The Pinoy rock music icon sings pretty controversial phrases like “Pangulo o pang-gulo” and “Lupa at dagat natin ay pinagsasanla.” Screengrab from the "Metro" video

Exclusive: Why Ely Buendia got onboard “Metro,” the controversial song calling for a new leader

“We wanted to be part of a movement that serves to educate people to vote wisely,” says Diane Ventura, the artist's manager. “We got on board with the assurance that this is not an endorsement.”  
JEROME B. GOMEZ | Mar 21 2021

Whether you’re from the camp that likes the song and thinks it brings back the feels of the old Eheads days, or you’re of the opinion Ely Buendia is capable of so much more, the music video “Metro” featuring the presence and vocals of one of the most brilliant songwriters in local music history, has made you look and listen. After all, it’s Ely, a Pinoy rock music icon, and he’s singing pretty controversial phrases like “Pangulo o pang-gulo” and “Lupa at dagat natin ay pinagsasanla.” 

It’s a political song, this “Metro”, which is new for Ely—politics was never a huge part of his repertoire of themes. But here, apart from bringing up the pandemic and the loss of jobs, and “ang nawawalang lupa’t pera,” he’s also calling for a new kind of leader. “Simulan ang pagbabago,” he sings, “Sa isang pinuno na may pagmamalasakit at paninindigan.” And then later on, he adds, “Pinunong may talino, puso at tapang. Ito ang kailangan ng ating bayan.” 

The song was “officially composed and performed” by Ely for We Need A Leader PH, according to the video description on the group’s YouTube channel. We Need A Leader 2022, as per its official website, looks to be a campaign geared to educate the voting public on what kind of leader to choose in the upcoming presidential elections. Former House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez launched the movement in January in Davao del Norte where he was quoted as saying, “We need a leader, a true leader, and not a pretender.”

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Alvarez was booted out of the House Speakership in 2018 and replaced by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Pampanga second district rep. Months after, President Duterte admitted that his daughter Sara had a hand in Alvarez’s ouster.

Response to “Metro” online have been mixed. Others question why Ely is being over-critical of the government, while others applaud that he was able to bravely speak out and put his influence to good use: educating voters. There are those who say the song has a very important message that many ought to hear, and that it’s best not to associate it with any political personality. Meanwhile, those who have learned the campaign is spearheaded by Alvarez, a former Duterte ally, find Ely’s participation in the project problematic. 

We asked Ely if he would be open to answering a few questions about the song for this feature. He directed us instead to his artist manager and occasional creative partner Diane Ventura for a statement. 

“We don’t really have an official statement but to clarify, we got on board this project simply because we wanted to be part of a movement that serves to educate people to vote wisely and more importantly to encourage them to exercise their right to do so,” Diane tells ANCX in a reply via Facebook Messenger. “This is simply and solely a public service video, a non partisan advocacy. We got on board with the assurance that this is not an endorsement or affiliated with any political organizations or the likes. This was something we made sure was clarified and assured us before we even joined this cause.” 

Ventura says Ely has always preferred to steer clear of politics. “All we wish for is a good future for the Philippines. That is what this is mainly about,” Diane continues. “And if you really listen to the song then you’ll find that essence and it speaks louder than whatever people are trying to paint and taint this action with...” The message, she says, is both timely and timeless. “And something people can hopefully revert to regardless of situation or administration, conscious decision-making.”