The first Filipino to hold executive position in ABC New York
Ernesto Garcia de Leon and wife Chary (fourth and fifth from right, respectively) meets up with relatives and friends in the Philippines

The first Filipino to hold executive position in ABC New York

Rogelio Constantino Medina (The Philippine Star) - April 24, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former ABC New York’s scenic services manager Ernesto Garcia de Leon, now living in Orlando, Florida, with his wife Chary, started as a radio announcer at DZST The Voice of Catholic Philippines from the University of Santo Tomas, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Design degree.

That was his stepping stone to commercial radio via the old ABS (Alto Broadcasting System) on Dewey Boulevard as a sign-off (and later sign-on) announcer. When the merger happened between ABS and CBN (Chronicle Broadcasting Network), he became DZMM radio announcer and later he did on-camera news headlines, voice-over and commercials, particularly reading commercials for Tawag ng Tanghalan show.  

For two years, he was a co-host of Dance-O-Rama, a daily teenage dance program, and he became the executive producer of Nineteeners, hosted by Jose Mari Chan.

In 1965, he was ABS-CBN’s assistant production manager for creative services. He designed the ABS-CBN logo (still in use today), directed the first animated videotape commercial in the Philippines and directed the first live TV golf coverage in the country.

Ernesto(left) as DZMM announcer, With wife Chary(center), At the ABC New York(right)

The next year, he directed the fifth Asian Games coverage in Bangkok (first full overseas coverage in Philippine TV). In 1968, he directed the Philippine coverage of Mexico Olympics and he was promoted as the TV station’s program director of production services (scenic design, graphic arts, scenery fabrication, costume design, makeup). 

In 1970, he and his family migrated to the US where he worked as plant supervisor of scenic services at ABC (American Broadcasting Company) TV Network in New York City, New York and later as its manager of scenic services (that involved the design and fabrication of scenery from network programs, mainly soap operas, Good Morning America, World News Tonight, ABC News, ABC Sports, Olympics) for 30 years until his retirement in 2002. 

Nowadays, he has plenty of time relaxing, painting and playing golf in Orlando. “It has been heaven when we moved to Florida.”

Last year, he and Chary, a former schoolteacher at Saint Andrew’s School in Parañaque City, took time to visit relatives and friends and several places in the Philippines, like Boracay and Vigan. He was able to see his former ABS-CBN’s creative services staff in a restaurant in Malate, Manila. He also reminisced to this writer his good old days about his friends Leila Benitez and Eddie Elarde as well as his deceased friends Pepe Pimentel, Bobby Ledesma and Pancho Magalona. 

He admitted that his most memorable years of his professional life were spent at ABS-CBN. Again, it was Ernie who created the logo that you can see on television today, thus leaving an indelible mark in the world of TV broadcasting in the country.

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