movies, music, news, Philippines, public affairs, religion, songs, television

The Real Anniversary of UNTV

The original logo of UNTV, adopted by the current station upon their ‘claimed’ establishment in 2004.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of UNTV, the 24-hour television station managed by Daniel Razon. In reality, however, the station should be celebrating its 13th year in the television industry.

So what happened to the first three years of UNTV’s existence?

Apparently, it was the decision of the station’s management to use 2004 as its starting point. UNTV, as a public service station, took off once ‘Ang Dating Daan’ of Bro. Eli Soriano arrived on the scene, and from that point on, they eschewed the rock video format in favor of news, public affairs and educational programs that complemented ‘ADD’.

The arrival of Daniel Razon further legitimized UNTV’s approach to public service. He established a free bus ride, job fairs, legal counseling and health care services, and other means to serve the masses.

Thus, the station claims that they were established in 2004, and not 2001 as witnessed by older television viewers.

In my opinion, UNTV’s decision does not make sense. If the station claims to have been established in 2004, why did they use the original NU 107-inspired logo from 2001 as its first logo? And why did they choose to keep the UNTV name?

The fact is, their decision to reformat without rebranding and renaming the station is an insult to the legacy of UNTV’s previous rock-oriented era. Having said that, it is hard to imagine that the now public service-oriented UNTV was the same station that once aired rock music videos and independent short films.

Looking back, UNTV’s history from 2001-04 should have been given some respect. The station should be credited for launching the careers of Ramon Bautista, Arvin ‘Tado’ Jimenez, Jun Sabayton and Angel ‘Erning’ Rivero, hosts of the popular reality comedy series ‘Strangebrew’. In addition, UNTV should also be responsible for introducing independent film-making to a mainstream audience, courtesy of the ‘Eat My Shorts’ segments.

But perhaps the most important way to pay tribute to the original UNTV is their promotion of Pinoy rock (and alternative rock music in general) to the mainstream, in the form of music videos. And finally, the station should commend NU 107 DJs Francis Reyes, Zach Lucero and Ron Titular, and musicians Diego Mapa and Jason Caballa, for hosting programs that solely focus on promoting various genres of rock music.

Sadly, those three years in UNTV’s history were nothing but an afterthought. One must wonder if that particular era in UNTV’s history will be given a proper tribute. Only time will tell, but for now, UNTV’s claim of being established in 2004 will continue to hold.

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Revisiting the INC-ADD Rivalry

In the history of religious television, no one had a greater impact than the rivalry between two of the most famous religious organizations in the Philippines: the Iglesia ni Cristo and Members Church of God International. The rivalry became a hot topic among church members, other religious groups, and even a small portion of the media for much of the 2000s.

Beginning with the entry of MCGI’s flagship program ‘Ang Dating Daan‘ in 1980, the group led by executive minister Eliseo Soriano became critical of INC’s beliefs, so much so that in June 2001, INC responded with ‘Ang Tamang Daan‘. From then on, the two churches waged a war of words, with topics related to the Bible and church rituals. The war became so intense that even converts from the two churches joined in the discussion.

Ironically, ‘Ang Tamang Daan’ started its broadcasts on SBN 21, which was also the home network of ‘Ang Dating Daan’ at the time. After the debut of ATD, ADD began to air live on a nightly basis, before both programs left SBN 21 for Net 25 and UNTV 37 respectively. The move of both programs changed the makeup of the two networks, with Net 25 now owned by members of the INC while UNTV was purchased by Soriano’s cousin Daniel Razon.

The rivalry between the two churches took its toll on Soriano, who encountered a variety of legal problems filed by the INC. After receiving numerous death threats from INC members, Soriano eventually left overseas, where he continues to preach his own beliefs today. At the same time, INC ministers ceased its on-air criticism of MCGI, and today ‘Ang Tamang Daan’ (and sister program ‘Ang Pagbubunyag’) is aired similarly to other INC programs.

The INC was not the only organization that criticized Soriano’s beliefs. Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy’s The Kingdom of Jesus Christ: The Name Above Every Name, and Pastor Arsenio Ferriol’s Pentecostal Ministry Church of Christ 4th Watch were also staunch critics of Soriano. Even the MTRCB took notice of ‘Ang Dating Daan’, particularly during Soriano’s profanity-laced tirades that earned the program numerous suspensions.

Today, ‘Ang Dating Daan’ and its counterpart ‘Itanong Mo Kay Soriano‘, are being aired under close scrutiny by UNTV management. Even as they focused on preaching their own beliefs, to this day MCGI’s reputation as a true church remains a question mark, thanks in part to the role that the Iglesia ni Cristo took in attempting to take down the Members Church of God International.

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Philippines, religion, television

Ang Dating Daan Out of PTV 4

It was a brief and unfruitful experiment. ‘Ang Dating Daanonly aired for a month on the government station PTV 4, and then it was mysteriously pulled out of the network for unknown reasons. Perhaps it was the folks at UNTV that convinced PTV to pull out their flagship program from the airwaves, or that PTV never committed to Bro. Eli Soriano and his ministry. Regardless, ADD will no longer be seen on a VHF channel for the foreseeable future.

ADD was replaced on its timeslot by ‘Oras ng Himala’, a program helmed by Jesus is Our Shield Worldwide Ministries leader Apostle Renato Carillo. The 24-year old church organization based on healing and spiritual enrichment has been airing on PTV 4 for some time since its former home SBN 21 was reformatted into the Solar News Channel. In addition, PTV also airs the similarly themed ‘Jesus Miracle Crusade‘ on a weekly basis. ‘JMC’, founded by Wilde Almeda, was best known for its involvement in the Abu Sayyaf hostage crisis in 2000, in which its leader and his disciples visited their camp before they were released.

In the meantime, ADD will continue to air exclusively on UNTV, whose chairman Daniel Razon is a nephew of Eli Soriano.

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