Backstage and up front at the Eraserheads concert
- Tim Yap () - March 14, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Everything about it was historical, with the experience shared by more than 100,000 people — yet it felt like it was happening right in the middle of my living room.

I was rushing to get to the concert with a whole caboodle of people — a couple of friends, an entire television crew, and some staff. I’ve never seen that many people walking in the same direction for a concert before, with the frenzy intensifying as soon as the first beats of Marasigan emanated across the entire SM Mall of Asia concert grounds.  Panicking as I always do (I ran as fast as I could during the Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, and Rihanna-Chris Brown concerts because they wouldn’t wait for me), I gathered the troops and went into the gate upon the signal of a security staffer, who motioned for us to proceed.

By sheer excitement, I ran so fast that I almost ended up onstage with Ely, Raimund, Buddy, and Marcus, thanks to an all-access pass issued to me just hours before dinner.  I then found myself in front of those metal railings that separated the stage from the audience, awestruck by the range and depth of the artists performing right in front of me, and mesmerized by the spell they had cast on an entire generation, no, generations.

You see, I was never an Eraserheads fan. The ‘90s for me were the times when I immersed myself in school and work to the nth level, and so, for me, the anthems that all the ‘90s kids and beyond memorized by heart were nothing but background music as I rushed from deadline to deadline, from scene to another scene.

From Break-Up To Make-Up

Only years later, when I got to know some of them better via this industry, did I get to really appreciate them for the true artists that they are. And maybe that was why they needed to part ways — to be able to fully explore their artistic depths. For this reunion’s “Final Set,” it wasn’t about reviving old memories, for as artists apart they were able to focus on their inner lives as human beings, thus enriching their souls. And the distance they have come since the Break-Up to the Make-Up has enriched their reunion, an experience they chose to share with all of us who witnessed their most awaited and anticipated final set.  You see goodbyes can be sweet.

In between songs, I would go backstage to check on the overall situation (okay fine, making usi).  I saw the individual tents set up for each of the Eheads, the ambulance right outside Ely’s tent (just in case), and the viewing room for the MTV and Smart folks who produced this legendary feat.  I spotted MTV’s Georgette Tengco, who proudly told me that their general admissions screens were no ordinary screens, but giant LED screens — talk about premium for the people!

During intermission, I asked Marcus what he was planning to do right after the concert.  “I’ll disappear again,” was his jovial reply.

Raimund was also in the best of spirits when I asked him what we could expect of the last set of the Final Set.  “It will last for three days!” he quipped, as he smiled his way to an almost-song-and-dance-number-kind-of-high happiness.

I saw some girls running around backstage and so I talked to them as well.  Nope, they weren’t groupies — they were the kid daughters of Buddy, Marcus, and Raimund!  “Why don’t you girls form a band?” I asked them.  “We tried, but we suck!” said the tots.  And what would the name of the band be?  Veda, the smallest one in the group and the daughter of Marcus, squealed, “The kids!”  But it was Atari who was more serious in her reply. “Girls Who Like Pink,” she said, spoken like a true daughter of Raimund and Myra.

The Man From Manila

During the break, Ely just went quietly to his room to bond with son Eon, who was playing games on the iPone, while business partner and managers Diane Ventura and Day Cabuhat were assisting the medics as they did a final check before his final set.

Back onstage, I got lost in the tragic innocence of Ely, as he spilled words that rang with emotion despite the stoic expression he wore.

Ely looked like the kid who was singing alone by the river, wrapped up in his own world of wordless wonders and the joys and pains of youth. During encore, I saw a sign that Buddy lifted up — it said “The Man from Manila.”  Right beside me was a sobbing Julia Clarete, a close friend of the band and for whom the tribute to the “Man from Manila” is. Francis M was supposed to come out at this point, but I’m sure he was there — in spirit.

By the end of the show, Ely set his keyboards on fire, literally. These vintage keyboards were the first he had purchased during the early days of the band — it must have been with Ely for 15 years.  More than the group hug (where Ely rallied even the audience to join in on all the love), for me, this was the iconic moment in an already-iconic concert.

There is a photo in a blog that shows fans splitting apart the jacket that Ely threw to the crowd so that each of them could have a relic from that night.  Sounds like what happened to the garments of another, I would say, rock star — one that had a predilection for saving souls.  Hmm — I wonder what happened to the Puma shoes he threw.

* * *

Catch behind-the-scenes snippets of the Eheads’ “The Final Set” at Events Incorporated tonight at 6pm on QTV-11.

CHRISTINA AGUILERA ELY FINAL SET MARCUS MDASH RAIMUND SET
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