In every school there will always be this one alumnus that will catch us by surprise where he ended up with the coolest profession amongst everyone. From our batch in gradeschool, I think, no questions asked, it is Dunhil.
I spent my primary education at La Camelle—the very first established school at Camella Homes Subdivision Bacoor. Some of my batchmates and I were one of the pioneer students when it started around 1989. It was a small preschool back then; having the former Directress/Founder/Principal’s (Mrs. Josefina Gaerlan) house as the location. As our mini school gained its popularity and enrollees, they built a bigger learning center enough to accomodate the demand of a growing number of students. But it is still a small school though, with only one section per grade level and each level only consists of 30 (or below) students. But what’s so good about having a low-numbered class is that natutukan kami nang husto ng mga teachers and my classmates and I grew up closely with each other. There were some petty bully students (haha), but I don’t remember na may magkaaway o nag-aaway talaga sa batch namin.
Along came graduation and we all parted ways. Some of us became schoolmates in highschool, some migrated to a different country, while some relocated to other provinces and Dunhil was one of them. The communication stopped and we can say that we all outgrew one another. But when Facebook emerged the internet world, we all had the chance to find our batch and reconnect again. I remember it all started when our Grade 4 adviser, Ma’am Edna Garcia posted throwback elementary photos, and eversince, our batch has been having hangouts and chats every now and then. Nakakatawa nga isipin kung tutuusin because some of us are still living at Camella Homes but we seldomly see each other. I think once or twice a year lang. Pero nakakatuwa pa rin because whenever there’s an occasion like weddings or may bumalik galing ibang bansa, we still find time to meetup.
It was around 2009 that we got in touch with Dunhil again. At lahat kami, we were surprised when we found out that he works as a disc jockey or what we all usually know—a RADIO DJ. I was really surprised, not that it doesn’t suit him or anything, it’s just that we all remembered him as a boy with a husky hikain voice. Hehe! I myself did not foresee it because when we were just kids he wasn’t the type who sings or shows that much interest in music at school. I had a vacation with my family, year 2011 and I saw him at SM City Cebu hosting an event. I was dumbfounded and I felt proud of him at the same time right there and then. And I thought to myself, “Shet, ganyan na talaga boses niya?! Siya talaga yan?!” Hahaha! I didn’t get the chance to say hi to him personally though I would really love too because I needed to leave immediately to catch our flight.
Dunhil’s family moved to Cagayan de Oro after gradeschool graduation. He went to Xavier University—Ateneo de Cagayan (both middle school and college) and earned his degree of Bachelor of Arts in Sociology-Anthropology, but he had his first interest as a DJ in senior highschool when a schoolmate—Lawrence Mendoza invited him over to a radio station. During his Sophomore year in college he worked as a volunteer DJ (at that same station) and in 2004, he had his very first “break” when he was chosen at a DJ hunt by Barangay 100.7 CDO, an FM station of GMA. In 2005, he moved to Barangay RT 99.5 Cebu (still with GMA). Then in 2013, he moved to 107.5 WIN Radio Cebu.
Dunhil decided to transfer in Manila year 2014, tried his luck and fortunately he got in as one of the newest Radio DJs of ABS-CBN’s station, MOR 101.9 For Life and we couldn’t be any happier for him. I was thrilled because now we get to really listen to him on the radio unlike before when he still works at Cebu. We all call him now by his screen name, Digong Dantes. He used to be called as Papa Dan, but since someone owns that alyas in Manila already, the management thought of giving him a very timely name as Digong (from our President Duterte’s nickname) and Dantes (from one of our sought-after male celebrities Dingdong). I find this name catchy and cute hehe! One of our batchmates, Czarina, went back from the States for a vacation; we all planned to get together and we had the privilege to watch Showtime, thanks to Dunhil for the passes (pero hindi ako kasama, humabol lang ako sa hapon hehe) then we got to visit and see him work live in action at the MOR radio station by night time.
In order to get access at ABS-CBN compound, you must head first to their customer service area located just as you step into the building’s entrance, fill up a small white form (which you can get at the right side of the lobby), and surrender a valid ID in exchange of a free pass to where you intend to go or visit. They’re very strict regarding this. Kumbaga sa school or any office, “No ID, No entry!” Once the customer service secretary registered your details, they’ll hand you a visitor’s ID as to which you can use as you enter the premises. But take note that ABS-CBN uses a tap-access system machine as you enter certain areas. Your visitor’s ID is only accessible up to where your specific location will be. So hindi porket may ID ka na, you can literally roam the whole ABS-CBN vicinity and hunt for celebrities haha! Talk about security huh?
When we reached the MOR radio booth, we felt at ease immediately (well maybe because of Dunhil’s presence haha) and there were no other people or visitors inside the booth kasi. What I expected to see is a small square room that can only accomodate around 10-15 persons, microphone, DJ’s chair and his work table. That’s it. What I also expected to happen that day is just to sit and watch Dunhil as he does his segment for three hours. But everything exceeded my expectations.
Years ago, my batchmates and I also got a chance to visit a different radio station (I don’t want to mention what station it is and the DJ’s name haha), but when we got there it was too crowded because the room is too small. The DJ himself is nice naman but he wasn’t that accomodating in a way that he would gamely answer all your queeries like an old buddy or something. Parang papakiramdaman mo pa. Or maybe I was judging him? Haha okay okay, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. What we did that night was to sit and listen and we waited patiently so that we can have a photo with him then said our goodbyes. Honestly, I hated it. It was kind of awkward. I hated it for few reasons but I’d rather not mention it na lang.
What happened at MOR station was very different. It actually lived up to their station’s tag name which is “Kapamilya”. We got there around 6 o’clock in the evening, we were so excited to see and watch Dunhil as he does his work. On air, I still couldn’t believe that he really is DJ Digong Dantes. And I couldn’t believe either that we’re all inside ABS-CBN haha! Parang ang hirap mag-sink in. But don’t take or think of it the wrong way, okay? Here are the reasons why nasabi kong hindi ako makapaniwala and why I said it was different compared to the other radio station I mentioned above:
✔️ MOR 101.9 station booth is way bigger. I think it can accomodate around 35 pax comfortably. We went there on a Saturday and we sort of own the whole studio to ourselves. Tuwang-tuwa kami haha!
✔️ As a visitor, I expected to comply on certain rules like: bawal ka dito o dyan, hindi ka pwedeng humawak or kumuha ng photos ng kung anu-ano, hindi ka pwedeng lumagpas o pumasok sa work table ng DJ, hindi ka pwedeng umupo sa chair ng DJ, umupo ka lang sa tabi at makinig buong gabi, so on and so forth… But you know what, with DJ Digong Dantes, kalokohan lahat ng ‘to. There are no rules. There are no restrictions. You can do whatever you want (well except for replacing him as a DJ o guluhin mo siya habang nagsasalita on air o magpipindot ka sa computer of course haha). But as a visitor, one should still respect the workplace despite of how friendly and accomodating the DJs are. In short, wag abusuhin especially when the big bosses are around hehe. But I think naabuso namen yun that night. Sorry Dunhil haha!
✔️ The other reason why I said that hindi nag-sisink in sa akin na nasa ABS-CBN kami is because DJ Digong Dantes allowed us to appear and talk on the live Facebook streaming for almost two hours. Kulang na lang kami na yung mag-DJ. Haha kidding! We weren’t on air huh? Sa Facebook live streaming lang kami nakita using his account. But still, that live streaming is on public for all the MOR fans to see. Imagine, ang kapal ng mukha namin makipag-usap sa viewers at basahin ang mga comments nila at tuwang-tuwa pa talaga kami sa pinagagagawa namin. It was such a fun experience. I felt like a real DJ that night chos lang! Hahaha! Tinanong ko pa yung sarili ko nun na baka ma-question or masita si Dunhil ng management or ng mga boss niya kasi hinayaan niya kaming makita, magsalita at makigulo sa segment niya. We didn’t hear any bad feedback about it straight from him so I guess it was really okay. Yehey!
✔️ Aside from letting us greet our friends, we were also allowed to promote anything on Facebook live. As in ANYTHING! (But you need to be sensitive pa rin not to mention any rival stations ha?) Of course I promoted my own blog, chance na yun eh haha!
✔️ And the topmost reason why I still couldn’t believe that Dunhil really is DJ Digong Dantes of ABS-CBN’s MOR is because after all these years, he remained his feet on the ground. He told us that working as a DJ before at Cebu and Cagayan de Oro differs from working here in Manila. For me technically he’s like a celebrity na and a public figure. Because of social media, everything is and should be publicized to gather/interact with listeners and fans from all over the world. He already gained a lot of fans but he told us that he misses being a mysterious DJ who just hides himself on the radio, so the attention and publicity, he’s still getting used to all of it.
While talking on air, what I see in him is pure passion and dedication to his craft. He has been working as a radio DJ for many years and he really is a natural. He has his own persona that differs from everyone else. He’s not your typical DJ na bumabanat ng corny jokes o maingay sa radyo o nang-iinsulto o naninigaw ng callers and find it funny. He’s different, but he is someone who’s proud of his roots as he still remains level-headed. He is never ashamed that he’s a Bisaya DJ. He still talks Cebuano on air from time to time with a hint of English and Tagalog on the side.
I am not saying these things because Dunhil is a good friend, I am just being honest with what I have observed. The rest of our friends, his other barkada and his family can surely atest to this. Frankly, if we notice something off in him like arrogance or what, I guess we’re one of the first few people that would see and we’d tell him right away. Kaso wala eh. Wala talaga siyang yabang o ere kahit sa pagsasalita. The Dunhil that we have known since gradeschool is still the same man that he is now, but much better. We have never seen him too highly of himself just because he’s been in the industry for 13 years. You can even ask him anything and he’ll gladly share what he knows. (This is what I really look for in a person, yung hindi madamot). What you see and hear of him on air is the same as you will see and hear of him off air—the chill-and-goodvibes-kind-of-a-guy. Some radio DJs or media personalities that I have seen and met weren’t like this. Maybe this is the reason why Dunhil’s been blessed with projects continuously not just because of his professionalism, but also of his genuine attitude and aura that screams humility.
A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to MOR 101.9 for being the number 1 radio station in the country! More power and God bless 🙂
Dunhil Cabisada aka DJ Digong Dantes works as a freelancer. He also do voiceovers for MOR and SkyCable channel 77—@tagtvph. He’s also into event hosting for parties, weddings, or product media launch.
Cellular phone: 0905-3139407
*I encourage everyone to visit MOR 101.9 For Life radio station to experience the same fun that we had. Everybody is welcome but don’t forget to bring a valid ID! Oh before I forgot, here’s our Facebook live video that night of May 27th and see how crazy we were at the MOR booth haha!
*header image courtesy of MOR facebook page