9 on the 9th: Nine Reasons Why UNTV is Inspiring Change and Building Better Communities

News, Events and Second Glances

Just one year shy of a decade, UNTV 37 has successfully redefined Philippine public service – and is continuing to do so on a daily basis. In a short span of time, a television network has become something more than just a mere media presence. It has become something that the country desperately needed – a real, no-nonsense public service machine like no other.

In celebration of its nine years of Inspiring Change and Building Better Communities on the air and in the lives of Filipinos, we count down nine of the reasons why UNTV stays true to being the Philippines’ undisputed public service network.

 No. 9 – Real Infotainment Minus the Ugh

What needs to change: Shows that showcase the short, the skimpy and the skintight with not much substance.

UNTV’s Answer: UNTV is dedicated to making sure that its programming are not only enjoyable but are informative and wholesome.


No. 8 – Kid-Friendly Programming

What needs to change:  Cartoons are rampant, but there aren’t enough shows  on TV that are actually centered on rearing good, God-fearing children.

UNTV’s Answer: Good programming that will inevitably help kids grow up to become smart, goodhearted and conscientious adults. Just like what yesterday dreamt of. Did we mention that UNTV is the recipient of 13 Anak TV awards? 

No. 7 – An Entrepreneurial Hand at Hard Times

What needs to change: The notion that being your own boss is tedious and that starting your own business is hard.

UNTV’s Answer: Shows that serve as easy walkthroughs to small and big-scale businesses, sharing need-to-know secrets of the trade while entertaining audiences both young and old.

No. 6 – Get Fit In and Out

What needs to change: A lack of television programs that will encourage the maintenance of healthy bodies from the inside and out.

UNTV’s Answer: Shows that will inspire us to keep being fit so we could utilize our strength and abilities for the greater good.

No.  5 – Get Inspired with Real Life Stories in the Real World

What needs to change: More learnings about important national issues, inspirational stories of hardworking folks who made it to the top of their fields and heartwarming stories of goodwill shared with people who need it most. Less of shows that brandish mostly cloying rumors and exploit the poor under the guise of helping them.

UNTV’s Answer: UNTV’s roster of public affairs programs are intent on informing and inspiring the public. The more the public’s hearts are touched with truthful and heartfelt stories, the more they are aware of what realities others face. This will hopefully create more people who would be standing up on the side of justice.

No. 4 – Journalism with a Heart

What needs to change: The notion that helping others has to take a back seat to news reporting and that a news item is a bigger deal than the lives of others.

UNTV’s Answer: Training media men and women to become certified lifesavers so that they can put public service first, reporting later with Tulong Muna Bago Balita.

No. 3 – Unique Public Service

 What needs to change: Public service for ratings’ sake.

UNTV’s Answer: The many public service deeds on and off the camera. Aside from these programs…

It is at the UNTV station where the Clinic ni Kuya and Law Center ni Kuya are. In partnership with the Members Church of God International and Kamanggagawa Foundation, UNTV supports the first free Transient Home, which also offers free food and social services. Not to mention the free rides, livelihood grants to indigents, free education and other services for the benefit of the public.

No. 2 – Kuya Daniel Razon

What needs to change: Broadcasters who don’t walk their talk.

UNTV’s Answer: Kuya Daniel Razon is the driving force behind the many unique and fruitful public service efforts of UNTV. The strong and confident figure behind “Get It Straight with Daniel Razon,” Kuya Daniel gets to the bottom of important issues by asking the questions everyone is afraid to ask. Kuya Daniel is a broadcast journalist who is most comfortable when he is on the streets, seeing the plight of the masses.  With all of the public service projects he has created and is still creating, no one deserves the title “Mr. Public Service” more.

 No. 1. – Bro. Eliseo Soriano

What needs to change? Religious shows that do not focus on what’s important — Christ’s teachings written on the Bible.

UNTV’s Answer: Bro. Eliseo Soriano or Bro. Eli for short is not only the international preacher who is tirelessly sharing God’s words to six of the seven continents, he is also the big heart behind this public service network, being the primary champion and supporter of all the public service endeavors of UNTV and beyond. His award-winning religious program “Ang Dating Daan” or “The Old Path” is being broadcasted via radio, television, satellite, and the Internet. What sets Bro. Eli’s religious programs from the rest is its truthful, Bible-based format: anyone can ask any spiritual question and it is guaranteed a biblical answer. Spirituality at its finest, just what our country needs — and UNTV is home to this longest-running religious program in Philippine broadcasting history.

Cheers to UNTV 37 on nine great years of making a difference on Philippine broadcasting and most especially, in the lives of countless Filipinos.

With the number of unique public service efforts that continue to inspire change and build better communities, I can honestly say that there is no other network like UNTV on the face of the planet.

One More Reason to Heart This Place: Finding Apalit in New York – Day 2

News, Events and Second Glances

It’s safe to say that if there’s one place in the world I so terribly miss, it’s the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.

Believers from the Add Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga wake up to a special day -- Day 2 of MCGI's International Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Rovic Balunsay, PVI

Believers from the Add Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga wake up to a special day — Day 2 of MCGI’s International Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Rovic Balunsay, PVI

Every so often, I would regale myself with memories of ADD Con – traveling by bus very early in the morning from Baclaran to get to Apalit, smelling the freshly cooked arroz caldo and champorado from nearby vendors, walking the aisles of the convention center to find the perfect seat, singing at the wide stage with the rest of the brethren, the jamming sessions after the international thanksgiving celebrations.

And of course, the people I share those memories with.

By fate, it seems, I’ve found myself living in America. And though I am thousands of miles away from that special place in Apalit, somehow, I have stumbled upon Apalit here in New York. This is a realization that came to me during the second day of the Members Church of God International’s (MCGI) International Thanksgiving to God celebration.

To get to Apalit before 7 a.m., I used to have to make it to Baclaran at around 4:30 a.m. with my family and friends. Here in NY for the second day of the ITG, I travel with friends from New York, Connecticut and Canada to our ITG venue a little over four in the afternoon.

On our way to the ITG venue!

On our way to the ITG venue!

Arriving early at Apalit years ago, I always see choir members practicing before the congregational singing commences. In NY, choir members do the same, making sure that they perform their best because God deserves the best — a bit of wisdom we have learned from our preachers Bro. Eliseo Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon.

Choir members practicing their opening song number in NYC. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Choir members practicing their opening song number in NYC. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

The beautiful and colorful presentation of choir members and the Teatro Kristiano never failed to astound me as I sat in one of the ADD Con’s white monobloc chairs. I may be sitting on a different kind of chair in NY, but the feeling upon watching these talented individuals remains the same.

Starting day two with music. East Coast USA & Canada Choir members together with the Teatro Kristiano on MCGI's International Thanksgiving to God on July 5, 2013. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Starting day two with music. East Coast USA & Canada Choir members together with the Teatro Kristiano on MCGI’s International Thanksgiving to God on July 5, 2013. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

With the bountiful wisdom being unfolded with each topic delivered by Bro. Eliseo Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon, rejoicing is inevitable. I have experienced it seemingly endless times in Apalit, and I, together with the believers in America, feel it still, even from afar; simply thankful to God for His wisdom and kindness.

Rejoicing in New York for the many biblical knowledge learned. Photo courtesy of Members Church of God International official Facebook fan page.

Rejoicing in New York for the many biblical knowledge learned. Photo courtesy of Members Church of God International official Facebook fan page.

And the same way as it when I was in Apalit, I am blessed to enjoy hearing such biblical brilliance with God-given friends.

Time will come, in His will, that I will get to walk in ADD Con’s aisles once more and sing, listen, and praise with the rest of the brethren in Apalit. But for now, I am truly grateful for having found a version of Apalit right here in NYC.

Time flies when you’re learning spiritual wisdom! Day 3, up next, God willing!

Why offering thanksgiving to God is the best way to end a busy week

News, Events and Second Glances
The New York band gets ready to play "Ama Salamat," which translates to "Thank You Father" during one International Thanksgiving to God celebration. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

The New York band gets ready to play “Ama Salamat,” which translates to “Thank You Father” during one International Thanksgiving to God celebration. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

After a week of memorizing several book pages’ worth of information to ace that one test and raise your GPA, traveling from one job to the next, going through seemingly endless traffic on your commute home, running your weekly 5K, running numerous miscellaneous errands for the family, a person is entitled to feel, what’s the word, exhausted. Some would spend the weekend at the beach when the season permits it, the mall, the park, or even just going on a movie marathon at home in their respective lazy clothes with chips and sodas handy. But for a group of believers scattered all over the world, the weekends are reserved for one worthwhile activity no matter how hectic their week was. They wisely cap the week off by offering thanksgiving to God.

You might be familiar with this group of believers. If you’re on Facebook and have them as one of your friends, you might see their peculiar updates that are quite unlike the usual posts you see on your newsfeed. While Facebook sadly serves as the go-to venue for people to hate on others and spread rumors, you’d see these peculiar people sharing thanksgiving quotes to God, both inspirational Bible verses and inspirational Bible quotes, and even partner these up with articles and blogs that brandish their desire to spread spiritual joy to their Facebook pals. Majority of the peculiar ones who live in the Philippines go on a weekly pilgrimage to Apalit, Pampanga, while those who live in other nations go to their respective locale chapters – all of them giddy to offer thanksgiving to God.

Choir members of the Church of God International in New York sing a lively song of praise to God. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Choir members of the Church of God International in New York sing a lively song of praise to God. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Despite a tiresome and hectic week, these people choose to sing songs of praise to the Almighty One: to express their heartfelt gratitude to God in song. For a week’s worth of deliverance, for His loving-kindness, for new duties entrusted upon them, for His unspeakable gift, for everything – even things that caused them sadness and pain, these peculiar people choose to offer thanksgiving to God over doing anything else.  They are well taught to put God first, among all things.


Bro. Eliseo Soriano, the Presiding Minister to these peculiar folks is never lacking when it comes to explaining the beauty behind offering thanksgiving to God. In his blog entitled Forever Offering Thanksgiving, Bro. Eli shares with his readers the things that he is forever indebted to God for:

“I am a grateful creation of my Creator, and I will forever be, with His help.  I have unspeakable reasons to be thankful to Him.  My being, my strength (and weaknesses), my wisdom (and ignorance), my abilities (and inabilities), everything I posses bespeaks of His power, loving-kindness, compassion, and grace that calls for praise and thanksgiving.” – Bro. Eliseo Soriano

 And he has taught the peculiar people to do the same – to give thanks unto God for everything in their lives.

 And so while the rest of the population relax or party the weekend away after a long and busy week, these people choose to pay respect and gratitude to the One who gave them permission to start and end the week in the first place, thanking God for the week that passed, and if it is His will, for the weeks to come.


The Bare-naked Truth on Self-Expression

News, Events and Second Glances


Pointing out that I’m nowhere near being a fashion guru is important at this stage of the blog, since I consider you, the very patient reader, to be my friend by now.

So my dear friend from the Interwebs, let me just get this out of the way: I do not know “what’s hot and what’s not”. I do not know what kind of dress that Twilight or Hunger Games person will be wearing to the Oscars. Don’t even get me started on couture, because I’m as confused as you are.

However, I took a short sabbatical from reading Halo – Fall of Reach because I do have something to say about dressing up.  And it is my sincerest hope that even with my non-existent credentials as a fashion authority, you’ll find it in your heart to give this a few scrolls down.

Clothes are necessary. For the majority of the human population who don’t live in nudist camps, clothes act as our washable (yes, do wash them from time to time) armor. They hide our curves and unmentionables, or lack thereof. They shield our bodies from freezing temperatures; they help us stay cool on warmer weathers. They also, as considered by some as its primary function, help us express our oh-so-vibrant personalities.

With our feathered hats and zebra-print knee-highs, most of us walk around our school halls and office corridors because we are free to do so wearing whatever we choose to wear.  We are given that right.

Here in America, that right is the First Amendment – the freedom of speech or freedom of expression. It is because of this piece that John Tinker, together with his friends, won a case against the Des Moines Independent Community School District.

Here’s how things went down (it’s short, I promise):

In 1965, high school student John Tinker together with his friends Mary Beth and Christopher decided to express their disapproval of the war in Vietnam by wearing black armbands to school.

Because the school did not allow this, they were suspended until they agreed to return to school without the armbands. They came back after New Year’s, which was when their protest was scheduled to end.

They lost in the in the District Court, but the case was tried in the Court of Appeals in 1968. Tinker and his friends won.  (That was short, as promised. The long one’s here, if you’d like to take a glance at it.)

In today’s world, the freedom of expression has gone from protesting against the war, to protesting for fashion.  Let’s consider this plea from Minnetonka High School principal Dave Adney, in an email he wrote published on the Star Tribune:

Hello Parents of Minnetonka High School students,

This is Dave Adney with an update on high school fashion trends and a request.

As the weather gets colder we have noticed a fashion trend with our young women. Many of them choose to wear leggings usually made of spandex or another form of tight fitting material. In past years this has not been a major problem since fashion norms called for a long sweatshirt, jersey or sweater to be worn in conjunction with the leggings. This fall another pattern has emerged and we are requesting parent support.

Some of our girls have chosen to wear t-shirts with the leggings, thus exposing more leg and backside area. This can be highly distracting for other students and I am asking your assistance. If your daughters choose to wear leggings or other tight fitting clothing please support our goal of keeping things covered up. We encourage students to dress modestly and this trend is definitely a move away from our general expectations.


Dave Adney

And disagreeing parties, in student form, rose to the surface. In an article written in the Huffington Post about this principal’s request for his students to cover up a bit, one female student said “If a girl feels comfortable in what they are wearing, then it should be accepted and not prohibited.”

The principal said that they wouldn’t ban leggings altogether, because they are comfortable and they do need it for colder weather. But his small request: wear something longer to hide what needs to be hidden.

It’s the same issue with a different facade: these young girls demand that they be given the right to express themselves, for it is their right, and they want to exercise that right. They want to wear leggings with shirts, which means exposing their behinds and whatever else would be seen, they feel that they should be allowed to do so – it is who they are, they feel. Would the school be robbing them of their right to express themselves if they ask that they wore something longer atop their spandex leggings?

In line with this, I think that the root of the issue is not freedom of expression per se. I am for freedom of expression, especially for religion. I think expressing ourselves is vital. So before we do some serious bouts of expression, we must first turn the attention on ourselves. The real issue lies on who we are. Who are we? And why must the world know who we are?

I believe that before we concern ourselves with what’s outside, we must learn to take a look at what’s inside. Strip away what’s on the surface and look at the bare-naked truth of what’s inside our very beings.  It won’t hurt, I promise.

Ask yourself a few questions. What do I believe in? What do I value? What am I about? What moves me? What motivates me? Why do I feel the way I do? What do I really know about myself?

We all have different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs that mold us into who we are. We have things that we hold dear in our hearts and keep track of in our minds constantly. These dictate who we are. If we believe that who we are is worth showing to the world, then it is our obligation to do just that. At this point in time, the world needs all the inspiration and awareness it can get.

In this video entitled What is the duty of a preacher of God in instilling God’s words to people, Bro. Eli Soriano talks about developing a deep love for God which opens people’s spiritual awareness. He mentioned that this is not present in everyone. And we can testify to this fact. Not everyone has developed spiritual awareness. We see it everyday – in the news, on our streets, and maybe even when we face the mirror.

So what do we do? What do we show the world?

I think that people, especially the youth, who decide to show the world that there is much more to their fresh faces than just fads and the next big boy band sensation from wherever are commendable. Instead of showing their skin, they show a part of themselves that has the potential to change the world – love. They are ready to show the world that charity is easy, with the help of God. That forbearance is a virtue. That being modest is to be brave.  That rights come with responsibilities. That dressing to impress others is nothing when compared to dressing to impress the One who matters.

In the Bible, Christians, or the followers of Christ, are ordained to be meek and modest in clothing. And I must say that to choose to be simple in the time of a very fashion-driven world is quite a statement to make. While the whole world busies itself with trends, Christians make a mark by wearing simple clothes. But on the inside, their hearts are heavily armored with God’s words, ready to fire wisdom at will, for any given situation. For these folks, Christ is the trendsetter, and His words are to be followed at all times. They find comfort in doing His will, which goes beyond the physical comfort the most expensive spandex money can buy will ever give.

So, whoever you are, are you bold enough to show everyone that you are more than what the eyes could see?