‘Kababayan Today’ ends daily programming

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AFTER 40 years of servicing the local Asian community in Los Angeles, LA18’s local programming comes to an end.

I had been made aware of the changes that were going to take place at the station weeks before it was formally announced by my General Manager, Mr. Dennis Davis. Initially, I was devastated as this was the only platform to reach the Filipino-American community on terrestrial television where viewers have free access to content that addressed their Chinese, Korean or Filipino cultural sensibilities.

There are many factors involved when a local broadcaster has to make the switchover to digital. It involves a big investment in infrastructure that can really destabilize smaller media companies. With the recent broadcast auctions happening in the market, media conglomerates are quick to pick up smaller stations and integrate them into their portfolios, which causes minority programming to really take a hit. With the growing population of immigrant communities to the fabric of American society, local programming for minority communities is more relevant than ever. And yet it seems that we are regressing in this nation when we are unable to service all communities of color when it comes to proper representation.

Next week, the station goes dark and I will no longer see all my colleagues who dedicated their careers to serving their own communities. Walking the hallways in the office and seeing sullen faces has been bittersweet, as all endings are. This experience was a first for me in many ways professionally and I am grateful for the lessons learned. I am also choosing to personally see this time in my life as an opportunity for reflection and contemplation of the three years that have gone by and acknowledge the people that made these years memorable and enjoyable.

With the daily grind of content, saying that my job as host and producer of “Kababayan Today” was challenging is an understatement. I could have never survived without my LA18 family.  I had the opportunity to work with three associate producers that helped make this position more manageable and I am so grateful to Maureen Roque, Albert Bataclan and Nicanor Evangelista. The production crew always knew that I would have many guests to interview in a short amount of time and they truly allowed me to accomplish my long task lists of shows to knock out. Imagine producing a daily show with only five hours of studio time a week! The sales associates continuously coordinated with clients and hands down were the lifeline of the program.  Christine Penning, Larry Potter, Alan Buckman and Krizia Medenilla are to be thanked for all their hard work and contributions to the flourishing of “Kababayan Today.” Having people in the Fil-Am community who always trekked to West Los Angeles during rush hour mornings to make it to tapings made us a program of substance and relevance. I have become truly inspired by the work of people like Aqui Soriano of Pilipino Workers Center, Nikole Kababa of Bayan USA, Alex Montances of Filipino Migrant Center and countless community organizers who have so passionately dedicated their literal blood, sweat and tears to fight for and support our migrant communities. My regular co-host for the Asian Journal every Wednesday mornings,  Annie Nepomuceno, for bringing the news every week to people hungry to know about headlines pertaining to the Filipino community. Professor Brandon Reilly, who I have learned so much from who made his “Know History, Know Self,” such an empowering series of segments. Regular clients whom I now call my friends, Attorney Allison Aquino-Silva and Attorney Richard Loew, who shared so much of their expertise and knowledge over the LIVE airways, trying to give the most accurate kind of information possible when kababayans would call in immigration questions. Having to accurately time a live show until the exact second is not a piece of cake, but with them, it actually made it exciting, especially when we would celebrate with happy hour after!

To the sweetest Mia McLeod Mercado, who is expecting a ninja boy soon with rockstar hubby Len, I can’t wait for her to walk me through the process of owning a piece of America.

Managing this daily Fil-Am show at KSCI has been a very enriching and rewarding experience because of all the people who have been part of my amazing journey.

Next week, I am happy to share that the daily grind of production halts and I can finally catch my breath. Some family members are coming into town and we are throwing a “Kababayan Today” Farewell Feast as the reception for the proclamation the program is receiving from the City of Los Angeles, for its invaluable contribution to the Fil-Am community. Once again,  I will be amongst my community accepting this proclamation. Joel Jacinto, Commissioner of the Board of Public Works, who has served as a mentor to me together with FilAm Arts board member Winston Emano, will be speaking on the podium with me as we thank the city for recognizing all that “Kababayan Today” was and did.

I am grateful for the ride and can’t wait to share some updates on what’s next for the program. Maraming salamat to all our viewers who supported and watched our program!

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Giselle “G” Töngi is the host and producer of Kababayan Today, a daily talk show that features relevant topics for Filipinos living in America. Her aim is to bridge not only the cultural gap between America & the Philippines but to help with the generational gap between our own people. She is married with two children and is based in Southern California and makes frequent trips in the Pacific Rim to Hawaii and Manila to feature fellow kababayans who are empowering the FilAm community.



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