Philippines, radio, religion, television

The Declining Importance of the 3 O’Clock Prayer on Philippine TV

Over two decades earlier, 3:00 p.m. in the Philippines had a special meaning.

Each and every day, most television stations in the country had enough time to air the iconic 3 o’clock prayer plug, asking Filipinos to pray at this hour for peace and forgiveness of sins. 3:00 p.m. in the Catholic religion also signifies the time of the death of Jesus Christ, which is usually celebrated on Good Friday during the Holy Week.

In the past, these stations aired a short clip of the 3 o’clock prayer, produced by the Divine Mercy ‘Say a Little Prayer’ Movement, located in Cubao, Quezon City. It was narrated by Bro. Don de Castro, a former DJ and television personality who founded the organization.

Unfortunately, management changes on other networks have rendered the 3 o’clock prayer useless, and today only the more Catholic-loyal ABS-CBN continues its tradition. In 2002, the Kapamilya network decided to create a Filipino version of the 3 o’ clock prayer. The video below is narrated by network executive and lead voiceover talent Peter Musngi.

Another version of the 3 o’clock prayer is currently used on DZMM Radyo Patrol 630 and its TV counterpart DZMM TeleRadyo, immediately after ‘Dr. Love Always and Forever’. This version is narrated by Bro. Jun Banaag, and is usually slower-paced compared to the Musngi version.

So what led to the decline of the 3 o’clock prayer on Philippine television?

Simple. Money, changing tastes and organizational structure has something to do with the decline of the 3 o’clock prayer. PTV-4, RPN-9 and IBC-13 have lost a lot of money due to bad investments, outdated equipment and stale programming lineups, while TV5 (formerly ABC-5) endured a change in programming and organizational structure which led to them eschewing not only the 3 o’clock prayer, but also the ‘Three Minutes a Day’ segment produced by the Family Rosary Crusade.

As for GMA 7, they have NEVER observed the 3 o’clock prayer at all, since the network’s ownership practiced Protestantism, which translated to the lack of Catholic programming.

Today, the 3 o’clock prayer is considered a product of a bygone era, where television was the only main source of entertainment for Filipinos. With a shift towards new technologies, it is clear that television stations will no longer be called upon to remind Filipinos to pray for peace and forgiveness of sins at 3:00 p.m., and as far as these stations are concerned, they seem more focused towards improving their programming and organizational structure than setting aside a few minutes for Christ.

In an era where Filipinos use the internet more often than their television sets, the 3 o’clock prayer is now considered a less important part of the Filipinos’ way of life. And it’s just so sad to see this tradition go.

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cartoon, Philippines, religion, television

GMA Pits Cartoons vs. Sunday Mass on Other Networks

In an unexpected change of schedule, GMA decided to move ‘In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley’ to an even earlier timeslot, at the wee hours of 4:00 a.m. Then come 6:00 a.m., a mix of cartoons and anime started airing on the network.

What GMA did is disrespectful and insulting to the Christian religion. Sunday is supposed to be a day of relaxation, rest, recreation and recollection, and yet GMA decided to become desperate by airing cartoons at 6:00 a.m. in hopes of drawing more kids who lacked the motivation to go to church. It is a counter-programming strategy that has gone too far, and GMA deserves a lot of flak for it.

Putting cartoons on an early Sunday morning were nothing new to GMA. Older viewers of the network may remember the time when ‘Word of Hope’ and Cathedral of Praise’s ‘Dawn of Revival’ were being aired before the general entertainment programs. That was back when GMA’s logo was a rainbow. But once the network decided to change its logo into a rainbow-colored heart, they decided to drop most of the religious programs by 7:00 a.m. and air animated programs. From then on its religious programming was restricted to the sunrise hours, before relegating them to the wee hours as of today.

GMA should realize that the majority of the Philippine population remains under the Roman Catholic religion. Going to church, if not watch the whole mass on television, is an obligation for every Catholic family. But by counter-programming them with cartoons every Sunday at 6:00 a.m., GMA seems to promote the notion that they are ‘anti-Catholic’, and in doing so, they try to lure away people from the church and back into their homes, which is not a good idea.

In the end, GMA’s decision to counter-program the Sunday Mass with cartoons will backfire on them. Sorry to the loyal Kapuso viewers, but it is a decision that definitely does not sit well within the Catholic majority in the Philippines.

Notes: Family Rosary Crusade resumed its broadcasts on the new ABS-CBN Sports+Action yesterday. It now airs at 5:00 a.m. Also, the Healing Eucharist on ABS-CBN Channel 2 is now simulcast on Sports+Action Channel 23 every Sunday at 6:00 a.m.

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drama, Philippines, religion, talk show, television

What Will Happen to the Family Rosary Crusade on ABS-CBN?

The reformat of Studio 23 to ABS-CBN Sports + Action also affected religious programs such as the long-running ‘Family Rosary Crusade’.

The reformatting of Studio 23 to ABS-CBN Sports + Center has had some consequences, and that includes religious programming such as ‘The Word Exposed’, ‘Sunday TV Healing Mass’, ‘Friends Again’ and ‘Family Rosary Crusade’. Of the four, ‘Family Rosary Crusade’ has been aired the longest, and as a result of the reformat, its extremely loyal service to ABS-CBN is put into doubt.

‘Family Rosary Crusade’ has been on ABS-CBN since the network’s early days, starting with the ‘Family Theater’ presentations hosted by its founder, Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC. When ABS-CBN returned from the incarceration of Martial Law in 1986, ‘Family Theater’ also made a comeback under the title ‘Ang Pamilya Ko’, but poor viewership caused it to be cancelled, and was replaced by a magazine show simply titled ‘Family Rosary Crusade’. Even after Fr. Peyton died in 1992, FRC continued to air on Channel 2, before it was moved to Studio 23 in 2003 in favor of weekend general interest magazine shows.

Which leads to the current status of the FRC on ABS-CBN. Although the said program crossed over to other networks such as PTV-4, RPN-9 and ABC-5, ‘Family Rosary Crusade’ remains closely identified with ABS-CBN thanks to its lengthy loyalty and trust. And it is that loyalty that keeps FRC on the air for a long time. However, thanks to the reformat of Studio 23 into a sports-based network, the status of the FRC on ABS-CBN becomes unclear, and if the network decides to distance themselves from the FRC, it will cause uproar within the Catholic majority.

In my opinion, ABS-CBN should continue airing ‘Family Rosary Crusade’. Moving it back to Channel 2 before or after the Sunday TV Mass should keep Catholic viewers happy. And if not for the ‘Family Rosary Crusade’, ABS-CBN would not have positioned themselves as the No. 1 television network, because as they say, ‘The family that prays together, stays together’. And that’s a fact.

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