Ely Buendia dispels urban myth about Eraserheads song ‘Spoliarium’: “The actual meaning is really mundane”

After yearslong speculation the song was about the alleged rape of Pepsi Paloma

Former Eraserheads frontman Ely Buendia has clarified the meaning of the band’s song ‘Spoliarium’ after years of speculation that it was about a rape case involving the late actress Pepsi Paloma.

On the latest episode of the Wake Up With Jim & Saab podcast, which released on March 8, the singer said that the song off Eraserheads’ fifth album ‘Sticker Happy’ is “all about getting piss-drunk”.

“‘Spoliarium’ is one of those cases where really the myth has sort of taken over the facts and I kinda like it. I kinda like the myth, because the actual meaning of the song is also again, just really mundane,” Buendia said. He noted that it was about the hangover the Eraserheads got after drinking Goldschläger, a type of schnapps.

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“Are you disappointed? But I’ll bet you that the myth will still go on even after I said this,” the singer added.

“It’s one of those songs I’m really proud of,” Buendia said. “I sing it live all the time.” Listen to the podcast episode below and see a video of the three in conversation about ‘Spoliarium’.

Since the song’s release in 1997, fans have speculated that ‘Spoliarium’ was about the death of actress Pepsi Paloma, who had filed rape charges against comedians Joey De Leon, Vic Sotto and Richie D’Horsie in 1982, three years before her death at age 19.

The charges were never brought to court, and were allegedly dropped after Sotto’s brother – Tito Sotto, now the Senate President Of The Philippines – allegedly intimidated Paloma. The accused comedians also published a public apology to Paloma on People’s Journal in October 1982.

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The lyrics of ‘Spoliarium’ describe someone being offered a drink and getting so drunk that they feel as though they’re spinning. Buendia sings in the chorus: “At ngayon / Di pa rin alam / Kung ba’t tayo nandito / Pwede bang itigil muna / Ang pag-ikot ng mundo.” (‘And now, we still don’t know why we’re here. Can we stop the world from spinning for now?‘)

The urban legend began because the song’s bridge mentions ‘Enteng’ and ‘Joey’, which are nicknames associated with Vic Sotto and De Leon, respectively. In the podcast, Buendia said Enteng and Joey were the names of their roadies.

The music video for ‘Spoliarium’ also showed a woman being approached and followed by mysterious men in a theatre.

As noted by Filipiknow.net, when asked in a 2011 Q&A if the song was indeed about the Paloma rape case, Buendia had said he would “take this secret to the grave”.

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