Philippine comedy finds new home in BuKo channel

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Philippine comedy finds new home in BuKo channel
Maine Mendoza hosts #MaineGoals, a lifestyle-oriented show where she ticks off tasks from her ‘bucket list.’

MANILA, Philippines — Cignal TV and APT Entertainment have joined forces for BuKo (short for Buhay Komedya), the country’s “first and only” 24-hour comedy channel.

Officially launched last Aug. 2, BuKo channel aims to offer the “best of Philippine comedy” through a programming mix of classics, all-time favorites and originals.

“This is actually the culmination of a very long journey,” said Mike Tuviera, CEO and president of APT Entertainment, during a recent virtual interview.

The idea for the comedy channel began roughly six years ago. The contract-signing between the direct-to-home satellite provider and Pay TV leader, and the veteran TV and film production company APT Entertainment, Inc. happened in 2019.

The partnership, according to Cignal TV president and CEO Robert Galang, came about naturally. “It happened very naturally — APT, which is very respected when it comes to content, especially comedy, and with Cignal, we have the network, we have the platform… And we’ve had a long working relationship with APT. It just came about in our conversations, this partnership was bound to happen.

“It’s a joy and delight to be working with APT and it’s very evident when Cignal entered into free-to-air entertainment, especially with our partnership with TV5. So, APT was one of our very first partners, to work with us, in introducing new shows while we’re in the middle of the enhanced community quarantine (last year) and all these challenges of production,” Galang added.

BuKo Channel is now available on Cignal TV Channel 2 and SatLite Channel 2, and on the Cignal Play app, available via App Store and Google Play.

The road leading to the launch (originally first quarter of 2020) had its share of challenges and setbacks, caused not just by the pandemic.

Tuviera recalled, “Maraming factors (why it took that long) in terms of the behind the scenes. APT is responsible for the content and our Cignal partners for the technology, so all of that has to come together at the right time.

Kusina ni Mamang, a culinary show hosted by Pokwang, explores traditional Filipino home cooking.

“But sobrang shot of confidence when they gave us the Channel 2 slot on Cignal because it’s one of the best slots you can hope for. When they gave us that, it showed how confident they are with the channel and that the people will look for the channel and make it a new habit.”

“For all the ups and downs, and the difficulties especially in the last two years — may pandemic pa, that wasn’t in the schedule, wala yan sa plano — it’s all worth it.”

As it’s been said that laughter is the best medicine, the people behind the new channel believe the channel’s timing couldn’t have been more fitting.

Tuviera said, “When the pandemic happened and everyone got locked in, I said, mas lalo yata ngayon na kailangan ng ganito. Something like a home for feel-good content or things that will make people laugh, or inspire and encourage people. When times are challenging, the more we need inspirational stories. Sometimes, we just need a laugh to get through the day so that was our philosophy behind the BuKo Channel.”

He continued, “Even with the delays that happened because of the pandemic and all of that, I think the BuKo channel is finally coming to fruition; it’s being born at exactly the right time when people need something like this in their everyday life. We’re very proud and very thankful that we partnered (with Cignal). We truly believe and honestly feel it is something that the audience not only wants but needs during these tough times.”

With non-stop laughter and entertainment as programming goals, BuKo is being positioned as a “one-stop shop” showcasing comedic masters, great comedy brands from the past, as well as fresh talents and shows that are exclusive to the channel.

The flagship block, BuKo Originals, includes #MaineGoals, a lifestyle-oriented show hosted by Maine Mendoza where she will tick off tasks or “goals” from her checklist; and Kusina ni Mamang, a culinary show hosted by Pokwang exploring traditional Filipino home cooking.

Then, there are the classics and it was no joke to bring them back on air. Producers found out that the archiving was poorly done. Some programs have never been replayed after their original run. So before some of these comedy gems are “lost forever,” they decided to put together what is existing and remaining in BuKo for the older audiences to relive and the younger audiences to be introduced to.

Among the classics and all-time favorites the BuKo channel carries are such ‘80s and ‘90s programs as Iskul Bukol, Tropang Trumpo, Wow Mali, Lokomoko, H30 Hahahaha Over, Pidol’s Wonderland, Vic Sotto’s 1 For 3, among others. It also airs more current shows like GMA 7’s Bubble Gang.

Tuviera shared his thoughts on the evolution of Philippine comedy and where BuKo channel comes in.

“Everything changes, everything evolves as years go by, especially with Pinoy comedy. Decades ago, during the ‘80s, ang sobrang patok would be slapstick, toilet humor, sobrang patok yun in movies and TV at that time. And of course, those kinds of things won’t fly anymore as much nowadays. But with the platform BuKo, you will have a combination of both, you will see snippets, have a taste of what comedy was in different times,” he said.

“You could have grown up with a certain comedy, but this could still be a home for you. Or you could be a millennial right now who might not enjoy that kind of comedy, but you’re looking for a newer, more sophisticated twist, and that’s where some of the BuKo originals come in. We want BuKo to be the home for everyone to feel good.”

He said they’re open to acquiring foreign content for the channel in the future. “But right now, there’s so much great comedy content in the country. And there’s so many genres of comedy that we haven’t really explored, especially on television, like stand-up comedy, we don’t really do that on TV. That’s one thing we’re currently working on, and satire, and so on. There’s so much comedic talent in the country, not just on-cam but also behind the scenes as writers and directors.”

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