Dish brings GMA, TV5 together

Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) - June 5, 2012 - 12:00am

Manila, Philippines -  No, this writer didn’t mean for Filipino heartthrob Derek Ramsay to shed a tear or for Superstar Nora Aunor to stifle a cry during yesterday’s press conference to formally launch Kapatid TV5 in Northern California at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco. 

The boisterous press conference was highlighted by revelations and admissions that even had Ruffa Gutierrez taking to her Twitter account in the middle of the proceedings to tweet about an explosive revelation that may or may not have something to do with the acquisition of GMA 7 by the cash-rich TV5 management. Even a text message from Kris Aquino to TV5 chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, who is known simply as MVP, asking about the GMA 7 subject figured at some point during the press conference.

Perhaps, it was the presence of the surprisingly funny MVP, whose candor and humor brought a noticeable energy and enthusiasm in the room that highlighted the easy rapport between the Bay Area-based Filipino journalists and the superstars of TV5, who didn’t hold back from answering the questions that ranged from the mundane to the socially-charged commentaries about the role of Philippine television in the lives of Filipino expatriates all over the world.

Aside from Ruffa, Derek and Nora, the Philippines’ top TV game show host Willie Revillame, whose trademark knack for instantaneous and wry humor was in full display again, also graced the star-studded press conference along with newcomer Camille Villar and the eternally boyish Aga Muhlach who shared a bombshell of his own in a separate interview.

The good-looking actor who hosts Pinoy Explorer has finally admitted that he is almost certain that he will run for congress come next elections in the home province of his father in Camarines Sur.

“The governor is a good friend of mine,” shared Aga. “Pinag-usapan namin minsan, ‘Aga, you want to run?’ Sabi ko, ‘Ano ang gagawin ko?’ ‘There’s so much you can do,’ sabi nya sa akin. ‘It’s a poor district and konti lang na magawa mo, they will really appreciate it.’ I want to do it. I really want to do it!”

Aga explained that before he makes the official announcement, “I just want to make sure na meron akong gagawin na mabuti talaga so ang dami kong ginagawa ngayon. I want to make sure first kasi sabi nga nila tatakbo tayo, pag nanalo ka, ano ang gagawin mo? So, I want to make sure na kahit ngayon pa lang may magawa na akong maganda talaga.”

The decision to run will be Aga’s personal decision to make. “Whatever I decide, the family will support me, too. I spoke to them already. We talked about it already. I talked to my wife and sinabi nga nya sa akin, ‘My love, in case you decide, ipikit mo ang mata mo, kahit ano ang paninira na marinig mo, huwag mo nang pakinggan yun. Go back to your desire and the desire of helping.’”

Aga stated that, at this state in his life, he has realized that it’s about time that he gives back to the people and the community. He does not promise that it will be a lifetime career choice for him. He will not give up acting and, if after one term, he discovers that politics is not for him, he will willingly step aside for the next set of candidates who is willing to help his home province.

Willie, Aga’s ever-loyal friend, was most vocal about his support for Aga’s political ambition. But he insisted that he would never run for a political position ever.

The press conference was highlighted by the formal signing of the partnership agreement between Kapatid TV5 and Dish Network, a leading provider of satellite television in the US. The Dish Network created a new programming brand aimed at promoting the combined channels of GMA Pinoy TV and Kapatid TV5 called Dish ko ‘to.

The contract was signed by MVP and Dish execs Jennifer Lesley and Izabela Slowikowska, the director for international programming of the American network.

TV5 execs headed by Claro Ramirez and Bobby Barreiro were present for the occasion. Viva Entertainment president Vic del Rosario, who was asked if Sarah Geronimo would move to TV5 soon but only replied with a curious, “That’s always a possibility,” was also present. Sen. Manny Villar also flew to support his daughter Camille.

The Kapatid TV5 launch in the US had a grand kick-off in Los Angeles a week earlier with more than 5,000 people attending the Wil Time Bigtime show at the Shrine Auditorium. The two-week road show will be capped by another presentation of Willie’s hit TV game show at the Bill Graham auditorium in the heart of San Francisco on June 2. The final show promises to be bigger than the L.A. edition with prizes ranging from a house and lot in the Philippines, a car and a host of other electronic gadgets.

The show will mark Willie’s triumphant return to the Bay Area after an absence of a couple of years. It will feature the signature style that made Willie the most popular TV personality among Filipino audiences worldwide. Kapatid stars Rufa Mae Quinto and Mariel Rodriguez, both of whom missed yesterday’s press conference, will be performing during the show along with Nora, Aga, Ruffa, Camille and Derek.

The Q&A ran for more than an hour and when this writer was finally called to field the final question, I immediately asked my two-part question:

The first part of the question was addressed to MVP and I asked: “Apart from the acquisition of GMA 7, how do you plan on expanding the coverage of TV5 in the Philippines?”

The second part was addressed to the TV5 stars: “What is your level of commitment to TV5. What if there’s a new network that comes up and offers you better opportunity — creativity-wise and not money-wise — how is your commitment to TV5 going to be measured?”

MVP responded to my first question by emphasizing his commitment to always support the top-caliber talents that have made TV5 their new home: “I am very grateful to them, hindi namin sila tatalikuran, hindi namin sila pababayaan.”

He added that the board has just approved another P6B investment in TV5 to help the network finish the various studios being built for all its shows.

“I think the Philippine market is really quite small eventually for the talents and for any two or three television stations that’s why it’s important for the country to export its expertise and talents abroad.”

MVP is initially eyeing an expansion in Vietnam and Indonesia.

Among the stars, Ruffa was the first to offer her commitment to TV5: “I was among the first that moved to TV5 before Willie, Aga, Derek. So that goes to show my commitment. I said two years ago that the reason I moved to TV5 is because I wanted to be part of a growing network and because our boss is MVP and I know that everything MVP touches turns to gold and diamonds!”

For Aga, he stressed that it was not his nature to just switch channels on a whim. “Wala naman sa ugali ko na palipat-lipat ako and in fairness sa aming mga artista, marami ang naglalabasan na malaki ang binabayad sa amin kaya kami lumipat. I moved out of ABS before I joined TV5. I moved out of ABS because I wasn’t happy. I have nothing against them but nakita ko sa TV5 kung paano nila sinalo si Willie. Kung ano-ano ang mga ginawa kay Willie pero sinalo ng TV5.”

“Ang hirap lang kasi, we have so much to offer pero wala yung venue and TV5 came in. We are so happy that TV5 is here because we have the freedom to choose and act on our own,” Aga added before offering his thanks to MVP and the rest of the TV5 bosses in attendance.

The unexpected thing happened when Derek turned a tad bit emotional when he was sharing how he started in the business and how MVP played a big part in his showbiz break.

“Not a lot of people know this but I actually started my career, my name with Sir Manny Pangilinan,” he said. “He gave me the chance to be a Smart endorser a long time ago when I had no name. And another thing that many don’t know is that Channel 5 is actually the only network that’s given me a contract this long. Much longer than what ABS has given me. Yes, I worked with ABS for a majority of my career — it has been five, six years but I had no contract with them until recently.”

It was when Derek started recalling how MVP invited him and his parents to dinner at MVP’s house that his voice started to break. “To those who know me, my family is the most important thing for me, so the respect that they gave me — respect is very, very important to me. Yeah, they say that malaki ang bayad and it’s all about the money. I want to kill that already because it’s actually really annoying and I get very emotional when it comes to stuff like these…” he struggled to finish before finally addressing MVP directly by saying, “Boss, dito na ako sa’yo.” The room erupted in cheers in support of Derek soon after he finished.

Nora turned emotional, too, when she had her turn at the mike. She recalled the hardship she experienced in the US and acknowledged a few people in the room who helped her when she was practically begging for help. She thanked MVP and declared her commitment to TV5 as well. The honesty and candidness from the Superstar, along with her unwavering humility, earned her a huge applause from everyone in the room.

For someone who is relatively new in the industry, Camille said that she would stay in the network as long as she is welcome to stay. “Why will you be anywhere else than in the network that’s so filled with love and respect with the people that you work with?”

Willie was the last to speak and the unofficial TV5 goodwill ambassador reiterated what the others said but added that “there is no dictatorship in this company — walang diktador, walang faction-faction.”

The TV host-comedian related the instances when MVP would personally text him to tell that he was watching the show. “It is an honor,” he said. “It is an inspiration. Yung success ni MVP, success ng mga Pilipino!”

From a two percent market share a year ago to 16 percent this year, it won’t be a surprise if TV5 would lead the charge in revolutionizing Philippine television as it gears towards digital technology — an area that TV5 has clear edge with — and bring an era of high-quality digital television for the Filipino audience.

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