MANILA — Shaina Magdayao was originally set to star in “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano” for only two months, but has since stayed on for over a year, during which the iconic series hurdled both the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and ABS-CBN’s franchise denial.
Magdayao debuted in the primetime drama in February 2020, as Police Major Roxanne Opeña, who was assigned to team up with Coco Martin’s Cardo and Task Force Agila for a mission.
Once at odds with Cardo, Roxanne has since proven a loyal ally, standing by Agila, now tagged as fugitives, as they fight to reclaim the Palace from a terror group.
“My character is still alive, the show is still alive. We’ve been extended and extended and extended,” Magdayao told ABS-CBN News.
“It’s all because of the support of our Kapamilya, and our Kapatid, at ‘yung mga nanonood online. Who would have thought, that in the middle of the pandemic, magiging very successful pa ang ‘Probinsyano.’ I’m very, very grateful,” she said.
The series, which had been the consistent No. 1 TV show in the Philippines since its 2015 debut, migrated fully to digital in July 2020, after a congressional panel voted to reject the ABS-CBN’s bid for a fresh broadcast franchise.
Cardo would go on to mark numerous milestones in terms of concurrent viewership online — or those watching its live stream at the same time — from some 50,000 for its digital debut, to over 150,000 on YouTube alone in June 2021.
“Maski kami nagulat,” Magdayao said of the program’s recent record-breaking streak on Kapamilya Online Live.
Aside from the free livestreaming service of ABS-CBN on YouTube and Facebook, “Ang Probinsyano” is accessible via Kapamilya Channel, A2Z Channel 11, TV5, CineMo, iWant TFC, TFC, WeTV, and iflix.
That “Ang Probinsyano” has been extended numerous times, and is approaching its sixth year on air in September, are not only a testament to its enduring popularity — but also the “culture” behind the cameras that has allowed to program to push on despite crises.
“I’m part of a good culture. Our show was the very first show to resume working. We were called the frontliners pa nga noong una,” Magdayao said of the new-normal restrictions of filming amid the prevailing pandemic.
“‘Yung drive namin was, if hindi kami mag-so-show up, paano ‘yung mga katrabaho namin magkakaroon ng trabaho? Our crew, our staff? Right now, it’s more than just being an actress. It’s more than just having a show. It’s actually functioning as a unit. We function as a family,” she explained.
Fittingly, the series’ constant themes of family and faith, Magdayao pointed out, have been reflected in the team’s own journey of grappling with both the pandemic and ABS-CBN’s transition.
“Until now, I guess that’s why nai-extend nang nai-extend, because that’s our drive now. That’s our motivation now, more than ever. It’s not self-serving, kumbaga. Team effort siya talaga,” she said.
Magdayao also credited the leaders of ABS-CBN, specifically mentioning president and CEO Carlo Katigbak and broadcast head Cory Vidanes, for being “courageous” despite uncertainties.
“Sila talaga ‘yung perfect example of survivors who thrive. They just don’t survive, they’re thriving. When you look up to them and observe kung ano ang ginagawa nila, they are not doing this for themselves. They’re actually doing this for the network and for the employees,” she said.
Admittedly, Magdayao, who has been a Kapamilya for over 25 years, only recently understood the deeper meaning of the term, after the events of the past year.
“It’s family, more than ever,” she said, when asked what ABS-CBN means to her now. “The term Kapamilya never really set in until the last year.”
“It’s true, whenever you face challenges, whenever your faith is tested, that’s when you see who your true Kapamilya are.”