Christmas sa ‘Pinas: The 2016-17 Holiday TV Primer

The glimmers of parol this Christmas will definitely trigger homesickness and sentiments.

The glimmers of parol this Christmas will definitely trigger homesickness and sentiments.


As The Turf approaches its 3rd anniversary this coming Wednesday — we will report the traditional annual holiday primer for the 4th time on what will be on television in the Philippines. This year’s Christmas Day and the coming New Year’s Day (2017) will both fall on Sunday — James Ty III’s favorite day of the week — and it’ll be the first Christmas for President Rodrigo Duterte.

This holiday primer will span from today, December 10, 2016 until January 1, 2017 and it will split into seven (7) chronological phases.

Please bear with us because sometimes, not everything will go on as planned or expected.

The seven (7) phases of the Primer

Pre-Simbang Gabi (Dec 10-15)

Ceteris paribus (while others remain constant) on the rest of their programming, it is normal for ABS-CBN’s Kapamilya Blockbusters, GMA’s Kapuso Movie Festival and TV5’s movie blocks to offer seasonal flicks on this period. GMA’s Astig Authority just began their seasonal offerings this week and TV5’s will hopefully join as well.

Simbang Gabi (Dec 16-23)

ABS-CBN’s Kapamilya Simbang Gabi will continue to be the sole series of traditional novena Masses to be carried on television in their different cable and digital channels (except S+A as they’ll carry the SVD-MCFI edition).


22-year-old, half-Filipino, half-Australian, Catriona Gray will be our contender among the 118 entrants for the Miss World 2016 pageant in Washington, D.C. on December 18 (19, Philippine time).

Specific days within this period will have their specials and insights:

  • Dec 17 (Saturday). The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul) will be carried on CLTV 36 from Robinsons Starmills. Beginning this weekend, ABS-CBN will begin their traditional star-studded two-part Christmas special.
  • Dec 18 (Sunday). The last Sunday before Christmas will be the last stretch for Christmas specials for Big Two’s respective magazine shows (Rated K and Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho). ABS-CBN will wrap their special on their Sunday’s Best (SB) while GMA 7 —  entitled The Magic of Christmas — will begin.
  • Dec 19 (Monday) will be Miss World 2016 from Washington, DC (18th in their time) where our our contender, Catriona Gray, on the race for the crown as the oldest Big 4 pageant still remains calendar year compliant. However, due to GMA’s decision not to carry last year after the dismal placement of Hillarie Parungao, there might be a repeat that they may not cover.
  • Dec 21 (Wednesday) will be significant for President Duterte as this is his first Armed Forces Day. As Commander-in-Chief, he will either be in Camp Aguinaldo or any military installation of his choice.
  • Dec 23 (Friday) will mark the traditional Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Parade of Stars. Usually, it takes place in the afternoon and TV5 is the official broadcaster. However, due to PBA doubleheaders scheduled on that day, it is passed on to IBC 13.

Christmas Eve (Dec 24)

Most programming will be Christmas-themed, ranging from health programming in the morning to reality shows at night.

However, mind into details the following:

  • PTV will air the main Lotto Draw at 2:30 p.m. after Ron de los Reyes’s Auto Review to accommodate PCSO employees and authorized agents (ticket sellers) for Noche Buena. No selling of tickets and drawing combinations will happen on the following day.
  • IBC 13 — the desperate broadcaster among the rest — will spark again of their specials as they will cover the special holiday program of Music and the Spoken Word & University of Santo Tomas (UST) Christmas Concert. Bear in mind that El Shaddai will not perform the traditional Saturday Family Appointment to give way for the Christmas Overnight in Amvel City.
  • TV5 might cover the UST Christmas Concert like Channel 13 as the special bears less exclusivity to one network. However, not all of the time that the third popular network covered consistently due to mismanagement.
  • For ABS-CBN, Failon Ngayon and The Bottom Line with Boy Abunda might need to shorten — if not cancelled — their airtime to accommodate the traditional Midnight Mass.

Christmas Day (Dec 25)


Pope Francis incensed the Christ Child during the Midnight Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica last year. The Mass itself will be early morning of Christmas Day in the Philippines and GMA traditionally cover this with the Urbi et Orbi at the end of the broadcast day but CNN Philippines might get this fresh for the second time.

TV Masses to be conducted on this day will follow the readings according to the Mass During the Day.

  • ABS-CBN will carry The Healing Eucharist as the second Christmas Mass.
  • TV5 would take the Sambuhay TV Mass over Misa Nazareno, based on their recent change this year.
  • PTV’s Talitha Kum Healing Mass will remain at their usual time.
  • CNN Philippines’ TV Healing Mass for the Homebound will be a bit difficult since SM Megamall will not open until noon and their chapel, the Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord, may not be available for service at their regular time.
  • IBC will be the most difficult among the rest because their Family TV Mass from SVD-MCFI is taped and some of the churches are not available to cover.

ASAP & Sunday PinaSaya will be prerecorded as mainstays either spend their time with their families either at home or at the cinema to support their friends in MMFF.

While the Big Two will offer their comfort flicks after their tiresome preparation of the festivities, the 2016-17 PBA Philippine Cup on TV5 will continue their elimination rounds as Sunday is one of the traditional game days (others being Wednesday and Friday).

The twinbill will be held in the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan as MOA arena plays Disney on Ice and Araneta Coliseum will have a circus. However, due to bipartisan agreement between the professional basketball league and the arena’s owner, Iglesia ni Cristo, Christmas greetings and music are not expected to be heard as the latter’s doctrinal discouragement to celebrate the holiday. As said it before, wishful thinking for hoop fans who wanted a special holiday game like NBA, which will air on the following day on ABS-CBN, S+A and/or BTV. The following doubleheaders are as follows:

  • Mahindra Floodbuster (formerly Enforcer) vs. Blackwater Elite
  • Manila Clasico (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel vs. Star Hotshots)

On Christmas night, KMJS and Rated K may begin the 1st of potentially two parts of their respective “Bests of 2016.”

Afterwards, both SB and SNBO will air another flick for the hangover cure but GMA’s last special program for the broadcast day: the consolidation of the Midnight Mass and Urbi et Orbi from the Vatican which happened hours earlier that might be covered both live by CNN Philippines like last year.

The Last Workweek (Dec 26-30)

Regular programming will continue to hover as Eat Bulaga and It’s Showtime will reflect on their own year in review for the week.


Dennis Principe, the male mainstay of PTV Sports, should continue the year-end tradition of the Storybook.

PTV Sports, under the Snow Badua era, used to cover their year-ender entitled Storybook. The Turf isn’t sure if they did it or not last year after his departure but even so, Dennis Principe should preserve the annual beacon. However, CNN Philippines’ Sports Desk will emulate the pioneer sports program in VHF.

On specific dates within this week, we will look out on the following:

  • NBA Christmas Day games will be cover on possibly three channels: ABS-CBN, S+A and BTV on Monday (Dec 26).
  • The MMFF Awards Night on Thursday (Dec 29) will be covered by IBC 13. There will be no sexy dances as the quality of their lineups than previous editions aired previously by TV5.
  • On Friday (Dec 30), President Duterte will lead his first Rizal Day rites. He needs to go earlier before 7 a.m. for the flag ceremony and the laying of the wreath in Luneta Park but hopefully for the best part, no speech is required like his predecessor.


New Year’s Eve (Dec 31)

Like Christmas Eve a week before, the programming range will integrate the relation of the said occasion.

In detail, the following will look like this:

  • Like what happened a week before, the main Lotto Draw will be at 2:30 p.m. on PTV 4 to accommodate the personnel involved for Media Noche.
  • New Year countdowns:
    • Despite the hardheadedness, GMA’s star-studded New Year Countdown revelry will be defended for their 14th consecutive edition. If the SM Mall of Asia Grounds is still available, this will be their 10th consecutive time. Nevertheless, this will be the first without German “Kuya Germs” Moreno after his demise last January.
    • ABS-CBN’s Failon Ngayon and The Bottom Line will not be seen and the hosts may join in the New Year countdown together with the news department — no extravagance needed. After 15 minutes or so, the TV Mass follows.
    • Even if there are no more entertainment talents, TV5’s 3rd edition in Quezon Memorial Circle will go on as Game Tayo Sa 2017.
    • CNN Philippines last year was able to sneak in such graceful transition of time in Luneta Park during the news advisory. Intuitively speaking, it may be a hint to cover again or formulate the short countdown coverage similar to ABS-CBN before signing off on free-to-air.
    • Based on history, government-owned networks, PTV and IBC, never participated or cover the festivities and again, we will not expect to cover anything about it.
    • In UHF, it’s the battle of the long-heated sect-influenced networks. UNTV will have their own Repaso 2016 while NET 25 and INC TV 49 might celebrate theirs in Philippine Arena.

New Year’s Day (Jan 1, 2017)

TV Masses will follow the similar scenarios as it happened on Christmas Day but ABS-CBN will have a conflict for carrying two Masses with the same readings. The Mass from Tierra de Maria in Tagaytay may or may not be shown on either PTV, TV5 or both since they have their own televised liturgy.

The rest of the programming will be more on the best of the preceding year or relating it with the New Year itself but their movie libraries are adjusted comfortably to cure their hangovers. Speaking of hangovers, mainstays from ASAP and SPS will have their show prerecorded and broadcast it at noon; they will resume back live performance on January 8.

KMJS and Rated K will finally wrap up their own best of 2016. SB will cover the over-all year-end news special from the network’s News and Current Affairs Department but SNBO may emulate their rival or continue with their movie slot.

For the rest, there will be no Lotto games to draw, no PBA games to play and no Vienna New Year’s Concert to cover.

After New Year’s

Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, means back to work and back to school. Though, private schools aren’t required to comply and may resume on the next day to prevent hangover.

(UPDATE, Dec. 14, 2016: January 2, 2017 is a special non-working holiday. Thus, on January 3, it’ll be the first work and school day, regardless of the status of the school, of the calendar year.)

For Duterte, the New Year’s Vin D’Honneur will be on the agenda but the date is not set on the New Year’s Day itself but a few days according to his convenience but he may resort to a simple toast while remaining the common part of the protocol: toasting with the Apostolic Nuncio as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.

However, the Christmas season will traditionally last until Epiphany (erroneously, Three Kings) on Jan. 6 or 8 — depending on what you see it fit — but some are extended until the Feast of the Black Nazarene on the 9th if you’re from Manila or if you’re from Visayas, it’ll be until Sto. Niño on the 15th.

But for the Turf, the remaining days of January and the outlook of the rest of 2017 will be discussed in detail on its opening salvo but for now, have a splendorous Christmas.

Ibang-ibang talaga ang Pasko sa ‘Pinas.

Like Timow’s Turf on Facebook.

Photo credits:

  • Parol: Honolulu Museum of Art
  • Catriona Gray:
  • Pope and the Christ Child: Reuters / Daily Mail
  • Dennis Principe: YouTube

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