How I Ruined Radio (Ours)

When I was young (that was 20 years ago), despite my memories of me complaining to my aunts, there was a lot of things a kid could do during rainy afternoons. Most of these things were inventions of fertile minds that desired to escape the same boredom, in so pursuing, was never reached by it. We believed that jumping off the porch should have been an Olympic event, with greater points added if one jumped off the banisters. We bought crackers for one peso and collected the plastic toys placed inside (lead hasn’t been invented yet). We shot each other with bows made of rubber bands and fingers, with arrows made of used plastic straws made stiff and heavy by inserting used cigarette butts inside. We hid each others rubber slippers as a prank to prevent our playmates from going out, and later we threw rocks at each others’ heads when they hid our slippers or threw them on the roof. So sometimes, we had no playmates.

For those times, I would gather my toys and select an old rattan-bound cabinet  and let loose with a new episode of the adventures of whatever action figure I had a fancy to at that time. The plots were taken out of Saturday morning cartoons, Sesame Street and Batibot inspired the supporting characters, and a sprinkling of Shaider provided the weird. I could have written Dora the Explorer episodes. Or maybe I was the black guy in Yo Gabba Gabba.

Then there were times my aunts would complain and threaten to spank me if I leave the odd action figure lying unattended away from its proper storage, so I had other diversions. I was not yet 10 years old at the time, unlike Kevin McAllister, so TV wasn’t my life. Besides, I could only watch it at certain time blocks: mornings before going to school,  Eat Bulaga, and the odd cartoon series (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Ghostbusters, or Vilma) on Friday nights. We didn’t have a VHS player then and I haven’t discovered porn.

But we had a radio. My father bought a karaoke set, some 2 1/2-feet high and a foot wide, it was designed for what people called Multiplex then. There were two cassette decks (one with a record button) and lots of lights and turning knobs. It was the first time I saw a treble and bass control knob, and the first time I learned that big speakers are supposed to throb. My father hoped that this machine was enough for minus one renditions of the occasional revelry. I thought it was a great machine to add to my irregular action figure show.

I was then the DJ of my show. I raided the record collections of my aunts and uncles and thought they won’t mind as long as I played what they liked. I played Air Supply, Asin, Queen, and Enigma. I introduced songs like I was The Triggerman. I made up daily Top Tens, but I didn’t bother with a Crazy Countdown like in DWKC. I would prepare a tape on cassette2 while cassette 1 was playing, rolling it up with a pencil. As the song was ending, I’d put up a chatter, and slowly slide the master volume down. I’d start to play cassette 2 and turn the volume back up. I loved that machine. I used to put stickers on it, to make it more colorful and lively. I almost never got tired of the blinking disco lights.

Alas, time passes, and perhaps my father acquired the machine in a dubious place, or else the ever-present dust gathered in the tape decks. For the tape decks were ruined, in the parlance of that time, we say it eats the tapes. What a ruined cassette does, however, is to chew up the magnetic tapes and spit them out in horrifying fashion. Sometimes the experience is made more horrifying by the mangled sounds the process made.

That was the first cassette deck I destroyed. It was never used for that purpose again, and my family had to buy a small radio just for listening to the voice tapes our OCW relatives sent to us, and for composing such replies. The blinking disco lights lost their sparkle, and the knobs got loose. My uncle had to insert wads of paper just for adjusting the volume. The stickers faded, and the edges began to turn brown as the glue proceeded to decay.

And on the process went, until a flood claimed it at last.

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