DAVAO CITY, Philippines – On Friday, August 28, ABS-CBN Davao aired its final episodes online of its local programs, the morning show Maayong Buntag Mindanao (MBM) and TV Patrol Southern Mindanao. Its local radio station MOR and DXAB also bid farewell.
ABS-CBN, the nation’s biggest broadcast network, has shut down its 12 regional stations including Davao City. This after Congress last May rejected the station’s franchise renewal, on what journalists say is an attack on press freedom instigated by President Duterte in favor of a Chinese-backed telecommunication company.
After 32 years, the final airing of MBM and TV Patrol was filled with statements from past broadcasters and hosts who shared memories and offered solidarity hoping the embattled network will manage to come back.
On Maayong Buntag Mindanao’s last episode, the hosts shared similar experiences of growing up as media workers in the network.
Host Michelle Robin, the ‘senior’ of the hosts, recalled applying for a writer for the network’s previous regional Sarimanok News Network that was immediately replaced with the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). She was then assigned as a field reporter and later was offered to host the morning show.
Host Hernel Tocmo recalled his internship days in the network. After initially failing a screen test, he thought it was better for him to work behind the camera. But he said he learned much from producers and directors in gaining confidence on screen.
He also thanked the production team who continued to work until its last episode before the program signed off.
Maayong Buntag Mindanao aired its first episode in 1994, and the network claims is the longest-running morning show in the country’s television history. The program airs segments of news, interviews, lifestyle and entrepreneurial for Davaoenos in the morning.
TV Patrol Southern Mindanao made its first episode on August 8, 1988 as the network was revived nationwide following the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship which shut down the network previously.
TV Patrol pioneered the use of the local language Cebuano in its newscast, for the benefit of the local citizens.
Along with the network’s local radio station DXAB 1296, TV Patrol has been one of the main source of news in Davao Region.
A home for employees
For Berchan Louie Angchay, TV Patrol’s field reporter for three years, airing local stories matters as it helps in bringing awareness of the situation of other areas in the country, and also gather assistance for the communities.
He recalled ABS-CBN-Davao’s coverage of the earthquakes that hit Davao del Sur last December 2019, wherein their coverage and presence was instrumental to gather relief for the affected residents.
The cessation of the station’s operation, however, resulted to the displacement of several workers, including Angchay and his father, who has been a cameraman for the network for more than two decade.
“It really has a huge impact [for our family] especially with many unpaid bills. It’s also difficult to look for work at this time,” he said, referring to the health and economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We just have to look for other ways to gain income to be able to sustain our day to day needs.”
Kenneth Mheil Mangaya-ay, executive producer and director of MBM, recalled having started his career as production assistant for TV Patrol in 2013.
“(The closure) is sad because it’s like you are being deprived of your dream,” he said.
While noting that the reason for the shutdown of ABS-CBN was politically motivated, Mangaya-ay said that for many ABS-CBN employees, it is “disappointing and heartbreaking” to lose their jobs amid the pandemic, as well as closing down what they considered as “home” for years.
‘Truth cannot be denied’
“Mawala man kami sa ere, apan dili mahikaw ang kamatuoran. Ang among programa sa ABS-CBN, inyong nasaligan, (We may go off the air, but the truth cannot be denied. You have trusted our programs),” Paul Palacio TV Patrol Southern Mindanao anchor, said in his final message on air.
“Kini ang nagpalig-on sa atong panag-uban, mao nga garbo namo ang pag-alagad kaninyo, (This has strengthened our bond, and it’s been an honor serving you,” Melanie Severino, his co-anchor said.
As TV Patrol’s show went off air, a clip posted on the program’s Facebook page showed members of the production team in tears as the director thanked them for the efforts through the years.
TV Patrol’s episode ended with a taped segment where newscasters from all of the regional TV Patrol networks said their messages in their local languages and dialects.
Outside the network, employees lighted candles and said a prayer.
As the 12 local stations closed down, its employees, media groups and supporters, are pushing for a signature campaign called “Pirma Kapamilya” initiative to bring ABS-CBN back on air.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), set up this signature campaign drive outside the station in Esguerra Avenue, Quezon City to gather signatures from passersby and supporters.
The Pirma Kapamilya aims to grant the network a “people’s franchise” through people’s initiative, which is provide by law under the Initiative and Referendum Act. It aims to gather signatures from 10% of the country’s voters to effect the granting of a franchise for ABS-CBN. (davaotoday.com)