May 27, 2024

ABS-CBN was denied a congressional franchise.

It was a Friday morning here in Canada when we woke up to the news that ABS-CBN failed to get Congress’ vote for the approval of a new franchise. 

While many of us saw it coming, there was still a sense of disbelief that it actually happened. 

Scrolling through Facebook was heartbreaking; I couldn’t even bring myself to comment and react on social media.

To say “hopeless na talaga ang Pilipinas” has gotten old. I will not go through the merits of why ABS-CBN deserved a renewal of its franchise, it will be futile. But allow me to share why this is more than just news from home, it’s personal.

Many are aware of my ABS-CBN roots. It is the only company I’ve worked for in the Philippines- starting as a fresh graduate researcher, field reporter, and anchor. I continued to be a kapamilya even after migrating to Canada, as a correspondent for The Filipino Channel’s Balitang America. I have built and kept friendships with many of those I have worked with -from the field to the newsroom - in all these years.

In fact, my closest circle of friends in Canada, are all connected through ABS-CBN.

This means we’ve all heard from friends, some even family, who have been laid-off in this time of pandemic.

My longtime cameraman would have reached 25 years of service with the network next year. He still remembers each of my children’s names. And he never fails to greet us during birthdays and Christmas. He will no longer have a job after August.

There’s a producer, who is also somebody’s brother and his family’s breadwinner- jobless by September.

Many staff and production people are suddenly selling products online and asking for support, as they navigate the harsh reality of being unemployed after more than 20 years in the company.

We pray for them and with them. We share words of encouragement, red, blue and green heart emojis, and “tight hugs” (mahigpit na yakap) posts on social media.

We call on friends in Manila to support their new ventures, anything we can possibly do from more than 10,000 kilometres away, to show that we care about what they’re going through.

At the end of the day, it’s more than just losing a job. Even we, who have left the company for more than 10 years since migrating to Canada know, one never really leaves ABS-CBN completely.

It stays with us.

It keeps us hopeful that our fellow kapamilyas will be okay.

And its history reminds us: tomorrow will be a better day.

Marieton Pacheco is a former news reporter with ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol and a news anchor with the ABS-CBN News Channel. She moved to Canada in 2009 and is a freelance correspondent for The Filipino Channel. She lives in the Lower Mainland region of B.C. with her family.

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