Does the Eraserheads’ song ‘Spolarium’ tell of the rape of Pepsi Paloma?

What is it about the words in the Eraserheads’ song “Spolarium” that continues to intrigue urban legend mongers? Speculation surrounding how the underlying meaning of its lyrics points to the sensational 1980s rape case that links Philippine Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto to the alleged rape of 1980’s starlet Pepsi Paloma have finally made it to mainstream media after years of being analysed and debated in various blogs and message forums. In an article published on the venerable Inquirer.net, Filipino-American lawyer Rodel Rodis recounts his personal experience delving into this popular Filipino urban legend after three Filipino “diehard fans” of the Eraserheads introduced him to the story. “I expressed surprise because it occurred long before any of them were born. They explained that they learned of the rape from the song,” writes Rodis.

Here are the lyrics of “Spolarium”…

Dumilim ang paligid
May tumawag sa pangalan ko
Labing isang palapag
Tinanong kung okey lang ako
Sabay abot ng baso
May naghihintay
At bakit ba ‘pag nagsawa na ako
Biglang ayoko na

At ngayon
Di pa rin alam
Kung ba’t tayo nandito
Pwede bang itigil muna
Ang pag-ikot ng mundo

Lumiwanag ang buwan
San Juan
Di ko na nasasakyan
Ang lahat ng bagay ay
Gumuguhit na lang
Sa ‘king lalamunan
Ewan mo at ewan natin
Sinong may pakana?
At bakit ba
Tumilapon ang
Gintong alak diyan sa paligid mo?

At ngayon
Di pa rin alam
Kung ba’t tayo nandito
Puwede bang itigil muna
Ang pag-ikot ng mundo

Umiyak ang umaga
Anong sinulat ni Enteng at Joey diyan
Sa pintong salamin
Di ko na mabasa
Pagkat merong nagbura
Ewan ko at ewan natin
Sinong nagpakana?
At bakit ba tumilapon ang spoliarium
Diyan sa paligid mo?

At ngayon
Di pa rin alam
Kung ba’t tayo nandito
Puwede bang itigil muna
Ang pag-ikot ng mundo

Paloma was best known as one of the “softdrink” beauties along with starlets Coca Nicolas and Sarsi Emmanuel in Philippine Cinema of the early eighties. Her career and life were tragically cut short after an unfortunate alleged crossing of paths with comedy stars and noontime variety show personalities Joey de Leon, Richie d’Horsey, and Vic Sotto.

The Eraserheads
The Eraserheads
In 1982, Paloma who was aged fifteen at the time reportedly approached then Philippine Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile for help, claiming she was raped by de Leon, d’Horsey, and Sotto. Vic Sotto is the brother of now Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto who himself was a famous showbiz celebrity. The man who was to become Senator of the Republic starred alongside his brother Vic and Joey de Leon in various productions. The trio are well-known for their billing as “Tito Vic and Joey” with d’Horsey often joining them in supporting roles.

Enrile referred Paloma to the law firm Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRA) where the late former Senator Rene Cayetano was at the time a senior partner. Cayetano took the job of legal counsel to Paloma in a move that would catapult him into the media spotlight of the time.

Paloma supposedly committed suicide in 1985 three years after she supposedly agreed to a settlement with Vic Sotto and his party. The negotiations that led to this settlement, according to columnist Rina Jimenez David, involved one of the negotiators “placing a pistol on the table in front of her.” No further criminal charges had since been filed against Sotto, de Leon, and D’Horsey.

According to Rodis, the police report on Paloma’s “suicide” stated that Paloma was suffering from “monetary problems”, an account disputed by Babette Corcuerra, Paloma’s manager…

“She was earning well and was fully booked for dancing performances. She just finished the Pepsi Paloma Show at the Bughaw and 10 other beerhouses,” Corcuerra said, and she had three film offers lined up, she added.

It just did not add up, Corcuerra said. “She was looking forward to celebrating her 18th birthday next year. She made me promise to throw a big party for her at a hotel because it would be her debut,” Corcuerra told the Times Journal.

Was she murdered? Before he passed away, in an interview on ABS-CBN that was not aired, self-confessed hitman Kit Mateo intimated as much.

Will the truth ever come out about Pepsi Paloma’s “rape”? Probably not. Sotto and de Leon’s popular variety show Eat Bulaga continues to make millions for its stars and producers, and its most famous alumnus, Tito Sotto is one of the Philippine Senate’s most powerful members.

Get in line, but don’t hold your breath.

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