Even back in the day, OPM artists would release songs that challenged the status quo— or at least make people aware of certain societal issues that weren’t necessarily deemed a big deal by many. There’s the classic “Tatsulok” by Bamboo, “Isang Bandila” by Rivermaya, and the all-too-familiar “Upuan” by Gloc-9. These songs are considered classics as they transcended generations, with children as young as 10 years old still singing them.
And it’s not just because they’re catchy that many know about these songs— it’s because it sends a message that every Filipino can relate to, just like the corruption and power inequalities in society talked about in “Tatsulok” and “Upuan.” (Read: Strong Women Who Inspire Young Girls Around the World)
But if there’s one timeless song that many still know up to this day, but is not necessarily about the same societal issues, it would be “Spoliarium” by Eraserheads.
The Pepsi Paloma Case
“Spoliarium,” which borrows its name from the famous painting by activist and painter Juan Luna, is said to be about the infamous Pepsi Paloma rape case in the 1980s. The crime was allegedly committed by popular TV hosts Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon, and comedian Richie D’ Horsie, according to a statement by Pepsi herself.
Because of some lyrics in the 1997 Eraserheads song, some listeners have connected the dots and assumed it was about the said case. For years, members of the band stayed mum about this ‘urban legend’— that is until recently, when former Eraserheads vocalist Ely Buendia debunked it.
Debunking the Myth
In an episode of “Wake Up with Jim and Saab,” a podcast hosted by couple Jim and Saab Magalona-Bacarro, the frontman joined the two and gave them exclusive insider scoop on some of their band’s most popular songs over the decades. And of course, “Spoliarium” wasn’t left behind.
But fans might be a little shocked over what Ely revealed in the podcast: Spoliarium was not about the Pepsi Paloma case, it was just about a group of friends getting “pissed drunk.” (Read: Exclusive: Bey Talks ‘Crash Landing,’ Music Inspirations, and More!)
“‘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,” Ely said.
But what about the lyrics in “Spoliarium” that got people talking and making theories about what they mean! Ely explained them as well! (Read: 5 Podcasts by Empowered, Inspirational Filipinas)
Previously, people thought it was a metaphor for something else— a code of sorts about what happened that night. But really, it was just about a kind of alcoholic beverage. “Alam niyo yung drink na Goldshläger? So we were drinking that, and that gintong alak, that’s what it meant,” Ely said.
‘Enteng and Joey’
In the song, a part of the lyrics said, “Ano’ng sinulat ni Enteng at Joey diyan sa gintong salamin?” Many immediately connected it to Joey De Leon and Vic Sotto, whose character “Enteng Kabisote” stuck with him even in real life.
But according to Ely, the song wasn’t referring to the hosts at all— instead, they were referring to the band’s road managers at that time, who are coincidentally named Enteng and Joey.