OPINION: On Ely Buendia, friendships, and mourning the loss of things that were never there 2
Photo from Ely Buendia's Instagram account
Culture

OPINION: On Ely Buendia, friendships, and mourning the loss of things that were never there

Ely Buendia got a lot of flak for saying he and his former Eraserheads bandmates were never friends. Here’s a sobering perspective on the matter 
JOHN HENDRIX | May 29 2021

Early this week, former Eraserheads frontman Ely Buendia made a few revelations in the Spotify podcast Wake Up with Jim and Saab hosted by Jim Bacarro and Saab Magalona. In the casual, candid interview, Buendia said that he and his former bandmates, Buddy Zabala, Marcus Adoro, and Raimund Marasigan were “never friends”; that the Eheads song “Minsan” wasn’t about his former bandmates but about his “actual friends”; that Ely, Raimund, Buddy and Marcus never even, in all those years, had inuman sessions like real barkadas do. “But it was good while it lasted,” he explained. “We had a very, very good working relationship.”

But of course many chose to focus only on the “never friends” part, and Ely got so much flak from fans who, perhaps until now, choose to see that the band that wrote and played the soundtrack of their lives was really just a bunch of guys who made great music. 

ANCX chanced upon this Facebook post from former Campus Radio deejay John Hendrix and we thought it could give the whole issue a fresh yet mature perspective. —BAM ABELLON

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Ely Buendia left the band Eraserheads in early 2002 and was treated like a pariah by colleagues he once trusted. People tend to forget that. In an instant, the musician who wrote the songs that raised a generation had become an outcast and a has-been. In ‘02 no one would touch Buendia with a ten-foot pole. 

A few months later, I persuaded my station manager Fred James to allow me to interview him on Campus Radio. With his young son Eon shooting toy arrows inside the studio, I asked Ely how he felt about the break-up a few months before.  

“It was a sobering experience,” he replied. 

OPINION: On Ely Buendia, friendships, and mourning the loss of things that were never there 3
The author with Buendia. Photo courtesy of John Hendrix.

Later that evening, I took his manager Day Cabuhat aside and told her how it would be an injustice to allow such an important artist to fade into oblivion, so any song Ely wrote would get airtime on Campus Radio. That was a promise. We played the Mongols—and later, Pupil—any time they released a single. 

The Eraserheads made music that embedded itself in the psyche of young Filipinos in the 90s. They made albums that became the soundtrack of a generation. The emotional investment fans made in the music of the Eraserheads is no small matter, so when the lead vocalist suddenly says the band members were “never friends” it might disappoint a few people.

But friendship is a poor substitute for musicianship when making meaningful music, and the Eraserheads had musicianship in spades. The synthesis of their combined experience, skill and personality produced songs that will outlive us all. I daresay, if they HAD been friends (in the smarmy, sentimental sense of the word), we would not be singing “Pare Ko” with ours. 

One day, when we grow up, we will learn not to mourn the loss of things that were never there in the first place; I promise you, it will be a most sobering experience.

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John Hendrix was a former deejay at the popular station Campus Radio.