MANILA — Donny Pangilinan and Belle Mariano, the breakout stars of the ABS-CBN series “He’s Into Her,” are hopeful for their home network’s return to free television.
The well-loved tandem spoke on the topic Monday, during a virtual press conference leading up to the finale of “He’s Into Her” this weekend.
During the livestreamed event, the hashtag #IbalikAngABSCBN ranked among the top trends on Twitter, the result of a fan-driven campaign coinciding with the final State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte, under whose administration ABS-CBN was denied its broadcast franchise.
Asked to react to the social media campaign, Pangilinan and Mariano both waxed optimistic about ABS-CBN reclaiming its free-TV and radio frequencies.
“When I found out na nawala ang ABS-CBN, I felt sad at natakot ako,” Mariano recalled. “I don’t think that just applies to me. I think that applies with everyone.”
“Natakot ako, what if hindi matuloy ang ‘He’s Into Her’? What if hindi matuloy ang mga nakalatag na projects?”
The series was first announced in November 2019, half a year before ABS-CBN was forced off air when its franchise renewal application was left to expire in the House of Representatives in May.
The network’s flagship platform, Channel 2, as well as its radio broadcast, were then shuttered for good in July 2020, when a congressional panel voted to kill ABS-CBN’s franchise.
“It felt like a bad dream, the day that it happened,” Pangilinan said of the crisis that cost thousands of jobs, compounding the impacts of a raging pandemic.
“I’m still hopeful,” Mariano said. “Kapamilya tayo, we’re here. We’re all hoping. We’re all together, just hoping and waiting na maibalik ang ABS-CBN.”
Pangilinan agreed: “We always remain hopeful. We are a family, we’re supportive of one another, we are there for each other.
“I believe — babalik. I’m remaining positive and hopeful.”
In the year that followed its shutdown, ABS-CBN sought new platforms to continue serving Filipinos. Notably, it has forged blocktime partnerships to bring back its programs to free television, and inked deals to distribute content to a wider audience, through various streaming services.
ABS-CBN also bolstered its own iWantTFC with technical updates and original offerings, aside from housing the network’s past and current titles; and has made its programming more accessible online through Kapamilya Online Live, which live-streams daily via YouTube and Facebook.
The Star Cinema-produced “He’s Into Her,” for instance, has been accessible across several platforms: iWantTFC, for advanced screening and on-demand streaming; and Kapamilya Channel, A2Z, and Kapamilya Online Live for the regular airing of its episodes.
While ABS-CBN has indeed made strides in reaching more viewers, Pangilinan is still counting on the network regaining Channel 2.
“More people need to know what’s going on. A lot of people were stripped of their happiness, their everyday joy,” he said.
“I really hope na babalik tayo. And we’ll still remain strong, no matter what.”