TIYA DELY MAGPAYO STILL RULES THE AIRWAVES
Makati City, Oct. 29, 2000 - From a small booth somewhere in Makati one drizzling night, a stately lady emerges even as her famous parting words still hang heavy in the air. Fresh from broadcasting to millions of listeners all over the country, she appeared surprisingly spritely with nary a trace of weariness.
Garbed in mocha, bespectacled and exuding a look that non-verbally announces, “I am here,” the dame is indeed a sight to behold.
“Magkakape lang ako,” she cheerfully announced, disarming yours truly. Moments later, she reappeared clutching a file of paper. She motions to one of her staff, “Pakisabi mala-late lang ako ng konti sa recording. May interview lang ako.”
The lady is Fidela Magpayo, legendary broadcaster of Philippine radio for 60 years now. If the name sounds unfamiliar, it’s because Fidela is better known to her millions of listeners by another name: Tiya Dely.
Got a love problem? Ask Tiya Del. A family? health? legal? relationship problem? Ask Tiya Dely. A living panacea to the troubled or bored, Tiya Dely’s voice has been wafting through the air for six decades now, offering advice when needed and extending help to her listeners whenever she can.
“Halos lahat ng contemporaries ko ay either inactive or patay na,” Tiya Dely matter-of-factly said when asked what she thinks her greatest achievement is. “I believe longevity is my greatest proof of accomplishment. Yet everyday still feels like the day when I started. I always want to learn more.”
Born to Bulacanbred parents on October 29 some eighty years ago in Malate, Tiya Dely, indeed, is a lady who has seen and been it all. An A.B. Political Science Major from the Far Eastern University of the Philippines, Tiya Dely’s first taste of the limelight was as a singer actress in a musical variety show (with Atang Dela Rama and Gerry Brandy) at KZRF, pre-World War II radio station.
“Actually it was my sister who got into the business first. Sumasamasama lang ako dati sa kanya hanggang pati ako ay nakapasok na rin.” Tiya Dely recounts.
She eventually moved into radio announcing, working with the likes of Dely Atayatayan and Frankie Gomez. She became so successful that even during the Japanese Occupation, her program endured and she was one of few announcers on air over at lone radio station PIAM. “My first platter program was in 1952 and had an anagram concept. I would give a word on the air, say Mississippi, and my listeners would call in and form as many words from the original word letters,” she said.
In 1949, Tiya Dely became a radio actress and starred in such PMC-sponsored dramas as “Gulong Ng Palad,” “Prinsipe Amante” and “Kamay Theatre of the air.” Three years hence, she became a talentdisc jockey of her own radio show called “Saturday Night: A Date with Dely.” There, she counselled on air to her listeners who wrote in their tales of woes and tribulations in varying degrees.
“Whenever I give advice, I only use one thing: common sense. Or if it requires expertise, then I consult some experts like our family doctor if it’s a medical problem or a lawyer if legal in nature. Basta, whatever advice I give, I make sure that I incorporate sound values in it. ‘Yung mga values na nakagisnan na ng kahit mga ninuno natin,” she said.
Tiya Dely eventually became announcer-producer for ABS-CBN in 1957. She lent her voice to musicals and melo-dramas such as “Kaputol ng Lumipas,” “Ang Tangi Kong Pagibig,” and “Serenatang Kumbidahan.” She landed on the tube when she hosted “Hamon ng Kampeon” aired at DZXL and broadcasted at Channel 3.
“Even when I ventured to other fields, I knew that radio was, is my first and biggest love. Radio has the widest reach and affords even the people from the farthest provinces to tune in even as they do other things. It afforded me a low-profile life while helping and reaching out to other people,” Tiya Dely explained.
How does she do it?
“Dedication and professionalism. You should be responsible for whatever you say on air dahil ang daming nakikinig sa ‘yo, mapabata man o matanda. D’yan nagkakaiba ang mga announcers today sa mga announcers nuong araw. Alam mo bang dati, we cannot say the word “buntis” on air? Dapat “nagdadalang-tao” dahil pangit daw pakinggan ang buntis. Buti na lang ngayon ay hindi na ganyan kahigpit.”
Tiya Dely continues: “‘Yun nga lang, some announcers are prone to abuse their position and power. We actually don’t need a set of rules for censorship or even a censorship board to remind us announcers of what we can not do or say on the job. Dapat self-censorship. Use your judgment wisely.” To her credit, Tiya Dely has an impeccable record and has never been “memo-ed” by any of the radio stations she worked for to this day.
When ABS-CBN folded during martial law, Tiya Dely worked with different radio stations like DZBB and DWWW. She still did some drama shows like “Kasaysayan Sa Mga Liham Kay Tiya Dely” (an off-shoot of her counselling program) and “Minsan May Kahapon.” During these times, too, did Tiya Dely get to anchor the news with equally legendary Joe Taruc and Noli de Castro.
After the EDSA Revolution, Tiya Dely was re-hired by ABS-CBN.
“I don’t like politics and have no intention of getting into it. Ang gusto ko lang ay tahimik at simpleng buhay, the one radio has given me. I love my work and through the years, my work has loved me back,” Tiya Dely.
And what better proof of this than the various awards and honors bestowed on her? Her program “Kasaysayan Sa Mga Liham Kay Tiya Dely” won Best Counselling Program in the 1994 Catholic Mass Media Awards. That same year, she was proclaimed Best Female Newscaster by the Golden Dove Awards. She has also been elevated to the Hall of Fame by the Citizen Awards for television for her show “Hamon Sa Kampeon.” Tiya Dely has also been cited as one of the Outstanding Women Artists Lifetime Achievement awards for Broadcast Arts by UNESCO and Earthsavers.
On the side, she was also confidential secretary to Vice-President and concurrent secretary of Foreign Affairs Elpidio Quirino between 1946 and 1950. She also conquered radio as a recording artist, the stage as a theater actress and the big celluloid as a movie star in past years.
A full life-that is what she has led, indeed. “I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Tiya Dely said.
Today, Tiya Dely calls DZRH home where she’s an announcer-producer-newscaster. She still does musicals, dramas and newscasting as well as hosting her very own public service program (“Inyong Lingkod, Tiya Dely”). She also celebrates her birthday today at EDSA-Shangri-La this afternoon with her friends from the industry and then some.
And how does one become a Tiya Dely? How does one survive competition and trends? How does one amass such staying power?
In one breath, HOW does one become an INSTITUTION?
Tiya Dely looks me in the eyes and gives one advice: “You always strive to learn more. Never be complacent.”
What a lady. (Reprinted from the Bulletin)
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