya and Butterscotch. But the titles such as Alapaap, Magasin, Kailan, Sa Wakas and With A Smile had immediately convinced me to keep the tape rather than look helplessly for whom it belonged. It was the Circus album and when I got home, I instantly played it, turned the volume up and quickly got carried away with its original lyrics and tunes. My grandmother almost hit me when she heard the Butterscotch screeched into its ending but I vanished from her path to escape the beating.

Nevertheless, it was a thrilling experience to have learned that such music existed when all that I’ve been hearing is the music of my great dad. I guess I inherited his being a music lover since he also used to be collecting cassette tapes, however, only that of international fame. But listening to Circus brought me new ideas like the story of Jay in Hey, Jay who is a gay and have a lot of ordeal to face the society. Or Minsan, the story of Ely, Buddy, Markus, and Raymund way back in UP days that became the Eraserheads eternalized in a song.

This had happened 11 years ago during my sophomore as a high school. And it was about how I’ve learned entirely about the Eraserheads that revolutionized the way I know about music.

I re-attempted to study how to make music using the guitar, three years after I’d learned my first guitar chords. It was an inspiration from my eldest brother and the only song I can play at that time is What’s Up. I was still in fifth grade then and my fingers were still small and hard on pressing the frets of a locally fabricated guitar and so I thought I quitted. The Eraserheads have spawned a deeper inspiration and even a dream to have my own band, my own compositions and my own music. (Which still remains to be dream)

I saved more than a week of allowance just to own a copy of their most successful album that came after Circus, the Cutterpillow. It got to the point that I have to content on cheap banana ques and buko juice sold in front of the school every recess to fulfill my mission of earning 120 pesos to buy their tape. It’s just sad to realize that I have lost the tape after listening to it almost everyday.

I have been fond of the band and their music since then and it is amazing that a lot of people of my age still feels the same way. Their time is monumental and that’s what separates us from the youngsters of today whose listening pleasures has been served with a lot of so and so bands. Trying hard music makers whose only hits are revivals after revivals, they missed the time when all you needed to hear in a rock show is the E-heads and your evening will be completed as if you’d had the best you're ready to die.

That is why it is too shocking to hear the news about Ely being stricken during a gig somewhere in Laguna several days ago. He was diagnosed as having his main veins in the heart blocked preventing blood from circulating throughout his body. The blockage was so severe that the first vein is totally clogged while the other one is 95% closed. With this situation, an angioplasty was necessary and twice conducted, which can be described as injecting a material that will clear out the clog and restore normal blood flow.

A lot has been said and written when this occurred even after several days since, including me. I am a great fan and it is far from unthinkable if ever he is to passed away. No! He can’t die, not yet as the boy from smallville succinctly puts it. He must only succumb three ways: an old man like George Harrison or James Brown, assassination ala John Lennon or shot himself in the head Kurt Cobain way, said another blogger.

I even learned Superproxy was a song about the Eraserheads' first encounter of the internet with Francis Magalona describing it when Ely was far from being conscious. Ely is not even voted yet for Hall of Fame and here comes the near chance for him to die and become a legend.

It is very surprising that I have the same matter of life and death experience with Ely. The difference is of course colossal ranging from his being an accomplished musician to his being a loving father to his son, Eon. He is 36 years old when he had to realize that eating meat and those packed with bad ol’ cholesterol could kill, I was about 23 when I had the same.

Even if reuniting Eraserheads is still a fiction (and I guess it will remain that way), I agree that Ely is too young to say goodbye. He is still left with an assignment to attain, a mission to save us all from the realms of revivals and one hit wonders.

No comments: