When I was a kid growing up in faraway Surigao my family had a black and white TV. It had a dark wood casing and behind it was a brown wire that was connected to a spindly antennae propped on our roof. The TV was decked with knobs for the volume and other adjustments as well as buttons for changing the channels.
But then we only had one TV channel coz this was the age before cable TV. Instead, a company called Southern TV broadcasted movies and TV shows starting at six in the evening until about ten. Four hours a day is not bad at all.
My earliest memory of TV shows was of my mom crying in front of the TV set (why was it called a "set" anyway?) while watching the soap "Flor de Luna". I was only about four years old then and I could not understand Tagalog yet so I did not have any idea what the story line was. All I remember was a grainy close up of a girl in tears.
These were not direct airings from Manila though. Recordings of shows from Manila-based TV channels were flown in to Surigao. Southern TV then aired these shows, which were at least two weeks old, sometimes even a month old or perhaps much older.
I really could not care less about these TV shows mainly because there were no regular airings on TV. Sometimes there were months when nothing came out from the screen especially after a strong typhoon blew away the antennae, which was quite often.
One of our neighbors' mom worked in Saudi Arabia as a nurse, thus, they were blessed with a colored TV. They even had a Betamax player!
We would often hang out in their living room watching The Sound of Music, Annie, and Never Ending Story for the hundredth time. Occasionally we would watch The Ten Commandments, which was two tapes long. But that always made me sleep until Moses parts the sea in the second tape.
Much later on we'd have regular broadcasts of taped TV shows brought in from Manila, but still these were months delayed.
The ones I remember are Lovingly Yours, Helen and Eye to Eye. Again, I could not understand much of these shows coz they were in Tagalog. It was always fascinating though to watch some actresses having a cat-fight at the base of a grand staircase in some mansion or Inday Badiday interviewing the mother of a baby with hydrocephalus.
The shows that caught me and my friends' fancy was That's Entertainment, with those mestizo teen actors and actresses dancing to a Menudo song while wearing dresses with puffy sleeves.
I would always remember Romnick Sarmienta and Sherryl Cruz singing to some cheezy love song. Meanwhile, fans screamed at the foot of stage and a lucky few were allowed to scramble on the stage to hang garlands of sampaguita (jasmine) on their idols' necks.
On weekends we'd have GMA Supershow with German Moreno and his bejeweled suits. He was always surrounded with a cadre of female co-hosts encased in an armor of shoulder pads and topped with ginormous tsunami hairstyles set to perfection by hours of hair teasing and cans and cans of hair-spray.
The hideous fashion sense of GMA Supershow was perhaps the sole reason why I watched it... well aside from the Bellestar Dancers of course, di ba mga bading?
Oh, That's Entertainment and GMA Supershow should be a separate post altogether.
Meanwhile, the two shows that my friends and I did not ever want to miss were Shaider and Bioman, which were Japanese TV shows about alien-fighting superheroes.
The shows were dubbed in Tagalog but by then I still did not understand the dialogue. Instead I simply watched the action sequences that mostly involved the superheroes first transforming - just by shouting "Shaider!" or "Red One!" - from their jeans into their sleek and tight-fitting costumes. Of course they always wear a helmet to protect their identity.
And off they are fighting against reptile-looking monsters (in some mascoty costume) that just stomped through a cardboard building.
Gosh, wasn't Shaider a hottie? I believe he was my first man-crush. We did cheer for Shaider everytime that drag queen-looking villain shouted "Time space warp, ngayon din!".
And who could forget his assistant Annie who always wears a yellow miniskirt that shows her panties every time she kicks a monster with her boots? I've always fancied my self to be Annie and I'm like crazy over her bangs and pig tails!
Immediately after an episode of Shaider or Bioman my friends and I would rush out of our house fired up like our much-beloved superheroes ready to slash aliens with our Shaider Cutter.
Oh, if we were playing Bioman, I always INSISTED on being Yellow Four, which is a lady character armed with her Bio Arrow. Why not, aber?! With our black and white TV I would not even know who is Yellow Four if not for her Bio Arrow.
Aside from these two Japanese TV shows (that spawned a dozen copy-cat shows), we also watched occasional airings of Orang Engkantada and a few other shows. But none had the same impact on our imagination as Bioman and Shaider.
It was not until 1992 when Surigao finally had regular direct broadcasts from Manila. By then Shaider and Bioman had been eclipsed by... hmmm... I could not remember which. I just remember having our first taste of ABS-CBN, which kept us hooked on TV, primarily watching X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Baywatch and local shows such as Ang TV and Batibot.
Anyway, we still kept our black and white TV while the rest of the neighbors have moved on to colored TV. However, my parents decided to move it from the living room to their bedroom when they noticed my sister and I watching too much TV instead of studying.
Eventually, our TV started to get more grainy and grainy despite repeated trips to the repair shop. At one point a black line appeared in the middle of the screen and the pictures kept on moving up like it was on a loop. We tried adjusting the little knob at the back of the TV to keep the picture steady but it did not really fix the problem.
I could not remember the exact point of the TV totally not working anymore. But by then I've lost any interest in it coz I started watching TV of one of our neighbors. They even had cable!