“O, Efren, wag ka nang malikot.” That’s the customary closing dialogue in the prologue of Lola Basyang’s story-telling. A long-running radio drama of the olden times, Lola Basyang was created by Severino Reyes, a komiks novelist.
The Lola Basyang series was the national fairy tale story-teller of legends and myths that usually ends with a moral lesson. With its huge following, Lola Basyang was made into a movie and stage play aside from the komiks version.
Due to lack of cheap entertainment medium, kids of the 1950s and 1960s subsisted on radio drama for their nightly entertainment. And radio, at the time, was stuffed with drama, be it fantasy, comedy or even tear-jerkers and action.
To force children to sleep early on Friday nights, adults would tune in to Gabi Ng Lagim. There was no kid brave enough to handle the howling dog and the creaking door hinge. And how about the clink-clank of the chains around the zombie’s feet?
Morning broadcaster Johnny De Leon has his own radio drama during Friday Nights. Famous for his ever-ready commercial and the Bataan Matamis cigarette with his side-kick Ngongo, Johnny’s radio drama has a good rating.
Beinte-Quatro Oras is a thrilling drama with the conflict being resolved in a matter of one day. The novelty, if it could be called one, was Johnny’s cameo but essential role in the drama. His character always signals the turning point of the story.
Dely Magpayo a.k.a. Tiya Dely earned her star in radio via the drama. Her program was actually about the advice given to a letter sender. But to make a more palatable presentation to the listeners, there was the dramatization of the letter-sender’s story.
Incidentally, Tiya Dely, whose real name was Fidela Reyes Magpayo, passed away at age 87. She suffered a stroke while doing her radio program. With more than 65 years in radio, Tiya Dely was called the First Lady of Philippine Radio.
DZRH Drama Manager Salvador Royales
A radio drama is very similar to a movie. Salvador Royales of DZRH said that a radio drama is a miniature production compared to that of movie production but the salient ingredients are almost the same.
Like a movie, the seed of the radio drama is the story. When written into a script, it should be adaptable to the radio. The scriptwriter should always bear in mind that the radio drama is a pure audio presentation so the story is sound-dependent.
Dialogues like “Eto ang sa iyo” by an assailant or “Ayan na ko” by a pursuer are usually heard in action drama. Since the intended action cannot be seen, like in tv or movie, so the action should at least be heard by the listeners.
Emotions are limited in radio drama although aside from crying and laughing, surprise or fear can be in the form of a dialogue. That’s why the term “nakupo” got to be popular, which actually means Inang Ko Po.
Like in the movies, the main ingredient of the radio drama production is the cast. But unlike in the movies, radio talents cannot command a high price for talent fees simply because the production budget is meager.
According to radio drama veterans, there were times that talents would forgo with their talent fees due to lack of sponsors. “Matuloy lang ang production kahit walang bayad. Kahit paano, exposure pa rin yun.”
Drama Talents Chiquit Amor at left and Lolit Del Mundo
There are radio drama talents who can do different voices. Like Chiquit Amor and Lolita Del Mundo who both have the versatility to play a young girl, an adult woman or even an old woman.
Undeniably, Luz Fernandez is the most popular radio drama talent because she was able to cross over to television and to the movies with some advertisements to boot. Ester Chavez is another radio talent who got popular in the movies.
Unlike the movies which require different locations, the production of radio drama is confined to the studio. With sound-proofing and powerful microphones, the drama studio now can afford to have airconditioning.
The sound technicians at work, being supervised by Drama Manager Salvador Royales at right.
The kit for sound effects is simple enough like a small steel gate, some gravel, sand, a tin can and some wood. Depending on one’s imaginative mind, the kit could produce the desired sound effects like a broken glass or even gunshot.
With the new technology, some radio drama technicians harness the mp3 or digital sound clips. A set comes complete with different sound effects from the drone of an airplane to insect and animal sounds.
DZRH drama talents. Take note of Luz Fernandez and Ester Chavez
A long time radio person, Royales is the Drama Manager of DZRH. Aside from handling the entire production, he also directs and sometimes writes stories and scripts. And when occasions calls for it, Royales also plays a role in the drama.
DZRH drama talents
Presently, DZRH is the only radio station that has a radio drama. “May Pangako Ang Bukas” plays from Monday to Saturday every 11:30 in the morning. Salvador Royales hosts another program at night with the moniker “Mr. Romantico.”
According to Royales, the most liked radio drama are stories of OFW especially now that Filipinos abroad can tune in to DZRH via the internet. Another genre that has a legion of listeners is a drama based on love songs.
Hopefully, radio drama will survive the changing mood of Philippine entertainment.
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