drama, entertainment, Philippines, television

Desperate Times: Ika-5 Utos Represents GMA’s Last Hope for Six-a-Week Relevance

Let’s state the obvious to begin with.

On Monday, September 10, GMA will introduce a new drama called ‘Ika-5 Utos’. And the series will air from Monday to, not Friday, but Saturday afternoons after ‘Eat Bulaga’.

‘Ika-5 Utos” main plot centers around three families whose bonds will be destroyed by a series of incidents. The series, in particular, will take a look at the issue of hazing in college fraternities.

The cast of ‘Ika-5 Utos’ includes Jean Garcia, Gelli de Belen, Valerie Concepcion, Jake Vargas, Kiko Estrada, Inah de Belen, Tonton Gutierrez, Antonio Aquitania, Jeric Gonzales, Migo Adecer and Klea Pineda. The series, like its sister program ‘Ika-6 na Utos’, will be directed by Laurice Guillen.

So another teleserye that will air six times a week? It seems like GMA is obsessed with this new habit.

And since they do not have any further ideas to fill in on a Saturday afternoon (they do not even bother producing a program to match ABS-CBN’s ‘Pareng Partners’), they are stuck with using a teleserye as a desperate ploy to boost ratings. But as seen in the ill-fated tale that is ‘Contessa’, it was a flawed strategy to begin with.

The approach initially worked on ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ due to ‘insistent public demand’ (its finale earned around 20% despite airing on a Saturday). But when ‘Contessa’ took over viewers were soon fed up by GMA’s over-saturation tactics, and instead opted to watch either Vice Ganda running his mouth on national television or Netflix shows online.

As a result, ‘Contessa’ underachieved and GMA’s strategy backfired. With that in mind, ‘Ika-5 Utos’ is now stuck in the crossroads that will either appease its audience to watch the series or force GMA to finally admit the problems in its approach.

It will be interesting to see how this latest maneuver plays out. Can ‘Ika-5 Utos’ deliver on a six-a-week basis, or will GMA ever regret making this risky move?

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comedy, entertainment, humor, Philippines, television

In 100 Words: Bubble Gang’s 21-Gang Salute Special

All hail ‘Bubble Gang’!

On November 25 and December 2, the Philippines’ longest-running gag show will celebrate its 21st year on air with a two-part special. Titled ‘Bubble Gang: 21-Gang Salute’, the episodes will feature skits that will pay tribute to the country’s greatest comedians of all time.

‘Bubble Gang’ has been on the air since October 20, 1995, with Michael V and Antonio Aquitania the only remaining holdovers from the show’s first episode. Last year saw the departures of Sam Pinto, Max Collins, Rufa Mae Quinto, Gwen Zamora and Joyce Ching, and the promotions of Kim Domingo, Valeen Montenegro, Arra San Agustin, Jak Roberto and Arianne Bautista to the main cast.

A new ‘Bubble Gang’ opening billboard will also premiere within the special. That said, tune in this and next Friday for another unforgettable anniversary presentation of ‘Bubble Gang’, only on GMA.

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drama, entertainment, Philippines, television

Dominant Tubig at Langis Faces New Rival

It is no secret that ‘Tubig at Langis’ is a clear ratings winner in its timeslot.

From the moment it premiered, the ABS-CBN afternoon series captivated audiences with its controversial and intense storyline. While the acrimonious departure of Vivian Velez helped fuel the fire, the frequent confrontations between Irene (Cristine Reyes), Clara (Isabelle Daza) and occasionally Lucy (Dionne Monsanto) only added to its mystique and popularity.

Along the way, three rival series went down to ‘Tubig at Langis’. First it was ‘Buena Familia’, then ‘Hanggang Makita Kang Muli’ (currently ongoing, but is now up against ‘Doble Kara’), and most recently ‘The Millionaire’s Wife’.

Now they await a fourth opponent. Enter GMA’s newest afternoon series ‘Sa Piling ni Nanay’.

The upcoming GMA drama reunites three former aspirants from season 1 of ‘StarStruck’: Mark Herras, Yasmien Kurdi, and Katrina Halili. The three will play a central role in a plot that tackles the issue of surrogacy.

In ‘Sa Piling ni Nanay’, Ysabel (Yasmien) works as a personal assistant to Scarlet (Katrina). But Scarlet is unable to bear a child, so Ysabel agrees to become a surrogate in order to pay the bills for her daughter Maymay’s bone marrow transplant.

Tragedy struck Ysabel when Maymay dies in an unfortunate accident. Depressed and lonely, she decides to break up her surrogacy agreement with Scarlet and flees alongside her daughter, naming her Maya (Sofia Jayzel Cabatay) in honor of the fallen Maymay.

Unknown to Ysabel, Jonas (Mark) is secretly in love for her. But upon realizing Ysabel’s intentions of raising Maya instead of giving it to Scarlet, Jonas decides to cease ties with her, and the battle is on between Ysabel and Scarlet for the rights of Maya.

‘Sa Piling ni Nanay’ also stars Nova Villa, Bettina Carlos and Antonio Aquitania. It will be directed by Gil Tejada, Jr.

As ‘Tubig at Langis’ prepares for a new opponent, how much longer can they keep up their momentum? And for ‘Sa Piling ni Nanay’, how will they be able to overcome the odds placed against them?

These and more will come starting this Monday afternoon. ‘Sa Piling ni Nanay’ airs weekdays after ‘Hanggang Makita Kang Muli’ on GMA’s Afternoon Prime.

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comedy, entertainment, humor, Philippines, television

Bubble Gang 20th Anniversary Special This Friday

The logo for the 20th anniversary season of ‘Bubble Gang’. The anniversary special airs this Friday on GMA. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

The 20th anniversary of ‘Bubble Gang’ will be celebrated this Friday.

For this year, the annual ‘Bubble Gang’ anniversary special will be treated as a documentary, produced by none other than the GMA News and Public Affairs department. The documentary will highlight the rich history of the 20-year-old gag show, featuring interviews from past and present cast members, as well as behind-the-scenes personnel.

As always, the special will not be complete without the trademark sketches that have made ‘Bubble Gang’ so endearing. The skits will not only feature the current cast, but also some of the former mainstays as well.

Currently one of the country’s longest-running programs, ‘Bubble Gang’ first premiered on October 20, 1995. The show has attracted a loyal following over the years, and continues to gain new fans as technology and popular culture evolved.

One of the show’s driving forces is Michael V, who along with Antonio Aquitania, has been part of ‘Bubble Gang’ since its first episode. Bitoy is currently the show’s creative director, formulating most of the show’s endearing skits.

Just recently, Michael V released ‘The Bubble Bible’, a book that features humorous quotes from some of Bitoy’s memorable ‘Bubble Gang’ characters. In essence, ‘The Bubble Bible’ was considered a tribute to the entertainer who has made ‘Bubble Gang’ the country’s longest-running gag show, and a culmination of the show’s 20th year.

‘Bubble Gang”s other current cast members include Boy 2 Quizon, Betong Sumaya, Mikael Daez, Paolo Contis, Sef Cadayona, Rufa Mae Quinto, Chariz Solomon, Jackie Rice, Sam Pinto, Gwen Zamora, Max Collins and Andrea Torres. Supporting players include Diego Llorico, Mykah, Moymoy Palaboy, Denise Barbacena, RJ Padilla, Arny Ross, Joyce Ching, Jan Manual and Juancho Trivino.

To date, ‘Bubble Gang’ has aired 1,003 episodes during its 20-year history. The documentary this Friday will be the show’s 1,004th.

The hashtag for this year’s anniversary special will be #IMBG20. For those unaware of how ‘Bubble Gang’ started, this should help them understand how it all began, and how it evolved into the gag show it is today.

The ‘Bubble Gang’ 20th anniversary documentary airs this Friday after ‘Beautiful Strangers’.

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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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comedy, entertainment, humor, Philippines, television

Bubble Gang Parodies Eat Bulaga’s Kalyeserye

Juancho Trivino and Denise Barbacena as Albert and Badel, aka the AlBad tandem. (Photo credit: GMA Network/Bubble Gang Official Twitter)

‘Bubble Gang”s list of parodies continue to grow.

Just recently, the long-running GMA gag show capitalized on the popularity of ‘Eat Bulaga”s Kalyeserye by creating a parody called ‘Istambay-serye’. In the skit ‘Istambay sa Looban’, Denise Barbacena and Juancho Trivino were cast as Badel and Albert, respectively, and the tandem were dubbed as AlBad.

The duo spoofed the mannerisms of the AlDub (Alden Richards and Maine ‘Yaya Dub’ Mendoza) tandem, from the ‘pabebe wave’ to the use of Dubsmash. Even Lolo Nidoro/Antoinetta (Betong), a parody of Lola Nidora (Wally Bayola), was introduced to give Badel and Albert some trouble.

Though the ‘Istambay-serye’ became the main focus of the skit, Michael V, Sef Cadayona and Antonio Aquitania continue to narrate the story via a song, with the squatters interrupting in between. This unique wrinkle helps ‘Istambay sa Looban’ maintain its unconventional style.

Within weeks, the AlBad tandem became successful, and AlDub fans gave the parody mostly positive reviews. AlBad even plans to spoof the AlDub-starred commercials in future episodes.

The skit only shows that after 20 years, ‘Bubble Gang’ continues to be the ultimate source for the best pop culture parodies. And speaking of 20 years, please stand by for a future article that will commemorate the show’s 20th anniversary.

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