Chapter 12 : My Love Affair With Ely Buendia


For my aunt, Editha Ugalde Verzosa Misa.  I will miss you.  Have a good time in heaven.  Rock and roll.

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My hypothetical lover’s name is Eleandre Basiño Buendia.  He is better known as ‘the’ musical genius behind the iconic Filipino band back in the 90s called Eraserheads.  Ely and I were never married.  With all the love affairs that I had over the years, Ely did not meet the criteria to be my better half as were my boys in my hood simply because I was never the marrying kind.  And him?  Well, it has never crossed his mind either.  I guess at some point, both of us didn’t really believe in marriage.  I guess in many ways, both of us married the people who followed our cult.  Him a music-god and me, a god of my own doing.

As far as I can narrate, he has deflowered my cerebral facility way back in the 90s when I was still a nerdy, smelly Literature major.  We had a good run.  It was so good that I have forgotten about it until last month, when I saw him again at the Music Museum singing his greatest hits with a 5-piece orchestra.  Anyhow, after we have broken up, there still came occasions when we would ‘huminga ka ng malalim and tayo’y lalarga na’ (take a deep breath and off we go!) which brought me to a climactic calm more often than not.  I guess, in my conjectural echelon, where I spend 40 per cent of my waking life at, I know that even though we have never met in person (so incongruous to think that I have a full career in show business) my love affair with him has spanned through years of fear, bad food and yes, university life where endless throttles of misconception and self-flagellation were more customary than taking shit in your very own bathroom.

Behold my love affair with Ely Buendia.  And it all began with Circus.

Circus

SUCH BLISS UNTAINTED

Sometime in the early 90s

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I was a big Tori Amos devotee.  I worshipped her Under The Pink album mainly because it did not sound like Madonna whose cone-shaped brassier was as hot as her Dick Tracy stint at the time.  I guess, in a distorted fashion, the 90s embodied a decade of veneration to the vagina posse where women in music governed the airwaves and a time when my sister Angeline, being a girl, satiated her teenage vagina monologue with a prelude on Ely Buendia and his budding cultural movement.  Out of this grubby group of university oddballs who shrewdly called themselves ‘those heads who erase’ or the band who took their name from the movie ‘Eraserhead’ by surrealist director David Lynch became a prodigy in Philippine rock history.  Their lead vocalist slash guitarist named Ely Buendia was nothing short of an affluent kid on the block who chose to articulate his dress up to that of a common man of the 90s:  erratic, horny and a Pinoy Kurt Cobain who drank pilsen beer in the gardens of Kalayaan.

Ely and the Eraserheads were then in the sidelines, working their way into the hearts of Filipinos ages 23 below.  When the band’s second album Circus came out, that’s when I really met Ely and the guys.  When the song Alapaap became number one and some local politicians purportedly called it a song for potheads, I was sold.  It was also then when I started crushing on this tall, chinito, bushy-haired bohemian who was Imagea member of the international Order of DeMolay. Apparently, my lover believes in the Cardinal Virtues, which constitute the basic ideals and essential teachings of the organization. They are:

  • Filial love (love between a parent and child)
  • Reverence for sacred things
  • Courtesy
  • Comradeship
  • Fidelity
  • Cleanness
  • Patriotism

There is something about his voice too.  I guess it is called beauteous blemish.  Whatever.  It is a voice of trueness.

The band itself was hard to miss.  With their songs’ barbero (barber) vernacular on top of Beatles-like harmony interspersed with a big fart-out scream of ‘Tang-ina !!!’ (motherfuck)  in the celebrated Pare Ko, who wouldn’t love them?  I also thought back then how sexy Ely Buendia was with his sneers and sluggish moves.  Oh yes, in many a thousand times, songs like Minsan and  Sembreak made my nights giddy with lust more than my crush did simply because my crush, at the time, would not even spend kikiam time with me.  Ely was always there.  It was brainless of me not to notice his advances early on!

But being (freakishly) tall, pimply and all-around ugly made me quite unpopular with the hot boys in school.  This and other common calamities drew me closer to the man who sang out of tune most of the time but somehow severed the heart of me in many great fractions.  Cutterpillow came out a year later and that historic night at the Sunken Garden, at U.P., when they launched the said album, I was there; in my yellow Divisoria shirt, open-mouthed and afloat.  That instant, in a vast universe of students howling like wolves, I got myself pencilled in – no, etched – in Ely Buendia’s canvas.  I sat there, waiting for him to take my hand . . . magkahawak ang ating kamay at walang kamalay-malay na tinuruan mo ang puso ko na umibig ng tunay (as we dance, we hold hands, without you knowing that you had taught me how to genuinely love) . . . and we danced to Ang Huling El Bimbo and both died inside that painting after our side-splitting tango.  I fell in love.  He fell in love.  We have become lovers that night and we consumed our love inside my head, inside a painting I created to fill in my empty stomach and my clichéd head.  A melodic painting where implicit drums and guitars live . . . and we died in untainted bliss.

Weeks later, I had Cutterpillow in my shabby walkman (the kind where I taped everything including the headphone and it still miraculously works) as I biked my way to school.  I was partly drunk from gin and sweating mercilessly.  Had it been my Prose II giving me all that stress, it would’ve been an easy thing to get out of.  But no, my crush, the one who doesn’t even notice me FINALLY asked me to have lunch with him.  That fateful lunch became a tumultuous love affair that suddenly turned my life around.  I kept my Cutterpillow tape and listened to more Sinead O’Connor because it serenaded my earth-bound love affair with the crush who didn’t even know who Ely Buendia was.

That’s when Ely and I officially broke up.

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FEAR

Sometime in 1999

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

I can hear the prayer chants three times louder than anyone in the building.  It has that demonic voice that is both sexual and frightening.  I was three floors up, in an attached room on the building’s rooftop, my face was coarse and my right eye hurts like a big fat bitch.  I have become an ascetic for two weeks, fresh from an idiotic punch-up with a local Arab man who wanted to rob me blind inside his taxi cab.  I was young, I was missing my parents and I was in a foreign land where justice can be quite unwarranted to expatriates like me.  I was enveloped in fear.  I heard the I’sha prayer and it felt like they were calling for my head to roll.  I can feel the hot hard-boiled egg on my palm as I rolled it on my half-closed right eye and I cried like a baby knowing that I was beaten up and I couldn’t do anything.  The Arab man’s ring went straight into my eye and left it black and lid-closed for a good week. My swollen lips had to struggle too.  It was so obese it felt like it was my entire face.  It has been a week since I stopped looking at the mirror.  I wanted to book a flight to the Philippines.  I wanted revenge.  I wanted to sleep.

In the attached room on the building’s rooftop was where I lay day and night.  It was not even a room.  It was a rough and ready room where a locker and a small bed were positioned.  The walls were covered with magazine pin-ups.  A radio was sitting on the side of my bed.  The bathroom was located a floor down where I share it with ten other guys.  I was missing home so much.  I was missing work so much.  I was missing courage more than anything else.

Then Ely Buendia came to me one night.  He came sizeable but silent and just sang Alapaap.  I couldn’t get the general picture of the song because it belonged in an era I so long ago have forgotten.  I have become a grown man since that night at the university.  After college, I have changed dramatically as my acne vanished for good.  But hanggang sa dulo ng mundo, hanggang maubos ang ubo (to the edge of the world, until my cough goes missing) he persistently encouraged my daunting awareness to look away.  Auspiciously enough, I was partly grated because it all appeared to be so sanitary but as he sang Huwag Kang Matakot (Don’t Be Scared) laughable as it was, I, by some means, withdrew from fear and listened to him until I was ready to come back to work.  Healed and moved on. But before that, I couldn’t remember the exact time of his visit.  In fact, the next day I couldn’t even remember how he looked like.  I remembered the crescent voice of my music-god but not his intentions.

Why now?  Why did he come back when in fact, I was the one who dumped him years ago?

A few months later, I remembered asking myself, “Why the music of my youth?”

And then suddenly I remembered Ely saying that night before he flew out of my rooftop, “When you’re young, your dreams are more real.  Keep your central child alive.  It will always be your secret garden.”

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REUNITING WITH AN OLD DREAM

Music Museum

November 2012

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I was gasping for breath because I was late.  My friend Apple was already seated in the venue and I was still braving the traffic to Greenhills to make it on time.  I have exchanged a million messages to my friend because she was already weary of my fabulous lateness.  She has my ticket and she would be asked to leave her chair only to hand me the tickets at the gate when I arrive.  I was spewing with sorrys and hating Ely Buendia for scheduling his concert during rush hour.

Oh my.  Ely.  It was over 12 years ago when I last heard an Eraserheads song.  I have kept my tapes and bought their Greatest Hits CD a few years ago but I have stopped listening to them for reasons that only life can utter.  Or whisper.  But meandering through San Juan on my way to Music Museum I was jerked with something almost familiar.  I began remembering his hands.  His hair.  His bony legs.  His bitch sexy eyes.  Unbeknownst to my corporeal self, I was already humming Maselang Bahaghari climbing up the Museum to meet my friend Apple.  I made it on time!

I have been around celebrities this past two years of working in show business.  Once inside, I told my friend Apple how happy I will be tonight simply because I am standing there as a fan.  Deep inside, I was telling myself how happy I will be for the reason that I will be reuniting with an old dream.  Tonight will be a lovemaking of a lifetime.  This concert will undress my soul tonight and I will be taken gladly.  It was that night when I realized that Ely Buendia was made of flesh and bone.  As human as I am.  But as ferocious as hallucination.  He was delicious.  He was going to cradle me.  He was going to wipe my tears away.

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As the lights dimmed, my universe augmented into something clearer.  It was brighter than ever.  The 5-piece orchestra began playing and the stars fell down and made a carpet from the right side plane of the stage for him to walk on.  THEN THERE HE WAS!  My devil music-god came out, sneering his best, pouting his mightiest.  In his swanky suit and tight pants.  He was wearing sunglasses.  He saw me in the darkness and winked.  He was expecting me.

He sang Alapaap.

I didn’t feel anything.  I really didn’t know what I felt.  I was quite sure I did not belong there because I knew I belong in the lyrics of the song.  I knew I lived in it for quite some time and tonight, Alapaap was my story.  Yet again.  I knew I was part of the words of the song.  And I knew

. . . that I did not exist at that exact blissful moment.  I have died again.  And again and again and again.

my love affair with him has spanned through years of fear, bad food and yes, university life where endless throttles of misconception . . .

 

 

. . . I had Cutterpillow in my shabby walkman (the kind where I taped everything including the headphone and it still miraculously works) as I biked my way to school.  I was partly drunk.

 

 

and we danced to Ang Huling El Bimbo and both died inside that painting after our side-splitting tango.  I fell in love.  He fell in love.  We have become lovers that night and we consumed our love inside my head . . .

 

 

. . . Ely saying that night before he flew out of my rooftop, “When you’re young, your dreams are more real.  Keep your central child alive.  It will always be your secret garden.”

 

 

A melodic painting where implicit drums and guitars live . . . and we died in untainted bliss . . .

 

 

Bliss.  Bliss.  Bliss.

 jon ely final

My hypothetical lover’s name is Eleandre Basiño Buendia.  He is better known as ‘the’ musical genius behind the iconic Filipino band back in the 90s called Eraserheads.  He is better known as Ely Buendia.

Hi.  My name is Jon and I am an Elyholic.  What’s love got to do with the words that you wrote?  Is it the lyrics at all?  Is it you?  Tell me, are you Jesus incarnate?  If I was straight, I would still write the same article and pathetically claim to be your lover.  Here and beyond.  Didn’t you hear that atrocious man screaming “I love you Ely!” at the top of his voice a while ago?  He is straight you know.

I woke up two hours later.

Still adrift.

I was wheeled out of the Music Museum after the concert and had 3 good beers and a plate of tokwa’t baboy after that.

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PHOTOS from Ely’s Music and my co-Ely groupies.

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