Anyare sa Ating Alamin? (and How the Palakasan System Killed It)

Kabayan, kilala mo ba siya? Ang palabas niya’y isa ring biktima rin ng sistema ng palakasan.

[This post is dedicated to Team ex-PTV & former Philippine Broadcasting Service talents.]

LAST JUNE, as People’s Television (PTV) dressed anew, one of its personalities was axed after 11 years. Ms. Kathy San Gabriel was fired through a text message without giving her the chance to say goodbye in front of the camera.

Her colleagues on the firm went on different approaches: Xiao Chua (who was given the sack with honor two months before) comforted her over the unprofessional dismissal and called on justice through different social media platforms. Snow Badua triggered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with the network two years ago (between him and Alberto Marbella) and harangued insanely all over Facebook and Twitter. Atty. JJ Jimeno-Atienza kept hushed, as she is not much in the spotlight. However, Kirby Cristobal resigned quietly and voluntarily prior to the publicized scandal. In his resignation letter, he exposed the hunch that the internal “palakasan” system was revived within Visayas Avenue’s workplace culture.

This gave the Turf the reason to reflect Cristobal’s exposé but it will focus on one of the TV programs than the personalities of the station for another case.

Look at the example of Ating Alamin – the 36-year-old agricultural, livelihood and entrepreneurial show that crisscrossed four TV networks by Adolfo “Ka Gerry” R. Geronimo. How is the show now and how it became a victim of the palakasan culture?

Alamin ang Kasaysayan

Ating Alamin debuted on television on October 5, 1980 — six years after being introduced as a radio program –under then-Maharlika Broadcasting System (MBS). The show continued to carry over after the People Power Revolution that gave the network a new name, People’s Television, until 1991 to accommodate Ka Gerry’s senatorial campaign the following year but it failed to garner enough votes. The show resumed in 1994 on its sister channel IBC 13, as he concurrently served as an appointed representative for peasant sector in the 10th Congress (1995-98). He tried campaigning again in the Senate in 1998 and failed with a worsening electoral performance. In 2005, it was transferred to ABC 5 but he came back to IBC in 2007.

He did not come back to its old home two years later as National Broadcasting Network (NBN), on which the network restored to its original corporate identity under the second Aquino president. To prevent a fear of single point of failure in case a change of programming, the show was also carried simultaneously on UNTV 37 but the backup ended in 2013.

Throughout the show’s life, different modes of agriculture and its livelihood were showcased as they promote such thing through seminars and products.

With that, accolades were accumulated from being the Best Television Show by Gawad CCP in 1988, the Hall of Fame in both the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) and KBP Golden Dove Awards. Not to mention, their show was a recipient of a special award in the 16th PMPC Star Awards in 2002 as one of the long-running TV programs and was stamped a seal of approval from Anak TV Awards in 2011.

Ka Gerry’s TV program went on smoothly until last year that their Facebook page posted that the program was pulled out of PTV per Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar’s orders.

Where are they now? Ating Alamin’s weekly episodes are free to watch on their official YouTube channel.

What happened to PTV after that? They still air two agricultural shows: Mag-Agri Tayo (since 1993), Alagang Magaling (since 2015) but the third program that was replaced is Biyaheng Bukid (hosted by present Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol).

Connecting the dots

So what does an institutional agricultural livelihood program have something to do with the recent happening in Vasra?

Palakasan system killed it. The strong holding and intervention of the Palace on Channel 4 did not only sacked the personnel — on and behind the camera — but third-party producers who are somehow independent of the sitting government’s policies as well.

Do you think PTV will be a fully-fledged, independent and impartial public broadcaster as they promised so by our President in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) with this system in place? Obviously, it is a fat chance.

They just trashed out those who are deemed favoring the previous administration (Ms. San Gabriel was formerly an employee of ABS-CBN, which the network was tagged for favoring the “yellows”) and replaced it with their own (especially, the easy admission of three of four Tulfo brothers).

What the Turf wrote a year ago was very constructive and optimistic like Noli Me Tangere but in light of the current situation, the tune changed to an El Filibusterismo with a revengeful rant as they fall off to their deaf ears.

Presently, the bill that creates the People’s Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) is already filed and pending in both houses of Congress but the Palace has not marked them as either “urgent” or “priority.”

Laughingstock to the world’s renowned public broadcasters

Certainly, the world’s renowned public broadcasters will laugh at us. We neither heard PBS favor U.S. President Donald Trump nor the BBC being favorable to UK Prime Minister Theresa May. We heard nothing about the NHK favoring Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nor did we even hear KBS treating favorably on South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in.

For 43 years and seven presidents ruling, our channel is still heavily favoring on them, delivering whitewashed and one-sided reports to please them as they can. Continuity – be it a program or any of the personnel — is and will never be an option. Consequentially, this destroys the overall reputation in the global arena.

For those who defend PTV and its status quo without seeing the established, formulaic, systematic yet adverse mechanism as an encumbering struggle should deserve both impudence and absurdity. As Tiffany Pollard simply puts it — to our millennial readers out there — they can choke.

Now, two questions remain hanging in the balance: (1) Will we even see a legitimate public broadcaster that serves the interest of the people more than its leaders? (2) Will we even witness genuine, impartial and substantial policies — internally and externally — that last beyond the sitting presidency?


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Photo courtesy of Gerry Geronimo Productions, Inc.

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