Eddie Ilarde, TV and radio icon, passes away at 85

Published August 4, 2020, 8:38 PM

by Krizette Laureta-Chu

He was the voice of many generations 

Edgardo “Eddie” U. Ilarde was born in August 25, 1934, and is the spouse of Sylvia Arrastia

Even in his last days, former Senator and TV host Eddie Ilarde, couldn’t help but give advice. 

The iconic radioman asked radio stations to play more music as the pandemic raged worldwide.

“Everything in the electronics and print media is about coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19), and while it’s a welcome thing to know what’s going on, too much of it is psychological poison,” the late lawmaker said in April, urging radio stations to devote one hour to just music. 

Print Ad featuring Eddie Ilarde endorsing Philips Telematic TV, circa 1975-77. Photo by Pilipinas Retrostalgia

A cultural icon credited for the phrase “Dear Kuya Eddie” and “Napakasakit, Kuya Eddie,” the erstwhile public official, who also served as congressman and councilman, was legendary for his ’60s radio program “Dear Eddie,” which put on spotlight the everyday life and concern of the ordinary Filipino. 

Quoting the World Health Organization, Ilarde, who became famous for dispensing advice in his radio show, said, “This global health crisis has given rise to a feeling of confusion, paranoia, and anxiety, which should be addressed, [and] levels of loneliness, depression, alcohol and drug use, and suicidal behavior are expected to rise.”

Ilarde, the longest living Filipino radio-TV personality, and a lifetime achievement awardee, added, “People already grappling with this stressful condition shall be reminded that this is not the end of the world, that there is hope and the brighter side of life still exists and behind the clouds the silver lining is about to shine.”

Napakasakit, Kuya Eddie

Born on Aug. 25, 1934, Ilarde made his first radio broadcast at 19, his powerful voice booming over the radio waves. His contemporaries will remember his spiel for the country’s biggest radio station: “This is MBC, the Manila Broadcasting Company, DZRH, the voice of the Philippines. The time at the tone brought to you by RCA is 12 high noon.”

Ilarde was also host to equally renowned Filipino shows as Kahapon Lamang, Student Canteen, and Darigold Jamboree.  

His biggest break came in 1955 for the radio program Kahapon Lamang, where Ilarde would give advice. Here, two of our cultural catchphrases—“Dear Kuya Eddie” and “Napakasakit, Kuya Eddie”—would be born. 

In 1959, Ilarde made a film, Dear Kuya Eddie, opposite Filipina actress Charito Solis and beauty queen Lalaine Bennet. 

His career grew even more. The Eddie Ilarde Show in 1959 was the country’s first ever musical variety program. Kahapon Lamang would be the precursor to modern TV anthologies and public service programs. Yagit would be the very first TV soap opera. Student Canteen would be the country’s first ever talent search. He also created Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko in 1975. 

The Lifetime Achievement Awardee has been credited to  kickstart the careers of Pilita Corrales, Coney Reyes, Janet Basco, Marco Sison, and even Tito, Vic  and Joey.

A man of many firsts

After making his mark in the entertainment industry, Ilarde would also have the privilege to be one of the first entertainment personas to cross over to politics. In 1963, he became the top councilor of Pasay. Two years later, he became a congressman in Rizal. He would later be called the “father of the National Telecommunications Commission.” In 1971, after surviving the Plaza Miranda bombing, he was elected senator. 

A man who has never rested easy on his laurels, in his twilight years, Ilarde was active even until his death. In 2009, he revived Kahapon Lamang and aired it over DZBB. He founded the Maharlika Movement, which aims to replace the country’s name to Maharlika. He has also authored The Book of Seniors, and created the Golden Eagles Society International, said to be the biggest senior citizens’ group in the country.

He is survived by his wife Sylvia Berenguer Arrastia, and his seven children Dino, Aldo, Nilo, Liza, Rico, Paulo, and Lara.