BATANG MINDANAW: Notes from Twitterverse: News Channels Without News

ISLAND GARDEN CITY OF SAMAL (MindaNews / 01 November) — What people from the country’s self-coronated capital region don’t understand is that it was, more often than not, only ABS-CBN that was available on free TV in far-flung areas where digital TV and Internet remain inaccessible. The limits of such tunnel vision, coupled with Tagalist supremacy and metropole orientation, underscores how, politicking aside, the 70 people from the House of Representatives have decided to kill not only a media network franchise, but also a way of life.

Growing up in suburban Mindanao, a typical stormy day would start not only with brief updates but also a dedicated special coverage from ABS-CBN’s regional morning show up to the local version of TV Patrol newscast (aired late afternoon) and then, with a local reporter on the field appearing on TV Patrol’s primetime newscast in Manila. In a lot of instances, these had simulcasts with ABS-CBN’s FM radio stations My Only Radio and if one is in Central Visayas or Southern Mindanao, DYAB AM radio in Metro Cebu and DXAB AM radio in Metro Davao. These will be followed by outreach activities spearheaded by the ABS-CBN’s Sagip Kapamilya Foundation.

ABS-CBN, with its regional network group, was the only TV network with an immense presence in the regions. In each region in the country, there was at least a local daily morning show, a local weekend magazine show, a local TV Patrol, and a local FM radio station, all by ABS-CBN. And so NCR, with all its plethora of options and material conditions, cannot relate to that.

When ABS-CBN was forced to shut down, it was a loss that was unspeakable.

GMA, on the other hand, seemed to afford only cursory attention to the regional areas, areas where they will never dominate, as one-sentence briefer at the bottom of the TV screens. To be fair, they once did try but all of it ended when they decided to “streamline”—whatever that means—their regional programming (except in Metro Cebu and Metro Davao) almost a decade ago. Their FM radio station, too, has always remained in the background, never getting attention. The familiar plot called regions-as-an-afterthought, and that’s from a Manila-centric TV station which claims to be number one nationwide. The audacity!

Last Sunday night, at the height of Rolly/Siony in the regions of eastern and northern Luzon, GMA News TV trended on Philippine Twitterverse.

GMA News TV’s Tina Panganiban Perez retweeted lawyer and columnist Goto Y. Larazabal’s call for media outlets to help in disseminating information which gained the former the ire of the Twitterverse. I must say, rightfully so! She deserved the backlash for her “We have updates” remark as if the issue here was something else. As a famous, yet somehow outdated, meme would say, “weird flex but okay.”

But contrary to Perez’s assertive tweet that GMA has “updates,” as of Sunday evening, GMA News TV was airing a rerun of Pokemon and a badly dubbed Thai TV show. Nothing typhoon-related on PTV, just the usual sugar-coated press releases. Hours earlier, CNN Philippines was on replay and TV5’s OneNews was preoccupied with, guess what, kick-boxing. But seriously, a cartoon in a free TV channel that is supposed to be dedicated to, and named, “news”?

All these while ABS-CBN’s ANC and DZMM TeleRadyo, without franchise, were in their usual 24/7 coverage on the typhoon. “Sana all,” indeed.

So I’m not sure about GMA News’ slogan “Serbisyong Totoo” anymore.

Other alternatives include CNN Philippines which, to me, has never been at-par with their counterparts in the US and in Asia, particularly Indonesia, Turkey, India, and UAE. In the Mindanao city where I was born, CNN Philippines would occupy channel 5 on free TV (former slot of RPN and later on, Solar Sports) which never had a good reception on free TV. Of course, none of us expects anything from PTV aside from being a propaganda machine topbilled by Sec. Harry Roque’s daily noontime show and Pres. Duterte’s Monday night carnival, a gross display of all things irrelevant.

And that reminds me, in another neighboring corner of Twitterverse, I join in asking #NasaanAngPangulo?

(Batang Mindanaw is the youth section of MindaNews. J Sam Pantoja Young. 27, is a millennial Mindanawon in self-exile. When not on Twitter, she lives life off-the-grid either in an island or up in the mountains).