The reunion concert of the Eraserheads  dubbed “Huling El Bimbo” is peppered with elements associated with  our college life at the University of the Philippines (UP).

Eraserheads performed before a huge crowd of 75,000 people on December 22, 2022 at the SMDC Festival Grounds in Parañaque City.

UP has played a special role in  Eraserheads since the Diliman campus  was where they started to perform in the 1990s, composed of Ely Buendia, Raymund Marasigan, Buddy Zabala, and Marcus Adoro

Buddy and Raymund were my roommates for two years (1989 to 1991) .at the Molave dorm during my last college years.

Our room, with high ceiling and huge windows, was at the end of the second floor of the Molave boys’ wing with the original room number replaced with “AS 101.”

I usually go out every time our room was used as their “practice area” since I could not study due to the “noise” they were creating.

It was beyond my comprehension that the “noise” that I tried to avoid made them known as one of the most successful and critically-acclaimed bands in OPM history earning them the accolade “The Beatles of the Philippines.”

“It’s been a long time. We’ve been to different places, seen different faces, and we’re coming back to you,” said Ely , the band’s lead vocalist.

Their last concert was staged in 2008, but it was cut short after Ely had to be rushed to the hospital for chest pains.

The stage is dominated by big LED screens with beautiful graphics for each song, some with UP elements.  UP Pep Squad even performed during the break.

Their logo of a large inverted letter “E”  is  right in the center, hanging above the band, which glowed different colors.

Set one songs  include  Superproxy; Back2Me; Waiting For The Bus; Fine Time; Kama Supra; Overdrive; Slo Mo; Torpedo; Huwag Mo Nang Itanong; Paru-Parong Ningning; Walang Nagbago; Poorman’s Grave; Yoko and Fill Her.

Set two songs include Pop Machine; Sembreak; Sabado; Ligaya; Lightyears; Saturn Return; Maling Akala; Tama Ka; With A Smile; Insomya; Christmas Party; Spoliarium and Magasin.

The last set songs include Pare Ko; Minsan; Alapaap and Ang Huling El Bimbo.

The  concert made my birthday week more memorable, as there are other UP-related activities that occurred.

On December 19, 2022, UP’s  attempt to be the back to back champion for Season 85 of University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball  ended when it succumbed to Ateneo during Game 3 (75-68) of the finals.

Despite the loss, we celebrated with a bonfire at the Amphitheatre to give honor to our boys. The cheer “UP Fight!” resonated in every game as men and women who solidly believed in the team, stood by their side in their journey.

On December 21, 2022, the UP  Diliman campus reverted to its traditional face-to-face Lantern Parade  which was suspended for two years due to the pandemic. It started in 1922, inspired by the folk practice of carrying lanterns of various shapes and sizes to light the way to the early morning December masses or misa de gallo during the Spanish period.

The parade traverses the UP Academic oval under the acacia trees  and passes by the Sunken Garden ( where the band used to play during UP Fairs) that are silent witnesses to the travails of the Diliman denizens, like the Eraserheads.

The Diliman campus  was my solace as a student at the UP School of Economics from 1987 to 1991 and later at the UP College of Law from 1992 to 1998.

The dorm is considered as  another classroom where we learned the value of give-and-take, cooperation and mutual respect in dealing with a variety of personalities and characters.

Ely’s room was also on the second floor, a few steps away from our room.  Marcus  was a regular ‘visitor’ to  our room who  was staying at the Narra dorm, and  slept  an extra cushion pulled out underneath Raimund’s bed.

Instead of going home to Las Piñas for my  birthday in 1990, I celebrated it with Buddy over ice cream while watching an old film in the dorm’s TV room.

The lyrics of “Pare Ko” aptly reflect how friendships were galvanized inside the campus: “O pare ko meron ka bang maipapayo. Kung wala ay okey lang . Kailangan lang ay ang iyong pakikiramay. Andito ka ay ayos na”.

Ironically, I only had one photo with them during college though  I was the photo editor of Philippine Collegian  which was used in a  segment  with clips of old photos, videos and recordings.

For many, the nostalgia of campus life is more than enough to see the show, to  look back at  the  time of  our adolescence and discovering one’s identity.

The concert  is a reminder that we should not only reminisce the innocence and enthusiasm of our youth but we also have to look at the joys in our lives.

It was a nostalgic journey driven by songs that have become part of our adolescent lives when we were pursuing both academic excellence and progressive thinking.

College life taught us how to persevere, be patient and be grateful for small blessings.

*****

(Peyups is the monicker of University of the Philippines.  Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail info@sapalovelez.com, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)

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