MANILA — Three months since the coronavirus pandemic forced the halt of showbiz productions, the Philippines' highest rated TV program "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" finally resumed airing on Monday.
The ABS-CBN action drama returned via cable and satellite TV on the Kapamilya Channel, following the government closure of the network's broadcast operations in May.
The forced shutdown was the second blow to ABS-CBN and its 11,000 employees — dozens of whom belong to "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" — on top of the pandemic that has cost many Filipinos their livelihood.
As a free-television program, "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" was the country's undisputed No. 1 show throughout its four years on air, according to nationwide data of Kantar Media.
As recently as February 2020, the last full recorded month prior to the lockdown, it retained that distinction, with an average national TV rating of 34%. Its viewership peaked in October 2018, with a mammoth 47.2% rating.
Now airing as a cable TV program, "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" has a fraction of its usual viewers on free TV. But despite the odds, and as the series' new tagline goes, "Tuloy ang laban." (The fight continues.)
Cardo, the iconic character portrayed by Coco Martin, now comes at the forefront of restoring mainstream entertainment, as viewers grasp for some semblance of normalcy amid the pandemic, and also the absence of the ABS-CBN channel.
"FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" is one of three ABS-CBN dramas that have resumed production — under strict safety protocols — after the eased community quarantine, along with "Love Thy Woman" and "A Soldier's Heart."
For its first two weeks on Kapamilya Channel, the series is re-airing the last 10 episodes seen on ABS-CBN, to keep viewers up to speed with the story.
"FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" airs weeknights, 8 p.m., on Kapamilya Channel and CineMo. It can also be streamed via iWant and iWantTFC.