MANILA -- One year after ABS-CBN lost its franchise and many employees ended up jobless, it is easy and even understandable to just get angry with what happened.
But not veteran entertainer Gary Valenciano, who expressed his fervent prayer for the network. “For ABS-CBN, it has always been my prayer that the employees will not become bitter because of what happened to it, but become better because of the lessons that were learned from it,” Valenciano told ABS-CBN News.
In the Sunday noontime musical show, “ASAP Natin ‘To,” Valenciano regularly enjoins his fellow artists to a prayer before they start performing. Sometimes, Ogie Alcasid takes turns with him.
“You can see they were moved and we are all going through some sort of battle, inside here and here [respectively pointing to his heart and mind], the playing field of the enemy,” Valenciano said. “It’s tough. But we have to remain faithful through and through.”
Valenciano was recently introduced as the first Filipino ambassador of the prayer app, Pray.com, that reaches out to 10 million Christians worldwide. He joins the likes of such distinguished artists and international celebrities as James Earl Jones and Michael W. Smith, among others.
Last May 6, Valenciano was invited to join the National Day of Prayer on livestream from the US, with President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence as guests of honor.
That was followed by his visit to the US last month to meet the people behind the Pray app in the West Coast.
Amid this pandemic, Valenciano opts to remain steadfast. “There will be other challenges that will surely come,” he said. “So I’m praying that I will always be someone that can inspire and encourage many.”
Valencian is aware that God will allow certain things to happen in our lives, even the pandemic. “It’s not meant to destroy us but to break us enough, so we can allow His hands to put us back together again,” he said.
“When we allow His hands to put us back together again, then He restores. And when He restores, He doesn’t restore back to the former. He restores beyond that.”
With all his endorsements in his four-decade career, Valenciano feels being the ambassador of Pray.com is the one that stirred his heart.
“I cannot say that prayers will be answered with a ‘yes,’ because some might get a ‘no’ and some of the answers might be ‘wait,’” Valenciano explained. “However, one thing I do know there is a kind of peace that God gives us and it surpasses all our understanding when we pray.
“That’s why it is so important to me that over and above every endorsement and every show I’ve done, this is really what matters. This [prayer] is what keeps people company when there are no shows and they are on their own.”
Despite his strong faith, he admittedly got anxious when he had a heart bypass and battled cancer three years ago.
“We’re relying on a perfect God and not on something that we’re holding on to or what’s promised to us, not in a job, not even in a person,” Valenciano said. “It’s in Christ who does things we couldn’t even imagine.
“I’m saying this not because it’s the time of the pandemic, but because it happened in my life. Before the pandemic, when I had the bypass and the cancer in my kidney, we went back for a check up to see if there was still anything there.
“Even if there should be, I’m still going to just pray and say, ‘You know Lord, Your hands and You know what You’re doing. You’re not done with me yet.’
“If I keep thinking about it, but He said, ‘Do not be anxious about anything.’ He knows that I will struggle and I won’t be perfect, but we’re relying on a perfect God, so that matters.”
As the first ambassador of Pray.com in the Philippines, Valenciano is a living, singing and dancing miracle who, throughout the 38 years in the entertainment industry, has constantly drawn his strength from God. He unabashedly directs his energy towards serving Him through music.
“When I first did this, I had to think of my children,” Valenciano said. “When they were all kids, I used to read Bible stories to them, whether they liked it or not. Now I have a grandchild, Leia. So she can also listen to me.
“When you pray, you are not just saying words. You are praying to the One who knows exactly the strands of hair you have on your head. When you pray, open up that avenue that only you and Him journey off together to combat those anxious moments in your life.”
Pray.com CEO and co-founder Steve Gatena cannot be thankful enough that Valenciano readily agreed to join the Christian app as its ambassador.
“Pray.com is so excited to come to the Philippines,” Gatena said. “It’s the digital destination of faith, where the world’s number app for daily prayer and faith-based audio content is available.
“For Pray.com, prayer is the priority. We believe in the power of prayer. We believe that prayer is the ultimate form of self-care.”
Gatena started Pray.com after the tragic loss of his friend and mentor who died in a plane crash outside Medellin, Colombia in 2015. “During that time of hardship in my life, I was struggling, but prayer got me through.
“Today, we all know of someone who’s struggling. We’re battering a global health pandemic. Millions of people are learning to deal with the loss of a loved ones. There are many people battering to overcome depression, conquer loneliness and struggling to support their spirit.
“To those of you experiencing these struggles, hear my voice. You can win the fight and you can harness the power of prayer. I encourage you to pray. I encourage you to remember that God is always with you. The Bible tells us that the grass withers, the flowers fade. The word of our God will stand forever.”
In 2020, Pray.com became the highest grossing religious app of all time.
“So we decided to pour back into our global community,” Gatena said. “Pray.com is doing that with Bible-based content created by some of the world’s biggest celebrities. We’re watching with some of the world’s biggest corporate partners.
“In the US, Pray.com was blessed with so much traction that we were fortunate enough to host the US President for Pray.com’s national day of prayer. During that event, Gary honored Pray.com by joining Americans in prayer live from the Philippines.
“It’s clear that God has blessed Gary with a miraculous voice that is full of love, hope and encouragement. Gary is an inspiration in the Philippines and in the US, as well. We are so excited to work with Gary.
"That was a dream-come-true and a catalyst for us to get international celebrities to join our What was surprising to me was his willingness to pray with us. It was just an incredible blessing to have Gary on Pray.com.”