VETERAN BROADCASTER and one-time senator Edgardo “Eddie” Ilarde died at the age of 85 due to natural causes on Aug. 4. The announcement was made by his daughter Liza Ilarde via a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon.
Ms. Ilarde said that there will be no wake for Mr. Ilarde in light of the ongoing modified enhanced community quarantine, a moderately strict form of lockdown that has been imposed on Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Born on Aug. 25, 1934 and hailing from Iriga, Camarines Sur, Mr. Ilarde’s career started in college after he won an oratorical contest and caught the interest of a radio executive. This was quite a feat for someone who came to Manila and worked as a bootblack and newspaper vendor before being enrolled by his brother in Far Eastern University to study journalism.
Mr. Ilarde’s trademark soothing, yet firm, voice and personality saw him work in several radio stations — DZBB, DZRH, and DZXL — becoming one of the most popular radio hosts of the 1950s.
Mr. Ilarde’s advice program, Kahapon Lamang, spawned the catchphrase “Dear Kuya Eddie,” and “Napakasakit, Kuya Eddie,” the latter of which became the title of a song performed by Roel Cortez in 1984. The show, and the song, cemented him as a pop culture icon of the time.
Kahapon Lamang continued to air on DZBB every Saturday until his death.
He also co-hosted the DZXL noontime variety show, Student Canteen, with Bobby Ledesma and Leila Benitez-McCollum. The show proved to be a hit on radio, and transferred to television in 1958 where it became known as the “first afternoon variety show in the country.” Student Canteen aired on multiple networks over the years before ending its 32-year-run in 1990 on Radio Philippines Network.
In 1963, Mr. Ilarde tried his hand at politics when he won as councilor of Pasay City. Two years later, he won the congressional seat in the 1st District of Rizal. During his stint as a congressman, Mr. Ilarde served as the chairperson of the committee on fishing industries.
He ran for senator in 1969 under the Liberal Party slate despite running as an independent candidate. He failed to secure a seat and ran again for Senate in 1971 still under the Liberal Party. Mr. Ilarde was among the members of the party who were injured in the bombing of Plaza Miranda on Aug. 21, 1971, during a political rally, including Ramon Mitra, Jr., Jovito Salonga, Eva Estrada-Kalaw, Gerardo Roxas, and Sergio Osmena, Jr. Ninety-five people were injured and nine people died that day.
Despite still nursing his injuries, Mr. Ilarde, along with five of his party, were elected as senators in 1972. His term was interrupted when the Congress was closed in September of that year following the declaration of Martial Law by then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
In 1978, he ran under Mr. Marcos’ political party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (New Society Movement), winning a seat as an Assemblyman representing Metro Manila. He served in the Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly) which replaced the Philippine Congress during Martial Law, until 1984. During that time he gained attention for his proposal to rename the country Maharlika (noble), which became a long-term advocacy of his.
He ran again for the Senate in 2004 but failed to secure a seat.
“Our dad lived a full and meaningful life. He started from very humble beginnings and worked very hard to reach his stature. He served the country as a councilor, congressman, and senator. He was also a pioneer in radio and TV, most notably for his programs Student Canteen and Kahapon Lamang. He also championed our senior citizens with his Golden Eagles Society,” Ms. Ilarde said in her Facebook post announcing her father’s death.
“Thank you, everyone, for your prayers and well wishes. The family would love to hear some of your nice memories of him or how he touched your life by posting in the comments. I hope you enjoy listening to his voice one last time. Mabalos!” she added.
Mr. Ilarde is survived by his wife Sylvia and children Dino, Aldo, Nilo, Liza, Rico, Paulo and Lara. — Zsarlene B. Chua