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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