What’s next for G Tongi


“Kababayan Today” to air farewell show on Friday, June 30

After 11 years of serving Los Angeles’ Filipino American community, daily talk show “Kababayan Today” will air its final show on Friday, June 30.

Starting Saturday, July 1, all Chinese, Filipino and Spanish programming on the multicultural independent television station KSCI (Channel 18) will be replaced with English infomercials due to a change in direction by the leaders at the station.

The decision to eliminate most foreign-language programming (some Korean programming will still air) has been seen a devastating blow to many ethnic communities, including the Filipino community, for whom LA-18 was a source of Philippine and U.S. news and entertainment.

Since 2006, “Kababayan Today” was a platform of representation for the Filipino-American community in the greater LA area. It currently is the only television program that features in-depth stories and interviews with a wide variety of Filipinos from all over the globe.
“Kababayan Today” is also the longest-running Filipino daily talk show outside of the Philippines.

Host and producer Giselle “G” Tongi — who took over the show in late 2014 — was one of the first to know that it was ending. Initially, she was overcome with confusion, but she decided that she wanted to somehow continue the show, despite the station’s change in direction.

“But after that initial reaction of ‘oh, no, what do we do now?’, I just wanted to be proactive about it and saw this as a challenge to reproduce the program because I know that there’s a need for it in the community,” Tongi told the Asian Journal on Monday, June 26.

Now, Tongi has plans to revamp “Kababayan Today” in a weekly format and is in talks with various platform providers. She has teamed up with the Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture (FilAm ARTS) and has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser (www.gofundme.com/KeepKababayanOnAir) to cover the initial fee for a year of broadcast.

“There are multiple platforms for syndication, and now it just comes down to being an entrepreneur about it and that’s something I feel like I’m ready to do at this stage in my life, and that’s so exciting,” Tongi said, adding that the weekly incarnation of the show is slated to air in September.

A platform for Fil-Am representation and discussion
Hosting and producing a daily talk show lends itself to tackling a variety of issues. In addition to highlighting local artists and business owners in the LA Fil-Am community, Tongi said her favorite moments were the panels she hosted over the last three years.

Every month, the show would focus on a theme or a topical issue such as race, immigration, gender, health care and others. Tongi would then invite a wide variety of experts in the community to share diverse perspectives on the issues and challenge traditional points of view with progressive ones.

She also addressed the importance of the show to the Fil-Am community. Her mission was to “bridge the gap” between older generations of Filipinos to the contemporary Fil-Ams as well as between those living in the United States and Filipinos in the Philippines.

“I always want to advocate for Filipino Americans because it’s a tough space to be in because you’re in the middle of the pathway between these two cultures and understanding your place in this world,” Tongi remarked. “I felt if there was anything that ‘Kababayan Today’ provided was that space to recognize who we are, not just in media but in society, discussion and generations because Filipino Americans have different sensibilities according to their generation.”

The final episode of “Kababayan Today” will air on Friday on Channel 18 at 4:30 p.m.

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