Back where it all began

Cyber Buddy - by Tomas Gomez III

Posted at Jun 12 2014 03:41 AM | Updated as of Jun 24 2014 02:49 AM

I am back where it all began--to my first professional engagement with broadcast media some 57 years ago, albeit this time in a totally reengineered incarnation. Back then, it was simply the radio and its assigned air-wave band and its limited local reach. Today, it is the cyberspace and the globe-wide internet.

Back where it all began 1

It was then the Chronicle Broadcasting Network (so named after the more prominent sister entity and politically influential broadsheet, the Manila Chronicle, prior to the merger with ABS, Alto Broadcasting System, that brought about ABS-CBN). This was all in Aduana Street, Intramuros, Manila, housed in an array of buildings all occupied by the business interests of the Lopez brothers, Don Eugenio, the Harvard-schooled pioneering Filipino businessman, and his younger brother, then the Vice President Fernando Lopez, fondly called “Toto Nanding” by friends, partisans, beneficiaries and sycophants. I am grateful to Isagani de Castro, ed-in-chief, upon whose invitation I am back. And truly delighted to be the latest adopted child of “Kapamilya.” Perhaps, a long, long absent child!

Sharing some relevant trivia is perhaps apropos, for starters. ABS is known to stand for Alto Broadcasting System but hardly ever anyone even knows what “Alto” stood for. “Al” is for Aleli de Guzman while “To” stood for Tony Quirino, a judge and younger brother of Don Elpidio Quirino, the first Ilocano President. Aleli was wife to Tony. Then, there was an enterprising Jewish-American, Jimmy Lindenberg, short, stocky and wiry, who, after WW II, started a shop assembling and fabricating electronic transmitting equipment, the Bolinao Electronics Corporation, which had applied for the very first television franchise in the Philippines. Judge Quirino bought control of Jimmy’s shop, thus ABS was born, and with the first operating TV station in the country, DZAQ-TV, named after Antonio Quirino. Lindenberg is hailed as the father of Philippine TV. Rest your pens and papers, there will be no quiz!

In Manila, CBN had DZXL, DZQL and DZYL-FM. By some quirk in hiring, placement and availability of positions, my first official assignment turned out to be with DZYL-FM, (an all-music station with a very minimum of talk, save for intros of titles and featured artists), instead of DZQL, with which I had applied as a bilingual announcer. I was barely 22. “YL” stood for Yolanda Lopez, nicknamed Bobbie, the eldest daughter of “Toto” Nanding. Btw, Bobbie Lopez, she passed away recently, was once Mrs. Robert Puckett, and mother of the solar-power entrepreneur, Panchito Puckett, favorite and favored grandson and heir of the late Vice President Lopez.

DZYL-FM was not only the Philippines’ very first frequency modulation radio station, it was also the first all-female radio station in the country. Its supervisor was Leila Benitez and the announcing staff included, among several, Nelda Lopez-Navarro (mother of Leah, the activist); Aura Mitra (baby sister of the late Speaker Monching); Lulu Orense-Casas who later in life became the mother of Manolo Quezon III. And some quirk it indeed was, I had become the first male voice in the first all-female radio station! I regard this as a badge of being an “honorary female,” attesting to the beginnings of a life-long advocacy for equal rights, and in some instances, superiority of the female of the human specie.

Weeks after, it was finally DZQL, Radio Reloj, this time, all boys. The ones I can remember are Eddie Kiunisala, Barr Samson, Benjie Flores, Eric Domingo, Henry Teves. Eddie Ilarde had just been promoted to DZXL. DZQL was the country’s very first all-news (minute-in, minute-out; every hour, on the hour) radio station backed up by two shifts of an English and Tagalog newswriting and editing staff. Radio Reloj was patterned after a pre-Castro Havana, Cuba station of the same name, began in 1947 and claiming to be the world’s first non-stop information broadcast medium. Radio Reloj was broadcast journalism at its infancy in the Philippines. And I, too, was an infant!

Sequentially, today’s ABS-CBN “TV Patrol” is a successor of DZXL “Radyo Patrol,” which was a later progeny of the Lopez’s adaptation of the Radio Reloj model.

And where have I been all these years?

Living la dolce vita while perpetually enrolled in the universal school of hard knocks and experience. There was a stint with Manila Times, after Radio Reloj, when the Roceses decided to include broadcast journalism in its portfolio.

And then, entry into the hallowed halls of the venerable Ayala House of commerce. It was a 25-year engagement full of growth and commitment, from management trainee to a variety of corporate assignments, a steady development into being a useful and loyal factotum both to corporation as well as to the owning family; and finally, as Vice President, to end a wonderful, memorable and rewarding prestige career.

An enjoyable service with the Philippine Government as Consul General to Hawaii, mainly watching over the Honolulu skullduggeries of a recalcitrant, deposed dictator until his demise; a promotion to the Cabinet of President Cory Aquino as Press Secretary; and, under President Ramos, Chairman and President of the InterContinental Broadcasting Corporation.

For a final curtain call, brought about by sheer necessity, I am now a retired unregistered OFW having had to work again. This last time, as furniture and antique restoration specialist and as a front-desk clerk and Assistant General Manager in the hospitality trade. All in America.

It has indeed been a life full of human experience and knowledge, with a continuing passion and exuberance for social concerns that I hope senior citizenship will not contain. I have every intention to share. And I propose never to poke my nose into any subject matter which I have not earned the privilege and the right to dwell upon. Relevant commentaries and ‘think’ pieces are to be expected. I shall endeavor to spice up and enhance the quality of our cyber discourse via