I GREW up with the transistor radio as my best friend. I was the loner type, which means that while the other kids in the neighborhood were beating the hell out of each other in imitation of a wrestling match they just saw on TV, I stayed home glued to the radio set, crying over the story of a peasant girl who had to leave home after she got pregnant by, of all people, the parish priest.
Mother: Wa ka nauwaw sa imong gibuhat? Nakig-relasyon ka og pari, usa ka-alagad sa Diyos! Layas! Sukad karon, wala na koy anak! Layaaaas!
Daughter: Igo na mama, igo na. Uhuhuhu… Imo kining sala. Ikaw ang nagtudlo kanako nga way gipili ang gugma. Nahigugma ako ma, ug way gipili ang pinitik ning akong kasingkasing. Apan sige, molayas ako. Ug sukad karon, wala na pud koy inahan! Ari na ko nang!
On Sundays, when radio stations didn’t air soap operas, I switched to musical shows and felt the weight of the world on my shoulders while listening to Imelda Papin’s “Kung Liligaya Ka Sa Piling Ng Iba.”
“Tututol ba ako sa kagustuhan mo, sapat na ang minsa’y minahal mo akoooo.” Oh, Imelda, my Jukebox Queen Imelda. Your loneliness is beyond measure.
But nothing beat the depth of loneliness I felt every time I listened to Max Surban’s “Pag-utlan.” The song’s opening line, “Saksi niini’ng kabulakan, saksi niini’ng kalanggaman,” made me drop whatever I was doing so I could prepare emotionally for the killer finale, “Sa ibabaw sa akong lubong ayaw kalimot pagtanom, sarang nga imong mahandum.”
When other kids started to blaspheme the song by replacing the last line with “sibuyas, tamatis ug talong,” I wasn’t amused. Instead, I began to imagine the difficult life vegetable farmers had to go through just to make sure our family had enough supply of my favorite “tortang talong” for breakfast.
Radio commercials made me sad, too. There was something immeasurably lonely about the Colgate-Close-Up or the Pepsi-Coke rivalry. My mother would sometimes catch me wiping tears from my eyes as I listened to all those “bulawanong pahinumdom.” She’d ask if there was anything wrong. Nothing, I would tell her. It’s just that…
Then I would stare blankly into space and wonder aloud if there was any chance peace would reign in the world someday, a world where Chippy and Cheese Curls coexist happily in one healthy pack. My mother would then check if I had fever.
When some sectors raised hell over the airing of what they described as “lewd” radio shows last week, I felt elated. You mean Verboten is back? I remember crying copious tears listening to every Verboten episode.
“Nakatulog na siya sa kahubog, ug napukas iyang sayal. Oh, Veronica, pagkaputi sa imong paa, ug ang imong pagkababaye pagkamadanihon… Ako siyang duolon, ania… Akong hikapon iyang paa, ania… Akong huboon iyang saplot, ania… Akong huboon akong karsones, ania… Ohhh Veronica, ahhh… Veronica…”
I don’t know with you guys, but those lines made me think of poverty, of people who are too poor to clothe themselves, of children running around naked and barefoot… It’s just so sad.
(SUN.STAR CEBU. AUG 23, 21010)