There is so much the art of literature could do. It’s more than just reading and more than people’s wide misconception of it being a lost art. It is all-encompassing and taps into many branches including psychology, history, and culture. In the radio show titled “Dear Tita Mercy,” these three aspects of literature are used to help its avid listeners, at the same time, acquaint them with Cebuano culture and history.

Conceptualized by Dr. Hope Sabanpan-Yu, the director of the Cebuano Studies Center at the University of San Carlos, “Dear Tita Mercy” began merely as an idea for “tambag-tambag” or counseling sessions.

Along with Fely B. Latras, Community Extension Service (CES) adviser of USC Palabra (Pulong sa mga Alagad sa Obra), a literary organization of collegiate students, they expounded on the initial plan of the radio show only being a counseling segment.

Mrs. Latras shared, “Dear Tita Mercy” aims to promote Cebuano culture as a whole, especially among young people. “Here at the radio show, we want to help people and hear out their problems and provide words of affirmation. It is a lot easier to deal with your problems if you know someone out there is listening. It eases your burden knowing someone is willing to go out of their way to help.”

With the proliferation and accessibility of social media, it is indeed easy for people to reach out to others regarding their problems. But the downside of it, according to Mrs. Latras, is that young people don’t particularly know where to draw the line between virtual and real. It is easy to give any type of advice on the internet without much consideration of the effect on the other party.

In “Dear Tita Mercy”, the advice given out is directly from Mrs. Latras who is a trained spiritual advisor. She disclosed how effective the medium of radio programs is in reaching out to those who are in need of advice. Hearing actual people talk about real-life problems instead of just conversing through the screen warrants a more genuine connection between people.

In its upcoming episode, a group of students from Palabra accompanied by Mrs. Fely went to Argao to explore the municipality’s cultural treasures.

They took a trip to Chitang’s Torta Bakery and interviewed one of the store’s employees about the process of making Argao’s world-famous tortas. The group also went to one of the municipality’s churches to interview a candlemaker about their struggles in life. Lastly, the team went to Cebu Technological University in Argao to check out the hablon (hand-woven fabric) factory that operates inside the school. They conversed with one of the weavers about the colonial influence of the weaving process.

Aireen Dayao, one of the CES representatives for Palabra, shared that through exposing their listeners to local literature such as Cebuano poetry and folktales, listeners can effectively trace back their roots as Cebuanos.

Joel Econas, the newly appointed CES representative of Palabra, imparted that through “Dear Tita Mercy,” listeners will learn a lot about the hidden facets of Cebuano culture since the pieces of literature shared on the radio show are niche—all thanks to the Cebuano Studies Center’s partnership.

It is indeed about time that people are immersed in the art of literature. Not only does it center around stories but it also takes into account history and culture. “Dear Tita Mercy,” in its little way, is able to connect Cebuanos from all walks of life with the profound hold of the written word.

“Dear Tita Mercy” airs every Saturday, at 8 a.m. in DYRF Radio Fuerza 1215.