Overseas Filipinos inspire ABS-CBN executives in recent trip to UAE

ABS-CBN executives touched by the stirring stories and warm welcome of Filipinos in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. 

“For nine years I have been here in UAE. Sometimes, I get homesick. However, whenever I watch an ABS-CBN show, I feel like I’m transported back to the Philippines.  Thank you.” – Rachel Bascal, Dubai-based overseas Filipina at the 2018 ABS-CBN Middle East Thanksgiving Dinner.

Initially driven by a goal to personally thank partners for decades of support to ABS-CBN in the Middle East, top executives of the largest Filipino-owned media and entertainment network found themselves instead at the receiving end of an overflowing display of gratitude from overseas Filipinos (OFs) in their recent visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

ABS-CBN Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carlo Katigbak and Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Broadcast Cory Vidanes, together with ABS-CBN Global COO Olivia de Jesus, were warmly welcomed recently with the trademark Filipino hospitality from private and public sector partners in UAE led by Philippine Vice Consul for UAE Von Ryan Pangwi, Vice Consul

Beth Ramos, and Vice President of the Diplomatic Ladies Group in Dubai Yasmin Cortes (also the spouse of Philippine Consul General in Dubai Paul Cortes and the Chairperson of the Filipino Ladies of Dubai) as well as from media, including Kabayan Weekly and The Filipino Times at the “2018 ABS-CBN Middle East Thanksgiving Dinner” held at the Manila Grill of the Asiana Hotel in Dubai.

Since 2000, ABS-CBN in the Middle East has been in the service of Filipinos overseas via multi-platform content, shared experiences and public service.  In 2017, with the help of these government, trade and media partners, TFC was able to reach out to their countrymen (kabayans) through community events such as the annual Pilipinas sa Saudi Arabia Hiligaynon International Association, Inc.’s “Filipino Community Day” in Al Khobar and the celebration of the Philippine Consulate General of the “OF Month” in Jeddah.  These multi-sectoral entities have also been key in bringing Filipino films and exclusive content such as the Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao bout to more audiences via mainstream theaters; and television, and in helping TFC carve out history for the Philippine entertainment industry via events such as “One Music X”.  At the event, these partners including UAE nationals expressed their continued support, further inspiring the executives and their teams to serve the community. 

Vidanes said: “Bringing our Kapamilya stars to them is our way of making them feel that they are important and special to us. We value our relationship with our OF Kapamilyas. We want to keep them connected to home and their families through our content and services respectively.” 

On day two, after the warm reception in Dubai, Katigbak, Vidanes, and de Jesus drew inspiration this time from about 24 OFs living in a tenant where TFC subscriber Jessie Balasi Intendencia was the main tenant.

During the visit, Intendencia and his co-residents at the villa displayed their hospitality as they opened their homes to the ABS-CBN executives and shared with them what little they can offer at that time: their humble homes, their lunchtime fare, and their stories to tell.  Their tales included personal accounts on how they rise above the challenges of living in a foreign land by keeping themselves anchored on Filipino traits such as that of resilience.

“I am very proud and happy to have met the President and CEO of a large network in the Philippines. It is a dream come true.  I feel the true sense of being a Kapamilya,” Intendencia shared.

For Katigbak, the honor was his. In an internal event just days after his trip to UAE, he relayed to employees: “Despite their difficult living condition, our team was warmly welcomed (by Intendencia and his tenants).”

He mused: “I was thinking - what kind of a company would be received that way?  We were their connection to home. We were there to give them hope and inspiration. This is the value of the work we do. We touch people emotionally and deeply.”

This year, ABS-CBN Middle East is set to bring more of these avenues to keep overseas Filipinos of all ages connected and inspired through meaningful content and experiences. One such content is a series that revolves around the lives of overseas Filipinos abroad. Being true to its mission of service, a public service program to exclusively address pressing concerns of overseas Filipinos shall also be developed by ABS-CBN Global, ABS-CBN’s international arm.

Citing Global Tawag ng Tanghalan sa “It's Showtime" regional finalist Al Angelo Bernal who performed at the thanksgiving dinner, Vidanes added: “We will also continue to discover Filipino talents all over the world, as we did for Gelo from Abu Dhabi. We have so many talented Filipinos worldwide and we believe in giving them the opportunity to shine and make their dreams come true.”

Vidanes also shared that their trip to UAE also opened more opportunities to engage with the OFs. She said: “Being able to visit the homes of our kabayans, inspired us to create a series on the lives of the OFs in EMEA. We plan to air the series in the region on our digital platform. Sharing their stories will provide hope and inspiration to their fellow OFs and their families.”

De Jesus added: “We noticed that there are a lot of young Filipinos here in the Middle East.  We are also coming up with products that are fit for their lifestyle such as digital content and live concerts. In November, we organized a music festival featuring Filipino artists known for various musical genres called ‘One Music X’ and the response was overwhelming. With the Filipino

world-class talent on center stage, we hope that beyond our kabayans, we can also grab the attention of the international audience.”

De Jesus ended: “We want to do this more regularly because this is our way of not just thanking you but also making sure that the partnership continues.  At the end of the day, we all have the same goal – to serve the Filipinos.”

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