“Super Random,” the newest Inquirer podcast, powered by PumaPodcast, travels back to 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon in the 1990s with its newest episode, “Super Random: Ano ang ‘Ang TV?'” The podcast’s first episode, “Super Random This is ‘That’s Entertainment'” introduced the ground-breaking GMA-7 show led by German “Kuya Germs” Moreno had launched the teen-star display on TV juggernaut.
But in 1992, resurgent ABS-CBN’s resident Johnny “Mr. M.” Manahan, the mastermind behind both “Kaluskos Musmos” and “Kuskos Balungos,” had something in the works.
Together with ABS-CBN general manager Freddie Garcia, Manahan established the ABS-CBN Talent Center, later known as Star Magic.
Instead of the laissez faire management style of German “Kuya Germs” Moreno, who did not have any managerial or financial say on any of the “That’s Entertainment” stars, the Talent Center not only developed the artistas, but put them on display and placed them in projects for Regal, Viva and its own platforms. Its first, greatest showcase was “Ang TV.”
Roselle Nava-Tan, an original cast member on the show, remembers how she joined “Ang TV”: “I auditioned also for ‘That’s Entertainment’ before I auditioned for ‘Ang TV.’ Unfortunately I didn’t get in. So maybe I was really destined to be part of ‘Ang TV.’ I was 16 at the time when I auditioned for the show. When I rushed to ABS-CBN, there was really such a long line. I think maybe thousands who wanted to be part of that show.”
She remembers her first meeting with Manahan very vividly. “I remember being so afraid of him because he’s such a tall guy. He said uh so you you would like to uh be part of the show. Can you sing something for for me? So I sang ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’ by Whitney Houston. I was really fortunate that Mr. M gave me the chance to shine. And be part of that show.”
The “Ang TV” cast actually showed up only on one day: Saturday. They began shooting very early in the morning until they had all they needed. All the footage Mr. M. and the crew shot would be edited and cut up until there were four episodes for the week. The Friday episode was a best-of-the week edit.
And even after the show launched, the training continued. Roselle remembered, “for the acting workshops, all of us uh was trained underBernardo Bernardo.for the dancing, it was the Manoeuvres, and then for the singing, Ryan Cayabyab and Moy Ortiz.”
“Ang TV” aired its first episode on Oct. 19, 1992.
It was earlier than That’s Entertainment, coming on at 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. It was shorter at 30 minutes and very different.
It was aired completely canned, meaning everything had been taped and edited, all the songs performed lip-synched.
Dr. Wendell Capili of the University of the Philippines, who has researched pop and fan culture, says this contrasted completely with the fanatic live chaos of That’s Entertainment, just as much as Mr. M. provided a contrast to Kuya Germs. “In contrast to That’s Entertainment where they were coming from the vaudeville, ‘Ang TV’ was really meant for television.”
Shooting the show was where Mr. M’s technical perfectionist streak came in. There was no way that gag or song number or dance number was going to get on the air without his approval.
Roselle attests to this. “Every rehearsal, he would attend. He’s really on top of everything. And then yung mga concerts namin, he would always be there.being a perfectionist, he would always really ask us to um be on top of our game always. Like uh we would rehearse on our own. Kasi we were so afraid to make mistakes in front of him.every rehearsal is like a show itself.”
Those first three seasons of “Ang TV” presented an interesting mix of talent: Claudine Barretto, Angelu de Leon, Jolina Magdangal, Victor Neri, Paolo Contis, Katya Santos, Patrick and Cheska Garcia, Camille and John Prats, Rica and Paula Peralejo, Antoinette and Tom Taus, Vandolph and Boy2 Quizon, Maxene Magalona, Jay Manalo, Carol Banawa, Kaye Abad, Sarah Geronimo, Angelica Panganiban, Baron Geisler and Kristine Hermosa, among others.
Its “Esmsyuskee” and “Nge!” became part of the pop Lexicon as much as “4:30 na, Ang TV na!”
Unlike “That’s Entertainment,” “Ang TV” handled the talents’ careers directly, as all of them were signed up by the Talent Center.
Roselle said management held back part of their income to out in a savings account and according to talent manager Noel Ferrer, Star Magic did much more than that. “It was their holistic management that would take care of honing your skills but also take care of your basic education. Then in the end they had set up an office that would serve as your professional liason.”
New kids would be added, the kids would move up into the Teens and the older Teens moved on to other pursuits. This was ABS-CBN employing a perfected, focused version of the assembly line that That’s Entertainment had.
“Ang TV” ended its run on April 11, 1997. Some of the alumni of Ang TV would go on to other pursuits, most notably Camille dela Rosa who is a professional painter and Tony Lambino who is assistant secretary for the Department of Finance.
But many of them would go on to have careers in showbiz. Roselle would go on to be a regular on the ABS noontime show “A.S.A.P.” and she would have a successful recording career; Until recently she was a councilor for Paranaque City.
Other cast members would become actors in drama, even sexy ones, action and comedy shows for ABS, GMA, Viva and Regal. Until fairly recently, you could see the clear comedic influences of “Ang TV” in the extremely popular kid-sketch show “Goin’ Bulilit.”
Nostalgia for Ang TV re-surfaced when Jeepney TV began airing reruns of the show. And Roselle notes, people still recognize them from the show.
The end of the Ang TV experience also heralded the end of the daily variety show format whether live or taped, for a network to present their young stars.
The new showcases were the teen soap operas such as “T-G-I-S,” “G-MIK,” “Tabing Ilog” and “Growing Up,”although they had much smaller casts.
Then, the next big evolution happened.
In 2003, GMA launched Starstruck and in 2004, ABS-CBN launched Star Circle Quest, both were a combination of talent competition and popularity contests. A paradigm shift had happened: artistas had invaded reality TV.
The search for young talent then made its full transition with the advent of true reality TV—“Pinoy Big Brother,” or PBB, the Pinoy edition of the international housebound franchise which started airing in 2005.
In an echo of the craze of That’s Entertainment and Ang TV decades before, thousands would line up at ABS-CBN’s Mother Ignacia studio for a chance to get on the show.
From the PBB house also known as Bahay ni Kuya emerged Kim Chiu, James Reid, Robi Domingo, Myrtle Sarrosa, Daniel Matsunaga, Maris Racal, Ylona Garcia and Maymay Entrata.
And just when you think the search for the next wave of celebrities had found a lasting home, it evolves further.
The ubiquity of technology and the popularity of apps meant an entirely new kind of celebrity had arrived: the social media influencer.
In the unprecedented success of Mimiyuuuh and Janela Vela, among others, Pinoys have voted with their fingers.
Social media is the next wave.
Some things have changed. This is truer today than at any other time. From the days of studio heavyweights LVN and Sampaguita to Regal and Viva. The assembly line of young talent pioneered by That’s Entertainment and Ang TV remains in place today, populating Philippine entertainment year after year,
But as the audience evolves and starts watching through other screens, some things remain the same.
Filipinos still want to be artistas.
Wendell explains why: “We have to remember that for most of the Filipinos who are living below the poverty line, they see show business as a stepping stone in order for them to provide for their families, to provide for themselves. And generate income. Not everybody gets to go to a good university, not everybody gets good education.So, there are people who can use social media as a platform to be able to succeed.They are motivated by success, they’re motivated to provide for themselves and to be financially independent. Of course not everybody becomes very successful but ah especially these days, it’s like a factory every six months there’s a new star being developed. And after six months you forget them.like we don’t remember anymore who was this famous person who appeared in The Voice, or The Voice for kids because there is a new series coming up. So,there are just too many shows, too many occasions for people to be famous.Being a star is no longer what it used to be. You are a star only for the moment and it’s easy for somebody to come in and replace the old ones.”
And for Roselle Nava-Tan, “Ang TV” was the unforgettable experience that did indeed enable her to make her dreams come true: “It’s opened so many doors for me, I was able to travel to different countries Without paying anything and being able to do something that I really love to do being able to do something that I really love to do.”
Join host Super obsessive host Ruel S. De Vera in revisiting the colorful history of ABS-CBN’s landmark show for young talent.
Listen to episode 2 on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/0WqfRJD6Xk4D0TM5Vu4d78?si=_QaCvOQRRSa6aV9_s2XcpA
“Super Random: Ano ang ‘Ang TV?'” is now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Anchor and other podcast apps starting Aug. 28. A new episode will be out every two weeks.