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Friday, January 2, 2009

Ely Buendia

Eleandre Basiño Buendía, popularly known as Ely Buendia, and also once adopting the stage name, Jesus "Dizzy" Ventura, (born November 2, 1970) is a Filipino writer and musician, who gained fame as guitarist, songwriter, and lead vocalist in the popular Pinoy rock band, The Eraserheads. His gift in songwriting, in which he contributed heavily to the band, has earned him a reputation as one of the most respected icons in the country. He currently performs as guitarist and lead vocalist for the band, Pupil.

The Eraserheads:

In December 1989, Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan, Marcus Adoro and Buddy Zabala formed the Eraserheads in their collegiate school, the University of the Philippines, Diliman. The band found that they weren't good at covering other people's hits, so they concentrated on writing their own materials instead. "After all, if we committed a mistake no one would recognize it since they don't know the song, right?," Buendia explained. Performing their original songs live soon earned them a cult following in the University, which gradually spread outside the campus. One of the songs, a pop song entitled, Pare Ko, which Buendia wrote, became very popular, partly because of the lyrics which included a few swear words.

The Eraserheads eventually signed a three-year deal with BMG Pilipinas. Their debut album, "UltraElectroMagneticPop!" featured no less than Pare Ko and a host of other novelty pieces that had people listening and discovering more about the quartet. The album also brought the underground college rock scene into public awareness. 1993 saw the emergence of "Eraserheadsmania" because of successive hit singles, sold-out concerts and thousands of fans.

Buendia continued to write songs for the band, many of which became hit singles and classics. The Eraserheads' lasted for ten years before finally breaking up with Buendia and Adoro's departure. During those 10 years, the band produced eight studio albums along with other EPs and singles. Their gigs took them out of the country, with tours in the U.S. and other countries. One album, "Aloha Milkyway, was released in the Asian region. The Eraserheads were also the first ever Filipino artists to receive the "Moon Man" trophy for winning the 1997 MTV Asia Viewer's Choice Award for the video of their song, "Ang Huling El Bimbo." This hit was also written by Buendia, like many others that the band produced.

The Eraserheads had one of the most influential runs in OPM history. Their prolific contributions to the OPM repertoire backed by remarkable sales led their record company, Sony-BMG to dub them "The Beatles of the Philippines". Buendia had correspondingly been dubbed the John Lennon of OPM. Ely remarked, however ,that he does not relish being a "John Lennon of OPM" as he craves for his own identity and to be known as "Ely Buendia of OPM."

Leaving the Eraserheads:

After weeks of speculation, it was confirmed that Buendia had left the band in mid-March 2002 for "reasons unknown". However, in subsequent interviews, Buendia pointed to business matters as the cause of the band's break-up.

In an interview, Marasigan said he was eating in SM Megamall, a local shopping mall, when he heard of the news (how he heard of it, was not clear). He said he was "semi-surprised" and wondered if Zabala already knew about it. Adoro told of the story now famous among Eraserheads fans about Buendia's cryptic text message. He said Buendia stated in the text message that he had already "graduated." Adoro quipped in the same interview that Buendia being the first to graduate was natural, since he was in batch '87 in their school (UP, Diliman), while they were in Batch '88.

Zabala confesses in an interview that disbanding had not been that far away from the members' minds. He said that there were so many occasions where they could have disbanded but they did not. Adoro expressed the belief of some people that the band was getting too old and that it was "selfish" for the band to continue, likely referring to comments about how it's time for other bands besides the Eraserheads to shine. The band made it clear, though, that Buendia's departure from the band wasn't in any way violent and there was no shouting (sigawan) or any confrontation.

Without giving up, the three remaining original Eraserheads decided to continue on. Within just a few weeks, the "new" Eheads debuted at Hard Rock Cafe in Makati City on April 19 featuring a female singer-guitarist, Kris Gorra-Dancel from the band, Fatal Posporos. However after a few months, Adoro also quit the band. The remaining members of the Eraserheads added Diego Mapa and Ebe Dancel to their lineup and renamed their band, "Cambio."

The Mongols:

After leaving the Eraserheads, Buendia formed the band, The Mongols. It was composed of guitarist J. Astro (also known as Jerome Velasco) (of The Teeth), bassist Yan Yuzon, drummer Bogs "Boga Man" Jugo (of the indie pop band Daydream Cycle), and Buendia on guitars and vocals, under the stage name Jesus "Dizzy" Ventura. The band was managed by Buendia's wife, Diane Ventura.

The Mongols released a self-produced underground EP in CD-R format with factory-printed sleeves in April 2003, "A Fraction of A Second". It contains five tracks, "Case Logic", "No", "Tomorrowland", "KSP" and "Abstraction of A Second". It was released under "Redrum Records".

After a few months, the Mongols decided to have their self-produced album distributed by Neo Records Inc. under the major label VIVA Records. The result is a thirteen-track album called "Buddha's Pest" (tracks are: "Keeper," "Bulakbol," "Bakit Nga Ba?," "Pony," "Teka Muna," "Candy Flip," "Heroine," "Wig Out," "It's Over," "Irish Spring," "Odd Even," "Your Bushido" plus an instrumental album filler). It was produced by "The Genghis Klan" under "Criminal Records".


Shortly after The Mongols' guitarist, J.Astro, left the band, the remaining members renamed their group "Pupil." Buendía chanced upon the band name while reading a medical book. The band is enjoying more mainstream popularity, in contrast to the Mongols.

Solo Acts:

Buendía had a solo project, even before leaving the Eraserheads. He recorded ten tracks in his home studio, "Suite 16 Studios." The album was called "Wanted: Bedspacer," and it comprised of the tracks "Wanted Bedspacer," "Monday Mundane," "Kakaiba," "Santo," "Over 18," "Tapos Na," "Acid Tongue," "Oras," "Shallow Breathing," and "Hotchik".

The cassette version of the album has a bonus track titled "In the Midnight".

In mid-2008, Buendía commenced a series of solo gigs. He mostly sang Eraserheads songs accompanied by indie bands or sessionists, without his band Pupil. First he had a local performance with the Oven Toaster band in the Mag:net Cafe, the Fort. Then he performed an all-Eraserheads number in Manning Bar, Sydney, Australia (dubbed "The closest to an Eraserheads reunion" ). Apparently, most fans have been intrigued by these events as there were no issued press releases or announcements regarding his recent solo performances. He also made a new version of "Ang Huling El Bimbo" with FILharmoniKa orchestra for Kumpas compilation.

Eraserheads Reunion:

Buendía will join Marasigan, Adoro, and Zabala for a one-night only reunion show on August 30, 2008 at the CCP Open Grounds between Manila and Pasay City.

Newspaper Columnist:

Ely Buendía had a broadsheet column, entitled "CURSOR," published weekly (every Saturday) in the Entertainment Section of the Manila Bulletin. Some entries are “Cloning Music,” “Crude Little Robots,” “Biocast Entry No. 13,” “A Dystopian Holiday,” “Event Horizon,” “The Answer,” “Misguided Tours,” “A Well-Documented Review,” “Parking and Flying,” “Soaking Up the Bar,” “Mental Floss,” and his final article, “A Cause for Elevation.” Due to Buendia's busy musical career, CURSOR had ended and was last published during the first Saturday of September 2006.


On Sunday, January 7, 2007, Ely Buendia suffered a heart attack or acute myocardial infarction secondary to arterial blockage. It began when Buendia complained about finding it a bit hard to breathe while they were on the way to a gig in Laguna. But he dismissed it as mere heartburn. After some time, Buendia was reportedly in the middle of a song during a gig in Calamba, Laguna when he felt a sudden pain in his chest and left arm. He was rushed to an Intensive Care Unit at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa. "It turns out that he'd been having a heart attack for the last five hours." according to ex-eheads manager Jessica Zafra. Doctors performed an angiogram on the frontman and it confirmed the heart attack as two of his arteries were blocked. Buendia's condition was confirmed stable after an emergency angioplasty operation headed by Dr. Benjie Luna during the same night. According to Dok Sergio, “Ely is fine, successful yung surgery last night. (Last night's surgery was a success).”

Doctors pointed out that the cause of the heart attack was stress. Buendia's band was booked solid during the holidays. "The first operation addressed only one arterial blockage, There's another one that requires immediate attention." according to Ms. Day Cabuhat. Ely Buendia was transferred to The Philippine Heart Center on the evening of Tuesday, January 9, 2007 for his second angioplasty. "It was Ely's first heart attack and it could have cost him his life, One of his major arteries was 100 percent clogged and the other, 95 percent." says Diane. The doctor said that Ely was genetically predisposed to heart attacks as few of his family members and relatives also suffer from the same ailment. However, when he was transferred to The Philippine Heart Center, Doctors found a third arterial blockage.

The second angioplasty operation conducted on Ely Buendia on January 10, 2007 was successful and is secured from having heart attack recurrence. “The operation was a super success. He is totally out of danger and heart attack recurrence is not expected.” according to Buendia’s attending physician and cardiac surgeon, Dr. Wilfred Dee. Diane, Ely's wife, is a capillary-carcinoma survivor who's now free from cancer cells during the past two years.

On behalf of Pupil, Ms. Day Cabuhat and Diane Ventura gave thanks to everyone who called, visited and expressed their concerns to Ely's condition such us fans, writers, editors, media, sponsors, networks, producers, and most especially to local musicians such as Yael Yuzon, Japs Sergio, Francis Magalona, Parokya ni Edgar, Kamikazee, Kiko Machine, Menaya, Rico Blanco, Urbandub, Buddy Zabala, Marcus Adoro and many others.

Buendia was finally released from the Hospital and was allowed to stay at home and rest by his doctors on the night of January 15, 2007. "I’ve got a bionic heart now," joked by Buendia.

This event prompted rap artist Francis Magalona, a longtime friend of Buendia and the other Eraserheads, to state the following in his personal blogsite: "Fast forward to right now, 9:58 am, Jan. 9, a lot of what ifs scenarios pop in my head. What if the E-heads members are back, like long-lost blood brothers? What if "the most significant OPM band of Pinoy Rock" would be in one room, what would happen?" And in postscript he adds, "Para sa akin panahon na para mag-reunite ang E-heads. Sugod na mga kapatid...rock & roll na hanggang umaga." which roughly translates, "For me, it's time for E-Heads to reunite. Let's go brothers...rock & roll until the morning comes."

Ely’s first on-stage public appearance after his heart attack was on Saturday, February 10, 2007 as his band, Pupil, performed at The Music Hall in SM Mall of Asia, in an Animax event called “Love Is In The Air”. The event featured a Speed-dating event as a welcome celebration for Valentine’s Day and live performances from other local artists such as Callalily, and Amber. Pupil is also part of “Super Proxy Jam”. It is an event that is hoping to spread awareness for the importance of Cardiovascular Health and for the benefit of The Heartist Foundation Inc. Francis Magalona & The Hardware Sydrome, Parokya Ni Edgar, Gloc-9, Dicta License, PiKaSO, and Dice & Mobbstar are also participants in the said event. Heartist Foundation Inc. is another collaborative effort between Ely Buendia and Francis Magalona.

Fund-raising Concert:

Musicians from the OPM industry gathered at Eastwood City on Sunday, January 28, 2007, for "LivELY: A Fundraising Concert for the Benefit of Ely Buendia." The concert, began at 3:00 PM at the Eastwood Central Plaza, and featured Filipino artists including Parokya ni Edgar, Kamikazee, Kitchie Nadal, Rivermaya, Itchyworms, True Faith, Cynthia Alexander, Sponge Cola,Hale,Dicta License, Francis M., Chicosci, Greyhoundz, Up Dharma Down, Paramita, Ciudad, Moonstar 88, Join the Club, Lahi, Oprressed, Makatha, Salindiwa, Rocksteddy, Swissy, and Julianne. The project was organized by local radio station, Magic 89.9, former Eraserheads road manager, Julie Pacañas, director Joyce Bernal, PMX Audio,, and friends of Buendia, to raise funds to cover his hospital bills and medical expenses as he recovers from his recent heart attack. The event was open to the public and cash donations were accepted at the event. A huge part of the collected funds was also used to set up Heartist Foundation, Inc.

Notable in the event was the surprise appearance of former Eraserheads lead guitarist, Marcus Adoro who played reggae renditions of classic Eraserheads songs. There were also other special guests, such as Yan Yuzon of Pupil who played guitars for Sponge Cola.

Personal Life:

Ely Buendia is married to Pupil's manager, Diane Ventura. He has two children, Una Aurea (from an early relationship), and Eon Drake (with Diane). Buendia was once romantically connected with She Elgar, who is now married to Mike Elgar of Rivermaya.

In several interviews, such as in the local music magazine, Pinoy, he has expressed a fondness for Stephen King books and history. According to a local television show, Pipol, he wanted to be an architect in his youth. He also loves movies, comics and especially videogames; from classic Nintendo systems up to next-gen consoles as he declared on recent interviews.

Other Works:

* Ely Buendia co-produced Sugar Hiccup’s “Oracle” album with Raimund Marasigan.

* Ely Buendia and his sister, Lally Buendia wrote the songs “Black Whole," “Sucker” and “Marble” for Domino's Fair Tales album. His wife, Diane played Glockenspiel on “In Your Arms and Pedalpitch on “Provocatrice”. Fair Tales was co-produced by Ely (together with his sister), and was mixed by him as well (together with Lazyboy). Domino was fronted by Lally Buendia and the album was released commercially under Viva Records in 2003.

* He composed True Faith’s “Kung ‘Di Rin Lang Ikaw” with Lyrics by J. Bacasmas and arranged by Ron Soriano for OctoArts International. Bacasmas is the vocals behind Ultraelectromagneticpop's “Ganjazz.”

* "Magasin" which he wrote was sampled for the track “Girl On Da Magazin” by Legendary Flip-Hop group, Legit Misfitz.

* He wrote the songs “Mga Babae” and "Something Always Brings Me Back To You" sung by the female funk, R&B, rap, and soul music group, Novia under BMG Pilipinas.

* Buendia wrote a song called "Stone's Throw" for Sponge Cola's debut album "Palabas".

* He also collaborated with Pinoy Rap artists in the song “Private Diane” with Francis Magalona and Death Threat. It was released under Sony Music.

* He used the codename “MH Hesus” when he sung back-up vocals for Parokya Ni Edgar’s “Hosanna Ngayong Pasko” Christmas song in the “Jingle Balls Silent Night Holy Cow” album. MH actually means Maalalahanin, it is the street somewhere in Teachers Village, Quezon City where Ely Buendia used to live.

* Ely played a cameo role in Rufa Mae Quinto’s movie entitled, “Masikip Sa Dibdib” where he was playing and singing “Keeper” by The Mongols in a live stage set with audiences going wild and enjoying the music.

* Buendia also sang "Suntok Sa Buwan", an APO Hiking Society original. It was included in the OST of 2000 Viva Films movie "Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw", starring Regine Velasquez and Robin Padilla.

* Ely Buendia was included in a commercial project for San Miguel Beer's Red Horse product line, alongside various Filipino Rock icons: Karl Roy from Kapatid, Marc Abaya from Kjwan, Reg Rubio from Greyhoundz, Basti Artadi from Wolfgang and Pepe Smith from the Juan Dela Cruz Band. He also became a top endorser of the Red Horse Muziklaban. During the 2007 Muziklaban, he performed "Nasaan Ka?" with Kjwan as his ad hoc band.

Text LUK4:

As early as January 2006, there were reports that some of Pupil’s fans have been hearing a new song called “Luk4 Jingle”, as it was played on some radio stations and also during the ending credits video of the original episodes of Studio 23’s Barkada Trip. Although due to lack of indications and confirmations from the band and related organizers that time, it was quite unclear if the song was actually from the band or was an old solo project of Ely or the vocals of the said song just sounded like Ely. Until recently, the song was finally confirmed, heard and witnessed when the band played it (titled "Text LUK4") live during the finale of DPC Yellow Pages' "Luk4 The Million - City Adventure Challenge" held on December 8, 2006 at the Metrowalk. Although Pupil plays it during live performances, the song itself was a side project of Ely's.