I’m not sure now, but the Manila-based stations that reached Dupax radios then were DZRH and DZAQ. I guess, apart from Robin's and the Reyes sound systems, these air stations could be credited for the talents of many Dupax singers when I was young. I was not able to join the amateur singing contests during Dupax town fiestas myself, but from the radio I learned "Run Samson Run," "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Winny Yellow Polkadot Bikini" and "High Noon", among many other songs.
Question: Who were the perennial singers in Dupax then and what songs did they sing? The following list is certainly incomplete -- sorry, it's been half a century -- but for now I recall the following:
- Samuel Bautista (current songs from Manila)
- RosieValdez (Isinay and Ilocano love songs)
- Abraham Reyes ("Gone for the Summer" and cowboy songs)
- Damian Guzman (good guitarist and sang "Sad Movies")
- Tony Felix (good at yodeling with "You Are My True Love")
- Armando Dalay ("Devil Woman" and Beatles songs)
- Romeo Solis ("Let Me Be With You" and other top hits)
- Ariston Laccay ("Wishing It Was You" and Beatles songs)
- Arlyne Castro ("Delilah" and Vilma Santos songs)
Aside from constant listening to the radio, we got the wordings/lyrics of the songs from the Bannawag (it had a section called “Agkanta Tayo Man”) and years before Jingle became a bestseller, we made do with Song Hits, Song Cavalcade, and Top Melodies. I do remember having received a Cortal song hits booklet from an audiovisual van that came to advertise and sell medicine. It carried the lyrics of “Jambalaya” and it was part of our home library for many years before its pages became ripped with use or were eaten by a baby sister and later used as kindling material by the house help.
Back then, Mama used to sing “Changing Partners” and “Tennessee Waltz” as lullaby for Merlie or Tessie or Judith. For his part, Papa sang “Come Where the Lilies Bloom” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” aside, of course, from his favorite Isinay song "Dattut Ittuwam" and his favorite Ilocano song "Bannatiran."
I cannot recall what songs Uncle Ermin taught at the Dupax Elementary School because when he was my teacher in Grade 5 our music class was handled by Auntie Tating (Tesalonica?) Guiab-Fernandez. When he did his daily routine of sweeping starapple leaves all around his one-block lot, however, I would hear him sing “Uwak says the crow nagdakkel ti ubetmo!”
Inang, of course, was a singer in her own right. She was good at singing the Pasion during Cuaresma. She also bought these booklets from Malasin that had stories in verse form about kings and princesses and, using the same Pasyon tune, sang the words as sort of bedtime stories not only for me and my cousins but also for my Apong Lakay. I also remember that when Merlie was still under her care, I heard Inang sing “Tralalala ha ha” with her in addition to the Ilocano lullaby “Lal-lal-lay tukak, ipusna dalag, limmagto pilat!”
In Grade 4, I had an Isinay classmate named Rogelio Guinir who played the uke well. He must have imbibed it from his older brothers who owned a “bajo” (one-stringed bass with a gasoline metal canister for base) and were part of what we called then combachero that played during weddings and also did house-to-house "caroling" during Panagkakararua (Halloween).
We used the uke one time our Grade 4 class (1961-62), under Papa, had its turn to present a Monday flag ceremony program. I recall the piece we sand and played was Elvis Presley’s “Can’t You See” (“Wooden Heart”). Bruno Doctor played the ukulele, Roger Guinir brought his brother Etto’s bajo, and I played the selendro (harmonica).