Coco Martin

A Different Christmas: The Traditional, Unofficial PHTV Holiday Programming Guide for 2020-2021


LONG BEFORE the surreal and baffling RC Cola commercial, a public service advertisement that forever etched the minds of childhood said that after a tumultuous year, the country needs a “different Christmas.” In that ad, the drawing of Santa Claus at the start was erased and replaced with significant details to become Jesus Christ.

That concept was made somewhere in December 1997 — at the height of the Asian financial crisis but the message remains applicable now with the global pandemic.

To our dear readers, this is the first Christmas of the new decade and yet, this is also the first under a new violent shift in Philippine television.

The events you always looked forward to during the Yuletide season might not happen this year. Despite that, the Turf’s tradition continues to chronicle the insights for the outlier.

This year, we will classify them into categories that will transpire from today (December 11) until January 3, 2021.

The Programming Situation Right Now

After a few years’ hiatus, the Christmas Cartoon Festival Presents on GMA is back, serving as a comfort show for kids and kids at heart akin to the Yule Log and classic holiday specials in the United States. On weeknights, Paano Ang Pasko becomes TV5’s first Christmaserye, as part of Primetime Todo (the third wave of the network’s local entertainment renaissance this 2020).

12.12 Sale Super Show

The two super shows from two leading e-commerce platforms (Lazada and Shopee) are in one national TV network — GMA. (Duh, do we even have a choice?) Tonight, Lazada — despite Kathryn Bernardo (a local brand ambassador but a Kapamilya) and Lee Min Ho (the regional ambassador) — will have a star-studded special counting down to the big day (in place of Bubble Gang?) while Shopee will go all out in the late morning on that big day before Eat Bulaga!

Two days ago, Kris Aquino — the other ambassador for Shopee — appeared on TV5’s Lunch Out Loud to win prizes for solid Kapatids. (Is that a hint for next Christmas that TV5 will take Shopee while GMA gets Lazada?)

Shows Ending

One local show will end at the two-week holiday period wherein they are generally not concluded. The local adaptation of the Korean drama Descendants of the Sun on GMA — whose production was stalled but resumed last November — will wrap up on the night of Christmas Day.

 

Categories in Concern

Entertainment Gatherings

Due to the community quarantine regulations under the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), mass gathering events during the holidays — from network Christmas specials to New Year’s revelry — are forced to be canceled, downscaled or go fully virtual.

At this usual time, the annual Kapamilya Christmas special in Smart Araneta Coliseum would’ve drawn a spectacular audience with enthusiastic screams from fangirls holding up their fan signs as their favorite love teams performed. Now, the media conglomerate fell down and the Big Dome is dead silent. It continues in their Broadcast Center and will be aired online and cable on December 20 but not in A2Z. (Had it not for COVID-19, GMA could’ve done that in their own backyard while TV5 is still on revival mode.)

This year’s Giant Lantern Festival, which is the only live non-news telecast of CLTV, is scaled down digitally with seven barangays participating this December 16 (the first day of Simbang Gabi).

Meanwhile, traditional and the grandest star-studded New Year’s countdown on GMA, held usually on the grounds of SM Mall of Asia, may be forced to lock into their headquarters in Kamuning.

The 46th Metro Manila Film Festival

For the first time in 45 years, the country’s Yuletide film festival goes online through Upstream PH.

This year, they, three stars — Vic Sotto, Coco Martin and Vice Ganda — of opportunists are NOT coming to the very first fully digital iteration. The first one is a senior citizen, the second doesn’t have enough time to do so due to taping protocols and the last one didn’t finish the film on time despite the organizing committee’s approval. All of them impliedly realized that running movie houses below full capacity meant less revenue in their pockets as loyal fans can’t go out due to the fears of the virus. Not to mention, the last two lost their means to promote their wares had the contagion not happened.

Therefore, the lineup of 10 films (including four originally slated for what would have been their inaugural Summer edition) would be deemed the next best since the 2016 edition.

The two major events of the festival: the Parade of Stars and the Gabi ng Parangal (Awards Night) will go virtual. The Awards Night usually comes on the third day of the festival (i.e. December 27) is, fortunately, falling on a Sunday; it would mean TV5 has some free time on primetime (they can substitute Onstage).

Religious Gatherings

This is Quiapo Church last Friday (Dec. 4) for the final First Friday Mass of 2020. The devotees outside the church complied with physical distancing protocols. If this can be done, then what more from December 16 to 24? (Photo courtesy of GMA News / Danny Pata)

Even though the whole country is mostly under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) — Metro Manila is at a higher level (GCQ) — religious authorities still take no chance when it comes to dealing with the pandemic and religious gatherings including the unique tradition of Simbang Gabi.

In pre-COVID and the old Philippine TV network rivalry, ABS-CBN was the leading network when it comes to airing the novena Masses for those who can’t come physically to their local churches (in addition to the Christmas Midnight Mass and New Year’s). Now, under a limited reach and in fading memory, they cannot be aired on A2Z due to religious stipulations with Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc. but it can be done on their Kapamilya Channel on cable and satellite, it may be aired on Kapamilya Online Live.

For those who don’t have cable or satellite or the luxury of livestreaming but you own at least a digital TV receiver, TV Maria, under RJ DigiTV, is there to cover but often, their digital coverage (the signal and quality) is not satisfied. Therefore, TV5 must take the initiative but they have to go before the daily Word of God Network program or in substitution thereof, which in turn comes before Ted Failon and DJ Chacha sa Radyo simulcast (on weekdays) and cartoons (one Saturday). One can be determined through a hint in their movement music video, which is deemed sufficient as a Christmas station ID for the network.

In the Vatican this year, due to the severe second wave, you will neither see a jam-packed public audience inside St. Peter’s Basilica nor outside at St. Peter’s Square to see Pope Francis saying the Mass (early morning, Christmas Day, our time) and receive the Apostolic blessing later in the noon (7:00 p.m. local), respectively. Normally, CNN Philippines covers these two events live and GMA does it combined and taped-delayed before they sign off for their broadcast day. Will both networks continue the tradition?

Sports

PBA has just finished its 45th season with one conference — the Philippine Cup — where Barangay Ginebra San Miguel defeated TNT Tropang Giga in 5 at the AUF Sports Arena & Cultural Center in Angeles City (serving as the league’s bubble).

Meanwhile, NBA’s slightly reduced regular season (72 from the usual 82) will kick off on December 23 (our time) for the first time on the Kapatid network. The traditional Christmas Day games will continue with, fittingly, one game on the main channel as it falls on Saturday and another on One Sports.

Commemorations and Situations Re: the Country

Commemorations involving the country like Armed Forces Day (December 21) and Rizal Day (December 30) would be downscaled or be canceled. Generally, PTV is responsible for coverage as long as the main star — President Rodrigo Duterte — is present at the ceremony wherever he may be.

However, his focus will be the declaration of community quarantine status throughout the country for the first month of the New Year. This will likely be announced on the last Monday of the year (December 28) — during the weekly late-night session.

In the old normal, the primetime Lotto draws on the eve of Christmas and the New Year comes early so that PCSO employees and lottery agents can come home to prepare and to spend with families as no sales and draw are conducted the following day. Will this arrangement happen even in the new normal?

 

Year in Retrospect?

From December 26 to 31, a retrospect of this year would normally be made in certain programs as having a network’s year-in-review special on a Sunday night is a thing of the past. Given the heavily-defined circumstances that transpired this 2020, some programs (and some bloggers and other outlets) will be skipped but others (including us) will strive to continue.

For one, Atom Araullo Specials on GMA will present Dos Mil Bente this Sunday (December 13) afternoon but the saying “Expect the unexpected” will resonate with the two and a half weeks remaining of the year.

 

What We Can All Agree? What’s Next?

Despite our differences, we can all agree that this Christmas is not the same as it was before with our old habits and scenes we are used to like traffic rush, crowded malls and packed hangouts. Moreso, our TV landscape has the same atmosphere.

Can the next year’s holiday programming insights be better under the post-new normal arrangement? We’ll all see.


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Featured image courtesy of Gerd Altmann / Pixabay

Other photos are courtesy of GMA

‘The Cure’ Fails Its Experiment To Subside FPJAP Supervirus


A CAT may have nine lives but GMA’s such a numerical attempt failed to beat down the unstoppable supervirus of Mother Ignacia (i.e. FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano).

By Friday (July 27), The Cure (dir. Mark A. Reyes) will close out with 65 episodes with, unsurprisingly, no signs of finale fanfare from social media handles.

Here is an except from From the Tube‘s on the series:

The story of ‘The Cure’ involves an experimental drug that kills cancer cells, but the side effect of it is that a highly dangerous and contagious virus called Monkey Virus Disease (MVD) will mutate and cause seizures and violent outbreaks to infected people. The disease quickly spreads throughout the country and will only continue to do so unless a cure can be found.

Married couple Charity (Jennylyn [Mercado]), a former registered nurse, and Gregory (Tom [Rodriguez]), a clinical research associate in a pharmaceutical company, are living a happy life with their daughter Hope (Leanne Bautista), until Greg’s mother Agnes (Irma Adlawan) is diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Agnes is given an experimental drug, but her health got worse as she is infected with MVD.

That drug, in turn, was discovered by Dr. Evangeline Lazaro (Jaclyn Jose), who works in the same company as Greg. With MVD continuing to wreak havoc across the country, it is up to Charity and Greg to find the necessary cure and prevent the inevitable.

The Cure’ also stars Mark Herras, LJ Reyes, Jay Manalo, Ronnie Henares, Glenda Garcia, Diva Montelaba and Arra San Agustin, with a special participation from Ken Chan.

Kantar registered The Cure‘s recent rating, from July 17 to 20, 2018, ranging from 15.5-16.6 while their adversary took advantage with 42.1-44.4 when at the latter’s primary storyline, the vow of Cardo Dalisay (Coco Martin) and Alyana (Yassi Pressman) was renewed.

Like their eight attempts since September 2015, the “Cardo Curse” triumphed. In other words, they are not immune to fight against an institution amidst a very devious storyline and genre.

Its replacement, the 10th competitor, Victor Magtanggol (starring Alden Richards, dir. Dominic Zapata) will be tackled in the Turf later this week.


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FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano @ 2: On Its Longevity and On Its Despondents


TWO YEARS for a primetime teleserye is a rare feat in the chronicles of Philippine television.

Today, September 28, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano is attaining that milestone; during the course of the 20-year-old-film-turned-teleserye, we have traveled along to the saga of SPO2 Cardo Dalisay (Coco Martin) in the Philippine National Police.

Length comparisons & contrasts

One may think that the immediate TV Patrol lead-out series is as long to this decade’s daytime counterpart, Be Careful with My Heart. Well, by tonight, FPJAP will air its 519th episode and according to their recent announcement of ending up by January 2018, the series might wrap up with 605 episodes (assuming if ending on January 26) – but it’s still 17 short of BCWMH’s 622. In such terms, it could be better said that FPJAP can be called the 2010s’ equivalent to the original Pangako sa ‘Yo.

The motives behind

While some viewers defected to the rival giant over their repetitive and lengthened plot, GMA’s seven counteroffers failed to defeat Kuya Cardo’s engagements, according to Kantar. What FPJAP drives them so successful?

  • Injecting and integrating the sense of realism. Even though mostly rated SPG, the show was able to hook up due to the picturesque from the moderately paced setting of ordinary people and fast-paced action of Cardo. In the midst of the scene, is timely with current events (such as what is happening in Marawi) or within the season (e.g. Christmas, Holy Week, Back-to-School). Finally, they give real-life lessons (a.k.a. Ligtas Tips) on how to be alert in dealing with relatable situations.

  • Star building for the young and for the fallen. During the earlier course of the show, two child stars became part of the ensemble – Simon Ezekiel Pineda (Onyok) and McNeal “Awra” Briguela (Makmak) as the supporting roles. Their significant moments in the spotlight helped raised the roof of social media attention. Although the former went away to normalize his childhood, the latter pursued to take the risk with Wansapanataym as Amazing Ving. This is where GMA’s artist management failed in nurturing child stars. Aside from the young, the fallen stars from its rival were also given a chance to shine. Remember what happened to ex-Starstruck Aljur Abrenica. After his contract expired, he entered Star Magic due to his contempt with the persistent favorable treatment to veterans (No offense, Marian Rivera.) and gave him immediately the first break there.
  • Acceptance of simple elements. The theme song “Wag Ka Nang Umiyak” (by Gary Valenciano) and its signature zoom-in dramatic shots have been immortalized due to netizens’ humorous purposes – be it politics or any forms of pop culture. For the production crew, they take it with a grain of salt and compliment it as flattery.
  • Passionate production crew. Throughout the last two years, it seems the production crew, amidst tiresomeness, was satisfied in contributing to the success of the series. However, critics are showing concerns on their collective health concerns following the case of Francis Pasion’s passing just days after directing On the Wings of Love last year.

Over all, it won different television awards from the major award giving bodies (e.g. PMPC Star Awards and Box Office Entertainment Awards), the Anak TV Seal, the Church via the Catholic Mass Media Awards, different college student bodies across the country and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) for its Golden Dove Awards. It was also given a special citation from the CIDG.

There’s the nub

While we understand that the politically keen’s standpoint of Kuya Cardo’s efforts could not be replicated under the actual PNP’s org chart due to general distrust, the real nub of this article is for those who are despondent with the show and called it “cancer.”

Initially, considerable psychological factors of tuning out and short attention span of the typical Filipino masa, an average teleserye last from 3-6 months depending on the flow of the story. It can be extended as they wish if they fared successfully. The Turf already made several proposals and a quick post to make primetime television’s lineup better without posing too much health risks for producers and artists and consumers (i.e. you, dear viewers) the freedom to choose whatever show they want to watch but then, the Big Bosses of the Duopoly are too reluctant to materialize because as of most of you would say, money talks.

Nonetheless, for the fed-up viewers, you still have to wait for four months for the agony to finish — unless an extension is announced.


Timow’s Turf would personally like to thank John Rodrigo Diaz Valdez for supplying the count of challenging GMA shows.


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#PHTVzg2015: ABS-CBN


[Author’s note: #PHTVzg2015 stands for Philippine Television Zeitgeist 2015, a five-part year-ender series.]

Another year has come and gone, but before we enter the sweet 2016, the Turf looks back on the roller-coaster moments of ABS-CBN.

Star-studded for the Papal Visit (January). Five Kapamilya stars (Lyca Gairanod, Angeline Quinto, Jed Madela, Darren Espanto & Erik Santos) performed in different venues of the itinerary of Pope Francis’ five-day visit. The Voice Kids Season 1 champion, Lyca Gairanod, performed “Tell the World of His Love” before the main program of Encounter with Families at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Quinto, Madela and Espanto performed during the Encounter with the Youth at the University of Santo Tomas and Erik Santos sang the Responsorial Psalm at the Concluding Mass at Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park.

Trashing film tourism (February to May). Success does not need to trash the wondrous creation but the aftermath of such in teleserye “Forevermore” and the film “That Thing Called Tadhana” came with the attention of collateral damage in Cordillera. Located in Tuba, Benguet, the filming location of LizQuen’s primetime drama became a hit tourist destination but its watershed contributed significant damage. The criticism is not noticed until May, just as their program is about to end, a writ of kalikasan was issued from the Court of Appeals and thus, forcing the cancellation of the farewell concert there. On the other hand, Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman’s indie flick is located in Sagada. Because of immense popularity, the swarming of tourists there left their trashes behind and netizens made rounds of criticism.

The Declining and the Denial (February-present). ASAP reached 20 this year but the longevity of the institution paid the decline of its domestic base as viewers at home are fed up with repetitive dance movements and its lack of innovation. When its Kamuning neighbor decided to scrap the cowardice Sunday All Stars in favor of the comedic Sunday PinaSaya, they try to compete with the comedic opening but the main host, Martin Nievera, was disappointed with the setup by a tweet. SPS won the ratings game from August and ASAP is decided to shorten their airtime to two hours and again, Nievera remained in denial.

Onward towards DTV. After five years of trial and error, the ABS-CBN TVPlus, nicknamed as the “Mahiwagang Black Box,” is released commercially to selected markets since February 11, with new sub-channels such as Yey! and Cine Mo and existing ones from cable such as Knowledge Channel and DZMM Teleradyo. Nine months later, the high-definition feed of the mainstream channel, ABS CBN HD, is released in selected cable operators (Oct 3).

This Success Sounds Familiar (March to December). Hosted by Billy Crawford, Your Face Sounds Familiar, a new game show franchise, where celebrities impersonates music icons, became a hit for viewers during weekend prime time, not once but twice.

The End of the Buzz (April 5). Easter Sunday this year marked the new life but for Boy Abunda, it marked the death of his showbiz show, The Buzz. Though they would be come back soon, the return is remote from being materialized, thanks to social media. However, the show was posthumously awarded as the Best Showbiz Oriented Talk Show on the 29th PMPC Star Awards.

Duo Dynami-nation (May and August). Primetime Bida for 2015 is mostly significant for the two love teams for social media. KathNiel’s “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” (since May 25) and JaDine’s “On The Wings of Love” (since August 10) hyped up the national Twitter trending list during weekdays.

S+A going full capacity (June 20). From that day, NCAA aired on its new home on ABS-CBN Sports + Action since UAAP was moved to September. The decision of covering the oldest (but not popular) collegiate athletic association would not simply make their Sports Division very busy year-round but astonish their technological advancement to sportscasting.

Pinoy Big Bromance? (June 20). Pinoy Big Brother commemorated its 10th anniversary this year with a new hybrid edition, “PBB 737.” During the early run, when the teens entered the Bahay ni Kuya, the show drew fire over bromance and the action of one housemate, Ryan James Bacalla. Because of this, the 24/7 live cable streaming was pulled out until the teens’ part ended after seven weeks of stay.

It’s Showtime’s immorality segments (August to October). As the Kalyeserye on the Kamuning neighbor became successful, It’s Showtime attempted to counter it with Twerking Girls but it drew fire by a solid Kapamilya netizen. After the controversial celebrity competition, they replaced it with “Nasaan Ka, Mr. Pastillas” featuring Angelica “Pastillas Girl” Yap. However, netizens are unamused by the content as it acts as the antithesis of the norms of traditional Filipino courtship exemplified by its rival. Not only that, the girl herself was also the butt of the joke with one of her old videos posted containing dirty language spreading online with degrading reactions in return. The segment was also compared it to an American reality dating show, “The Bachelorette” and called it “Bugawserye.” Such complaints drew Gabriela Partylist’s attention to call MTRCB and to summon the show’s creators.

Krissy decides to tone down (August-September). (Soon-to-be-outgoing) Presidential sister and veteran Kapamilya, Kris Aquino, narrowly escapes stroke after filming “Etiquette for Mistresses.” Because of the traumatic health effect, she decided to leave “Aquino and Abunda Tonight” and decided to remain only on KrisTV in order to achieve a “healthy work and life balance.”

Hisses from the two entities (August and September). During the Iglesia ni Cristo rally in EDSA in late August, social media blared up messages of the network’s bias against the Church. Few members of INC made a rash payback by mauling one of its camera operators covering the situation. Two weeks later, during a students’ forum in UP Los Banos with Vice President Jejomar Binay, a news writer mistakenly heard the crowd shouting “trapo” (traditional politician) instead of “sample.” Despite of netizens’ praise for the student body’s fearless inquiry over current issues thrown against him (i.e. overpricing infrastructures and making under-the-table deals in Makati City as mayor), the student council demanded the broadcaster’s apology.

Big shot coming from a single bullet (September 28). After Coco Martin’s portrayal as a commando of PNP Special Action Force that was part of the Fallen 44 tribute on MMK, he became the lead role of the TV drama adaptation of the 1997 action film, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.

ANC prepares for APEC. As the Philippines hosted APEC 2015, cable news channel ANC decided to reinstate Cathy Yang as the business news anchor. On October 26, ANC freshened up their identity.

Advertising jealousy (November). With AlDub’s* exponential success, it stripped their endorsers from the last Kapamilya talents (such as McDonalds’ chicken meals from Toni Gonzaga and Nino Muhlach, Hapee toothpaste from Angel Locsin and Rejoice shampoo from Kim Chiu). Because of that phenomenon, according to an insider, some advertisers decided not to renew their contract with ABS-CBN. Hence, the network issued a memo to advertisers that they have a right not to air any commercials that is associated with the rival’s programs, indirectly or directly. Hence, their intentional acts of not airing it, reducing it, splitting Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards apart or omitting Maine whatever possible. Kapamilya fans, belonging to the AlDub* nation, sees it as a form of bitterness (jealousy) and endorsement protectionism, calling both as unfair, as KathNiel and JaDine’s commercials on GMA were aired in full.

Gone from the news, stay for Sunday nights. Despite of departure on TV Patrol and DZMM for her news delivery, Korina Sanchez still maintains Rated K every Sunday night. The said program and the presenter won the Best Magazine Show and Host respectively on the Star Awards.

Talent Newsmakers of 2015

New and shining talents

  • Jana Agoncillo of Dream Dad and Ningning
  • Marco Masa of Nathaniel
  • Elha Mae Nympha of the Voice Kids 2
  • Bailey May and Ylona Garcia (BaiLona) of PBB 737 Teens
  • Tommy Esguerra and Miho Nishida (ToMiho) of PBB 737 Regulars
  • Xymon Ezekiel Pineda (Onyok) of Ang Probinsyano

Migrants from other networks:

  • From GMA: Sarah Lahbati and Elmo Magalona
  • From TV5: Wendell Ramos and Vin Abrenica

Outlook for 2016

Financial and operation wise, the corporation will remain profitable and the transition for digital television as feasible for 2016.

However, the Turf issues a RED ALERT for Mother Ignacia for the New Year.

Despite the revenues of political advertisement making up less percentage of their consolidated revenue, they will go in hot water for favoring former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, the second Aquino administration’s anointed successor, over their flagship news programs and its senatorial lineup would be promoted through their life stories on MMK.

*The AlDub phenomenon will be discussed continuously in the next Zeitgeist (GMA 7).

Addendum: UFC will no longer be under ABS-CBN Sports’ hands this 2016.