Tuesday, February 27, 2007

18. My brothers …My Idols

My high school days in FEU proved uneventful. There were neither momentous awakenings nor life changing episodes. I didn’t join clubs and never participated in extracurricular activities. Although I have established friendships with quite a few classmates which has endured to this day, High school was one long dragging experience just like a lackluster day repeating itself a thousand times over.

My having good communication skills would hold me in good stead all through my schooling days. In college, where I pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature, I became the darling of some of my professors in English. This sort of spoiled me. I could get by without having to attend all my English classes in full. Humanities had a strong appeal to me and because of the strong interest I had in the arts it would prove to be an area of competence. This could have been the result of my voracious and rather indiscriminate reading habit and the exposure to my father who was a classical music buff who gave us more than a fair share of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven et al. He was also an excellent amateur art photographer winning awards for some of his masterfully rendered black and white compositions. I still have some of his fine photographic compositions adorning my work area in the house.

My two older brothers also went to Far Eastern University after Ateneo. Just like me they had language skills that served them well. My brother Pete carried this further when he took up Speech and Drama as a course. My other brother, Dado, enrolled in a business course but was a full time hanger on in the Drama Guild and later on switched to Speech and Drama. I myself gravitated towards this but after some forgettable stage portrayals I realized that this was not exactly an area that I could develop any real ability in. My brothers were very good at this and this helped them succeed in their careers in broadcast media. Dado became a very popular disc jockey at the time when radio was king. Pete being true to form could not be kept away from mischief and could not be kept in the confines of classrooms. He ran out of subjects and teachers in FEU and had to transfer to a more lenient educational institution.. He finally ended up in National Teachers College in Quiapo. My father was hopeful that Pete may be able to complete his studies here after all he was a co-founder of the school. National Teachers College had an impact on Pete's broadcast skills development.The school had a radio station, DZTC, where he honed his technical savvy in radio work as well as gaining confidence in going on air in programs as host and disc jockey. Pete made a strong and lasting impression in this school when he delivered a drunken rendition of Hamlet’s soliloquy from the school’s tower which was right beside the Tanduay Fire Station. To this very day the older members of the school board still talk about this elevated and inebriated performance.

Pete found a more discerning and appreciative mass audience than the Tanduay firemen when he became the host of one of the first dance programs during the developing years of television in the country. Both of my brothers had experienced early successes and were enjoying the rewards that came with being media celebrities. Dado was a natural for radio. His voice had a nasal quality that sounded vaguely American but distinctively hip young Pinoy. “Big Soul Daddy” Dado Roa had a very good grasp of the beat generation jargon that made him all the more appealing to the teenagers of that era. Pete seemed tailored fit for the TV medium. He had boyish charms, excellent dancing skills and his speech could be considered cultivated and educated as opposed to Dado’s contemporary tone. I found myself several rungs below my brothers who by then had grown in fame and fortune. Media, even then, amply rewarded the deserving. Seeing their successes encouraged me to try my hand at radio announcing. The renown of my brothers earned me easy access to auditions but after several rejections I knew that I was meant for more than just these silly tiresomenesses (sigh).

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