MANILA — For Bro. Eddie Villanueva, the formation of A2Z Channel 11 was “authored” by God, to help the Kapamilya network continue its mission of being in the service of Filipinos.
Villanueva is the owner of Zoe Broadcasting Network, which was rebranded as A2Z to reflect its blocktime agreement with ABS-CBN that allowed some of its programs back on free television.
The deal came five months after ABS-CBN was forced off the air due to the expiration of its broadcast franchise and the subsequent denial of its franchise application by the Duterte administration.
Villanueva spoke for the first time on-camera about A2Z, during the pilot episode of “Dear Charo” on the livestreaming app Kumu, where he was interviewed by former ABS-CBN president Charo Santos on Monday night.
Santos co-hosts “Dear Charo” with Robert Labayen, creative communications head of ABS-CBN.
Villanueva, who joined the stream halfway through the episode, greeted Santos on the occasion of her birthday, calling the screen veteran and showbiz pillar “an institution in our country.”
“Sa narinig kong usapan ninyo, hindi ako nagtataka ng binigyan kayo ng Diyos ng significant success in your profession, dahil nandoon sa inyong pagkatao ang kababaang loob,” the Jesus is Lord Church founder told Santos and Labayen, referring to an earlier topic touching on their respective careers, along with another guest, actress Kim Chiu.
Santos thanked Villanueva for partnering with ABS-CBN.
“Siyempre gusto ko pong makapagpasalamat nang personal sa inyo na winelcome niyo sa inyong tahanan ang ilan sa mga Kapamilya shows. Thank you very much po, Bro. Eddie, for welcoming the Kapamilya shows on your station,” she said.
The popular evangelist responded that God is to thank, not him, for A2Z.
“Sa Diyos po tayo magpasalamat, sapagkat lahat po ng iyan ay inakda ng ating Panginoon na nagmamahal sa inyong lahat,” Villanueva said.
In another portion of the interview, Villanueva credited the ABS-CBN executives and other media professionals for helping uplift the spirits of Filipino viewers amid the coronavirus pandemic, through their service and entertainment.
“Ako’y natutuwa sa mga tulad niyo, Charo and Robert, na binibigyan niyo ng kasiyahan ang milyon-milyon nating kababayan in the midst of a pandemic,” he said.
“Maraming depressed, maraming naka-lockdown sa kani-kanilang bahay. Iba’t ibang klaseng krisis, pero your profession, I would say, is one of the good professions that is blessing people, [by] giving joy to them. Iyon ang paniniwala ko.”
Santos, the long-time host of the iconic “Maalaala Mo Kaya,” mentioned to Villanueva that some live comments were suggesting that his life be featured in the drama anthology.
The suggestions came after Villanueva shared his personal journey, recalling a “dark” time when he denied and even sought to disprove the existence of God, until his turning point of becoming a faithful who would establish a church.
“Wala pong problema doon,” he said, before sharing his hopes of what a possible dramatization of his life would achieve.
He recounted a time when he got successive offers for his life story to be depicted on the big screen. “Pero gagamitin sa pulitika. Hindi ako pumayag. Sabi ko, ‘Sorry, gusto ko lang sa buhay ko ay mapurihan ang Diyos na naawa sa akin.’”
Should “MMK” feature his story, Villanueva said, he would want it to center on God’s “mercy,” citing his experience of once being an atheist who was “allowed” time to reclaim his faith.
More than the rituals of religion, Villanueva emphasized, one’s “personal encounter” or relationship with God holds more value.
“Ako’y nabubuhay dahil sa Diyos. Kasunod ang bayan. Kung mahal mo ang Diyos, dapat mahal mo rin ang bayan mo, mahal mo rin ang kapwa mo… Ang akin pong kaligayahan ay ang lahat ng tao ay magbalik-loob sa Diyos,” he said.