news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

1995 Flashback: Saksi at 20

‘Saksi’ is now on its 20th year, which is by far the second longest among active free TV newscasts in the country. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

It has been over 20 years since ‘Saksi’ premiered on GMA.

These days, the second longest-running active free TV newscast on Philippine television (behind ‘TV Patrol’) is taking its act on late-nights. But it hasn’t always been that way.

At the time ‘Saksi’ (then known as ‘Saksi: GMA Headline Balita’) premiered on October 2, 1995, it was only a 15-minute early evening newscast, which pales in comparison to rival ‘TV Patrol”s running time of nearly an hour. Soon after, it expanded to 30, then to 45 minutes, and it remained that way until it was moved to late nights in mid-2002.

The early years of ‘Saksi’ centered on one man: Mike Enriquez. The former DJ-turned-newscaster became an instrumental figure in the rise of ‘Saksi’, even as he was paired with different co-anchors; namely, Karen Davila, Mel Tiangco and Vicky Morales.

Mike became so attached with ‘Saksi’ that he was given his own radio program: ‘Saksi sa Dobol B’. The now 15-year-old show carried over some of ‘Saksi”s mannerisms, including the iconic catchphrase ‘pasok’ whenever Mr. Saksi himself introduces a reporter on location.

In 2002, ‘Saksi’ moved to its current position as a late-night newscast. Mike Enriquez and then co-anchor Vicky Morales also moved along, but in 2004, Mike rejoined Mel Tiangco (then-anchor of ‘Frontpage’) in the early evening slot, and instead of ‘Saksi’ returning to early evenings as everyone thought, GMA created a new newscast: ’24 Oras’.

As a result, GMA decided to pick a new male anchor, and in came ‘Unang Hirit’ co-host Arnold Clavio (popularly known as ‘Igan’). ‘Saksi”s new moniker became ‘Liga ng Katotohanan’, and for over a decade, the newscast centered around Igan and Vicky, along with GMA’s lineup of veteran journalists.

In late 2014, Vicky Morales joined ’24 Oras’ as its third co-anchor (reuniting with Mike Enriquez and Mel Tiangco), and she was replaced by ’24 Oras Weekend’ anchor Pia Arcangel. Currently, ‘Saksi’ is in its 13th year as a late-night newscast, which is longer than any other late-night newscasts today.

After 20 years, ‘Saksi’ continues to deliver hard-hitting and fast-paced news every night. The newscast may be airing on late nights now, but they are still as good as it gets.

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comedy, entertainment, humor, Philippines, television

1995 Flashback: Bubble Gang Turns 20

Michael V (center) has been the driving force behind ‘Bubble Gang’, now entering its 20th year on the air. (Photo credit: GMA Network/Bubble Gang Official Facebook)

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

GMA’s ‘Bubble Gang’ will have its 20th anniversary special next month.

The theme is still a mystery at the moment, but based on teasers from the show’s social media accounts, it appears that it will be a mostly formal occasion. The show’s current and past cast members will be on hand, as is a die-hard fan who will be invited on the said anniversary episode.

Indeed, ‘Bubble Gang’ has come a long way since premiering on October 20, 1995. Every Friday night, viewers were treated to the show’s assortment of parodies and skits that reference both pop culture and real-life situations, most of which end with the cast members showing disbelief in the most humorous way possible.

At the heart of ‘Bubble Gang”s longevity is Michael V. One of two original cast members left on the show (the other is Antonio Aquitania), Bitoy also acts as its creative director, formulating most of ‘Bubble Gang”s infamous skits and characters, not to mention composing and singing the opening theme song.

It was with ‘Bubble Gang’ where Michael V (real name Beethoven Bunagan) achieved his greatest success. Whether he’s Mr. Assimo, Tata Lino and Donya Ina, or even past characters such as Junee Lee, Yaya and Lito, Bitoy’s portrayals with these personas helped him become one of the most popular entertainers of his generation.

Bitoy even showcases his musical talent on the show, as part of his Myusik Tagalog Bersyon and Music English Version skits. One such song was ‘Sinaktan Mo ang Puso Ko’, which became a hit single.

But ‘Bubble Gang’ isn’t just about Michael V alone. Over the years, the show featured a revolving cast of talents, from Ogie Alcasid, Wendell Ramos, Maureen Larrazabal and Rufa Mae Quinto, to Boy 2 Quizon, Paolo Contis, Betong Sumaya and Chariz Solomon.

Even the skits evolve as well, just as trends in pop culture and everyday life were also in the midst of a transformation. Just ask the long-running ‘Ang Dating Doon’, which made some numerous changes during its run.

Despite the constant changes in both the skits and the cast members, one thing is still certain about ‘Bubble Gang’: they can still make people laugh. And after 20 years, they are still going strong.

Come this November, ‘Bubble Gang’ will have its 20th anniversary special. For long-time viewers of the show, it is a deserving tribute.

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entertainment, Philippines, talk show, television

1995 Flashback: Startalk Takes a Bow

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

The final episode of ‘Startalk’ will air tomorrow afternoon.

After nearly 20 years of leading the showbiz talk show circuit, GMA realized that the time has come. Like ABS-CBN did when ‘The Buzz’ went off the air last April, GMA knows that the changing needs of its audience (e.g. social media, internet) would become a huge factor, and as result, they finally decided to let go of an institution that has served them well.

‘Startalk’ debuted on October 8, 1995 as a Sunday afternoon talk show, with Boy Abunda, Lolit Solis and Kris Aquino as its hosts. For the next three years, the show competed against ‘Showbiz Lingo’, but it became clear that ‘Startalk’ would never make its presence felt if it were to face another showbiz talk show.

Thus, in June 1998, ‘Startalk’ moved to Saturday afternoons (after ‘Eat Bulaga’), and it would remain that way for nearly 16 years. By then Kris Aquino left for ABS-CBN, and after Dawn Zulueta briefly filled in, ‘Startalk’ hired sexy star Rosanna Roces, and with her controversial antics, the show finally won the hearts of viewers nationwide.

‘Startalk’ suffered a slight dip in its audience when, in May 1999, Boy Abunda joined Kris Aquino at ABS-CBN to host another long-running showbiz talk show in ‘The Buzz’. They quickly recovered, however, when Butch Francisco replaced Boy, and for the next five years, the trio of Butch, Lolit and Osang would lead ‘Startalk’ to unprecedented heights.

Osang’s tenure came to an end in June 2004 after a series of controversies that culminated in a well-publicized feud with co-host Lolit Solis and Dra. Vicki Belo. After that, Butch and Lolit would be joined by the likes of Lorna Tolentino, Joey de Leon, Ricky Lo and Heart Evangelista for the remainder of the show’s run.

At almost the same time, ABS-CBN tried to counter ‘Startalk’ with a variety of showbiz talk shows on Saturday afternoons, none of which were able to win. It became clear that a rivalry between ‘Startalk’ and ‘The Buzz’ was something viewers would like to see, and in January 2014, ‘Startalk’ moved back to Sunday afternoons in order to face ‘The Buzz’ (albeit under the name of ‘Buzz ng Bayan’).

The experiment was a disaster, however, and after ‘Buzz ng Bayan’ reverted to ‘The Buzz’ name in May 2014, ‘Startalk’ moved back to Saturday afternoons, this time cutting the show’s duration by 45 minutes.. The declining ratings would only continue from there, and GMA realized the end was near.

On September 12, GMA announced that ‘Startalk’ will air its final episode. The said episode will feature a list of 20 questions submitted by netizens on ‘Startalk”s official Facebook, during which the hosts will answer each of them throughout the show.

‘Startalk’ will always be remembered as ‘The Only Showbiz Authority’, as well as the longest-running showbiz talk show in the country. But with the show finally taking a bow, it marked the end of an era, for ‘Startalk’ was the benchmark in which all other showbiz talk shows were measured.

A new era beckons in the showbiz industry. Thanks for the memories, ‘Startalk’.

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action, drama, entertainment, hits, music, news, Philippines, songs, Sports, television, United States

1995 Flashback: The Rise and Fall of Citynet 27

Citynet 27 was the first UHF station owned by a major broadcast network. Sadly, the station lasted only six years and endured three major rebrands during that span. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

ABS-CBN’s UHF TV network (currently ABS-CBN Sports+Action) has been on the air since 1996, but they’re not the first major network to have a sister UHF channel.

That distinction belonged to GMA Network’s original sister TV station, Citynet 27.  Established on August 27, 1995, the station became the fifth UHF TV network in the country, after SBN-21, DZEE-23 (the predecessor to ABS-CBN’s UHF channel), RJTV-29 and CTV-31.

Citynet 27’s initial focus was on canned programming (mostly from the U.S.), ranging from sitcoms, dramas and action series to sporting events. These programs were moved from GMA-7 in order for the latter to add more local programming.

The channel soon faced intense competition with the launch of Studio 23. While Citynet remained the premiere source for upscale-laden programs, it became clear that GMA is losing money from this venture, and by 1999, Studio 23’s continued emergence and popularity prove to be too much for Citynet to handle.

As a result, GMA had no choice but to reformat Citynet 27 into a music video channel. Initially known as EMC (Entertainment Music Channel), GMA soon joined forces with STAR TV to carry Channel V Philippines, and the rebranded station was launched near the end of 1999.

However, the partial acquisition of GMA’s stake by PLDT (later re-sold to Felipe Gozon, etc.) forced Channel V Philippines to sign off in mid-2001. Among the primary reasons include conflict of interest (PLDT owned MTV Philippines through Nation Broadcasting Company) and increasing competition with MTVPH and the newly-launched MYX.

GMA was left without a sister channel for the next four years. Then in 2005, they entered into a lease agreement with ZOE-TV and launched QTV (later rebranded as GMA News TV), with Channel 27 briefly serving as a repeater.

Today, DWDB 27 is currently inactive, possibly for future use as a digital TV outlet. The station would have turned 20 this year had GMA kept it active.

To this day, GMA continues to regret its failed experiment of Citynet 27. With the network now enduring some financial issues, they can only hope that the lessons of Citynet 27 will be applied to whatever decisions they will make moving forward.

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drama, entertainment, Philippines, television

1995 Flashback: T.G.I.S. and the Advent of Teen-Oriented Series

Some of the first batch members of ‘T.G.I.S.’ as they appear in 1995. (Photo credit: GMA Network)

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

Yesterday would have been the 20th anniversary of ‘T.G.I.S.’

Premiering on July 8, 1995, ‘T.G.I.S.’ became a Filipino pioneer in the teen-oriented drama genre. While there were a few other dramas that featured teenagers as lead stars (e.g. Julie Vega’s ‘Anna Liza’ and Janice de Belen’s ‘Flordeluna’), ‘T.G.I.S.’ became the first to feature a cast dominated by teenage actors.

Before ‘T.G.I.S.’, some of the country’s rising young stars had made their mark through shows such as GMA’s ‘That’s Entertainment’ and ABS-CBN’s ‘Ang TV’. The two shows provided a venue for the youngsters to showcase their talents, but it was not enough.

Eventually, VIVA Television and GMA developed a plan that would give a new batch of young stars an avenue to expose their acting skills. Thus, ‘T.G.I.S.’ was launched.

‘T.G.I.S.’ became an immediate hit soon after it premiered. The success of ‘T.G.I.S.’ led to a feature film that was released in 1997, as well as a spinoff series ‘Growing Up’ that aired from 1997-99.

The first batch of ‘T.G.I.S.’ were led by Bobby Andrews and Angelu de Leon, a.k.a. Wacks and Peachy, respectively. Other members of the first batch include Michael Flores, Red Sternberg, Raven Villanueva, Rica Peralejo, Onemig Bondoc, Jake Roxas, Bernadette Allyson and Maybelyn dela Cruz.

The first batch anchored ‘T.G.I.S.’ for two years, before giving way to a new cast of young stars. The second batch, which lasted another two years, was led by Dingdong Dantes and Antoinette Taus, alongside Polo Ravales, Kim delos Santos, Sunshine Dizon, Chubi del Rosario, Anne Curtis, Chantal Umali and Dino Guevarra.

Unknown to some, future newscasters Mitzi Borromeo and Menchu Macapagal were also part of the ‘T.G.I.S.’ cast. Meanwhile, Ciara Sotto was part of both batches of ‘T.G.I.S.’, later joining ‘Growing Up’ upon her character’s graduation from high school.

‘T.G.I.S.’ paved the way for similar teen-oriented dramas that became a staple of weekend afternoon programming. Examples include ‘Gimik’ (later ‘G-Mik’), ‘Click’, ‘Tabing Ilog’ and ‘Berks’.

In late 2012, another spinoff of ‘T.G.I.S.’ was launched, called ‘Teen Gen’. Bobby Andrews and Angelu de Leon reprised their roles as Wacks and Peachy, alongside GMA’s new batch of young stars, but it only managed to air for over six months without success.

While ‘T.G.I.S.’ no longer airs today, it will still be remembered for changing the way teenage actors were exposed and promoted. They were a game-changer, and another reason why 1995 became a memorable year in Philippine television.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

1995 Flashback: The Beginning of the End for PTV’s Sports Coverage

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

Sports coverage on the People’s Television Network (PTV-4) was at its peak in 1995.

That year, PTV was the major broadcast home for the following events:

  • PBA 21st season (co-produced with Vintage Sports)
  • Chiang Mai Southeast Asian Games
  • UAAP Season 58 men’s basketball (co-produced with Silverstar Sports)
  • Philippine Basketball League
  • NCAA Season 71 men’s basketball (albeit sparingly)

Of the five events, the coverage of the Philippine Basketball Association was PTV’s biggest asset. After all, the PBA was at its peak of popularity during the PTV years, with sellout crowds a regular occurrence at the ULTRA (later PhilSports Arena) and later on at the Cuneta Astrodome.

But in 1995, all that would change in the blink of an eye.

(The final two minutes of PTV-4’s PBA coverage on December 19, 1995.)

As it turned out, the 21st PBA season would be the last to air on Channel 4 for nearly a decade. That season saw a near-grandslam for the Sunkist Orange Juicers, in which they won the All-Filipino and Commissioner’s Cups, only to finish third in the Governors’ Cup won by the following season’s Grand Slam winners, the Alaska Milkmen.

At this point, the PBA’s popularity was fading, despite returning to the now-Smart Araneta Coliseum after nearly a decade away. Thus, after the conclusion of the 21st season, Vintage decided to move the PBA coverage from PTV to the Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13), where they would drastically change their coverage in hopes of attracting the masses.

PTV’s sports portfolio gradually declined in the years following the loss of PBA coverage (the PBA did return to the renamed National Broadcasting Network in a failed partnership with IBC-13 in 2002).  Massive operating losses, along with competition from cable networks, forced Channel 4 to let go of broadcast rights to leagues such as the UAAP, and events such as the SEA Games and the Olympics.

Even though PTV Sports remained active through their coverage of lesser-known events, it is clear that they’re no longer a force in sports coverage. Today, PTV’s programming is more akin to a non-profit public broadcasting network, where they produce programs with little or no commercial support.

While the PBA is currently enjoying renewed popularity with Sports5, the years with PTV-4 will always be remembered as the glory days of the league. And even after the PBA left PTV for other networks in 1995, Channel 4’s partnership with the league will never be forgotten.

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