1987: A year in review

Words by Fiel Estrella
Art by Raxenne Maniquiz

U2’s “With or Without You” coexisted with Heart’s “Alone” on the airwaves, and before it became a bait-and-switch favorite, “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley was just another song to bop along to at your favorite local dance club. Saturday Night Live lampooned everyone from Imelda Marcos to fallen televangelist and wannabe casanova Jim Bakker. Prozac was made available in the United States and DNA fingerprinting began to improve the fieldof forensics. And then there were the early inklings of a five-year recession, brought about when stock markets around the world crashed phenomenally overnight in an event that has aptly become known as Black Monday.

1987 was all about transition, a time of progress, political conflict, and whatever the hell Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” was supposed to be. It only makes sense, then, that opinions would be divided as to whether it was the best of times or just the worst. Some might even say it was the MTV Generation’s last hurrah. Whichever side you may be on, here are nineteen cultural markers of the year it had been—some of them retaining more impact than others.


It can be argued that no one better symbolized a new era of democracy for Filipinos than Corazon Aquino, who succeeded Ferdinand Marcos as leader of the country after the People Power Revolution brought an end to the dictator’s bleak regime. Aquino became 1986’s Time Person of the Year (then “Woman of the Year”), and one of her first orders of business was creating and directing a Constitutional Commission that resulted in the new 1987 Constitution. Violence and threats remained, what with numerous coup attempts and the tragic Mendiola massacre that resulted in thirteen fatalities. But for a time, for millions of people, and for what it was worth, Aquino brought hope.


Combining coming of age, forbidden romance, and drama for days, Dirty Dancing centers on Baby
(Jennifer Grey), a teenager whose family goes on vacation at a summer resort in the Catskills. There, she meets dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), learns to get her move on, and falls in love. The movie was a hit, turning its theme “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” into a classic and spawning everything from an ill-fated TV show in 1988 to a stage adaptation in the form of a musical. 2004 saw the release of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, a “prequel” set during the cusp of the 1959 Cuban Revolution starring Romola Garai and Diego Luna. Save for its title, plot details, and an appearance by Swayze, it bore very little resemblance to the original.


With his album Moving Thoughts, Gary Valenciano released his first hit in Filipino, “’Di Na Natuto.” Written by APO Hiking Society’s Danny Javier, the single was given to Valenciano to record with the condition that he finish production within a given amount of time—a feat the celebrated triple threat certainly had no trouble accomplishing. Another hit, one that has had quite the lasting impact over the years, was “’Di Bale Na Lang,” which served as the theme song for a film of the same name wherein Valenciano starred as a private eye who has a penchant for writing songs.


Released in Japan in 1986 as a launch title for Nintendo’s Family Computer Disk System, The Legend of Zelda came out the following year in North America and Europe in cartridge form for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The action-adventure role playing game (RPG) let players control the protagonist, Link, who journeys around Hyrule on a quest to rescue Princess Zelda. To do this, he must battle numerous enemies and collect the eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom. Zelda was the first home console game to include an internal battery that enables players to save data. Having sold over six million copies, it has become highly regarded as a great, influential game at the forefront of the RPG genre.


In 1985, Fright Night put vampires in the suburbs, and two years later, they washed up in a gritty, neonlit California beach town in The Lost Boys. Starring era heartthrobs Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, and Kiefer Sutherland, it’s about two brothers who move to Santa Carla with their mother and begin to have run-ins with the local gang of hedonistic, vicious teen vampires. Together with self-proclaimed vampire hunters Edgar and Alan Frog, they seek to defeat the brood and its ruthless, snarky leader. There are two straight-to-video sequels and an ambitiously high concept television show in development that aims to track the vampire clan through various decades.


As a single, “Open Your Heart,” from Madonna’s third album True Blue, was a quintessential love song that’s as earnest as it is risque. But whereas the song itself adheres to certain conventions of dance-pop fodder (it reached number one, of course), it was the music video that once again shed the spotlight on Madonna as a subversive artist. Wearing a now-iconic bustier and a short dark wig that recalls Liza Minnelli’s turn as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, she played a stripper who strikes up a sweet, if odd, friendship with a boy who sneaks into the peep show in which she is the star. By the end, she has ditched the wig and costume for an androgynous look in a loose gray suit. Way to call forth the male gaze and turn it on its head.


In 1982, Martin Nievera and Pops Fernandez met on the set of Penthouse Live!, the Sunday night variety show they hosted together. Onscreen, they became known as the Concert King and Queen, but they
proved to be quite the pair off-camera, as well. The showbiz power couple got married in 1986, and in
the year after came Martin and Pops Twogether, which replaced Penthouse Live! The series would end after two years. The marriage, meanwhile, fared only slightly better: Martin and Pops would call it quits in the late ‘90s and be annulled by the year 2000.


The Gloved One’s seventh studio album was a study in precedence. Michael Jackson took more creative
control than he ever had in his already by then illustrious career, acting as co-producer and writing nine of eleven tracks, with themes revolving around the invasion of privacy, paranoia, race, romance, and world peace. It would go on to spawn a tie-in film called Moonwalker and nine singles, five of which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100—a first, and a record matched only by Katy Perry with 2010’s Teenage Dream. Music videos such as the one for title track “Bad” (originally penned to be a duet with Prince!) and “The Way You Make Me Feel” reinforced Jackson’s influence on turning MTV airtime into a cinematic experience. And it shows: To this day, Bad remains one of the thirty bestselling albums of all time.


Vic Sotto’s first self-produced sitcom was about Enteng Kabisote, a mechanic who gets transported to the “Queendom of Engkantasya” by Princess Chlorateam to help him escape an abhorrent admirer. Much of the series focuses on what comes after: Enteng and the Fairy Princess, who chooses to go by the mortal name Faye, fall for each other and get married on Earth, where they learn to adjust to normal life with a dash of magic—not to mention, for Enteng, an especially antagonistic mother-in-law in the form of the Fairy Queen Ina Magenta. The series ran until 1997 and is followed by a movie franchise that makes up for its lack of ideas and finesse with a lot of ticket sales. The fifth installment’s colon-happy title was Enteng Kabisote 3: Okay Ka, Fairy Ko: The Legend Goes On and On and On. Tell us something we don’t know.


Two years before Seinfeld became a cultural touchstone of nothingness, Johnny Manahan’s Palibhasa Lalake introduced Filipino viewers to a group of ordinary people whose activities consisted of riffing about what it means to be a modern man, and not much else. Quite literally, in fact: Much of the sitcom’s humor relied not on scripts but improvisation. With lead characters named after their respective actors (Joey Marquez, Richard Gomez, the late Miguel Rodriguez, and later, John Estrada), Palibhasa’s plot, or what little there is of it, eventually began to mirror the lives of its stars. It ran until 1998.


Chances are, you’ve quoted The Princess Bride at least once in your life, and you may not even know it. Adapted from a novel by William Goldman, the film makes use of a framing device in which a grandfather reads a book to his sick grandson, who insists that he skip the parts that mention kissing. The tale, a tongue-in-cheek blend of romance, fantasy, and adventure, finds a young farmhand (and a ragtag bunch of misfits) on a quest to save his beloved princess from all kinds of peril. Despite a middling box office performance, The Princess Bride garnered critical acclaim and eventually became a cult classic.


Regine Velasquez wouldn’t be known as Asia’s Songbird for a few more years, when she won representing the Philippines at the Asia-Pacific Singing Contest in Hong Kong. But in 1987, she was well on her way, releasing her first full album after becoming champion of Ang Bagong Kampeon. Initially making the rounds under her nickname Chona, Velasquez was persuaded into using Regine by Martin Nievera after the former had performed on Penthouse Live! The album was a worthy indicator of what’s to come, with the hit singles “Kung Maibabalik Ko Lang,” “Isang Lahi,” and “Urong Sulong.”


When Norman Black was tapped to coach the San Miguel Beermen, they hadn’t been known as the Beermen in years, going through several Magnolia related name changes. For the first two conferences of 1987, they were the Magnolia Ice Cream Makers. Eventually, the team came to be known by its original name once more. The PBA Reinforced Conference Finals went down in Philippine basketball history as the dawn of something great. With new acquisition and eventual MVP Abet Guidaben off the nowdefunct Manila Beer Brewmasters, and led by Best Import Bobby Parks, the Beermen beat the Hills Bros. Coffee Kings 4-1 and won their third PBA championship, their first in five years.


By the late ‘80s, the original Star Trek was the most popular syndicated TV series over a decade after it last aired. Wanting to capitalize on this, but reluctant to shell out for the large salaries of the likes of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, executives at Paramount and CBS opted to launch a new show with unknown actors instead. Enter Star Trek: The Next Generation, which followed a new starship Enterprise through its mission of exploration and discovery around the Alpha Quadrant of the Milky Way galaxy. Headed by pragmatic, wise, and cultured Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart), the Enterprise crew had all sorts of adventures, always narrowly avoiding disaster. Its seven-year run garnered the series much acclaim, and it went on to win nineteen Emmy Awards.


Perhaps less lauded than its sequel, Street Fighter II, the original Street Fighter arcade console by Capcom still managed to set the standard for competitive fighting video games. Under one- and two-player modes, users could play as characters (namely, Japanese martial artists Ryu and his rival Ken) in best-of-three matches in which they must knock out their opponent within a given time per round. The game also featured a number of computer-controlled opponents encountered across the world, an early sign that the Street Fighter franchise would become as character-driven as it is now. By initiating the correct sequence of buttons and controls, players could unleash hell upon their enemies and unlock special techniques. Cue the impassioned yells of Hadouken!


Based on the comic books by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated television series became a landmark for many childhoods. The concept was so kooky it just had no choice but to succeed: four pizza-loving anthropomorphic teen turtles, named after Italian artists of the Renaissance, trained by a rat sensei in ninjutsu and battling all kinds of evil mutants and creatures from the sewers of New York City. Many tried to copy the Ninja Turtles, including the Cheetahmen and Biker Mice from Mars (really), but none of them quite eclipsed Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Donatello in popularity.


Magandang gabi… Bayan. As the longest-running spoken evening newscast in the Philippines, TV Patrol is now inseparable from the daily lives of Filipino families, providing dinner conversation topics and radio-based solace during EDSA traffic (or, perhaps, only more frustration). Its beginnings, featuring anchors Noli De Castro, Mel Tiangco, and Robert Arevalo, set the tone for what’s become a consistent run of almost three decades: informative, smart, and affable, with an emphasis on integrity and values. There were segments on local crimes, giving back, and entertainment news, as well as the weather report by meteorologist Ernie Baron, who also provided interesting trivia.


The lead track off Whitney Houston’s second album gave pop music tracks that would become nostalgiA radio staples, classic dance floor anthems, and karaoke favorites, such as “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “Didn’t We Almost Have It All.” Debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 chart (the first by a female artist), Whitney created all kinds of records. It remained at the top of the chart for eleven straight weeks, and four singles peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, another first for a female artist. Lead single “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” was arguably the song of 1987 for many, and Whitney would go on to sell over twenty-five million copies.


Often described as the pinnacle of the wrestling boom in the ‘80s, the WWF’s third Wrestlemania is worth noting if only because it had a proclaimed attendance of 93,173—at the time a record for a live indoor event in North America. Aretha Franklin, recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee (and the first woman to have had the honor), opened the proceedings with a rendition of “America the Beautiful.” It featured a now-iconic match between Ricky Steamboat and then-Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage that lasted nearly fifteen minutes, and the final event was a World Heavyweight Championship match in which Hulk Hogan successfully defended his title against André the Giant.

Accidental Match