MANILA -- As thousands of ABS-CBN workers lose their jobs after August following Congress's denial of the network's broadcast franchise, many have been voicing out their call for ABS-CBN’s return both on social media and in the streets.
One employee has turned to music to express his support for this fight.
Michael Job Mondigo, 28, released the music video of his composition "Kapit-kamay (Kapamilyang May Puso)" on Monday, days after ABS-CBN announced it had to retrench employees and close down some of its businesses.
Mondigo, a post-production specialist at the Integrated Creative Communications Management (CCM) division for 2 years, was one of its over 150 personnel included in the retrenchment.
While saddened at losing his job, he said his song is a reminder of "walang iwanan" -- that ABS-CBN’s talents, employees, and supporters will get each other through this current crisis in the company's history.
"Mabigat kasi pangarap ko talagang magtrabaho sa ABS-CBN. Galing ako ng Palawan, sinikap ko na mapagtapos ko ng pag-aaral ang sarili ko para makarating ako dito sa Metro Manila at makapasok ako sa ABS-CBN," Mondigo said in an online video interview.
"It means a lot, kaya siguro naging ganoong kadali ang pagsulat ko ng kanta. 'Yon na lang ang maitutulong ko. Wala ka nang mabibigay na iba."
(It's heavy on my heart because it has been my dream to work at ABS-CBN. I came from Palawan, worked hard to provide for my studies and finish school to come to Metro Manila and get into ABS-CBN.
(It means a lot, which is probably why it was easy to write the song. It's the only thing I could do and give.)
Mondigo began writing the song before the Luzon-wide lockdown due to COVID-19 in March. At the time, ABS-CBN had been promised it would not be shut down when its franchise expired.
But he only finished and recorded it nearly 5 months later, on the week before the congressional vote that killed the franchise renewal.
Arranged by Rainer Malicdem with vocal production by Andrew Dizon, the song was performed by Mondigo together with family members, former ABS-CBN co-workers, and friends from the Palawan State University singers.
Mondigo was set to shoot and edit the music video when he learned that he was among those being let go.
He said he had to compose himself before recording his part.
"Sobrang naiiyak ako realizing the lyrics. 'Yun, mahirap. Akala ko hindi ko na mavi-video ang sarili ko kasi sobrang umiiyak ako," he said.
(I was moved to tears realizing the lyrics. It was hard. I thought I would not be able to take video of myself because I could not stop crying.)
MORE THAN JUST A JOB
Mondigo edits the trailers and promotional spots of ABS-CBN shows for CCM.
It has helped provide for his family in Palawan, particularly the medical needs of his father.
But more than enabling him as a breadwinner and creative worker, his workplace has also supported his passion to sing and make music.
He said his whole team gave him full support when he competed in singing contests in and out of ABS-CBN and even allowed him to balance his work with his contest preparation.
It is a sense of gratitude reflected in the composition.
Mondigo cites among his influences and inspiration for the song CCM boss Robert Labayen, the creative mind behind some of ABS-CBN's most memorable station IDs and advocacy songs.
For Mondigo, "Kapit-kamay" is his attempt to fulfill his dream of one day writing songs for ABS-CBN like his boss. It even includes musical nods to the network's 2019 Christmas theme "Family is forever."
HOPE TO RETURN
One of the song's strongest lines for Mondigo is the bridge, which reads:
"'Di hahayaang kalayaan ay maglaho / 'Di papayagan na pangarap ay gumuho / Aming tahanan, ipaglalaban / Para sa Pilipino, para sa bayan"
(We will not let freedom fade / We will not allow dreams to shatter / We will fight for our home / For the Filipino, for the nation)
Mondigo's experience at ABS-CBN is one of the reasons he will not relent in his support for the company despite his retrenchment.
"Sa mga nagtatanong bakit ko pa pinagtatanggol, bakit naman hindi? Wala na ako sa ABS-CBN, still in my heart masaya ako, kasi once upon a time naging Kapamilya ako and forever naman tayo magiging Kapamilya," he said.
(For those asking why I still defend it, why not? I may no longer be in ABS-CBN, but I am still happy in my heart because once upon a time I became a Kapamilya and we will forever be one.)
And looking forward to ABS-CBN’s eventual return on air, he said he, like many other employees, hope to return with it.
"Ang hirap ding maghanap ng company na sobrang mag-alala sa Kapamilya at sa pamilya ng mga empleyado. Parang walang ganoon.
"Sobrang 'yun ang hahanapin mo. Kaya if ever may chance na makabalik, talagang babalik po. 'Yun ang goal namin."
(It's difficult to find a company that deeply cares for its employees and their families. There seem to be no other. That's what you really want to find. That's why if ever there's a chance to come back, I will really do. That's our goal.)
For now, aside from his personal prayers, Mondigo hopes his song would help encourage and sustain his fellow employees fighting for what they consider home, whether from the inside or out.
It's also a thank-you note for ABS-CBN’s viewers and supporters who never let the network's side in the past months.
"Alam ko mabigat ang pinagdadaanan natin ngayon, so itong kantang sinulat ko, kahit papaano magbigay ng comfort at ipaalala sa atin kung gaano tayo minahal ng kompanya at ipaalala sa atin ang pangako natin na mahalin ang kompanya," he said.
"Kahit na anong mangyari -- kasama tayo sa matatanggal, maiwan man tayo -- sana hindi magbago ang suporta na pinapakita natin."
(I know we are going through grave circumstances, so I hope the song I wrote would somehow give comfort and remind us how much our company loved us and remind us of our own vow to love the company.
Whatever happens -- whether we go or stay -- may the support we show remain the same.)