My favorite GMA 7 shows

STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco -

(2nd of two parts)

The highlight of the GMA 7 grand anniversary — billed as One Glamorous Night: Greater and Grateful at 59 — staged last Friday at the Araneta Coliseum (to be telecast this Sunday, June 28) was the parade of the hundreds of stars of the Kapuso network.

Yes, GMA 7 is 59 — starting out as a radio station in 1950. Since it opened its television network in 1961, it had seen a parade of top quality programs — both local and foreign.

Last Saturday, I began making a list of my favorite local GMA 7 shows from as far as my memory can recall. Here is the conclusion:

Pamilya Bato-Balani — This comedy is about two warring families — next-door neighbors, actually. With Apeng Daldal and Metring David in the lead, its comic style required the best of timing and this was delivered on the dot all the time by the two vaudeville veterans

Late Night With June & Johnny — June Keithley and Johnny Litton capped the week with their very interesting on-air banter with guests, who came from different fields. There was the Bionic Boy, who — so Rene Mariano later told me — turned out to be a hoax, Leo Parungao and his dwarfs and an odd assortment of faith healers. But the line-up of guests most viewers looked forward to were the celebrity friends of both June and Johnny: Mitch Valdes, Ronnie Henares, Ed Gatchalian, Ma-an Hontiveros and even Bibeth Orteza. It was like they were letting us in into their private world. June and Johnny also began the tradition of roasting a birthday celebrator (it was actually picked up from the show of Dean Martin) and soon after, every other local program was doing it — even in private birthday parties. Again, that’s the influence of television.

Two for the Road — Aired Monday nights, this show had its beginnings in pre-martial law ABS-CBN with Elvira Manahan and Eddie Mercado hosting and Nestor U. Torre directing. When it was revived in the late ‘70s, it had a brief stint on Channel 4 (with Nestor as Elvira’s co-host) before it found its final home on GMA 7. The show could have gone on, except that in 1986, Nestor joined the cast of Eddie Romero’s The King and the Emperor that was shot in China for six months. Before he could even return to the show (they got guest co-hosts in his absence), Elvira had been murdered in her Forbes Park home.

Prinsipe Abante — A spoof of the classic Clodualdo del Mundo Sr. work (aired on radio) by Bert Marcelo. Aired early evenings, it was the funniest, especially the rapport between Bert and Bayani Casimiro, who played the king.

Kahapon Lamang — An Eddie Ilarde-annotated radio show transported into television, it sometimes featured daring themes. One never made it on air because the censors (then under the military) didn’t allow it: A story of incest starring Joey de Leon.

Lovingly Yours, Helen — Originally a radio program, this drama/counseling show debuted on TV in October 1980. Not your usual sappy melodrama where characters scream and slap each other around, it won a lot of critical acclaim and was even recognized by the Gawad CCP Para sa Telebisyon. This Sunday afternoon drama still went on air for a while even after Helen Vela’s death on Feb. 14, 1992. Daughter Princess Punzalan carried on with it, but nothing beats the original. The show packed up and Princess later became an award-winning villainess on ABS-CBN. She is now happily married to an American and currently works in a bank in LA.

Viewpoint — Piloting the year after the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., it was fearless. Its anchor, lawyer Dong Puno, interviewed a lot of political personalities with anti-Marcos sentiments. To this day, I salute lawyer Puno for having started that public affairs program.

Lunch Date — This noontime show took over Student Canteen in 1986 and was hosted by Orly Mercado, Rico J. Puno, Chiqui Hollmann and Toni Rose Gayda. When Randy Santiago was taken in the year after, he — with his pair of shades — became an instant sensation and the show lorded it over in the noontime slot. A lot of other talents later hosted this show: Tina Revilla, Louie Heredia, Ai-Ai de las Alas, Lito Pimentel, Verni Varga and for a while, Pilita Corrales.

Tanghalan ng Kampeon — This talent search was Wilma Galvante’s brainchild when she was with Channel 9. When she later moved to GMA 7 where she is now Senior Vice President for Entertainment TV, she brought it with her and the show became an even bigger hit — what with the winnable tandem of Pilita Corrales and Bert Marcelo.

GMA Tele-sine — Imagine a made-for-TV-movie every week? I don’t know how the network managed (expenses and all), but it did and viewers had a feast every Sunday evening watching a new TV movie with big stars in it.

Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho — Jessica is able to come up with polished stories every week — thanks to excellent research and getting the proper angles (every newsman with the eye and instinct knows this).

Imbestigador — Hard-hitting and courageous, this public service program anchored by Mike Enriquez teaches people from all areas (especially the public servants) to behave.

Case Unclosed — I like history and going back to the past and this is what this news and public affairs program does every week — tracing stories that didn’t have closure.

Family Feud — I got so addicted to this game show hosted by Richard Gomez — to the point that it was already running my schedule and my life. I know it’s making a comeback soon. Oh no, there goes my life and schedule again.

Eat, Bulaga! — GMA 7 is its third home and there is an industry belief that wherever it is aired, the network becomes Number One.

Startalk — It’s my all-time favorite show for obvious reasons.











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