Born in June 3, 1945, Ramon Pereyra Jacinto was the third of the eight children of Don Fernando Jacinto, founding father of the steel industry in the Philippines. His grandfather was one of the founding fathers of Philippine banking.
RJ studied at the Ateneo de Manila - country's premier Jesuit University - graduating with honors in Economics. After graduating from college at the age of 19, he proceeded to work for his father's steel company (the largest in the country). RJ continued his studies by taking up law at the University of Sto. Tomas, taking night classes to accommodate all his other responsibilities.
At the age of 15, RJ set up his first enterprise called RJ ENTERPRISES, which produced and released numerous record hits of his school band, "RJ and The Riots." RJ ENTERPRISES also pioneered multi-track recording in the country, having purchased the first Amper 300-3 track machine in the country. It eventually became the studio of choice for many artists and advertising agencies at the time.RJ and the Riots at the family house, back in the early '60s
Two years later, in his parents' backyard, RJ established what was to become a legendary radio station - DZRJ. Manned by his volunteer group of classmates, DZRJ was the laboratory for on-air experiments of radio concepts unknown and unheard of before in Philippine entertainment history. Easily, DZRJ developed a cult-like following, doing away with rampant "payola" and introducing alternative music to the open ears of Filipino teenagers. It was the first station to give exposure to such rock legends as the Beatles, the Ventures and the Beach Boys. Likewise, RJ directed his station and put an emphasis on playing the music of local talent. Little know did he know that he planted the seeds for a full-fledged musical revolution.
The Marcos dictatorship and the declaration of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, changed RJ's life and the politico-economic landscape of the Philippines. RJ was Senior Vice-President of Iligan Integrated Steel Mills, Inc., with 2,500 employees reporting to him. His radio station continued, manned by his bandmate, Alan Austria.
His father Fernando bravely resisted President Marcos' attempts to take over his steel mills. But with the declaration of Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972, all Jacinto family assets were forcibly seized and placed under military control. 2 of RJ's radio stations - DZRJ and DZUW - were included in the sequestering. The family's executives were jailed with no charges filed.
Many stories have been written about how the Fernando Jacinto family anticipated martial law and spirited assets away to Lichtenstein, a Swiss independent municipality citizenship.
The real story is that on the birthday of Don Fernando, the family was on holiday in Rome. RJ was on his way back to the Philippines through the United States, when he made a decision to stop in Tokyo. That decision saved him from jail. Martial law had been declared and his father ordered him to go back to Rome where he started a fourteen-and-a-half-year exile, twelve years of which were spent in the United States.
In 1977, while in exile in San Francisco, RJ was pining for his country. He got together with Filipinos, Burnell Bunch, Mike Salvador, and Edmund Ungson. Together, they recorded "Muli" and "Don't Let Go." RJ secretly sent the record to the Philippines for airplay. DJs of his radio station could not mention the source nor the artist, lest they be castigated by the military management.
The songs became turntable hits, although no copies were available to the public. While in exile, RJ worked closely with his co-exile, the late great Philippine hero, Ninoy Aquino and provided inspirational oppositionist songs to the movement for a free Philippines.
J&T Tower, Sta. MesaDuring the run up to the EDSA revolution, as Marcos Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Philippine Constabulary head Fidel V. Ramos defected from the government, the Catholic Church-owned, Radio Veritas, a vocal critic to the Marcos dictatorship, was bombed off the air. Upon the advice of Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J. and under the guard of the St. Paul nuns, Radio Veritas broadcaster, June Kiethley, with teenage Mercado brothers, Gabe and Pablo, escaped to the tower of the J&T Building, and used the in-house facilities of DZRJ to call the people to action. The guerilla radio station was aptly called, "Radyo Bandido."
Right after the peaceful Philippine revolution, RJ returned on March 5, 1986 and the military, led by Defense Minister Enrile, returned his radio stations and some of his family's steel mills.
On June 1986, manning his radio station for two weeks at 8 hours a day. awaiting the formal turnover from the military, RJ became the pied piper of retro/revival music. His call was straightforward enough, "Hi! This is Ramon Jacinto. Some of you know me as 'RJ.' Some of you don't remember me and don't even know there is a man behind the name 'RJ.' Well, I own this station but I've been gone for fourteen and a half years. Help me by calling in and suggesting what I should do . . ." After which, he played the music he knew best - the music of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Thousands of phone calls later, DZRJ became the leader in the revival/retro wave, like K-Earth in Los Angeles and CBS FM in New York. RJ introduced and expanded on the "Baby Boomer" marketing force.
The former Bistro RJ at Pasay Road On July 25, 1986, RJ once again scored big when he defied all odds and set up Bistro RJ, a phenomenally successful 60s rock n' Roll music lounge which became the watering hole of the movers and shakers of the country.
At that time, live bands were dead. Night life in the Philippines was confined to piano bars and discos. Bands had to travel abroad to make a living. Betting on his hunch that live bands would stage a comeback, he proved that nightspots could earn more by hiring live bands.
RJ also bet on the guitar coming back as the instrument of choice when karaoke and Yamaha Portatones were in vogue. Getting exasperated switching between his Fender Jazzmaster and his Gibson Les Paul during performances at Bistro RJ, RJ approached low-key guitar luthier Rudy Discipulo to make a guitar versatile enough to produce all the sounds he needed. Rudy came up with the Series One Roadtone, and it met with the specifications of RJ. So impressed with the worksmanship, RJ asked Rudy to embark on a business that would blossom into the 6-store chain, RJ Guitar Center, which currently sells various, world-class RJ Guitar models and handles the exclusive distributorship of coveted Taylor guitars and Belcat products, here in the Philippines.
Today, RJ continues to manage his numerous businesses and is still able to perform weekly at the RJ Bar for "Thank God It's RJ!" every Friday. He likewise hosts RJ Sunday Jam, which is doubly broadcast through 2nd Avenue and RJ100.3FM, come Sundays, 9am-12nn. On top of that, RJ is able to perform once a month at the Captain's Bar of the Mandarin Hotel in Makati as part of The Greatest and The Latest Concert Series of RJ100.3FM
At 64, Ramon "RJ" Jacinto remains active in music and business, displaying passion and vigor that only a few can match. Ever relentless when a good idea hits him, RJ not only seeks to expand his businesses but also to capitalize on opportunities, if ever they were to arise.