AS THE Inquirer expands its reach through another media platform, one of the newspaper?s most-read (and most-sued) columnists is also going back on the air.
Starting Sept. 1, hard-hitting columnist Ramon Tulfo will host two afternoon programs on dzIQ Radyo Inquirer 990, the broadcast arm of the Inquirer media group. The AM station on 990 kHz began streaming online on May 10 and has been on test broadcast since Aug. 16.
?Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo? will air from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday. It is the latest incarnation of Tulfo?s public service program of the same name which made its radio debut in 1991 and was last heard on the AM band in 2006.
The second program ?TNT: Target Ni Tulfo? will run from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., also Monday to Friday.
While the two-hour ?Isumbong? will serve as a help and complaints desk for the Filipino Everyman, ?TNT? will have Tulfo giving his take on the day?s hottest issues in government and politics.
DzIQ newscaster Reysie Amado will be Tulfo?s co-anchor on both programs.
Tulfo?s newspaper column ?On Target,? which appears in the Metro section, has given him the uneasy distinction of being the Inquirer columnist facing the most number of libel cases?more than a hundred so far, by his own estimate.
While he has gained both fans and foes with his biting commentary and exposés in print, Tulfo actually started out as an English newscaster in a Bicol radio station in 1969.
He has since worked in several other stations, including the Catholic Church-run Radio Veritas where the program ?Isumbong? was born.
To avid listeners, his name became a blunt, five-letter curse on public officials accused of corruption, incompetence and abusive conduct, as well as on wheelers and dealers among society?s high and mighty, and lawmakers and Malacañang figures otherwise deemed untouchable.
But detractors have also gotten back at him with equal nastiness. Tulfo ate humble pie, for example, when he had to apologize on air and in person to the family of a slain police officer he had criticized on his program. It turned out he had gotten the story wrong on how the cop had figured in a robbery.
Fined for foul language
To say that he has become notorious for pushing the envelope with his colorful language would be an understatement. By his own count, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas has slapped him with a P20,000 fine for foul language at least four times.
But he suffered more than just fines during the last administration.
In August 2006, ?Isumbong Mo: Tulfo Brothers,? a TV show that Tulfo cohosted with siblings Raffy and Erwin, was canceled by the government-sequestered RPN-9. Tulfo?s separate ?Isumbong? show on dwIZ radio was also axed after a 14-year run on that station.
The Tulfos claimed the lawyer-husband of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was behind the cancelations. Jose Miguel Arroyo denied the allegation and filed libel cases against the brothers and two publications, including the Inquirer.
Like a soldier on D-Day
?Four years is a long time for me to be out of radio,? said Tulfo in an interview Wednesday at the Radyo Inquirer 990 studio in the MRP Building on Mola Street, Barangay La Paz, Makati City.
?I?m like a soldier waiting for D-Day,? he said.
DzIQ station manager Ciro Songco said he expects Tulfo, along with veteran broadcaster Jay Sonza, ?to catapult Radyo Inquirer to popularity.? Sonza hosts the early morning program ?Tapatan? with co-anchor Cecille Lardizabal.
?With due respect to his brothers (who have radio and TV public service shows of their own), a lot of people have been asking for the return of ?the original Tulfo,?? Songco said.
The tart-tongued Tulfo conceded that he had somehow ?mellowed a bit? largely because of his four-year radio silence.
?I would remember the things that I had said back then (and ask myself) ?was that really me?? To think that my brothers are just imitating me! (Eh ako lang ang ginagaya ng mga yan),? he said grinning.
He promised ?fewer four-letter words? on Radyo Inquirer 990, but in the same breath warned that he will be ?more biting with sarcasm. If I?m angry, that?s just a part of me.?