One o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock, ROCK! Four o'clock, five o'clock, six o'clock ROCK!
Radio listeners in Davao del Sur's sleepy town of Digos have been used to hearing this familiar nursery rhyme precedes the program of "Rockman Pace," followed by his scathing remarks as he used to go on air. He was known all over Digos as "The Rockman," a hardhitting broadcaster, the Digos counterpart of the anti-communist crusader Juan Porras Pala, who died several years earlier from the hands of unidentified gunmen.
One afternoon in July, the Rockman went out of the radio station to buy chicken for lunch. He fell on the pavement near Digos' BPI Bank Building when a shot rang out and two gunmen escaped on a motorcycle. He was ninth in the list of journalists killed in the Philippines this year, according to the list of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
It was eerily quiet in Digos city the following day. Nobody was playing the rhyme on the air. For a while it looked like everybody was saying that the Rockman never criticised anybody on the air, that he mellowed down a bit in the last few months in the radio station where he worked. Until one noted the gestures, the shrugs, the frowns, the smirks from the people's faces when they talked or stopped talking about him.
"He must have angered 'someone big,'" a peddy cab driver blurted out as his vehicle swerved into the gravelly path leading to the Rockman's house.
In the town of Digos, like in most of the country's small towns, one begins to be aware of 'big people' and 'small people' all around. For their own safety, 'small people' are aware of their smallness. They are careful (and think they have to be careful) not to anger 'big people' who can do anything to them. They're saying: Look, what happened to Pace! See??!
No wonder nobody is talking.