Having made it a habit to check out the free foreign film screenings that EDSA Shangri-La regularly sponsors, we readied ourselves for the barrage of students who always filled up Theater 2 at the sixth level. We were pleasantly surprised to find old colleagues Lito Ocampo Cruz and Tessie Taylor among them, and even happier to find that they had gone back to television, namely IBC-13.
Today, things are changing for IBC. A new board of directors has come in, appointed by President Noynoy Aquino, with Eric Canoy, who presides over Radio Mindanao Network as chairman and president, and Lito Ocampo Cruz, former VP of E! Entertainment TV Philippines for RMN, as network vice-president.
At the IBC headquarters at Broadcast City in Diliman, Lito detailed the future of the network and what great things this new board has in store. “When we came in two years ago, TV5 approached us. They wanted to set up a sports channel — AKTV,” he begins. TV5 bought IBC’s primetime block from 5 p.m. until 11 every night, provided programming, packaged it, promoted it and sold it. Programming rode on the popularity of basketball tournaments of the PBA and NCAA, as well as international ones like FIBA and NBA. There was also martial arts and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Beyond sports, however, IBC intends to increase its cultural and current events programming. Lito admitted that it isn’t much right now but they intend to build on what it has. Right now, they have Cooltura, an educational show about Filipino culture hosted by Cathy Eigenmann, which first aired October of last year, and Express Balita, the network’s flagship news program, which originally aired in 1994.
As part of AO No. 26, IBC very recently handed over its archives to the Film and Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP). The old films forming part of our cultural heritage will be preserved and restored in a single national archive. There is tremendous cultural significance in that for us, “because I believe the Golden Age of Television started with 13,” declared Lito.
“Everybody who started with Channel 13 became famous — newscasters, directors, writers — I can’t even begin to name all of them. Channel 13 aired the country’s first teleserye and situation comedy. Seeing Stars with Joe Quirino was the first popular entertainment show (way before The Buzz) back in the early ’70s. Joe Quirino was the first Boy Abunda.”
Lito detailed classics like Tito, Vic, and Joey, Cheek to Cheek, and the Dolphy specials. With AO No. 26, these archives will be restored and digitalized. “Hopefully by the end of next year, we will be able to show them again as IBC Classics. The people will remember the Golden Age of Television.”
Even though IBC-13 is a government entity, it is run like a private corporation. Lito told us that the network receives no subsidy from the government. They generate enough income to support the station. Their partnership with TV5 brings sport fans a superior, digitally enhanced product that pushes them technologically ahead of its competition. They plan to build on its current affairs and cultural programming to bring to the Filipino people a well-rounded line-up of programs around the clock. Lito reminisced, “When we were 13, we were No. 1. Maybe, we can’t be No. 1 again, but we are now in the public eye again. 13 is back and here to stay. 13 is alive and well again.”
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