Radio killed the Soap Opera

Jun 25, 2011 by

Any true blue Ilonggo would know at least one radio drama on an AM station in their lifetime. I think most of my creative receptacles are influenced by my intense exposure to Provincial Jail, Sino ang may Sala (Who is to Blame), Mga Misteryo sang Kabuhi (Mysteries of Life) and my all-time favorite Tuyang Ermitanya. I can certainly say that with all this soap opera explosion and sitcoms trying to make ratings are nothing compared to the outrageous ideas broadcast by the good old radio drama. I am writing this blog without solid research data, but I am using my own personal experience growing up with my 10 AM habit: while the yaya did the laundry, I would play in the garden with that battery-operated radio transistor with my ears transfixed on what must have been an aural pornography. Each time the dramatists breathe, they sounded like they were reaching orgasm.

The daily episodes of the radio drama were mind-blowing. For a kid like me in the 80s who would spend summers in my grandmother’s house in Bacolod, I would hear stuff about rape, incest, adultery, dwarves abducting children from the nursery, God cracking nasty jokes, and every 2 minutes or so, they breathed as if they were making love. Interesting, I thought. But it never occurred to me how else it would have been because what I remember is that they told the stories so vividly I felt like I was with them in the scene. I was a¬†voyeur who listened (shouldn’t it be eavesdropping, more likely?).

Tuyang ermitanya was my favorite. I think it still airs until now in Bombo Radyo. It had the same exact characters for years and years. It starts with a nasty program ID where Tuyang Ermitanya (a hermit) narrates her character in a funny sort of way. If you understand Ilonggo, I think you’ll appreciate listening to this one:

Radio drama is slowly losing its charm among the general public these days — what with the multimedia explosion and the massive campaign for anything virtual. I miss the days when things were funny yet simple. When scary things are supposed to be really scary and the actors didn’t care whether they pop their lungs out screaming on the microphone. When radio drama was like your friend who was just there, in one corner, run by a couple of huge Eveready batteries keeping you company.


  1. Rhoda G. Campillan

    I am a fan of these dramas too. When I was still connected with media, I would usually listen to these dramas while riding the patrol car. When I transferred here in Miag-ao,it would usually serve as my background when I wash my laundry. My personal favorites are Once there was a love, Mga Misteryo sang Kabuhi and Provincial Jail.

    Teenagers now a days are more inclined to television. They missed the opportunity to imagine beyond limits; that is the beauty of radio. :-)

  2. rebs

    I used to tell the time of the day based on these radio dramas. Condorilla is the time to do the laundry; Sinu ang May Sala, I should be preparing food for lunch. You forgot to mention Dear Diary [and know the boy that you cared for….(singing mode, hehe)].

    Another great article Bob. (^^)

  3. eman

    and, oh! Tubong Tapas! :-)

  4. RJMolina

    very nice entry, bob! who could forget these radio programs? kag ang mga kanta nga ginatukar indi gd makakas sa mga utok ta. haha!
    “masubo matuod ang dili angayan, provincial jail akun gintup-an…”

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