Pope Francis in the Philippines: Of free TV’s preparations and the itinerary’s response

[This post marks the second part of the Papal Visit special. ]

The official logo of the Papal Visit with the theme.

The official logo of the Papal Visit with the theme.

WITH THE GAUDY announcement of the visit of Pope Francis from the national Catholic hierarchy, anticipation incites not just the public and the Government, but also of the media — particularly, on national television.

The two remaining questions the Turf asked on the first part of the Papal Visit special will be unraveled.



After the announcement of the visit on July but before November 14, the release of itinerary, most networks devoted their flagship news programs on the Pope’s early life, his pontificate and the past papal visits. Even the theme song, We Are All God’s Children, was played not just on ABS-CBN (where Jamie Rivera’s exclusive recording contract resides) but also on GMA (well known as the exclusive broadcaster of the 1995 Papal Visit) and even on government-owned PTV.

After the release of the itinerary, on November 26, Channel 4 carried their Special Forum on the Papal Visit with reactions and preparations from different sectors, both the civil groups, the Church and the Government.

Three days later, Star Music, an online music portal of Star Records owned and operated by ABS-CBN, released the official music video of the theme song.

On December 7, 9TV commenced the 40-day countdown with spiritual journey with prayers and reflections throughout the day; the next day, the one-hour primer of the papal visit with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle was broadcast.

A week after, on December 14, GMA aired “Francis: The Pope from the New World” on their Sunday Night Box Office (SNBO). Produced by the Knights of Columbus, it was narrated in Filipino by Jessica Soho and served as an act of preparation and at the same time, the 78th birthday of the pontiff.

According to Media Newser last December 31, four key journalists and 10 others from four networks were designated to Rome to follow the Holy Father to Sri Lanka, the first leg of his 2015 itineraries, and finally, touchdown back home in NAIA.

Last Sunday (January 4), ABS-CBN carried their original documentary “Francis: The People’s Pope“, as narrated by Korina Sanchez and later tonight, “Francis, A Pope for Everyone” (a biographical movie dubbed in Filipino).

Last Thursday (January 8), PTV aired the primer of the papal visit narrated by their veteran journalist, Mrs. Veronica Baluyut-Jimenez.

For TV5, tonight, they will carry their own local documentary, “Pastol sa Panahon ng Pagbabago.

Hashtags of the papal visit became the marketing venture of the common channels. For ABS-CBN, they distinguish it with #PopeTYSM (TYSM stands for “Thank You Sa Malasakit,” in English: Thank you for [your] compassion); TV5 with #DearPopeFrancis; PTV with #PAPAratingNa (a wordplay of “Papa,” Filipino for pope and “paparating na,” meaning he’s coming) and #iamPOPEready for GMA (a play of the network’s I.M. Ready campaign).

One of the T-shirts made by ABS-CBN drew ire by netizens was noticed by the CBCP. The network later withdrew this merchandise.

One of the T-shirts made by ABS-CBN drew ire by netizens was noticed by the CBCP. The network later withdrew this merchandise.

However, marketing became controversial before the change of the year when ABS-CBN’s statement shirts drew netizens’ ire; hence, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas advised not to patronize any merchandise with misleading statements.

Who is taking the slice?

Back in 1995, GMA took the solo flight on carrying most of the activities of St. John Paul II during the 10th World Youth Day. At that time, they did not own Channel 11 yet as Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Bro. Mike Velarde had a good venture of operation before the triumvirate’s meddling. The rival, ABS-CBN only had a main channel to inform and to entertain; neither Studio 23 nor ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) existed until a year later. Like Mother Ignacia, the VHF networks at that time continued with their normal programming load.

This has changed today, together with the involvement of affordable mobile technology. With the media accreditation in check, last November 14, during the press conference of the Papal Visit Media Committee, Cardinal Tagle released the itinerary of the Pope for his five-day stay, beginning this Thursday afternoon. All VHF networks are taking part in witnessing the rare religious event, though Channel 23 would not be able to do so because of the sports and action format since last year.

Note: The networks involved on each itinerary is not guaranteed to be accurate but as an act of the author’s reasoning.

THURSDAY, January 15

17:45. Arrival of the Holy Father.

Networks involved: All networks

The Holy Father will arrive from Villamor Airbase, witnessing a short welcome number before moving to the motorcade until his resting place in the Apostolic Nunciature. Reporters on the plane, as mentioned earlier, will be heard on their networks during the touchdown.

The Apostolic Nunciature will be the resting place for Pope Francis for the five-day journey.

The Apostolic Nunciature will be the resting place for Pope Francis for the five-day journey. Security is at its height throughout this week.

FRIDAY, January 16

 09:15. The Arrival Honors in Malacanang

Networks involved: Media ng Bayan & 9TV

For Media ng Bayan, it’s a protocol to cover the arrival of the heads of state and/or government at Malacanang to meet with President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy). Since the Pope is the head of state of the Vatican City, the government broadcast consortium will definitely cover. 9TV, despite of 20% influence from the National Government, would likely join with MnB.

10:15. Courtesy Call in Malacanang

Networks involved: MnB, 9TV and GMA

GMA will jump in as Channels 4, 9 and 13 continues the coverage. The Pope will meet with authorities and diplomatic corps (i.e. ambassadors of different countries including the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto). The motorcade will follow suit to the Manila Cathedral.

11:15. The Mass at the Manila Cathedral

Networks involved: GMA (confirmed), probably all networks

Little Swiss Guards from Our Lady of Lasalette School in Bulacan will greet the Holy Father on the entrance of the cathedral-basilica. He will preside at the Manila Cathedral with bishops, priests, women and men religious using Latin and will be shown on projectors for outsiders. Afterwards, the motorcade will go through to SM Mall of Asia.

17:30. Meeting with the Families

Networks involved: GMA (confirmed), all networks possibly?

Well known for concerts, sports events and a venue for grand wedding reception, the Mall of Asia Arena will convert into a religious space for this Friday afternoon for the temporal Shepherd. Instead of the usual privilege layout like most concerts, the admission is free and the underprivileged, broken and non-Catholic families will go near to the Pope.

SATURDAY, January 17

08:15. Departure for Villamor Airbase

Networks involved: Media ng Bayan (?)

The Pope will leave the Nunciature and will leave Manila via Villamor Airbase for Tacloban and will arrive there 1 hour 15 minutes later.

09:30 and 10:00. Arrival in Tacloban and the Holy Mass

Networks involved: All networks

The Pope will arrive at Tacloban via Daniel Romualdez Airport to see the victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda. Half an hour later, he will say Mass in the tarmac in English.

12:45. Lunch at Palo’s Archbishop Residence

Networks involved: All networks

The Holy Father will dine with pre-selected victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda and the Central Visayas earthquake last 2013. He will simply dine with common Filipino cuisine such as lechon and adobo.

15:00 and 15:30. Blessing of the Pope Francis Center for the Poor and Meeting with Priests, Religious Men and Women

Networks involved: All networks except GMA (?)

The Holy Father will bless the facility named after him for the intended purpose. Half an hour later, he will meet the clergy and the religious within the Archdiocese of Palo at their cathedral lasting one and a half hours before going back to Manila.

SUNDAY, January 18

09:45. Meeting with Religious Leaders and the Youth at the University of Santo Tomas

Networks involved: All networks (?)

This will be the fourth papal visit to step in to the 404-year-old pontifical university. Pope Francis, like St. John Paul II, is well known for a charismatic, ecumenical approach with non-Catholic and non-Christian communities. Like 20 years ago, the Pope will meet with the youth.

15:30. Closing Mass at Quirino Grandstand

Networks involved: All networks

The liturgy will come from the proper Feast of Sto. Nino, taking the place of 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time and will be said in English. Before that, there will be a short presentation of Sinulog, since the Holy Father’s itinerary does not include Cebu.

Special broadcast notes: ABS-CBN will cover as part of The Buzz/TV Patrol Weekend special coverage; TV5’s necessary PBA Finals game between Alaska Aces and San Miguel Beermen will be moved to 7 p.m. or later and GMA will preempt Sunday All Stars.

9TV may have to preempt their HSN block while PTV and IBC may have two options: (1) to broadcast their Ating Alamin and Kawaii International earlier, respectively or (2) to preempt them in order to join the coverage.

MONDAY, January 19

09:45. Departure

Networks involved: All networks

The Pope will leave the Nunciature and there will be a leave-taking ceremony fifteen minutes before departure. Normally, he will part some words to keep them in the hearts. He will arrive back at Rome at 17:40.


The impending visit of the Holy Father has changed since a score ago — in simple terms, twenty years. Aside from the paradigm shift from exclusivity into inclusiveness like the media coverage, the most important thing to remember on this visit is to continue to show genuine mercy and compassion to those in need, even after the Universal Pastor of the Church’s departure.

 Viva il Papa Francesco! Mabuhay!

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[Photos courtesy of: Papal Visit official website, The Pinoy Catholic and the Manila Bulletin]

For more information of the papal visit, visit: papalvisit.ph



  1. I wish the networks all the best for their coverage. No network war intended during the times like this.

    May uninterrupted, free and HD coverage naman ang Sky at ang Cignal free channels featuring the coverages of ABS-CBN and TV5, respectively.

  2. The documentary “Francis: The People’s Pope” is produced by independent international Vatican and Pope-oriented news agency Rome Reports. Meanwhile “A Pope for Everyone” is a production of Argentina-based Video Brokers and distributed direct-to-video by sister company Music Brokers.

    On either Thursday or Friday, ABS-CBN will preempt its Kapamilya Gold block and start TV Patrol early at 5:30 pm.

    Stay tuned for further announcements of program changes by all major PH TV networks regarding the coverage of the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines.

  3. Philippine TV Network Schedule Information for January 18, 2015 (subject to change without notice; source: James Ty III aka Mr. Sunday via Facebook page “Philippine TV Ratings”):
    ABS-CBN: Only ASAP 20, Rated K, The Voice of the Philippines Season 2, GGV, and Sunday’s Best (original documentary: “Ako at ang Santo Papa”) (and O Shopping?) will be the only shows to be retained for that day.
    GMA: Sunday All Stars, KMJS, and MP are the only shows aside from the coverage to be aired.
    TV5: After the coverage, Game 6 of the 2014 PBA Philippine Cup Finals and Wattpad Presents marathon will be aired. This means the premiere of the new season of Who Wants to be a Millionaire is delayed to next week.
    GMA News TV: Only the Sunday primetime schedule will not be preempted.
    ABS-CBN S+A: Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets will be only the NBA game and sports match to be aired on that day.

    Media ng Bayan: ??? (source does not care about the schedules of PTV and IBC)

    ABS-CBN will proceed with the premieres of its three new daytime dramas on Monday but there’s a chance to preempt the rest of Kapamilya GOLD in order to cover the Pope’s departure back to Vatican.

    1. TBH, James Ty III likes Sunday so much yet he’s blind to five channels.

      Yes, I know that he does not care about MNB. Two reasons: (1) lack of programming variety and (2) unexpected scheduling problems.

      All I know for MNB this Sunday, they are pre-empted except the Lotto Draw.


      Yes, I heard about ABS-CBN new Kapamilya Gold shows from my fellow blog, From the Tube and yes, we can see the chance of not showing its premiere as scheduled.

      Thanks for stopping by, GE1; keep on monitoring.

    1. @ DP Brigzsky: GMA has granted full coverage as the “Official Broadcaster” in 1995. Last January, when Pope Francis visited the country, there are no official broadcasters; all mainstream VHF networks do their part (hence, ABS-CBN did the reverse of what happened 20 years ago) but GMA didn’t get the full package due to the separate coverage for her sister channel 11.

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