Right at the end of the service road of Ramon Magsaysay Blvd. (where most vehicles bound for Santol area pass through) stands one of the few skyscrapers that dominate the landscape of Santa Mesa district. Nowadays, this plain-looking building is home to some shipping and recruitment agencies and the preschool unit of STI Colleges. But who would have thought that this building has a colorful history of its own?
Used to be known as the Pereyra Building, the J&T Building has its history long been intertwined to that of DZRJ, the pioneering radio station started by Ramon Jacinto in 1963. Jacinto, who came from an industrialist family, (his dad founded the National Steel Corporation) had music in his veins, having started his own band in college which became a legend during those days of pre-OPM and early Pinoy Rock. That’s RJ And The Riots for you.
Starting out at his own backyard, RJ transferred the station to the J&T Building, transmitting from the building’s roofdeck-cum-tower. But more than the station’s home, it also served as a venue for concerts sponsored by the station in the 1970’s, at a time when Pinoy Rock (or as it was called back then, Pinoy Rock and Rhythm) was beginning to make its mark in Philippine music. Being held first at the rooftop before moving to the parking lot, the concerts featured many up-and-coming groups and musicians who would later become future icons in Pinoy Rock. (and Pinoy Music as a whole)
Fast-forward to February 22, 1986 when the events of what we now know as People Power 1 began to take shape. After Marcos’ forces destroyed the transmitters of Radio Veritas, (which at that point was the sole media outlet documenting these events) June Keithley and 2 others made their way to the DZRJ studios and began doing covert broadcasting there as Radyo Bandido. In spite of the threats of a possible attack (given the somewhat close proximity of the building to Malacañang) Keithley and her crew continued covering the whole event until the end. So when RJ Jacinto got DZRJ back in March, he decided to keep the brand name of the DZRJ AM station as Radyo Bandido, as recognition to the key role played by the station during those historic four days in EDSA in 1986.
DZRJ eventually moved out to its present studios in Makati City, while the building still serves as offices for a number of small companies. Unfortunately, it looks as it has seen better days as some paint has peeled off the building. Until now, no memorial or marker has yet been put in place to celebrate J&T building’s colorful history with DZRJ. Given its colorful past, I don’t see any reason why not.
©The Urban Roamer