insoymada
mga awit ug yawit sa kasingkasing bisaya

Toyang from outside the wall

I was cleaning the toilet bowls of the San Carlos Seminary College in Mabolo, Cebu City in 1993 when I heard a song by the Eraserheads for the first time. The music came from a house just outside the seminary’s west wall, from a room where the owner’s daughter would sometimes treat us seminarians to long-distance striptease at night.

I froze, a bottle of muriatic acid in one hand and a toilet bowl swab in the other. Who was this guy warbling about his house being small yet clean, pati sa kusina? And what was my favorite childhood rhyme “pen pen de sarapin de kutsilyo de almasin” doing in the song? What decent songwriter would use Skyflakes and Coke 500 in his lyrics? And what guts to base his song on Nat King Cole’s “Too Young.”

But for some reason, the song seemed to threaten my dream of becoming a priest-musician. The seminary was teaching me classical songwriting and here was this frisky, bouncy tune threatening to undermine the seminary fathers’ efforts. The song sounded irreverent – and one couldn’t afford to be irreverent in the seminary — and yet I was enjoying it, without a tinge of guilt. It just blew me away.

I asked my classmates if they had heard of the song and the artist. They said they hadn’t, and they were not interested. They’d been singing “Diosnong Magtutudlo” (Heavenly Teacher) all their life, any music from the radio was the devil’s creation. And they had toilet cleaning to do, please. But I was determined to know more about this raw sound that made me pause and listen, and doubt my vocation.

With the Internet and cell phones still unheard of, and the limited TV hours allowed us, the best place to do my research was the library. There were newspapers and national magazines there, our only contact to the entertainment world outside. Surely they could provide me with information. So I rushed there after my toilet assignment and begged the librarian to please allow me a few hours’ extension because I was doing a research on the Spanish Inquisition.

From a Sunday magazine I learned the band was called Eraserheads and the song was called “Toyang,” a cut from their debut album “UltraElectroMagneticPop!” The article listed down all the other songs in the album: “Easy Ka Lang,” “Maling Akala,” “Pare Ko,” “Shake Yer Head,” “Ganjazz,” “Ligaya,” “Tindahan Ni Aling Nena,” “Honky-Toinks Granny,” “Shirley,” “Walang Hiyang Pare Ko,” “Combo on the Run.”

The article also carried a picture of the group. In plain shirts, torn jeans and old chucks, the four guys called Eraserheads looked no different from the istambays drinking “mestisa” (a mix of gin and beer) at the sari-sari store across the seminary gate.

In our dormitory that night, I couldn’t sleep. The song kept playing in my mind. If “Toyang” blew me away at first listen, were the other songs equally mind-blowing? I hated the prohibitions in the seminary. I envied college students outside who could listen to the Eraserheads anytime they wanted to.

I waited for “Toyang” to play again on the radio from the house outside the wall. Then a few minutes and I was watching the hazy figure of the girl moving rhythmically to a different song but whose irreverent appeal was now familiar to me. The girl wasn’t strip dancing this time. She was simply head slamming, occasionally hitting imaginary drums, and shouting at the top of her voice, “Di ba, ‘tangina!”

sun.star opinion, september 2, 2008

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30 Responses to “Toyang from outside the wall”

  1. “they tried to tell us we’re too young, too young to really fall in love…” – 😉

  2. i became familir with Eheads thru “ang huling el bimbo” and “fruitcake” na, during the MTV ASIA days.. 😉

    heard the sad news firsthand, from friends who were able to watch the reunion concert last Saturday.. in the middle of a drinking session at the Pares concert in Outpost, i got numerous text messages from them ’bout Ely being rushed to the hospital during their supposed-to-be 30-min break..

    btw, Ely underwent another Angioplasty surgery.. thank God, he’s stable na..

  3. ni tan.aw ko bay insoy last saturday sa mga gwapo….nanimbawt ako balahibo….daghan man tsiks gud este excited lang ko =)

    the build up was great…lights out then flashed in the many screens, the 10mins i think, countdown…and as each minute end, people would shout and stuff…

    i was getting the idea they’d like slowly raise from the ground clad in silver get up with the back facing the crowd with hands crossed…forgot it wasnt paroky ni edgar and the like 😉 but they indeed were raised or something,,,could have been the lights…

    ely spoke just barely after each song, more of one liners or even phrases and you could hear the people gasp awaiting his words…the 4 dudes didnt communicate much…im no expert with music but i remember in one of the songs, murag nahabilin ang gitara or different ang tempo sa drums…raimund m, di palupig, always taking the chance to stand up and act up, i love the dude though..

    pero, pastilan kadaghan gayung tsiks, mao sigurong dangaton kun naa bayad na 1,300(patron). ug nagkagwapo si ely! =)

    PISLABENRAKENROL!

    more power dude!

  4. it was “ang huling el bimbo” that forced these little fingers to pick the guitar strings… desperately… lo
    ng live E-heads and ely buendia…

  5. shet! this one’s my favorite column!
    hahahaha.. i luv it soy! i sooo love it!
    eheads, ely, their songs… it drives me crazy. And he’s driving me real crazy.. Ely’s a legend, he’s a god! And I soo love him.. kahibaw bya ka unsa ko ka-fan ani nila and Ely, hahahaha… Congrats for this one, though medyo na-bias ko kai ako ni favorite, hehehehe…
    and hey, imo unta gi-apil si christy fermin ug imo xa gi-away kay iyang gi-away ang atong Ely, hehehe…

  6. pyter jud sila bai. super ka kulba. now, lets talk about missing…

  7. so mao ni ang rason niundang ka seminaryo? hehehe

  8. @putik: no, the reason i left the seminary? gi-rape ko’g madre!

  9. ***putik: i think insoy went out from the seminary “kay nahigugma na sa kalibutan ni…” hehe…just listen to missing filemon’s sto. rosario…;)

  10. “@putik: no, the reason i left the seminary? gi-rape ko’g madre!”-kasabot nko y maypagka bitter ka sa world soy, hahah.. adolescent trauma,=p..

  11. nagsugod ko’g paminaw sa Eraserheads when I was in 3rd Year HS, mga year 2005 tingali, ug karon kaya na nako cprahon ilang mga kanta… Sa akong experience sa pagpaminaw ug mga kanta,ang E-heads ray hilig mogamit ug nagkalain-lain nga mga chords, pareha sa mga: D-DM7-D7 sa Minsan, C-CAug-C6-C7 sa Julie Tearjerky… ah basta mga Augmented, Diminished, Seventh, Sixth, Sustained, m + M7, unsa pa na diha…

    Not like sa ubang banda, balik-balik nalang nang tag-upat nga chord progressions, dugang-dugangan la’g ginagmay…

  12. @chowa: chowowowowow! lage, nya naguol na gani kang ely, inyo pa ko gsungog, hahahaha!
    and yeah, the MTV Asia days, i miss it… elementary pa ko ana, haha..

  13. shet, eheads! nakaadto ta ka bai!

  14. @sir insoy
    -“no, the reason i left the seminary? gi-rape ko’g madre!”
    unsa ang feeling? hehehe.

    “kay ako parion apan di na karon kay nahigugma na sa kalibutan tang duha”

  15. @jekert: bai, nagplano gyud ko moadto, pero i was broke. hehehe. and also, naay event ang tsinelas sa outpost. chowa said ningtan-aw kuno ka. she was the one who told me na-cut short ang concert.

    @clado: “kay ako parion apan di na karon kay nahigugma na sa kalibutan tang duha” — this line is familiar. 🙂

    @rei and chowa: magkawat-kawat kog adto sa tv room sa seminary just to watch mtv. if naay pari magpadung, i’d turn the tv off and hide behind the couch. hehehe.

    @techiepalar: that’s one thing i love about their songs. gamit tanang notes sa scale. think apo hiking society.

    @akosikai: “kasabot nko y maypagka bitter ka sa world soy, hahah.. adolescent trauma,=p..” — hahaha. di ko bitter sa world oi, am just an aging emo. hehehe.

  16. @sir insoy
    – gimingaw nasab ko anang kantaha 😆

  17. @insoymada

    yes, cla ang usa mga banda nga kahibaw ko naghatag og importansya sa musika… klaro na daan sa mga tono og lyrics.

  18. “@rei and chowa: magkawat-kawat kog adto sa tv room sa seminary just to watch mtv. if naay pari magpadung, i’d turn the tv off and hide behind the couch. hehehe. ”
    -HAHAHAHA.. BUGOYA JUD NIMO OI, HEHEHE.. KALOOY NI INSOY, LOSER! HAHA! WALA KO NANGAWAY OI, MIGA BAYA TA BSAG YOU’RE AN AGING EMO, HEHEHE.. 😀

  19. el bimbo noy! shet. 🙂

  20. @ech: naninigas ang aking……. (hehehe)

    @rei: either the seminary makes you maldito or gay. salamat wa gyud ko na-maldito. hehehe.

  21. @ db: “raimund m, di palupig, always taking the chance to stand up and act up, i love the dude though..” — he loves being the front man, i think. but yeah, i still love the dude too. 🙂

  22. “@rei: either the seminary makes you maldito or gay. salamat wa gyud ko na-maldito. hehehe.”
    —AAHH… KAIBAW MAN SAD MI, HAHA! SHUDI MAG-INABAS YADS.. 😀
    “hey jay, be happy and be gay”

  23. ang eheads pud ang nagpukaw sa akong balatian bahin sa musika..

  24. yeah they’re very popular in the early 90’s up to the late 90’s. i just love their songs.. many bands got their style of singing… their song that totally blew me away was “ang huling el bimbo”, i just love it very much. i guess it first aired in 1996, i was in grade 6 then..

  25. nakabuhat na ba kag kanta alang sa eraserheads? [kanang dedicated kanila?]

    – Ogs

  26. @insoy, a dha ka hehe. kanus-a mo next mukanta diri samo sa davao? 🙂

    – Ogs

  27. @rei and chowa: magkawat-kawat kog adto sa tv room sa seminary just to watch mtv. if naay pari magpadung, i’d turn the tv off and hide behind the couch. hehehe.—kahibalo nako ngano naka inggon sila haunted ang seminaryo!


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