education, Philippines, television

1995 Flashback: The Boom of Educational TV Shows

Led by the award-winning ‘SineSkwela’, educational programs in the Philippines received a big boost in 1995. (Logo courtesy of ABS-CBN)

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’s back to school for students across the Philippines.

School year 2015-16 is now underway in every public school in the country, with private institutions starting theirs the week after. For big-name tertiary schools such as UP, Ateneo, La Salle and UST, opening of classes would come a few months later, as part of their alignment with the academic calendars of other countries.

Back in school year 1995-96, a surge in educational TV programs took place. The said school year saw the establishment of two different series of educational programs: ABS-CBN’s ETV (Educational Television), and PTV-4’s CONSTEL (Continuing Education via Television).

ABS-CBN’s ETV series initially consisted of the following programs:

SineSkwela – the flagship program of the ETV series which tackles a variety of topics related to elementary science, health and technology.

Hiraya Manawari – focuses on fantasy stories with lessons on good values and morals.

Bayani – discusses historic Filipino heroes through a dramatic retelling of their struggles and triumphs.

The ETV series introduced three other programs a few years later, consisting of:

Math-Tinik – features lessons related to elementary mathematics.

Epol/Apple – examines the proper use of elementary English in everyday conversations.

Pahina – analyzes classical Filipino literature through dramatization of said stories.

The ETV series initially aired on ABS-CBN during weekday mornings for much of the mid-90s. The debut of Knowledge Channel in 1999 soon prompted the network to move the ETV programs to the said channel, leading to a change in ABS-CBN’s early-morning landscape that remains to this day.

The ETV programs also aired on Studio 23 (now ABS-CBN Sports+Action). Videotapes and DVDs of the said programs were also sold and donated to schools through ABS-CBN Foundation.

Meanwhile, PTV-4’s CONSTEL series consisted of the following programs:

Science Made Easy – a telecourse for elementary students that features lessons on basic science.

Chemistry in Action – a telecourse for high school students that features lessons on chemistry.

Physics in Everyday Life – a telecourse for college students that features lessons on physics.

CONSTEL English – introduced a few years later, the series was a telecourse for high school students that features lesson on English language and grammar.

PTV-4’s CONSTEL series was produced by the network in cooperation with what is now the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Foundation for the Upgrading of Standards in Education (FUSE). The series continues to air on a sporadic basis, even during the time PTV-4 was known as NBN under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The CONSTEL series was also picked up by Knowledge Channel and is currently airing on a recurring basis.

While ‘Fun with Math’ was also introduced around this time, it was not considered part of the CONSTEL series. Nevertheless, the program served a similar purpose in promoting education through television.

The resurgence of educational TV programs was a big moment in Philippine television in 1995. Today, these programs continue to benefit teachers in any way possible, and influence a young generation of students everywhere.

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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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