Filipino radio show marks 25 years bringing 'the sound of home' to Ottawa listeners

This weekend, CKCU radio show Tinig Pinoy marked 25 years on the local airwaves. It's still the region's only Filipino-focused radio program.

Tinig Pinoy hosts Dan de Castro, Regina Sosing shared memories with CBC's In Town and Out

Regina Sosing and Dan de Castro are longtime hosts of Tinig Pinoy, the Ottawa area's only radio program focused squarely on Filipino issues. The show marked its 25th anniversary on the airwaves this weekend. (Submitted)

The year was 1992, and in the Philippines the song "Kurot Sa Puso" by Donna Cruz was a big radio hit.

Meanwhile, here in Ottawa, a newly-arrived Dan de Castro had just begun sharing the sounds of his home country on the local airwaves.

"Most of the time, I was feeling, like, 'Why am I here?' And I thought that that feeling, you know, was similar to the feelings of most of the transplanted Filipinos living in Canada," de Castro recalled Saturday on CBC's In Town and Out.

"Since I was myself was missing the sound of home, maybe this is the same sentiment they have. So I thought, OK, why don't I try to bring something to my compatriots." 

For the past 25 years, de Castro has hosted Tinig Pinoy, the region's only Filipino-focused radio show, on Ottawa community radio station CKCU.

The show — which now broadcasts online around the world — marked that anniversary this weekend with a big celebration.

Started as 15-minute show

De Castro told In Town and Out​ how, back in 1992, he was able to convince CKCU to give him a 15-minute segment on one of the station's morning shows.

His segment, which included raffles and other contests, quickly gained an audience among Filipino-Canadians in the capital — including Regina Sosing, his future co-host.

"I was one of those listeners who kept calling!" Sosing told In Town and Out. "I remember sitting on the floor listening to the morning show with Tinig Pinoy. That was amazing." 

Sosing said she got involved with Tinig Pinoy after de Castro approached her to help with the technical side of the show.

She had no experience broadcasting — but that all changed, she said, when de Castro lost his voice one day and she suddenly found herself behind the microphone.

"I was freaking out!," Sosing said. "I had to speak on air, and I was so frightened!"

Supporting a community 

Over the years, Tinig Pinoy hosts have trained and mentored aspiring young journalists.

The show has also organizing musical relief efforts for natural disasters like 2013's Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands of people in the Philippines.

"We are proud to say that we serve the community the best way we can," de Castro said. "During those moments of tragedy back home, we thought it would be good if we did something."

While Tinig Pinoy broadcasts on CKCU every Tuesday, the show has also been online for the past five years, playing original Filipino music 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

That's opened the show up to a huge new audience.

"Sometimes we feel like we have more listeners outside Canada," said Sosing, "than we do inside Canada!"​