Once upon a time, Duterte was a ‘Kapamilya’ star

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 March) – Since he assumed the Presidency in 2016, Rodrigo Roa Duterte has not hidden his displeasure with ABS-CBN, threatening its franchise won’t be renewed and even suggesting in December for the owners to sell the “Kapamilya” (Family) network.

For 17 years, however, Duterte, was a “Kapamilya” star, appearing every Sunday morning in his television show, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” (From the Masses, For the Masses) over ABS-CBN Channel 4 Davao, a television station with a regional reach, and simultaneously heard over the network’s radio station DXAB.

Launched in 1998 when Duterte was Representative of Davao City’s 1st district, “Gikan sa Masa” was Duterte’s weekly link to his constituents, apparently to ensure his continued presence among the Dabawenyos whom he had served as mayor from 1988 to 1998. The three-term limit had caught up with Duterte, hence the decision to run for Congress, an elective post he found boring but which gave him time to bond with daughter Sara, then a law student in Manila.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa, 20 July 2014 episode over ABS-CBN Channel 4 Davao.

Channel 4 station manager Cristie Navacilla-Garcia told MindaNews the show stopped briefly when Duterte ran for mayor but “came back on air after he won.”

“Gikan” continued when Duterte returned as mayor for another three terms from 2001 to 2010; as vice mayor from 2010 to 2013 and as mayor again from 2013 to 2016.

It stopped sometime in 2015 when Duterte could no longer spare time for taping the show as he was going around the country on a “listening tour” on federalism, a platform his campaign team used to allow the mayor an opportunity to go around the country and feel the pulse of the electorate before deciding if he would run for President.

“We needed a platform to allow Rody to go around the country without being accused of campaigning for the Presidency and for him to be convinced to run for the highest post,” one of those in his inner circles told MindaNews then.

Duterte’s platform

“Gikan sa Masa” was Duterte’s platform to reach out to his constituents and those outside the city, every Sunday. It was a must-watch show for Dabawenyos, whether for or against Duterte, for 17 years.

On air, he would order his subordinates in City Hall to respond immediately to a concern raised in his show by a citizen.

Every Sunday for nearly two decades, Duterte would inform, share his opinion on national and local issues, entertain, and strike fear in the hearts of his enemies.

It was in this program where he read a list of persons allegedly involved in illegal drugs in October 2001. Duterte read from a list of 500 persons whom he said could help the city in its fight against drugs. At least four of those on the list were killed or ended up dead within a month.

In its cover story in 2015, M magazine described “Gikan sa Masa” as bringing Duterte “face to face with his constituents in living color – with his biting tirades, tough stance on controversial issues and inimitable language that has TV technicians running for the mute sound button.”

“If there’s anything to be said about the show, it’s that the mayor speaks the language of the masses and speaks without filter. When the camera rolls, he bares himself – his compassion, anger and some real emotions only very few politicians dare to show,” it added.

From ‘Ato ni Bay’ to ‘Gikan sa Masa’

Tina Junsay, then News Director, recalls the origin of “Gikan sa Masa” was a segment in the morning show, “Maayong Buntag Mindanao” (Good morning Mindanao) called “Ato ni Bay” (This is ours), featuring Davao City personalities, including Duterte.

Duterte’s segment gave the station very high ratings.

Much later, it evolved into the Sunday show “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” aired Sunday mornings – initially for an hour but later reduced to 30 minutes.  The time slots also had several changes. At one point it came immediately after the Sunday televised mass.

Station manager Garcia said the schedules changed “due to programming changes since blocktime siya.”  Garcia said there was a 10 a.m. schedule later changed to 7:30 and to 8:30.

Initially,  “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” was aired live, expletives included, giving the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) a terrible headache.

Much later, it was taped and Duterte’s expletives bleeped in the episodes aired.

The program was  classified PG for Parental Guidance.

Duterte did not only reach the homes of his constituents in Davao City every Sunday but the entire Davao region itself, through “Gikan sa Masa.”

But the “Kapamilya” star reached an even wider audience because Duterte’s pronouncements were also written in local newspapers and reported in other radio and tv stations, online news outfits and by correspondents of national newspapers.

From ‘Gikan sa Masa’ to ‘Mula sa Masa’

When Duterte became President, the Presidential Communications Operations Office tried to revive “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” renaming it “Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” the Filipino translation of the Cebuano title.

The PCOO even launched “Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa” tabloid in 2016.

Secretary Martin Andanar announced in a press conference in Davao City on August 18, 2016 that while the TV show was not yet ready  because “ginagawa pa po namin yung studio sa Malacanang” (we’re still constructing the studio in Malacanang), “please welcome Mula Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa tabloid,” whose first edition, August 16-31, headlined Duterte’s victory in the war on drugs.

Andanar said the tabloid, which will be distributed for free, would be a bi-monthly publication with an initial printing of 5,000 copies.  It is not clear how many issues of the tabloid were published after the August 2016 issue.

The “Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa” television show, which would be aired on the state-owned People’s Television Network, was, much like “Gikan sa Masa,”  supposed to “tackle the biggest issues of the week and the policies and projects of the Duterte administration” and Duterte would also  “respond to sentiments, complaints and queries sent by the public.”

“Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa’s” pilot episode aired on May 19, 2017, where Duterte discussed the appointment of retired General Roy Cimatu as the new secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Cimatu replaced Gina Lopez whose family owns ABS-CBN. Appointed by Duterte as his first Environment Secretary, Lopez was not given the nod by the Commission on Appointments.

That was the first and only episode of “Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa.”  (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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