Venerable current affairs show to continue production despite format change from parent broadcast network
LOS ANGELES—As it turns out, rumors of the death of the nation’s sole, daily-produced talk show by and about its estimated 7.5 million Filipino American residents, had been greatly exaggerated.
Well, sort of.
Due to popular demand from viewers and overwhelming encouragement from advertisers, the influential show, produced, directed and hosted by G. Tongi, will continue production despite a format change by its parent broadcast network only this time as a weekly rather than daily show.
Re-dubbed “Kababayan Weekly,” and now wholly, independently-produced, the discussion-heavy show, Tongi promises, will continue with the same thought-provoking, candid and empowering content which propelled the show to its largest-ever ratings and advertising support in its entire eleven-year history (Three with her on-board).
The highest revenue for the program was achieved last year (2016), according to Dennis Davis, LA18 General Manager.
“It is with a heavy heart that I bid ‘farewell’ to ‘Kababayan Today,’ Tongi announced to a special, intimate gathering at LA City Hall’s breathtaking Tom Bradley Tower Room of supporters, previous guests and contributors of the show. “But, it’s my time to share with you that ‘Kababayan Weekly’ continues! (To rousing cheers.)
“When word broke of the format change, we were all thrown for a loop and honestly, didn’t know what the future held for a free, terrestrial broadcast (non-cable, non-subscription) show for our community,” she added. “But, both corporate and community made their voices heard: ‘We want this to go on!’”
“Kababayan Weekly” made its debut Friday, July 14 from 4 – 4:30 pm PST on LA18 and Sunday, July 16 from 4:30 – 5 pm PST on KIKU-TV in Hawaii. Tongi pledges a continuum of the diverse mix of topics—some controversial and rarely, if at all, discussed in other media outlets—that gave the popular show its unique, inter generational audience.
“‘Kababayan Weekly will continue to feature the Filipino immigrant experience through the lens of the unique sensibilities Filipinos share with one another. We will delve into the historical context of our people, celebrate Philippine culture—especially culinary and performance arts—and uplift mass movements of resistance to serve as a platform for activists and advocates from local Filipino American organizations. With our fists in the air, “Kababayan Weekly” aims to unify the community so that we may rise up together.”
At the City Hall reception where guests dined on creations from Food Network’s “Chopped” Champion, Chef Charleen Caabay, supporters were excited at the news.
“G (Tongi) has really made her show indispensable for a community whose stories and issues still largely go uncovered by mainstream media,” said Winston F. Emano, Board Director for Fil Am ARTS, one of several community non-profit organizations represented at the celebration. “(The show) is essential viewing for those seeking the true pulse of the Filipino American community and we’re thrilled with the notion of collaborating with ‘Kababayan Weekly’ even more.”
It was a joyous occasion as former clients and community organizations gathered at the Bradley Towers on a Friday afternoon to celebrate the ending of an era with the proclamation of the program by Los Angeles City.
Mia McLeod of McLeod and Associates, a leading real estate company and longtime supporter of the program, was present at the event dubbed “The Farewell Feast” and quips that “the gathering epitomized what community is all about; uplifting and supporting one another.”
Jeff Lim of the Island Pacific Market chain personally pledged support for the reception by sponsoring the fare for the feast.
But, still for others, the joy was tempered by melancholy.
“As beautiful as G (Tongi) is on camera, she is maybe even more so off camera. She treated everyone, from custodial staff to the general manager of the station the same: respectfully,” Said Trevor Roberts, LA18 Director of Production. “This actually marks my final official act with the station and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather be associated with than G and her show.”
Cher Calvin, Filipina Journalist on KTLA’s award winning newscast every 6 and 10pm chimed in on how proud she is personally of the work and dedication G (Tongi) has devoted to the Filipino Community by comparing staff resources.
“We have so many people to produce an hour’s worth of news programming daily and G does it single handedly by writing, producing, editing and hosting Kababayan Today on a daily basis! That is a feat on it’s own and you G, are an inspiration to me!”. To which G acknowledged her associate producer, Nicanor Evangelista, with whom she shares production deadlines.
Indeed, G (Tongi) continues her hard work and dedication to producing relevant and timely television content for Filipinos in America with “Kababayan Weekly” and explains the decision to distribute on terrestrial broadcast.
“My work has always been about being able to service the community instead of just a personal agenda for recognition. I am grateful for the proclamation from the City of Los Angeles and Council Man Mike Bonin and everyone who continues to support the work I do however, this award is not mine alone but a recognition to our Filipino community that our stories matter more than ever. I will continue to do whatever I can to ensure that we are able to keep a show on the air that is truly dedicated to keeping community alive, that is free to all, as this time in history where minority communities are being divided need this the most.”
“Kababayan Weekly” broadcasts every Friday, July 14 from 4 – 4:30 pm PST on Southern California’s KSCI LA18 and Sunday, July 16 from 4:30 – 5 pm PST on KIKU-TV in Hawaii.