When It’s Showtime successfully revived the singing tilt Tawag Ng Tanghalan, it happily triggered memories of the original competition for the older generation.
Tawag Ng Tanghalan (originally known as Purico Amateur Hour) started in 1954 and aired every Monday night over radio station DZBB. It became a hit and ran for 19 years until it was demise in 1972 due to Martial Law. However, it was revived for a short time from 1987 to 1988.
For 14 years, the show was sponsored by manufacturing company Proctor & Gamble until it was managed by ABS-CBN in the last three years. Tawag Ng Tanghalan was also turned into a movie by Sampaguita Pictures in 1958 starring Amalia Fuentes, Juancho Gutierrez, Susan Roces, Romeo Vasquez and Jose Mari.
Around 45,000 vocalists and instrumentalists joined the show’s first nationwide search. Contestants for far-flung barrios were able to compete because of Purico’s roving audio-visual trucks. Winners were then sent to the nearest radio station to compete in the weekly contest. The finalists from Visayas and Mindanao on the other hand were flown to Manila, while those from Luzon traveled by train.
Back then, the Top 3 winners were given trophies, certificates, home appliances and cash prizes of P500, P250 pesos and P100, respectively.
Hosted by comedians Patsy and Lopito, the first grand finals were held on June 27, 1955 at the Manila Jockey Club. The first champion was Jose Gonzales, whose winning piece was “Angelitos Negros.”
He made such a big and positive impression on the public that he went on to enjoy a decades-long career in show business, not just as a singer, but also as program host and comedian.
Tawag Ng Tanghalan had the tagline, “Your all time favorite search for outstanding amateur talent,” and has produced many stars. These include OPM legends like Armand Panlilio, Pepe Pimentel, actor-director Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz and Philippine cinema’s Superstar Nora Aunor who won the title in 1967.
Since then, Aunor has released more than 360 singles and recorded more than 200 songs and over 50 albums. She has notched more than 30 gold singles and with an estimated gross sales of one million units. Aunor’s cover of “Pearly Shells” (1971) became one of the biggest-selling singles in the Philippines.