What exactly does it mean to be “in the service of the Filipino”?
The flagship slogan of ABS-CBN has been around since the 1990s, but its roots go back much further, to the forebears of the late ABS-CBN Chairman Emeritus Eugenio “Kapitan” Lopez Jr. and Chairman Eugenio “EL3” Lopez III.
A narration of the definitive ABS-CBN story—how Kapitan built the network in the 1950s, its fate during martial law, its resurgence after the Edsa Revolution, and yes, how and why “In the Service of the Filipino” came to be—has been put together for today’s audiences.
The result is a brief but comprehensive video collating the experiences of long-time ABS-CBN executives, thus retracing the beginnings of the company—its rise and fall in the 1950s through the 1980s and its unfaltering ascent by the 1990s.
“You only get to appreciate what ABS-CBN stands for if you know its history, the vision of its builders,” says Robert Labayen, whose Creative Communications Management group is spearheading the creation of the video project.
Sharing their stories and memories for the video are the people who joined Kapitan in 1986, among them Executive Adviser to the Chairman, Chief Content Officer and ABS-CBN University President Charo Santos- Concio, Chief Operating Officer of broadcast Cory Vidanes, Star Creatives’ Malou Santos, Integrated News and Current Affairs Head Ging Reyes, New Media Head Enrico Santos, Star Magic’s Johnny Manahan, Peter Musngi, Olivia Lamasan and former ABS-CBN President Freddie M. Garcia; as well as the newest generation of executives who helped lead ABS-CBN into the new millennium.
Also providing a personal glimpse of Kapitan are his younger brother, Lopez Group Chairman Emeritus Oscar M. Lopez, eldest daughter Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. and long-time Lopez Group executive Atty. Jake Almeda Lopez, his boyhood friend at the Ateneo de Manila.
When one considers the corporate and creative behemoth that is the ABS-CBN of today, it is almost impossible to imagine that it ever went through a spectrum of trials, from the appalling to the ridiculous.
“When ABS-CBN reopened in 1986, wala silang kagamit-gamit: their conference tables were doors that employees took off their hinges; there weren’t enough chairs for everyone and there was only one sofa that no one would sit on for fear it would collapse; it would flood in the office whenever it rained; and tapes were reused several times over so there are no records of ABS-CBN’s early programs.
“The people who went through all of that are still around, so this is not ancient history,” Labayen shares.
For the multi-awarded adman, the creative mind behind most of ABS-CBN’s station IDs and slogans including 2009’s well-loved “Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko,” its soul is what sets the network apart from competition.
“For generations now, the Lopezes have been known for public service, starting with the father of Don Eñing (Kapitan’s father, Lopez Group founder Eugenio H. Lopez Sr.) who was serving as the governor of Iloilo when he was assassinated. Don Eñing in turn passed these values on to Kapitan and then on to EL3,” he says.
The initiative to tell the ABS-CBN story to its employees and guests is thus particularly relevant—and timely—as the 63-year-old network embarks on a new chapter under its new President, Carlo Katigbak.
Labayen shares an observation he had while watching the network’s Christmas special two months ago: “We can endure because we have lots of stars, creative talents and writers. We can provide so much more than the competition.
“Our leaders still have so many plans. The history of ABSCBN is just about to begin.”