The Inbox

Wake-uppers and ‘croakers” on AM Radio

am radio3

By  Winnie  Velasquez, VERA Files

From the Sixties to the Seventies, schoolchildren in the barrios rose at the crack of dawn as the cock crowed. They started their day thus because after a simple breakfast they made their way to school crossing rivers and trekking for miles to their classrooms which were located nearer the centers of town. Their city counterparts woke up to a different set of "croakers" from Monday to Friday.

Public schools in the city started their morning sessions with the flag ceremony at seven in the morning; private schools begun their day at 7:30. The wake-up call  then was at 5:30 to give them  time to bathe, have a full breakfast and be ready for school in less than an hour. Public schools were barely five to ten minutes from home, while their private counterparts were a little farther so they had to be at their gates at 6 a.m. to board the school bus. Those who took the family car had 30 more minutes to spare. School bells rung at 7 a.m., 15 minutes were allotted for formation with the head teacher making the roll call, checking if students were in full regulation uniform, their shoes shined, and hair neatly combed back.

For most city parents, getting the children up posed a different challenge.  Alarm clocks were mostly useless as older children punched the button and pleaded for five more minutes of snooze time. This often ended in disaster as no one voluntarily rose after five minutes so a more creative means to wake everyone had to be found.

Radio came in very handy.  Aside from being a ready source of news and commentaries, its volume turned up, it was a most effective medium to get everyone moving.  Most unforgettable then were the voices that roused them from sleep daily and brought the world into their homes in the morning.

There was Johnny de Leon and his sidekick with the monicker "Ngongo." In his singular baritone, Johnny intoned his program's title "Lundagin, Mo Baby" to lilting music, then as his voice faded away, Ngongo's fractured voice filled the airwaves with a long drawn-out "Mataan…aaaaaan, matamissss…" Along with La Yebana, Bataan Matamis -- the thin, dark brown, unfiltered cigaret was the staple "joint" the masses smoked. As soon as these twin voices lorded it over all the early morning sounds in the house, students knew it was time to get up.

Johnny de Leon, who had a huge following among the masses was the unchallenged top drawer on ABS-CBN radio. Aside from the daily news which he delivered in conversational Tagalog (Taglish was unheard of then), his two-hour program was heavy on public service bulletins and listeners called in freely with their complaints against government officials. He also gave advice to listeners on anything and everything and helped track down missing persons as his program broadcast nationwide reached even the remote barrios.

Rafael Yabut brought a different flavor to early morning radio. Known as the "Old Man of Philippine Broadcasting," where De Leon was folksy and mellow, Yabut was hard-hitting.  His program "Tayo'y Mag-Aliw" on DZRH tackled government and politics, had segments on family values, and dispensed entertainment news and trivia. Mang Paeng, as he was popularly known to his listeners, minced no words when lashing out at the venality of politicos and non-performing government functionaries.

But just these people hated Yabut, he was well-regarded in equal measure by his loyal followers because every morning he dished out a balanced menu that was peppered with surprises. Listeners stayed tuned until the last quarter because they would never know when a popular actor, matinee idol or a popular singer would drop in for a short chat with Mang Paeng and to answer their questions.  Yabut was nearly silenced by his enemies when driving his car one morning in 1968, he was fired upon at close range by two gun-welding men who alighted from a jeepney near the corner of San Marcelino street in Ermita, Manila.  His car radio was on so listeners heard the gunfire. A motorist driving by took him to the Philippine General Hospital. Yabut survived  the attack and a month later, he was back on the air.

Doroy Valencia was another mainstay on morning radio. But unlike De Leon and Yabut, he had command not only of radio but print as well. Aside from his morning program on DZMT which came on 30 minutes later than those of De Leon and Yabut, he had three more on different time slots. In his signature "croak" Ka Doroy dispensed a heady brew of news, hard-hitting commentaries on government and politics, and a sardonic take on just about anyone he chose to roast for the day. What kept listeners glued to this Batangueňos' broadcasts were his acerbic comments that were spiked like Bantangas barako coffee. But to a whole generation of students, he is best remembered for his opening lines delivered staccato and in his "patented" croak: "Ladies and gentlemen, how do you do? This is Teodoro Valencia greeting you all a pleasant good morning."

When students heard this crackling voice over the airwaves, they got up from bed and made a beeline for the bathroom. Another day has started, the radio is on… the city is on its feet and life goes on.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow
    US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers on Monday will kick off expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening defence alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China's increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial
    Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipina he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will on Monday kick off 10-day annual military excercises, according to Captain Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

  • Biker Beauty: Honda and David's Salon Pampering Day
    Biker Beauty: Honda and David's Salon Pampering Day

    Honda Philippines Inc. (HPI), and David's Salon recently held the awarding ceremony for the Metro Manila winner of the David's Salon Scooter Raffle Promo at the 5th level of SM Megamall Building A. Loyal patron Maria Theresa Guevara took home a brand new Honda Click 125i. Present to grace the occasion were David's Salon Creative Director Laura Charlton and HPI Assistant Vice-President for Sales and Marketing Hideo Nishinaga.To the delight of all those in attendance, guests were treated to …

  • ‘Next leader must not be newbie’
    ‘Next leader must not be newbie’

    Vice President Jejomar Binay believes the next president of the Philippines must have vast experience and a long track record in governance and in dealing with crises. “I am very much convinced that the local government is the best training ground for those who want to run for national government positions,” he said. Binay said he is determined to run for president in 2016 on the strength of his competence and track record. …

  • Massacre suspect tests negative for poisoning
    Massacre suspect tests negative for poisoning

    A suspect in the Maguindanao massacre case who had been examined at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) tested negative for poisoning, medical records released yesterday showed. However, the Quezon City court handling the multiple murder case resolved to isolate Police Officer 1 Pia Kamidon from the rest of the accused detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig for his safety. In a two-page order, Regional Trial Court Branch 221 assisting Judge Genie Gapas-Agbada ordered jail officials to …

  • ‘Homework first before Facebook’
    ‘Homework first before Facebook’

    President Aquino elicited laughter from students here as he reminded them to open books first before Facebook. “Finish your assignments first before making a raid in the Clash of Clans,” Aquino said, referring to a popular online game. In a speech during the turnover yesterday of two new three-story buildings at the Tarlac National High School, he said the government could only provide opportunities for learning but the rest of the work would be up to the students. The new school buildings …

  • Espina resignation confirmed; Noy looks for replacement
    Espina resignation confirmed; Noy looks for replacement

    President Aquino ended speculations yesterday and confirmed that Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina had indeed resigned as officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police. As of this time, we are conducting various interviews and checks on the various candidates,” Aquino told reporters at the Tarlac National High School in Tarlac City. Aquino had kind words for Espina, saying that he stood by and defended the 44 slain police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in the operation in …

  • Palace welcomes G7 concern over sea reclamation
    Palace welcomes G7 concern over sea reclamation

    President Aquino welcomed yesterday the Group of Seven industrialized countries’ expression of concern over rising tension in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, calling it a clear indication of the global scope of the problem ramped up by China’s massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. In Tarlac City where he led the turnover of new classrooms, Aquino told reporters that goodwill and not tension must prevail in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, where territorial …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options