Friday, January 01, 2010

Television in the Philippines has been around since 1953. During this time, numerous things have occurred to change the landscape of this medium. From 1953 all the way to the present, different stations have popped up, been shot down, and have been resurrected. Explore this website to discover the story of Philippine television.

We'll tell you how it started, where it went, and where it is today. It has gone through so many changes...from black and white to color, programming, management, artists, even what kinds of shows are available.

About the site

This is a companion website to the thesis on the history of Philippine television done in the first semester of AY2000 by Ellen Joy Anastacio and Janine Natalie Badiola for the College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines, Diliman.

In this website, you will find the story of Pinoy TV. Who started it? When did it start? Where did it start? What were some of the shows back then? How did it develop? What were the significant events throughout the existence of television here in the Philippines? These are some of the questions that will be answered in the next few pages.

This website is purely textual. For the video (that includes actual footage, pictures, and interviews with some of the pioneers of Pinoy TV), you may borrow a copy of the 16 minute documentary entitled, "what's the story, pinoy tv?" that was produced, written, and directed by the researchers. This is archived at the UP-CMC library, or the UP-CMC Broadcast Department.

The thesis was a collaboration of the two researchers. Research, production, editing, interviews and the written paper was the combined work of both Ellen and Janine. For more information, feel free to e-mail us at
The Birth of Philippine Television


October 23, 1953
marked the first official telecast in the Philippines. But even before that date, academic experiments with the novel electronic medium had been conducted by Jose O. Nicolas, an engineering student of the University of Santo Tomas in 1950; and two years later, by the FEATI Institute of Technology.

First TV Station

Even before these academic experiments were conducted, James Lindenberg, an American engineer and the future “father of Philippine television,” already saw the potential of television in the country. Armed with surplus equipment and imported spare parts, Lindenberg began assembling transmitters and established the Bolinao Electronics Corporation or BEC on June 13, 1946. It was named after the hometown of his wife, Bolinao, Pangasinan.

In 1949, Lindenberg was the first to apply for a license in Congress to establish a television station. A year later, on June 14, 1950, his request was granted.

“We were told to go ahead,” he said. “It was much more simple in those days than it is now. Mr. Canon, who was head of the Radio Control Division, told us to go ahead.”

The scarcity of raw materials and strict import controls imposed in 1948 however, compelled Lindenberg to branch into radio broadcasting instead.

He said, “The import control people and the Central Bank were quite adamantly opposed to it on the grounds that the dollars spent on television would be better spent on other items.”

The efforts of James Lindenberg did not go to waste after all. His dream gradually became a reality when Judge Antonio Quirino, brother of President Elpidio Quirino entered the picture. Judge Quirino had been trying to get a license from Congress to set up television stations but he was unable to get one for political reasons.

The Congress probably thought that he would use such stations for campaigning for his brother who was then running for a second term in the presidential election of 1953. Denied by the Congress, the only alternative left for Quirino was to buy stocks from an existing corporation; that is, BEC.

In 1952, he bought seventy percent of BEC, gaining the controlling stock, and thus, acquiring the franchise indirectly. He changed the corporate name from BEC to ABS or Alto Broadcasting System after the names of its new owners, Aleli and Judge Antonio Quirino. James Lindenberg was still part owner, however and he served as the general manager of the station.

Birthing Pains

After closing deal, however, things did not progress smoothly. Like Lindenberg, Judge Quirino also faced numerous obstacles.

“The Central Bank did not grant me dollar credit because they said the venture was too risky,” he recalled.
Other people said the same thing and added that it would take at least three months just to make an atmospheric survey before one could even start installing the station. “Obviously,” Judge Quirino thought, “it was a tactic to delay the installation of the station so that my brother could not use it during the election campaign.” (KBP, 152)

Judge Quirino asked the help of his friend Marvin Gray whose family is a friend of General Sarnoff, the president of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Through Gray, Quirino was able to appeal the cause of ABS and get assistance from RCA.

First Broadcast

In 1953, Quirino introduced the first television station in the Philippines when he opened DZAQ (for the initials of Judge Antonio Quirino). DZAQ-TV Channel 3 began telecasting on October 23 of the same year but before that, television sets had to be imported and people had to be trained.

With the help of the Radio Corporation of America, four men underwent technical training in the United States:

  • Arcadio “Cady” Carandang, who was in-charge of setting up a TV service company;
  • Romualdo “Romy” Carballo, who oversaw the transmission aspect;
  • Harry “Slim” Chaney, who acted as a spark plug for the whole operation, and
  • Jose “Joe” Navarro, who learned filming techniques in television.
The month prior to the first telecast was a very busy one for the young broadcasting station. Efforts were pooled to overcome what Lindenberg called a “chicken or egg” dilemma. There was no time to wait for a TV set industry to develop if the station was to operate on a commercial basis right away. Thus, setting up the station and bringing in the receiving sets were done almost at the same time. (KBP, 153)

Judge Quirino initiated the importation of television sets but he did not have the money to buy the desired 120 sets. To solve this problem, he approached the owner of Joe’s Electric and proposed to him that in return for the P60,000 loan, he will be the first to have the right to sell television sets.

“With the telecast date approaching, Judge Quirino distributed the 120 television sets to prominent men, hotels, restaurants, [hospitals,] advertising agencies, and public plazas in order to reach as many viewers as possible.” (KBP, 153) He practically gave them away so that people could watch his political broadcasts.

Finally, by October 23, 1953, everything was ready, and the first telecast went on the air. The event was a garden party at the Quirino residence.

Carandang recalls, “A coaxial cable was extended from the transmitter site just across Sitio Alto and the switchers and camera controls were set up on a table.”

“Not to be missed by the camera was the President of the Philippines, whose presence on television that night convinced many that the establishment of TV was purely for political purposes.” (KBP, 153)

“Politics did eventually emerge as TV’s own godfather, as DZAQ was inevitably used as an information medium for the reelection bid of President Quirino.” (Pinoy, 65)

Despite the efforts of Judge Quirino in helping his sickly brother, Elpidio Quirino lost his reelection bid. The television station built by BEC and later used by ABS was equipped with nothing more than the basic necessities for operation. The studio was just a makeshift barn along Florentino Torres Street in Manila. With the transmitter acquired from RCA, the telecasts were received clearly not only in Manila but also in the neighboring provinces probably because there was not much interference for there was no other channel but DZAQ-TV3.

Aside from the transmitter, there were three cameras but one of these arrived “out of order” from RCA. Except for the engineers who were sent to the United States for training, most of the personnel of ABS learned television operation on the job. The lack of competent personnel required versatility from those who chose to work in television.
The Early Days

DZAQ-TV3 started out on a four-hour a day schedule, from six to ten in the evening. Although ABS was able to round up fifty-two advertisers for the premier telecast, selling spots for regular programming became difficult. This was because advertisers still felt that it was more cost efficient to buy radio ad spots, since radio reaches more homes than television did at that time.

At that time, television sets were expensive and television reception depended on electrical power that was not always available. “The high prices of sets were due partly to government taxation. Whereas radios and phonographs were taxed 7 per cent at the plants, television sets were taxed as high as 30 per cent.” (P-Lent, 96)

The cost of television sets was a major drawback for the newborn industry. “In the late 1950s, a TV set sold for around $600 or P1,200, a princely sum and the equivalent of a few month’s salary when the minimum wage was P4 a day and the exchange rate P2:$1. It cost less to buy an automobile.” (Pinoy, 65)

The programs being telecast at that time were mostly borrowed films from the foreign embassies, imported old cowboy movies, and actual coverage of a variety of events. These ran out so fast so stage plays from theater were transported to television. This paved the way for Father James Reuter, a Jesuit who was not only active in the academe as a drama coach but also had radio and television training in the United States. He produced the first play on television in 1953, less than a month after the first telecast. It was “Cyrano de Bergerac,” a full-length play that was three hours long.

Father Reuter recalls: “Nobody paid anybody. We didn’t pay them and they didn’t pay us…. I had enough entry into the schools so that all my talents were students.”

Father Reuter produced literary classics on television, which gave birth to a generation of performers known as “Reuter babies.”

Since everything was done live in the early days of studio production, performers were under tremendous pressure. The studio was a hothouse of bloopers and accidents waiting to happen; cameras entangled in wires were unable to track, and viewers’ imaginations were unnecessarily taxed as actors who had been previously murdered would forget they were on camera, get up, and stroll out of a scene. (Pinoy, 74)

In the beginning, locally produced shows were at a premium because of high production costs. American syndicates took advantage of the situation and sold mediocre serials to Philippine networks for as much as $125-$150 a show. On the other hand, “[a] locally produced, half-hour program cost $500 in 1959 -- a huge sum of money for any advertiser.” (P-Lent, 97)

To entice advertisers, “simulcasts” --- or simultaneous airing of a program over the radio and the television station --- were offered as a promotional gimmick. Many popular radio shows like “Tawag ng Tanghalan”; Kuwentong Kutsero” and “Student Canteen” started their life on TV this way. Their popularity grew as TV shows later on because their listeners had the added pleasure of seeing their favorite personalities in their own living rooms. (KBP, 155)

Forward Steps

Finally, the problem of prohibitive television set cost was solved with the establishment of such local outfits as Radiowealth, Carlsound and Rehco. These set up assembly plants which cut the prices of television sets by as much as one-half or two-thirds.

In 1955, Radiowealth, Inc. began manufacturing television sets. Radiowealth founder, Domingo M. Guevarra, made television sets available to as many families as possible. He began by distributing television sets on the market when he got exclusive distributorship for Motorola radio and television sets in 1946. Soon, he imported TV parts, assembled them in the Philippines and sold the branded product as Radiowealth-Motorola. He even sent his eldest son, Petronilo, abroad to study the manufacture of electronic components.

A New Lifestyle

Ownership of a television set became a status symbol. In those days, it was a spectacle to have a TV set delivered to one’s home. As the entire neighborhood watched, it took at least three men to carry the huge cabinet with the heavy tube that would bring magic into the household. Newly recovered from the trauma of World War II, the Filipino consumers were eager to treat themselves to something new and exciting. (Pinoy, 66)

The number of TV receivers per 1,000 Filipinos jumped from 3.5 in 1953 to 38 in 1960. In 1962, the television set was the most sellable appliance in urban areas, with the electric iron a far second…. By 1969, Radiowealth was making color tubes; by 1971, the Philippines, through Radiowealth, had become the third country in the world to manufacture color TV sets. (Pinoy, 79)
Television was called the new obsession of Filipinos and was blamed for making Filipinos lose much needed sleep and for putting them shamefully behind their electric bills. “It was also accused of breeding envy and discontent since most people could not afford a set.” (B-Lent, 178) It was blamed for everything, from the deterioration of family conversations to epileptic seizures in children.

In July 1967, the hysteria peaked. The United States Public Health Service reported that some 90,000 TV sets sold between September 1, 1966 and May 27, 1967 were actually leaking radiation and thus might pose a national health hazard. The appliances, identified as 18-, 20-, 22-, and 23-inch color sets with tube serial numbers 6EF4 and 6LO6, had been manufactured by the General Electric (GE) Company. (Pinoy, 86)

There was no doubt that television had changed the lifestyle of Filipinos. In its early days, televiewing was a community affair. “Entire barrios gathered around the set, enshrined in the home of some lucky native who benevolently kept doors and windows open.” (Pinoy, 86)

Filipinos had become so attached to their television sets that the only time one could expect reactions from televiewers was during commercials. Television now competes with the school, the home, and the church in influencing the Filipino people.


In 1958, two developments indicated that television could survive in spite of its problems. First of all, the high taxes previously imposed on canned television shows were removed. This made U.S. shows less expensive than live shows. Second, another network was set up in April of that year. This was the Chronicle Broadcasting Network, established as a radio medium in 1956 by businessmen Eugenio and Fernando Lopez. (P-Lent, 96)

In the same year, the Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN), owned by Lopez brothers, Eugenio Sr. and Fernando, bought ABS from Judge Antonio Quirino. Quirino was caught by surprise by the Lopezes’ interest. The price paid was reportedly many times more than what Quirino thought the channel was worth --- and more than what he thought the station would ever earn. (Pinoy, 66)

Eugenio “Eñing” Lopez Sr. called Judge Quirino to his house for breakfast and ABS was bought under a contract written on a table napkin. The Lopes brothers merged these two companies under the name Bolinao Electronics Corporation, the former name of ABS. Meanwhile, Eugenio “Geny” Lopez Jr., the eldest son of Lopez Sr. had hands-on-education under two pioneers who were running ABS for Quirino: Slim Chaney and James Lindenberg.

With the establishment of DZXL-TV Channel 9 on April 19, 1958, the Lopez brothers controlled both television channels in the archipelago.

In those days, there was not that much money in TV, and not a lot of equipment which the company could initially afford. “Slim would tie together a transmitter with bamboo strips and rags,” recalled Lopez Jr. “It worked, and you didn’t argue.” (Pinoy, 54)

As ABS continued operating, Philippine television started to improve. “Evidence that the television audience was growing were the groups of people who crowded around the appliance shops whenever the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball games were aired.” (KPB, 155)

New Stations

Rapidly, other television stations jumped in. By the early 60s, these new [VHF] television stations opened:

  • DZBB-TV Channel 7, established on October 29, 1961 by the Republic Broadcasting System (RBS), owned by Robert “Uncle Bob” Stewart;
  • DZTM-TV Channel 5, established in 1962 by the Associated Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), owned by the Roces family, the publisher of The Manila Times;
  • DZTV Channel 13 in 1977, run by Inter-Island Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), owned by Andres Soriano; and
  • DZRH-TV Channel 11 of Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC), owned by Manuel Elizalde.
  • Even the government-owned Philippine Broadcast Service launched its television station, Channel 10 in 1961. It was financed by government subsidy but had a short life because of channel frequency allocation.
When the other channels were established, competition became intense. The early stations cornered the American television film market. DZAQ-TV Channel 3 received National Broadcasting Company; DZBB-TV Channel 7 obtained American Broadcasting Company; and DZTV Channel 13, Columbia Broadcasting System.

In a struggle to get the best shows from abroad, these channels became victims of the American networks. Philippine channels were asked to pay $125-$150 for each half-hour U.S. show, and were allowed to show them once. (P-Lent, 97)

Economics of Television

If politics jumpstarted the Philippine television, soap kept the medium running. Procter and Gamble, the American manufacturing company that produced Ivory soap and Tide laundry detergent, nurtured broadcasting by introducing a revolutionary genre frothing with melodrama: the appropriately-named soap opera. (Pinoy, 66)

Sponsorship on television, at first, came only in the form of block timing, with companies buying chunks of time slots from the networks. Depending on their budget and their target audience, they dictated what time slot they wanted to bring in. Thus, programming and production were largely in the hands of advertisers; networks were merely the custodians of airtime. (Pinoy, 71)

Robert “Uncle Bob” Stewart was the first to sell “coop spots.” Sponsors or small businessmen could now buy portions of a program in the form of 60-second commercials. “He approached companies without the resources to buy block time and sponsor entire shows and offered them smaller, more affordable packages within programs. Thus he pioneered the concept of segment and portion buys that are so popular today.” (Pinoy, 57) “In the ultimate promotion, Stewart even threw himself in as a commercial talent for free, and his live endorsements became gems of spontaneous entertainment in themselves.” (Pinoy, 71)

Bob Stewart, the man behind RBS Channel 7 had a special place in the hearts of a generation of kids. “For children growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Uncle Bob’s Lucky Seven Club was the club to join in.” (Pinoy, 57)

In the beginning, the people who were creating Philippine TV had to make do with very little --- minuscule budgets, tiny studios, weak signals, and complicated cameras which technicians couldn’t even begin to operate. After all, the first TV production crews had been transplanted from radio. (Pinoy, 74)

“Mistakes were definitely the order of the day,” recalls Stewart. “We had two cameras, both of them second-hand. And since we had almost no experience in TV, we often had no idea which one was on the air!” The only way to learn television then was by trial and error. In fact, the best cameraman in ABS started out as the driver of Eugenio “Geny” Lopez Jr.

Lack of finances was largely responsible for the poor quality of live television. There was not enough money to pay talent fees, to buy equipment and to train studio personnel. Another reason why live shows matured slowly was the prevalence of unqualified producers.

In 1960, the Philippine Association of National Advertisers acknowledged television as one of the most effective and potent media for advertising. In fact, it was only in the 60s that television commercials came into use. The first television advertising contract in the country was signed for Tawag ng Tanghalan, handled by J. Walter Thompson for Procter and Gamble.

As the television industry matured, lines were more firmly drawn between advertisers and network owners. Programmers now had to prove to advertisers that the station-produced programs were being watched. Thus was the ratings game born. (Pinoy, 74)

More Innovations

In 1961, instructional TV was first attempted by the National Science Development Board through a weekly course in physics, Continental Classroom. In the same year, Fr. James Reuter produced his three-times-a-week show, Education on TV over Channel 9. It featured Fr. Horacio de la Costa, S.J., lecturing on history and Fernando Zobel, discussing art.

Interest generated by public organizations, business firms, and educational institutions developed the National Science Development Board’s televised college course, “Physics in the Atomic Age,” in 1961.

Three years later, on July 1964, the Ateneo Center for Educational Television (ETV) began operation. It was a closed-circuit television project for elementary and high school students of six receiving schools including Ateneo de Manila University and Maryknoll College (now called Miriam College). The now defunct Center for ETV had its own studio and first-rate equipment. It was so advanced that even commercial stations like ABS-CBN occasionally borrowed cameras.

Changes, firsts, and favorites

On February 1, 1967, the corporate name of BEC was changed to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation. This was the formal merger of ABS and CBN. Also, during this year, Radiowealth pioneered in the production of 19-, 21- and 25-inch models of color TV sets, which cost about two thousand five hundred pesos. Television was well on its way to becoming a mass communication tool. Moreover, it was favored by advertisers like Procter and Gamble, Philippine Refining Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Del Rosario Brothers and Caltex Philippines.

In 1969, Filipinos got to watch live the television coverage of the Apollo 11 historic landing. It was the first telecast via satellite in the country and the first in color. “Telecasts from the moon relayed back to earth were captured on Philippine TV sets by the satellite network. Three networks tied up for the project: Channels 5, 7, and 13.” (P-Lent, 106)

It was also in 1969 when Radio Philippines Network branched out into television with Channel 9 in Manila. It was RPN-9 who introduced the longest running and consistently rating sitcom, John en Marsha, which introduced the First Family of Philippine television, the Puruntongs. It was created by Ading Fernando and it starred Dolphy and Nida Blanca. John en Marsha is nationally recognized as one of the greatest Filipino sitcoms of all time. It had millions of loyal fans.

Among the top rated programs in 1966 were: The Nida-Nestor Show, Buhay Artista, and Pancho Loves Tita. Another local show that has had a prevailing top rating is Tawag ng Tanghalan, the amateur singing contest hosted by Lopito and Patsy. During the early years of television, it was a medium for the actor and the performer.

“By the late 60s, Filipinos were craving for steady doses of reality in the form of news and public affairs programs.” (Pinoy, 92) The news pioneers were The Big News on ABC Channel 5 and The World Tonight on ABS-CBN Channel 2. Jose Mari Velez of The Big News brought news broadcasting to new heights.
The Martial Law Years

The Marcos administration was continually attacked in news programs but the late dictator did not take it sitting down. He realized that only absolute control of this medium would stop it.

On September 21, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. It was probably the worst time for Philippine television and the scariest moment on TV. Media were cited as a prime enemy of the administration and the target of Marcos forces.

The first letter of instruction issued by Marcos ordered the take over of all media firms to prevent “communist” propaganda. Troops entered radio and television stations, sealed them, and placed under military control. All media outlets that were critical of the Marcos regime were shut down.

“Within a few hours, the government had wiped out the entire news media of the Philippines, except for [those that are pro-Marcos].” (B-Lent, 179)

GTV Channel 4, the government channel, was taken over by the Office of Press Secretary Francisco Tatad and the National Media Production Center of Gregorio Cendaña.

Shutdown and takeovers

The Filipinos’ first experience of television under martial law began with a blank screen, punctuated only by appearances of President Marcos and Press Secretary Francisco Tatad reading edict after edict. It was a portent of much more chilling realities to come. (Pinoy, 93)

Of the seven Manila-based stations existing in 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos closed all but three; channels 9 and 13 were eventually controlled by [then Ambassador] Roberto Benedicto, and Bob Stewart’s Channel 7 was later allowed to operate with limited three-month permits. (Pinoy, 95)

ABS-CBN was seized from the Lopez family, and Eugenio Lopez Jr., then president of ABS-CBN, was imprisoned.

By the latter part of 1973, Channel 7 was in the red and was forced to sell 70% of the business to a group of investors, who changed the name from RBS to Greater Manila Area (GMA) Radio Television Arts.

Stewart was forced to cede majority control to Gilberto Duavit, a Malacañang official, and RBS reopened under new ownership, with a new format as GMA-7.

When the smoke cleared, the viewer had channels 2, 9, 13, run by Benedicto; Duavit’s 7; and 4, which belonged to the Ministry of Information. (Pinoy, 97)

When DZXL-TV Channel 9 of CBN was sold to Roberto Benedicto, he changed the name from CBN to KBS, Kanlaon Broadcasting System. So when a fire destroyed the KBS television studios in Pasay, Benedicto's people took over the ABS-CBN studios in Bohol Avenue, Quezon City. His employees moved in; and by August 1973, KBS was broadcasting on all ABS-CBN channels. A year later, Salvador “Buddy” Tan, general manager of KBS, reopened Channel 2 as the Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

The two Benedicto stations: KBS Channel 9 and BBC Channel 2 aired government propaganda. In 1980, Channels 2, 9 and 13 moved to the newly-built Broadcast City in Diliman, Quezon City. According to Buddy Tan, the move was based on economy of scale. These stations shared everything from security guards to water to studios.

In 1980, Gregorio Cendaña was named Minister of Information. GTV Channel 4 became known as Maharlika Broadcasting System.

Initially, everything that was to be aired on radio and TV had to be reviewed by the Department of Public Information, which set up the rules and regulations. Through other government agencies, policies on ownership, allocation of frequencies, station distribution, and program standards were promulgated. It allowed self-regulation when broadcast owners formed the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas in 1973 and when a presidential decree created the Broadcast Media Council in 1974. (National, 30)

Before martial law, broadcasting in the Philippines was probably the freest from government control in the world. “Freedom of expression was virtually unrestricted, to the extent that no politician or public figure could hope to escape permanently from mass-media revelations.” (B-Lent, 179)

On paper, monopolies were banned. In practice, however, Marcos allowed them to exist for friends and relatives. Broadcast media was so vulnerable to government dictation and control since its existence depended upon the government’s granting them the Certificates of Public Convenience.

The continued existence of the broadcast companies were put to doubt and this made them high-risk borrowers of banks. Thus, managers were unable to upgrade and update their steadily depreciating equipment. Only the more profitable and perhaps those with more access to the powers-that-be were able to import spare parts and state-of-the-art technology. (National, 30)

All is Well?

One TV spectacular after another proclaimed that all was well in the Philippines --- the 1974 Miss Universe Pageant, the 1975 Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier heavy-weight fight, the 1981 visit of Pope John Paul II. (Pinoy, 109)

When Benigno Aquino was assassinated in 1983, it was a small item on television news. During his historic funeral procession, GMA Channel 7 gave ten seconds of airtime for this event. With the assassination of Aquino, the iron grip that the Marcos administration had on television began to slip.

In 1984, Imee Marcos, daughter of Ferdinand Marcos, attempted to takeover GMA Channel 7, just as she did with the Benedictos. However, she was foiled by GMA executives, Menardo Jimenez and Felipe Gozon. Stewart left the Philippines for good as he was utterly disappointed with the Marcos move.
Free Again

On February 24, 1986, MBS Channel 4 went off the air during a live news conference in Malacañang and during an exchange between Marcos and then Chief of Staff General Fabian Ver. The network was eventually taken over by rebel forces and started broadcasting for the Filipino people.

When the time came, it was television that first broke the news to the Filipino nation: It was all over. Freedom was back.

Jake Almeda Lopez, former general manager of ABS-CBN, took over the station and cajoled the MBS engineers to put it back on the air.

Director Johnny Manahan assembled a panel composed of June Keithley, Orly Punzalan, Noel Trinidad, and Subas Herrero, and one by one, political figures trooped to the station to say a few words on cam…. The news took a circuitous route, but it arrived. For visual support, director Mitos Villareal hired a helicopter and took shots of the million-strong crowd at Edsa. (Pinoy, 120)

The military revolt backed by civilians ended the twenty-year reign of dictatorship. It led to the restoration of the democratic institutions in the country, including the television stations that were seized when Martial Law was declared. Truly, “some of the most dramatic events that surrounded Edsa Revolution happened in and around TV studios…” (Pinoy, 123)

After the Edsa Revolution, Eugenio Lopez Jr. returned from exile in the United States.

Comeback stories

On September 14, 1986, amid difficulties with the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which initially refused to return the franchise of Channel 2 to its original owners, and problems of mortgaged equipment, ABS-CBN Channel 2 made a comeback and resumed broadcasting, after fourteen years of forced leave.

In 1988, PTV Channel 4, then MBS, was launched as “The People’s Station.” Today, it is now known as the NBN.

The Edsa Revolution paved the way for the reopening of ABC. On February 21, 1992, ABC Channel 5 reopened with a new multi-million-peso studio complex in Novaliches.

After the historic EDSA revolution, IBC-13 became one of the media houses that were sequestered by the government. Executive Order No. 11 was signed by former President Corazon Aquino and created the Board of Administration that governed the affairs of the Channel. To this date, there had been seven Board of Administrators that changed hands, until the Supreme Court finally ruled on the compromise agreement between the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and Mr. Roberto S. Benedicto, the latter ceding Broadcast City which houses IBC-13 and RPN-9 to the government. Today, IBC-13 operates like all other private corporations with a board of directors of its own. (KBP, 165)

On April 19, 1998, ZOE TV 11 of ZOE Broadcasting Network, Inc., owned by born-again evangelist Eddie Villanueva, was officially launched.

Television in the Philippines had indeed gone a long way. More than fifty years ago, television was just one of the appliances in a Filipino home, today, it is considered as the most pervasive and influential instrument of mass communication in the Philippines.

ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation: Pinoy Television: The Story of ABS-
CBN. Pasig City: Benpres Publishing Inc., 1999.

Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas: The 1996 KBP Media Factbook.

Lent, John, ed. Broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific: A Continental Survey of
Radio and TV. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978.

________. Philippine Mass Communication Before 1811 and After 1966.
Manila: Philippine Press Institute, 1971.

National Conference on the Role of Communication in the Philippines after
the Revolution: People Power and Communication in the Mid-1980s
Pace Publication, 1986.

Alcala, Angelica Editha. Historical Case Study of GMA Television Station.
Unpublished undergraduate thesis, University of the Philippines, 1986.

Antonio, Ana Marie. A Documentation and Annotation of the History of
Philippine Television. Unpublished undergraduate thesis, University of
the Philippines, 1978.

De Leon, Christine Ruby. A Historical Study on Radio Philippines Network
Channel 9. Unpublished undergraduate thesis, University of the
Philippines, 1994.

Evangelio, Connie. A Historical Study of RPN Channel 9. Unpublished
undergraduate thesis, University of the Philippines, 1992.

Tuazon, Dorina. Historical Case Study of ABS-CBN from 1946-1989.
Unpublished undergraduate thesis, University of the Philippines, 1991.

Video Interviews

(All video interviews done by Ellen Joy Anastacio and Janine Natalie Badiola)

Romualdo “Romy” Carballo. University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon
City, August 31, 2000.

Eddie Ilarde. Live Studio-2, Broadcast City, Capitol Hills Subdivision, Diliman,
Quezon City, August 25, 2000.

Dolphy Quizon. ABS-CBN Broadcast Center, Sgt. E. A. Esguerra Ave. cor.
Mother Ignacia St., Quezon City, September 8, 2000.

Fr. James Reuter, S.J. National Office of Mass Media, Xavier House, 2307
Pedro Gil St., Sta. Ana, Manila, August 27, 2000.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

It's Bulagaan time!

Check out the Eat Bulaga official website. No Pinoy can ever forget Eat Bulaga, which, for better or worse, is definitely part of Pinoy pop culture.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Newsbreak has an interesting take on The Religion of Noontime Shows.

The reality is that noontime shows in Philippine television are mere copies of each other. “Student Canteen,” “Kalatog Pinggan,” “Kwarta O Kahon,” “Eat Bulaga,” “Lunch Date,” and “Wowowee” share the same format.

What have changed are technology—TV sets are more affordable—and viewer profile. Orlando Mercado, former senator and host of GMA-7’s “Student Canteen” and “Lunch Date,” says: “TV ownership is so high now that even the smallest shanties of informal settlers have TV antennas.”


The noontime show starts with a production number and then mix talent searches and game throughout the show. They are basically variety shows and you can trace their format to the vaudeville shows of pre-television age.

“The format is still the same,” said Malou Fagar, executive vice president and assistant general manager of Tape Inc., the producer of GMA-7’s “Eat Bulaga.” “We only adapted to new trends but the format never changed.”


In the noontime shows, ratings matter and the most entertaining show wins.

Ratings Champ

“Eat Bulaga” has always been the show to beat. It has moved from RPN-9 to ABS-CBN to GMA-7 in its 27 years in the industry. They always carried with them their audience.


MTB gained a tremendous following from noontime viewers after it launched Pera o Bayong and became a “bigger apple” than “Eat Bulaga.”

“Eat Bulaga” was forced to copy Pera o Bayong and came up with Meron o Wala. But ratings didn’t pick up immediately. MTB topped the ratings of “Eat Bulaga” for about two years, Fagar disclosed. So the management decided to give away the first million on television in 2001.

“It was our way to get audience interest back,” Fagar said.

Noontime shows were never the same since then. Gone are the days when top prizes were about P100,000 and contestants were happy with P1,000 consolation prizes.


Unfortunately for ABS-CBN, its noontime dominance was short-lived. ...Last year, it introduced a different noontime package. Primetime hit “Pilipinas Game KNB” with Kris Aquino is timed with the first half of “Eat Bulaga,” and “Wowowee” with Revillame coincides with the second half of “Eat Bulaga.” “Wowowee retained Pera o Bayong.

They, too, weren’t big enough for “Eat Bulaga.


Then the “Wowowee” tragedy happened and ABS-CBN had to cancel yet another noontime show. ABS-CBN introduced about eight noontime shows since “Eat Bulaga” left the station in 1995.

The tragedy didn’t seem to faze the devotees of noontime shows. Monday after the “Wowowee” tragedy, people still showed up in the ABS-CBN compound for Pera o Bayong, unaware that the show had been cancelled.

This time, ABS-CBN offered its primetime hit, “Pinoy Big Brother,” to noontime viewers. It has yet to draw fanatics.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

It is a distressing time in TV history. The first year anniversary of Wowowee, ABS-CBN's current lunch time game show hosted by Willie Revillame, caused a stampede that killed 74 people and injured hundreds more. ABS-CBN's website at 6:25 pm reflected that 5 more people have died.

Red Cross officials said 74 people who had come to watch the first anniversary presentation of the popular ABS-CBN noontime show "Wowowee" were crushed to death in an early morning stampede at the Philsports Arena (formerly Ultra) in Pasig City, a shocking spectacle many saw as a telling measure of the hard times.


It was one of the deadliest, if not the deadliest, incident involving a stampede to occur in the country in years.

The victims were predominantly from the poorest parts of the metropolis and nearby provinces, generally jobless and lured by the show's promise of instant millions.

Some came from as far as the Visayas.

The victims included the elderly, pregnant women, toddlers, entire families or neighborhoods who since Monday had taken shelter in jeepneys or slept on mattresses and newspapers in the open street leading to the gates of the Arena.

Many of the dead were women crushed against a closed steel gate at the bottom of a slope or trampled underfoot. At least one child was killed, hospital officials said.

View the full article

It is a sad, sad day not just for TV history, but a depressing reflection of the state of our country. Filipinos are pinning their hopes and dreams on a television game show for lack of anything else to cling to.

God bless their souls.

Related articles:

Loud music drowned out cries for help

Wowowee: Entertainment, hope for the poor

Disaster waiting to happen: Celebrities to die for

TV rivalry, politics cast aside in wake of tragedy

Mostly elderly women crushed to death

'My guards did their best; I'm proud of them'

Noli, Willie: Tragedy showed extent of RP poverty

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Where did ABS-CBN go wrong?
excerpts from Carlo Banaag's column in the Manila Bulletin

In broadcast and advertising circles, there is a general agreement that ABS-CBN did three things extremely well over the years: First, they copied other people’s ideas, but made them better. Second, they pirated the best shows and the best people. Third, they crushed everybody else.

Let’s say, for example, that a competitor had produced a variety show that was beginning to attract viewers. ABS-CBN would immediately launch a bigger variety show with glitzier sets, grander production numbers and more hosts. If the competition had a singer who was getting praise, ABS-CBN would offer to triple her talent fee. Finally, it would never be enough to just edge out the competing show in the ratings.


The tactics of ABS-CBN employed one basic weapon: Money. More money than other networks were able or willing to spend. Money for production, money for programming, money for equipment and facilities, money for executive salaries, money for talent fees, even money for game show prizes. If Christopher de Leon gave away a million on his show, Kris Aquino gave two million on hers.


Like many other companies ruled by fluctuating share prices, ABS-CBN become more conscious of short-term financial results and embarked on cost-cutting campaigns. At first, the cuts were facetious—sorry no more fresh flowers in the executive offices and reuse your plastic cups please—but later, they began to cut, not just fat, but meat and bone.

The older, more established and more expensive artistas were let go or alienated. Those who were retained had package deals that ensured that viewers would see them over and over again to the point of satiety. The number of shooting days per episode was reduced. Promo spots that would have looked great on film were done on video.

At the same time, Channel 2 strayed from its traditional three-part formula. Take the case of "Extra Challenge" which GMA-7 used to establish a beachhead in primetime. ABS-CBN never deigned to produce a clone of the show even when it had become clear that the celebrity Fear Factor format was going to be a monster hit. Nor did ABS pursue Paolo Bediones or Miriam Quiambao or Ethel Booba in the way that it went after, say, Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda a decade earlier.

Finally, ABS-CBN hesitated to pit its strongest programs against the upstart reality show. Instead, "Extra Challenge" became the programming tentpole that pulled up the ratings of "24 Oras" and "Mulawin."


Certainly, a host of other problems contributed to pulling ABS-CBN down to number 2, among them, the internal politics, favoritism and intrigues; the loss of credibility in news and current affairs; the drain on resources represented by Studio 23 and other ventures; and the lack of broadcast experience of its president.

Nevertheless, one factor stands out as the proximate cause of ABS-CBN’s collapse in primetime: The failure to aggressively protect its market share using the methods that had succeeded so spectacularly in the past.
Carlo Banaag of Manila Bulletin describes what GMA-7 is doing wrong:

The truth in the "Kapuso" slogan, therefore, is undeniable. GMA-7 does have a finger on the pulse of the people and is thus able to supply what the multitudes want, when they want it.

It is telling, however, that the network’s motto no longer mentions any higher purpose or social responsibility. Abandoning "Service to man and for the glory of God," slogan, GMA-7 now appears to aspire for nothing beyond pandering to the desires of the mass audience in order to increase ratings and revenues. Sadly, the lack of altruism indicated in the "Kapuso" catchphrase seems to be borne out in the network’s programs and practices.

Examples can be found in the area of children’s programming. In place of award-winning educational shows like "Sesame Street" and "Blues Clues," GMA-7 now airs cartoons. As a result, morning ratings have shot up. Obviously, kids want cartoons. But is that what they need? Whereas ABS-CBN put its money into productions like "Sineskwela" and "MathTinik," GMA-7 has nothing comparable to these programs, despite having overtaken ABS-CBN in profits.

"Quality" programming has also fallen by the wayside. Gone are the telemovies and drama anthologies in which writers and directors at least attempted to be creative, artistic or thought-provoking as well as entertaining. Instead GMA-7 seeks to tickle viewers with comedies and gag shows that are practically unscripted and only barely directed. The fantasy soap operas are expensive; but as entertainment, they are more closely related to the circus than to great television like "Angels in America."

Mel Tiangco’s "Magpakailanman," which could have stood as the last bastion of quality, has been reduced to a publicity vehicle for minor personalities, extending their 15 minutes of fame to an excruciating hour and a half.