Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Viva pivots into the podcast space with new titles

Vanessa A. Balbuena - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The last decade has seen a digital tsunami overwhelm lifestyles and preferences of Filipino consumers. Digital penetration is at an all-time high, with the established players and newcomers offering accessibility options to the public.

With this comes products and services that cater to every want and need, as Filipinos from all walks of life are intrigued and hooked to be part of the digital evolution. One area that has generated considerable interest is the field of podcasting.

The numbers have been eye-popping: 31 million Filipinos listen to podcasts, while an average of 54 minutes is spent tuned in to one.

Viva One, the digital incubation and aggregation division of Viva Communications Inc., took the lead in bringing more podcast titles that the Filipino audience might be interested in as the group recently launched the Oomph Podcast Network, bannered by three new podcasts that appeal to a wide array of listeners.

“Wala Pa Kaming Title” with long-time friends Candy Pangilinan, Carmina Villaroel, Gelli de Belen and Janice de Belen is the “ultimate chikahan ng mga amigas.” This show tackles anything and everything under the sun that concerns parents raising teenagers and young adults, with the vibe that is so approachable, it is likened to eavesdropping on a conversation among your Titas.

As Carmina tells it, their clique makes it a point to get together once in a while over coffee or dinner, or hang out at each other’s houses where a gab fest ensues about almost anything in their lives or those around them.

“The usual usapan ng barkada, magkumare, magkapatid. We felt we have happy conversations, so we decided why not have a show on Spotify?” she said. “I would like to believe it’s entertaining. We’re not trying to be deep, righteous, educational, or know-it-all, but I guess thru our experiences we can share what we learned. No one’s right or wrong, no judgment. We’re just sharing our journey and our experiences.”

After frequently collaborating with one another for their respective YouTube channels, Gelli said they were surprised with the feedback. To them, they were just having their usual banter. For their YouTube followers, it was a refreshing source of entertainment. “Nagkukwentuhan lang naman kami pero aliw na aliw yung mga tao,” she recalled.

Viva bigwigs apparently took notice and saw potential for a podcast. So they told Candy, who in the past year has starred in a string of Vivamax comedies, to ask her friends if they were open to doing one together.

“Magbabarkada kami, we grew up together. Kung ano lang mapag-isipan na pag-usapan,” said Gelli. “It’s like…you know how you meet up with your friends? You go to a restaurant and eat while you talk up a storm. You gossip about what’s going on around you. That’s all it is.”

Candy describes their show as spontaneous – not unlike how their exchanges are off camera. “We realize that the four of us are all curious individuals. We are fond of asking questions. So it ends up, ito sana yung topic pero kung saan saan napupunta ang usapan – that’s the flow.”

The four actresses are so comfortable with one another that Carmina said they have to remind themselves to tone it down lest they share too much or cross the line. Another concern at times is to avoid talking over each other as all of them are known to be quite chatty.

For Gelli, the pandemic has certainly become a catalyst for artists like themselves to branch out into other things outside of their usual spheres of television and movies – and they are embracing the evolving landscape with open minds.

Asked how they’ve managed to maintain a solid kinship in their business of show, Carmina said acceptance of each other is one key. “Not only in showbiz but in any industry it’s hard to find real friends. In our field it’s just magnified because we’re in the public eye,” she said.

“I’m just very lucky and thankful to have found genuine friends in our industry. Why did our friendship last? Acceptance sa ugali ng isa’t-isa. Of course it’s important that you jive. Eto, umpisa pa lang nag-jive na. And as with any relationship, kasama na yung respect, trust, at pagmamahal.”

But it was a different kind of start to a female friendship for Tina Wells Amanda Coling – hosts of the podcast “B*Witches”, a woman-empowerment show that tackles adult themes on womanhood and life. These modern-thinking hosts offer their listeners brave and sexy takes into the themes of love, sex, and relationships.

Tina and Amanda share they both knew each other way back when they were still “wounded, unhealed, toxic b*****s” but had only built a bond when they were more mellowed women navigating singlehood and finding common ground with the parallels in their lives.

“We came from a night of partying and we were hung over. We started talking about our feelings, the Manila dating scene, how males and females interact especially in Manila since it’s a small city. We just started sharing, it got crazier, and then we said you know what let’s record this. That’s how we started,” shared 30-something Tina, who juggles a career in corporate, events planning, and podcasting.

“Basically we are your modern Ates. We are gonna guide you through this life because the times now are different. We’re going to give you ideas and more options on how to navigate life in terms of sex, dating, and friendship.”

Amanda thinks many Filipinos are highly sexual, but repress it because of societal expectations. It’s high time this changed, the former FHM model said.

“They’re not owning it because we are conditioned to be conservative. So we talk about things that usually our parents, teachers, priests, nuns have programmed us not to talk about. But we feel like there’s a need to talk about these to empower women so that they can make choices from a place of integrity and radical honesty within themselves.”

She added, “Relationship choices, sexual choices, love choices that are coming from their authenticity, from their true power and confidence – instead of nakikiuso ka lang sa sinasabi ng society, ng teacher mo, ng pari. Parang obligasyon mo lang instead of what you really want. So we empower women to do what they want without apologies.”

Amanda is a licensed real estate broker, blogger, and YouTuber. Prior to the pandemic, she was a financial planner in Singapore. She is currently working on a self-help book about dating, but the ultimate dream is to pen an erotic-comedy novel.

“I came from a place that was disempowered, I was living my life to please those around me because I was afraid they would leave me. I was always self-sacrificing and betraying myself. I’ve been through a lot of painful and traumatic experiences and because of these, I started my journey in personal development, coaching, spirituality, psychology…and when I felt na buo na yung nalalaman ko I thought somebody has to share this to the world,” shared Amanda, who viewed  podcasts as an opportunity for artists to themselves and serve their purpose.

There’s also “The IDK Show” by Kean Cipriano which is a chat amongst musicians. The “cool, hip, and real” vibe of the program tackles things close to an artist’s heart – their music, inspirations, trials, and successes.

Kean said the title is such because the talk is random and spontaneous “because that’s the kind of person I am. Artist to artist type of conversation, no pretensions, just like a backstage conversation.”

“I started a podcast because I just really wanted to have random conversations with other artists, maybe my friends or some na ngayon ko lang makakausap. It’s a good feeling to share these genuine moments with them albeit digitally. I see these artists on stage or off stage and we’re always in a hurry. At least with this I’ll get to know them better. At the same time I also get to know myself better thru these conversations.”

Now its second season is “Matt Runs” hosted by Matteo Guidicelli who chats with a mixed bunch not confined to showbiz about topics running the gamut from love, passion for country, fitness, lifestyle, to investing money, and business.

The Oomph Podcast Network has more titles lined up for release. From creator-driven to genre-specific titles, there is something for everyone to enjoy and engage with.

For interested podcast creators, Oomph Podcast offers a comprehensive support system that is designed to help titles get off the ground and be heard by listeners. Creative, marketing, and production support are part of its business framework and are easily accessible.

“Viva has been in the business of creating content that has entertained audiences through the years. We are invested in expanding our reach to the podcasting space to give Filipinos another venue to be engaged with our artists, their insights and ideas,” said Vincent del Rosario, CEO of Viva One.

“The digital Pinoy wants to consume all the content that is available and we at Viva One are inspired by their dedication.”


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