The Real True Meaning of Eraserheads’ “Spoliarium”

Ely Buendia finally revealed the real true meaning of “Spoliarium”, to the dismay of fanatical fans, budding conspiracy theorists, and wannabe UP professors. And if you are one of those who used to believe that the myth wasn’t just a myth, that there’s really something behind what’s written on the wall, I’m glad you’re finally beginning to see the light.

What then if you were wrong? Hey man, that’s perfectly fine. I used to believe the members of Bee Gees all died in an air crash. Because my uncle told me so. Only to learn later that they were all well and, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive… ah, ha, ha, ha… Okay, enough. It turns out, it was The Cascades who burned in the plane, not the Bee Gees. Or at least that’s what a lot of Filipino fans thought and believed, until The Cascades resurrected themselves and came to Manila in 2005.

That revelation about “Spoliarium” wasn’t the only headline Buendia found himself in a week ago two weeks ago three weeks ago (Damn! When will I able to finish this?) recently. After revealing that there’s no deep dark secret behind the lyrics of the song, Buendia made another bold sexy R-rated move: releasing “Metro” amidst the extension of this purgatorial lockdown. After disappointing his conspiracy-loving fans, he went on to divide his fans even further. It’s a bold titillating calculated move, which he probably miscalculated.

I said miscalculated not because the song finally made some of his fans reveal in the comment section whether they s*ck their father’s d*ck or not (that’s sock and duck, by the way), which I don’t really care about (all you fanatic fans can lick that ugly motherfucker’s ass all you want) but because that’s some bad company he got there—the people behind this movement. These people asking for change, weren’t they the same people who promised us change years ago?

As for the song, well, it’s just a fucking song, man. As if it could change anything, as if it would be any different if a different group of people were behind it. But taking the song just as it is, maybe it could change minds? Open a few eyes perhaps? In the same way that some people might finally accept the mundane truth behind the myth and not think about Pepsi Paloma the next time they listen to “Spoliarium” on Youtube or Spotify?

Or maybe NOT. Maybe it’s just a litmus test for the fans. I think people already had their minds made up long ago. And while I know a few people who’ve already changed their mind, who can now see thru the bullshit, I don’t think this song would do the same to most people. So, let’s just forget “Metro” for now. And go back to Tin Lazaro and Raf Toledo. Shall we?

“Spoliarium”, or “Spolarium”, as the pretty Christine Lazaro mistakenly referred to the song, is the 14th track on Sticker Happy, the Eraserheads’ “heaviest” album up to that point. Ms. Lazaro was born in January 1998. So, her confusion with the misspelled title is excusable. Her mom was well way into her second trimester when the Eraserheads gave birth to Sticker Sappy via C-section in September 1997.

Within the same week, a friend brought a Sticker Happy cassette in school, and we took turns listening to it. And you know what, we weren’t too crazy about it. Well, some of my friends weren’t too crazy about Fruitcake either. One of them even thought “Styrosnow” was just awful. Or at least they were not as crazy about Fruitcake as I was.

Of course, the thing with Fruitcake is, a lot people, some of my friends included, thought it was exclusively a “Christmas album”, a novelty. That it was one of those one-off thing, that it was not to be considered a proper studio album, like the Christmas albums released by Parokya Ni Edgar, Siakol or Aegis. And that it would be weird to play and listen to it outside of the -ber months. Nevermind the fact that apart from maybe four or five songs (Edit: There are eight songs actually, that are explicitly about Christmastime, and ten which are not), the album isn’t really wholly tied to everything Christmas.

Well, maybe, that’s also the downside of it, people thought it was exclusively a Christmas album and at the same time, the songs in Fruitcake aren’t exactly the type of songs played at Christmas parties, in the malls and other places.

So, we weren’t too crazy about Fruitcake and Sticker Happy. Cutterpillow and Circus were still the kings. Not that Sticker Happy wasn’t accessible, just less so, and the songs were just not as radio-friendly as those in their previous albums. I thought “Spoliarium” was one of the more immediate songs on the album. Unfortunately, it was one of album’s deeper cuts, and requires you to listen to (or fast forward past) “Downtown”, “Kananete”, and “Everything They Say”, before you get to it.

That may be one of the reasons it’s not among my favorite songs off Sticker Happy. Well, it used to be one of my favorites, until I realized how damn hard it is to sing the song on the videoke. And that’s maybe, reason number two. Number three, around the time I tried to sing the song in public (and failed miserably), I read about the UP professor’s theory about the real true meaning of the song. Not long after, I found out about Ms. Karin Araneta’s post on her Multiply, debunking the myth with matter-of-factly account of the night that inspired the song, which I instantly believed to be real true backstory of the song.

While the UP professor’s take may have mystified the song even further for a lot of fans, Karen Araneta’s post had the exact opposite effect on me. It demystified the song. And this kind of lessened the appeal of the song for me. It was just about getting totally wasted. And while I also thought that the line with Enteng and Joey was reference to the TV show hosts/comedians, it wasn’t really that hard to realize that Ely was namedropping different Enteng and Joey. If you read carefully the liner notes on Cutterpillow, you’d definitely find one Joey Cowpunk in there.

Then came Imago’s version of the song, which made the song even more popular that it was in 1997. Suddenly, the song isn’t one of your dirty little secrets anymore. It’s not the deep cut off Sticker Happy anymore; it’s gone mainstream. This is reason number four. I really don’t like this song all that much. Why don’t we just talk about “Kaliwete” instead?

What, you’re here for the real true meaning of “Spoliarium”? It’s all over the news. Go check ’em out.


By the way, have you seen that movie Alone, Together? No? Okay, here’s the real true meaning of “Spoliarium”: Ely, Marcus, Joey Cowpunk, and Enteng hung out with Karen Araneta and Agot Isidro in the latter’s condo in San Juan. Her unit was on the eleventh floor. And she asked Ely if “okey ka lang?” maybe more than once. Maybe it was a question question or maybe a rhetorical one.

“May naghihintay.” This phrase is commonly used in drinking sessions. It’s a signal to go take your shot because the person next to you is waiting for his/her turn. This incantation is a powerful one. It is usually used when the one holding the glass takes a long time to take his shot. Either one is deliberately delaying the round or one just have a lot of jokes and/or stories to tell.

“Tinubuan na ng ugat ‘yong baso”, or one guy holding invisible chisel and mallet to uproot the glass that got stuck on the table are variations of this. Then there’s the cliche “Magtagal na sa suso, ‘wag lang sa baso”, which you’d usually hear in old action movies but not in real life. They all mean the same thing, take the goddamn shot mulfucker! Or as my grandlolo used to say in front of his friends, “Shatana” — the name of her Japanese ex-girlfriend.

Marcus, Ely, Joey, and Enteng drank Goldschlager. Gintong alak. They also lit a jumbo cross-joint Pineapple Express. In short, the went into the night lit AF. I repeat, lit AF. High as a kite and too drunk to fuck. Ewan mo at ewan natin sinong nagpakana. At bakit ba tumilapon ang gintong alak diyan sa paligid mo. Somebody spilled his Goldschlager. Already drunk. Maybe. Later, Ely was said to have had difficulty breathing. Said he felt like dying. Either that or that they were so drunk lying being dragged on the floor, was why he ended up naming the song after the famous Juan Luna painting.

Wait, are we just going to gloss over the fact that there used to be rumors that Ely and Agot were dating? YES, we’re going to gloss over the fact because YOU KNOW WHY? It’s been more than twenty years already. Time to move on! Can we, even just for one day, live our lives without having to talk about other people’s lives? Let’s go on with our lives and do something productive. Learn about stocks, or multi level marketing, which is also kind of pyramiding. Or better, go get vaccinated! Give something back to the community. Demand for change. And hold the motherfuckers accountable. And lastly, please stop reading this blog. Now.

2 thoughts on “The Real True Meaning of Eraserheads’ “Spoliarium””

  1. Ako ay isa sa nalungkot nung hindi pala tungkol kay Pepsi Paloma ang Spoliarium. Nung nalaman ko kasi na tungkol sa rape then suicide ni Pepsi, parang mas lalong lumungkot ang kanta para sa akin. Ngayon na inuman song pala ang meaning, parang mas naging light ang kanta at nakaka-relate ako sa inuman session. So ayun, nalungkot ako, but eventually natanggap ko din.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. talaga? ako naman nag sawa na ako sa tuwing may nababasa ako na kino connect yung song sa case ni Pepsi. naintindihan ko naman na yung iba na gusto talaga ng justice. ewan ko siguro boycott nalang nila yung show, at yung company mismo na mayari nung show. hehe

      Liked by 1 person

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