Wenceslao: ‘Manok,’ other tales

VETERAN Cebuano writer-director Marcos Navarro Sacol was 81 when he passed away in May due to kidney failure. His death caught the attention of many, most of them die-hard followers of Cebuano radio soap. Sacol was, after all, behind such hits as “Maria Flordeluna” and “Ang Manok ni San Pedro.” The latter would later be owned by Julian Daan, the man who played its lead character, “Esteban Escudero.” Daan himself died this month of heart failure. He was 74.

Meaning that two important figures in what can be considered as the best years of Cebuano radio “drama” in the ‘70s died this year, their passing coinciding with the waning phase of the genre they championed and, overall, with the lessening of radio’s influence on the Cebuano public.

“Drama” is the generic term used by Cebuanos to refer to soap operas and serials heard mainly on AM radio (this, even if some of them are actually comedies, not dramas). In the years when television sets were prized possessions (expensive), radio was dominant and radio drama was the main form of entertainment in Cebu.

I grew up listening to radio dramas during a period when the pastime of kids in the neighborhood was playing group games like “tubig-tubig” and “buwan-buwan” and the good old “dakop-dakop,” among others.

“Ang Manok ni San Pedro” was a 30-minute daily (except Sunday) serial aired over radio dyHP in what television stations now consider prime time (7 p.m.). The Sacol (writer and director) and Daan (drama talent or “dramaturgo”) teamup clicked and the rest was history. (That teamup even spawned a local teleseries, “Si Goot da Wanderpol.”)

“Ang Manok ni San Pedro” aired for years, with Daan eventually taking over from Sacol the writing and directing chores. This I say is where the public is led to believe Daan conceptualized the serial’s original storyline, which was about a man who was sent back by St. Peter to earth together with his (St. Peter’s) cock because he (the man) was not scheduled to die yet.

On this, I had to text veteran radio broadcaster Edgar Gutierrez, who is now with dySS, for confirmation. “Marcos gyud,” Edgar texted me after I asked him if the concept of the radio drama was really Sacol’s. “In fact ang unang mga titles ana were “Ang Tawong Nakaadto sa Langit,” then “Esteban Escudero” and finally “Ang Manok ni San Pedro.”

Because of its longevity, “Ang Manok ni San Pedro” naturally underwent certain phases: the first when Sacol was at the helm, then when Daan took over (if I am not mistaken, Daan took the pseudonym “Jack Diamond Julian” during this time) and finally with the entry of Esteban Ecudero’s sidekick Golyat (popularized by a younger talent in Alan Nacorda). The Teban and Golyat pairing became popular even outside of the “Manok” radio drama and was the one that propped up the “Si Goot” teleseries.

Daan transformed his popularity into a successful political career, becoming a Provincial Board (PB) member, even an acting vice governor. When he died, he was a Talisay City councilor. His wife Yoly is an incumbent PB member.


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