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Remembering Eddie Ilarde

Eddie Ilarde pioneered radio and TV formats that survive to this day.
IMAGE Liza Ilarde, Pexels
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In 1953, Edgardo "Eddie" U. Ilarde opened the afternoon program of DZRH with his iconic voice that would become a staple for the radio station for the whole decade. 

“This is MBC, the Manila Broadcasting Company, DZRH, the voice of the Philippines. The time at the tone brought to you by RCA is…12 high noon,” boomed Ilarde’s voice.

It dispelled the post-lunch drowsiness that seized Filipinos in their siesta time. 

Ilarde came to Manila as a young boy from Bicol. Prior to becoming a radio broadcaster, Ilarde peddled newspapers and polished shoes in the streets of Manila. Working as a shoe polisher was a humbling experience because it forced him to bend low and remove dirt from strangers’ shoes. He stopped working after his brother enrolled him in college. 

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Perhaps inspired by the broadsheets he peddled, he took up journalism at the Far Eastern University. After graduating, he realized that life was hard, but it would have been harder if he hadn’t finished school. 

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After finishing college, he immediately worked at a radio station as a rank-and-file staff. He would mop the floors, pick up cigarette butts left by the announcers, and clean up after them. It was far from the life he had imagined a diploma would provide. 

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His big break came when DZRH announcer Ramon Oliveros Decolongon took a chance on Ilarde and offered him to open the program in the afternoon schedule. 

Ilarde was only 19 when he debuted on DZRH. He landed the job after 31 failed auditions in different stations. 

When Ilarde finally became a radio announcer, he felt something he never knew he would experience: “I felt like a king,” Ilarde told the Business Mirror in 2018. 

“I felt like a king. Sitting down in front of the microphone, with the big clock, inside the studio of DZRH-MBC. And I was sitting down at the announcer’s booth,” said Ilarde. 

How Eddie Ilarde Ended Up Giving Relationship Advice on the Radio

During the first months of his job as an announcer and DJ, Ilarde’s job was to announce ads and talk just to fill the gap between the time he puts records on the player. But then the listeners started writing Ilarde long letters seeking relationship advice. 

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That’s when Ilarde became the narrator and sometimes voice actor for the 1955 hit radio program Kahapon Lamang. It was the dramatization of the stories from his listeners. It is the longest-running radio dramatization program in the Philippines. It was still airing fresh episodes in 2020 until the country was forced into lockdown because of the pandemic. 

Kahapon Lamang would be the blueprint of today’s radio dramatizations, which are often heard on the airwaves in the late afternoon. 

In 1965, Ilarde ran for senator and served for a single term until 1969. After his stint in public office, he decided to remain in the media where he would cultivate new television formats and launch the careers of many celebrities. 

Eddie Ilarde’s Banner Years

Ilarde would remain on the radio for the rest of the 1950s where he would be recognized as one of the most talented young announcers in the country. It was during the late 1950s and early 1960s when Ilarde decided to pursue a career in film and television. 

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At 23, Ilarde produced the 1959 film titled Dear Kuya Eddie, starring Charito Solis and Lalaine Bennet. 

Ilarde was also a pioneer in introducing new formats to Philippine television, such as the country’s first variety show The Eddie Ilarde Show (1959 to 1962), the country’s first soap opera Yagit (1980s), and the iconic youth-oriented program Student Canteen (1958 to 1965; 1975 to 1986). 

He was also behind Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko, which premiered in 1975. 

Eddie Ilarde’s Death

Eddie Ilarde died peacefully in his home with his family on August 5, 2020. Ilarde was supposed to celebrate his 86th birthday on August 25. According to his family, Ilarde died of natural causes and clarified he was not a victim of COVID-19. 

His daughter Liza Ilarde announced his passing through a post on social media. 

“Our dad lived a full and meaningful life. He started from very humble beginnings and worked very hard to reach his stature,” Liza said. Below is a video of Eddie shared by Liza. 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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