Monday, November 22, 2010

remembering how, for a time, my life revolved around NU107

After my mother died, I looked for a radio station that can arouse me intellectually, especially in the morning, when my mind needs a little stimulation to start working and I found NU107 to be that station, aside from the fact that it played most, if not all, my favorite rock tracks. So when I discovered Jake and Joey in the morning, I was hooked and became a regular caller. That’s how I met Joey, and later on, Roxy too. The show had a pretty good run, until Jake had to go back to the US, I think. When Roxy took over the morning shift, we’d talk (which is more like me bugging her) and I’d come over to the station every once in a while to bring her favorite greaseless nuts. Sometimes, Myrene would come in early and chat with me too, and she’d notice the greaseless nuts and say, “uy, bawal to ah” (hey, this isn’t allowed here) because there’s some strange superstition that you can’t bring over nuts to the station (or a recording studio, for that matter) because whoever’s eating might choke on them.

NU107 launched this talk show every Fridays, 4PM-7PM, called the Gang Bang, with Ron, JD, and Tabitha, where they featured new music. I remember this one time they put U2’s The Sweetest Thing versus Athenaeum’s Flat Tire. The U2’s video came out, featuring the boy band Boyzone and if you voted for U2 (because it is, after all, U2), it would be because you’re a closet boy band fan. To make things even more interesting, if you didn’t know how to spell ATHENAEUM, the vote will automatically go to U2. It was hilarious, especially since a lot of people didn’t really know how to spell ATHENAEUM. The show died a natural death because Ron was also the station manager for NU and didn’t have enough time to squeeze in the show and managing the station. Tabitha moved on to the morning shift left by Roxy and we continued to do correspondence until she gave birth. I try to see her when I can. She’s based in Cebu now.

Zach teamed up with Joey, for Zach and Joey in the Morning. Joey, who came from another radio station, was the big advice giver and Zach was the musically-inclined one who keeps asking me, “Pulis ka na? Pulis ka na? Pulis ka na?” (because I’m a law graduate) whenever he sees me, long after the show bid its listeners farewell. I met a lot of people through that show: regular listeners like myself, band members, and people they featured on the station. For some reason, when things failed me at that time of my life, the show - the hosts, the music, reinforced my faith in God, in myself and in other people.

Of the all the DJs, I had crushes on Mondo (the guy with a large nose, err, heart), Russ Davis (who made me do tally for a weekend Stairway to Seven), and the jock who looks like Ethan Hawke whose name escapes me at the moment. But my biggest crush is Francis Brew, whom I first met at the 1998 NU 107 Rock Awards. I had a couple of drinks at the time and I took the opportunity to ask Roxy and Tabitha to introduce me, while I was asking for his autograph. He wrote, "Bels, you were drunk" on the postcard I asked him to sign. Since then I've been bugging him over the phone during his shift, just so I could talk to someone when I couldn't sleep. Of course, at the time, I thought I was doing him a favor. I was so makulit. I even introduced him to my then girlfriend M. She was taller than him, he thought she was going to beat him up. When M and I broke up, I visited him almost every week before going to review school. When I started managing this band called Traumaligno, I asked (more like bugged) him if they could be featured on his show called In The Raw. He obliged and the band's song Shrimppaste Soda was played every hour, every day for a whole week. He even said on a different episode that I was his favorite lesbian. So sweet, my guitar god.

While managing Troma, we were invited to perform on the concert version of In The Raw, where we met DJ Dylan's identical twin sister. Of course, if you thought Dylan was hot, her twin sister was too. She was also funny, and sweet and she was also working for a call center, just as majority of the members of our band, including me, were. She used to be working for an account that is being handled by my current boss.

I also became a follower of a show called the Gweilo's Hour, named after the bar that introduced us to Orange and Lemons, a band I then thought to be foreign but turned out to be this Brit-sounding band from Bulacan. The show introduced us to music we won't hear anywhere, kinda like Myrene's Not Radio, but slightly milder, or not. One of the hosts, Erwin Romulo, also a writer in a newspaper of general publication, became my friend. We corresponded, I would hang out the station and when he needed help with MS Word on his Carlos Palanca entry, he invited me over to his house. That was on the first night I met him.

Bels: Are you sure you want to invite me over to your house? What if I'm a psychopath?

Erwin: It's okay, Bels. We have guards.

Erwin won a Palanca award for the essay Confessions of a Space Boy, which he featured on his column, The Outsider, months later. He also wrote an article about Morissey which he dedicated to me. Such a brilliant mind. Telling me that he wishes I could write his articles for him is flattering, such an honor for me, to say the least.

When I started working for a call center along Emerald Avenue, which meant it was convenient for me to drop by the station everyday, I would go there a lot and they didn't really send me away. Everybody who worked there was friendly.

I got busier with work, and got farther with work, as the days, months, years went by that even listening to the station became difficult. I just couldn't find the time. I would watch gigs every free time I got and listen in, maybe call the station when time permitted me, but not as often as before. Not as often as I would've liked. That my father died and nobody was there to scold me about my music choices, my curfew and my watching bands didn't help. My work came in the way of my listening to the station.

Now that NU107 is gone, I get mad at myself for all those times I bought food at Banchetto and never dropped by to say "hello" to whoever was on board. I could've listened through my phone. I had my own secluded area, I could've listened, called, enjoyed the music. I could've taken so many leaves and watched gigs they hosted and sponsored as a means of supporting the cause. I could've given back to the friend who was there all those times I was down. People would argue that they changed their format, they "compromised" their ideals, they became artsy-fartsy and shit like that. It's no excuse. NU107 was all about the music and that should've been the only thing that mattered. Now the station is gone and we're forced to move on to other lackluster alternatives. Others come close, though, but they're never the same.

It's nice to look back on all those memories. NU107 played a huge part in my life. I met a lot of people who became my friends through the station. I pray it finds its way back to the airwaves.