RADIO station dyLA celebrated its 50th year of existence yesterday. I went there on the invitation of current manager Jhunnex Napallacan. Among those I saw in the activity at the convention Hall of Mariner’s Court in Pier 1 were former managers Jun Tagalog and Marit Stinus- Cabugon, veteran media persons Sam Costanilla and Malou Guanzon-Apalisok and the others whom the station was once a part of their lives: Superbalita’s Roger Vallena, former SunStar reporter Oscar Pineda, The Freeman’s Ryan Borinaga, Metro Cebu Water District’s Charmaine Rodriguez-Kara and Argao’s Joie Mamites-Cabardo. Also there were executives of the Associated Labor Unions (ALU) and the Visayas Mindanao Confederation of Trade Unions (Vimcontu), the station owner.
I joined Sam in jamming with dyLA’s current staff like Fred Languido, who is also with The Freeman and service awardees Eric Carlos and Jaguar Mollejon, Boy Aguirre and some of the radio technicians at the building’s second floor where the station is now broadcasting. The area is an improvement from the previous one located inside the small old building adjacent to the Mariner’s Court. The equipment have also been upgraded to catch up with the digital age.
It wasn’t the dyLA I knew so well in the early ‘90s but meeting familiar faces of that era was enough to dust off old memories. While some radio stations have closed or are dying, dyLA has survived on the strength of the support of organized workers, thus its mantra, “Voice of Labor.” By the way, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña gave a short speech there. It was the first time I saw him up close since I reported for dyLA covering the City Hall beat more than two decades ago.
I joined dyLa during one of the most crucial moments of my life. I was arrested for the second time in the latter part of 1988 and spent more than a year after that from solitary confinement to ordinary incarceration and finally to what my captors described as my “rehabilitation.” I was seeking a normal life back in society’s mainstream when I remembered that I used to work part-time in dyLA before the struggle against tyranny pulled me to the underground where I stayed for years. I applied for a job in the station with the permission of my captors.
At that time, I had become mostly an errand man in the camp and was sometimes given clerical assignments in the office. Alone, I would wonder what life had in store for me in such a sad setting. I wasn’t as yet given permission to go home to my family so that loneliness was also gnawing at me. Then dyLA manager Cerge Remonde and news director Leo Lastimosa accepting my application was I would consider, therefore, a life-changing act.
But the transition wasn’t easy. When I began staying in the radio station more often than in the camp, my captors questioned me about it. I eventually found the courage to ask them to allow me to go home and start rebuilding my life. And even when I finally did so, the ghosts of the past continued to haunt me. It took some time, for example, before my hands would no longer tremble and my lips would no longer quiver when people ask me piercing questions.