“KABLAAW?” “Taga-diin ka?”
For migrants in Metro Manila, many of whom don’t have the resources to regularly make the trip to their home provinces, ABS-CBN is the cord that helps keep them tethered, somehow, to the place where they grew up.
In particular, the “job” falls to ABS-CBN Regional. ABSCBN Regional is a division under the Broadcast business unit headed by chief operating officer Cory Vidanes.
For ABS-CBN Regional head Atty. Abigail Querubin- Aquino, her division serves as the Kapamilya network’s extension to Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao islands as it broadcasts Channel 2 programs; at the same time, the group regularly churns out local shows tailored to regional tastes.
“We are ABS-CBN’s front liners in building bridges, developing stronger relationships and bringing Filipinos closer together through locally produced shows, events and public service activities, especially during calamities,” says Querubin-Aquino.
The division used to be known as Provincial before adopting the name Regional Network Group (RNG) under the late Danilo Bernardo, who was replaced by Rolando Valdueza and then Jerry Bennett. A year after Querubin-Aquino’s appointment in mid-2013, RNG took on its current moniker—ABS-CBN Regional.
At present, ABS-CBN Regional has 33 stations, including 13 sales centers found in the key cities of the three major islands of the country, like Baguio, Dagupan, Batangas, Lucena, San Pablo, Laguna and Naga, Legaspi and Daet, Laoag, Vigan, Isabela, Tuguegarao, Pampanga, Bulacan and Olongapo in Luzon; in Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban, Dumaguete, Kalibo and Roxas in the Visayas; and in Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Zamboanga, Cotabato, Koronadal, Butuan, Iligan and Dipolog in Mindanao, and six affiliates.
The oldest stations are in the Visayas and Mindanao, while the newest ones are in Luzon, notes Querubin-Aquino, who in over two decades with ABS-CBN has headed various regional clusters up and down the archipelago.
She describes these operations headed by the area or station manager as “little ABS-CBNs.” Each one is self-contained, with its own Admin/Human Resources, Engineering, Events, Finance, Marketing, News, Public Service, and TV/Radio Production departments and Creative Communication Management departments. Each self-sustaining station is supported by ABS-CBN Regional Head Office staff including a division head who makes sure there is close alignment to corporate direction.
Hallmark of Regional
ABS-CBN Regional is as much a dispenser of news, information and entertainment as it is a rescuer and bringer of relief during calamities—a hallmark that is an especial source of pride for Querubin-Aquino.
“We make sure we are first to respond anywhere in the Philippines. We bring food, goods and conduct rescue operations in coordination with government and non-government organizations, ABS-CBN Integrated Public Service and ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. We work with everyone who can give help,” she says.
She recalls in particular the Zamboanga siege which lasted for almost three weeks in September 2013.
“…Everyone in the team stayed, worked and helped people in need through our soup kitchen and relief operations for the victims in the evacuation areas and live news feeds coverage so that every Filipino here and abroad is updated on what was going on, especially for those who have relatives at the stricken place,” narrates Querubin- Aquino. Her first year as the Manila-based chief of the division in 2013 also saw the team’s expertise, preparedness and resilience tested by the Bohol earthquake in October and typhoon Yolanda less than a month later.
These acts of selflessness and malasakit have caught the attention of the Lopez Group’s Lopez Achievement Awards and ABS-CBN’s Walk on Water.
And what do these virtual quiet and simple heroes do on “slow” days? The team juggles livelihood seminars and trainings with medical missions, job fairs, tree planting, “Trabaho Patrol” and other public service activities to help alleviate the plight of our Kapamilya in all the locations where we are, in whatever little way we can, says Querubin-Aquino.
The division delighted viewers when it unveiled its own dedicated channel called the ABS-CBN Regional Channel (ARC).
ARC is the first channel in the Philippines to line up the best programs from different provinces in the different dialects and put them on air, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Launched only in August and currently on test broadcast, one of ARC’s missions is to “bring the Filipino home wherever he/she may be.”
“How many Filipinos who are hoping to come home would see the programs in their own dialect and will not miss home anymore?” says Querubin- Aquino, who is herself an Ilocano-Ilonggo.
ARC is for the Bicolano looking to be updated on the latest news in his hometown, the Bacolodnon who wants to be in the middle of the action during the Masskara festival and the cabalen who misses the sound of his native Kapampangan wherever they are in the country or in the world.
“The channel showcases existing programs for now, but we plan to come up with exclusive programs that are not heard on radio or aired on free TV but could be aired on cable and online,” the division head says.
ARC’s Luzon block from 4 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. features programming in Tagalog, Ilocano, Kapampangan and Bicolano. The Visaya block from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. is the time to enjoy shows in Bisaya or Cebuano, Waray and Ilonggo, including Bisayadubbed movies. The 9:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. block, meanwhile, is the time to catch up on the relevant news of the day via selected regional editions of “TV Patrol” on weekdays and entertainment programs on weekends. The 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. time slot serves up a mixed bag of music, radio news and replays of the day’s public service programs.
For now, ARC is available in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna via SKY and Destiny cable Channel 4; in the rest of the Philippines via SKYdirect Channel 14; on SKY On Demand, iWantv and selected cable operators; and soon will be on TFC, TV OTT and SKY and Destiny in Q4 2016 and Q1 2017.
“We presented ARC and radio streaming as one of our 2016 Strategic Initiatives and we were able to meet our target with its launch on August 1 this year,” Querubin-Aquino says of the month-old ARC. “ARC and Regional Radio online streaming will be able to serve more homesick Kapamilya and make the Filipino, especially the second-generation overseas Filipino (OF), fall in love with his country all over again; this, apart from helping our cable and online platforms.”
ARC is the newest addition to the growing list of ABS-CBN Regional endeavors. Another new addition is the audio streaming of all 16 MOR and three AM stations in the digital space.
With ARC and Radio streaming in the digital space, we can now continuously become available even if any of our transmitters goes down because our digital broadcast is independent from transmitter broadcast, Querubin-Aquino notes.
The many efforts of ABSCBN Regional to serve the Filipino include “Barangayan” and “Kapamilya Karavan” where they bring stars in the Regional Metros, the Kapamilya Fiesta/OK Kapamilya Go World events overseas where they bring stars to OFs/overseas Filipino workers, helping TFC bring in more subscribers to be served more intimately.
Its efforts go beyond allowing the division to hold up its end of the stick as a part of Kapitan Eugenio Lopez Jr.’s vision of “bridges on air.”
“All these programs and activities… create in every regional viewer a deeper engagement and love for the ABS-CBN brand wherever one may be,” concludes Querubin-Aquino.