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ABS-CBN Employees Share How the Franchise Denial Affected Their Lives

Three of the 11,071 ABS-CBN employees recall the moment they heard about the Congress' decision, what they plan to do, and why they will always be Kapamilya.  

On July 10, when members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Legislative Franchises denied the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN by a vote of 70-11, it not only brought the influential 65-year-old broadcast giant to a close, it affected the lives of over 11,000 employees and their families.

Five days later, ABS-CBN announced the painful decision to make massive lay-offs of its personnel. For many of these retrenched employees, the end of August signals their final day at work. (Read: Celebrities Express Concern for ABS-CBN Workers Set to Lose Jobs)

As employees and supporters of the media outlet continue to stage noise barrages and volunteers lay out plans for a people’s initiative, three of the thousands of employees affected by Congress’ fateful vote recall the moment they heard the news, what they plan to do, and why they will always be Kapamilya.  

Malou Canzana, Character Actress

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Malou has appeared in numerous ABS-CBN teleseryes for the past 12 years. (Photo courtesy of subject)

What was your initial reaction about the ABS-CBN shutdown? 

I had a lot of questions. What will happen to us? Will we still have jobs? Will I be able to get my talent fee? I play small roles in different series so I rely on the calls of the production team for my taping schedules. Before the lockdown, I was a board member in Love Thy Woman and a lawyer in Sandugo. (Read: It’s Showtime, Other ABS-CBN Shows to Return on Cable and Satellite TV)

In terms of work, what are your plans? 

I would love to go back to taping again, but it’s hard because of the pandemic. If I go to work, they will lock us in the location from 5-7 days to a month, depending on the script or role assigned to you. (Read: How Are Safety Protocols Observed in Production Shoots?)

The thing is I’m not sure if they will pay us for the whole time that we’re there or just pay us when we work on camera.  I am also concerned about the welfare of my children and dog if I’m gone for too long. So I don’t know what the future will bring for me and my kids.

To earn, I drive friends if they need a ride. Currently, I am learning how to bake goodies that I can sell online and lash lifting as one of the services in my friend’s salon. I do occasional makeup services. (Read: A Millennial’s Tip on How to Start an Online Business Amid Pandemic)

What have you become because of working for ABS-CBN? 

I became confident working with popular actors. I learned how to appreciate our craft and take it seriously. Kaya kahit puyatan ‘yung trabaho, uuwi ka pa rin na naka-smile because you enjoy what you’re doing.  

Athena Lucina P. Fregillana, Creative Team Lead of ide8

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Athena Fregillana has been with ABS-CBN for 11 years as a regular employee and 6 years as a retainer. (Photo courtesy of subject)

Please tell us how you found out about Congress’ decision not to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise. 

I was in an online meeting with a client. As soon as we finished the client call, my teammates and I talked about it. All employees were invited to a townhall meeting with management then a Holy Mass. 

A week later, our boss announced that our team would be dissolved. I didn’t expect the news to be that painful, not only because we lost our jobs but because we weren’t physically able to comfort each other. We also would no longer be able to see each other, and we were so looking forward to it once we resumed new normal operations. 

In terms of work, what are your plans? 

This pandemic, I rekindled my love for baking. Right now, I have a two-month-old online cookie business called Happy Tins. I also plan to look for small raket, part-time online jobs, or work-from-home setups. (Read: Laid-Off Chefs Team up to Start Online Food Business Amid Pandemic)

What have you become because of working for ABS-CBN? 

My first job was as an editorial assistant in ABS-CBN Publishing, Inc. (API). It was great to experience editorial work—the best! I also met so many talented editors, writers, photographers, and creative people, colleagues who became close friends that I continue to communicate with and see. 

I then transferred to the Creatives Department of API on retainer. It’s a different path but my editorial background helped me with creative pitches, producing photo shoots, etc. Production work is no joke. There’s also so much energy and team spirit—walang iwanan kahit 4 am na and you still have to finish tasks that same day. 

With ABS-CBN, I learned the true meaning of being a Kapamilya in the workforce. I learned the value of hard work, compassion, and meritocracy. I met a lot of good friends and mentors. Although we cannot continue working as one team, as one family under ABS-CBN, the family spirit doesn’t end. Right now we’re trying to help each other with job opportunities. The culture of being a family—iba talaga

Nicole Villavecer, Segment Producer/Writer

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Nicole in a February 21 protest outside ABS-CBN headquarters, urging Congress to renew the network’s franchise. He has been with ABS-CBN for 4 years and 4 months now. (Photo courtesy of subject)

What was your initial reaction about the ABS-CBN shutdown? 

Of course, I was hurt and saddened by the news. Although I expected the worst, it hit me differently when the news confirmed the network’s fate. The denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise meant most of us are going to lose our jobs, and the thought of it only made me angry and frustrated. (Read: CBCP decries ABS-CBN shutdown, says Filipinos need reliable news sources)

Outside the headquarters, employees were crying, some were still in disbelief. At first, there was silence in the air, but the crowd grew from silent to defiant. I could see in the eyes of my colleagues that they were confused and hurt. And that time, there was no one I’d rather be with than them—my officemates whom I consider my family. 

In terms of work, what are your plans? 

I started sending my resume to some companies. But honestly, I am still not in the right state of mind to jump ship. I am still in the process of grieving, but I have to face the reality that I am one of the 11,071 employees of the network who might get retrenched. I need to think of a plan B. (Read: Chemical Engineers Start Online Baking Business Amid Pandemic)

I understand that some media companies are also affected by the pandemic, so it’s going to be difficult to find a new job at this time. I’m also considering transferring to other industries such as advertising, PR, or corporate, but if given the chance, I still would like to stay in media.

What have you become from your years of working in ABS-CBN?   

I started as a researcher in ABS-CBN. Before joining the network, I was a shy boy from Negros Occidental who could barely speak in straight Filipino. But my job pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. I met a lot of people from all walks of life. I’ve been to a lot of places just to pursue my stories. It was never an easy journey, but my experiences taught me to be tough despite the pressure of deadlines because what we do in ABS-CBN is beyond us. We are here to serve the Filipino.

Over time, I gained confidence and little by little, learned the different workarounds in the broadcasting industry until I was promoted to writer and producer.

ABS-CBN has taught me to strive for excellence and integrity, no matter what story I write or produce. I also take pride and honor in working with some of the best journalists in the industry, and to be mentored by them is an opportunity that I will be thankful for forever.

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