An International Sentiment: Sofitel PH Receives Ire from UNTV’s Worldwide Supporters

News, Events and Second Glances

Sofitel, a hotel chain in the Philippines, is at the receiving end of a massive online barrage of sentiments for removing UNTV 37, the country’s public service network from it’s program listing.

And though this act of media discrimination happened solely in the Philippines, UNTV’s supporters all across the globe have tweeted their demand for Sofitel’s management to explain the reason behind them doing so.

They also demand a public apology for blatant media discrimination against the public service channel.

Without word from the Sofitel camp, UNTV’s supporters from the Philippines and abroad tweeted their sentiment and frustration to the hotel chain.

From Asia to Africa and points in between, supporters of the #BoycottSofitelPH,  #NotoSofitel and now #BoycottSofitelPHDay3 and #NotoSofitelDay3, respectively, have dominated the Twittersphere, trending for three days straight – since the campaign started.

Apparently, UNTV is the only local channel to have been intentionally removed by the hotel chain from its programming.

After days of trending on Twitter, Sofitel finally made its statement with regards to the removal of UNTV on their hotel chain’s program list. According to Sofitel’s statement on Twitter, which reads:

Bonjour! In line with the ongoing campaign to boycott Sofitel Manila, we would like to share with you all the official statement of the management: “We do not discriminate against any local or international broadcasting television channel. While we supply several television channels for our guests, the channels we air in the hotel are system-limited, and regularly changed based on several factors, including guest feedback and demand. We are happy to hear the public’s concerns, and will consider to re-instate the UNTV Channel if this is a request from our hotel guests”.

The statement did not bid well with the supporters, and was tagged as arrogant and illogical.  Instead of appeasing the public, Sofitel’s statement gained more of the people’s ire.

It’s not system limited, it’s “System-Manipulated”!  –

CENTENNIAL VISITORS. UNTV removed from SOFITEL remote controls. Bcz Bro Eli is there. U don’t like the truth?  – 

Don’t try to sugar-coat your lies.   – 

Why do some creatures underestimate people’s intelligence all the time? We don’t buy your crappy excuse!  – 

Sabi nga ni Macalintal, just admit that you’re wrong.. May excuses pa kayo eh. Illogical naman.  – 


Just keep tweeting! Ayaw pang magpakumbaba ng sa ginawa nilang panghahamak. Ma-ere kasi.   – 


As of writing time, the boycott against Sofitel Philippines is being continued as it stays on top of Twitter ranks since it started.

UNTV, which just recently celebrated its 10th year anniversary, is a public service network which has news and public service bureaus in several countries.

Something to be proud of: MCGI’s Hapi Christians Adopt Gays in Golden Years

News, Events and Second Glances

The month of June marks the celebration of LGBT Pride in the USA. Here in New York, a whole week of vibrant, rainbow-colored rallies, parties and dances were organized to show that they are happy and proud to be members of the LGBT community.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, a group of proud gay Christians show the world their unique brand of gay pride – by being gay men that the world can truly be proud of.

On June 18, 2014 in celebration of Philippine public service channel UNTV’s 10th year anniversary with the theme of “Caring for the Elderly,” MCGI’s Hapi Christians extended help to the Home for the Golden Gays – by giving them a new home, in Novaliches, Philippines.

Atty. Imelda Roque (L) and Brgy. Chairwoman Mila Uy (R) cut the ribbon to mark the relocation of The Home for the Golden Gays at Novaliches, Philippines. Rodel Lumiares, Photoville International 

Atty. Imelda Roque (L) and Brgy. Chairwoman Mila Uy (R) cut the ribbon to mark the relocation of The Home for the Golden Gays at Novaliches, Philippines. Rodel Lumiares, Photoville International

The Gift of Love for the Elderly Gay Community

“The Hapi Christians’ participation for UNTV’s 10th year anniversary is the establishment of the adoption house for the special elderly. We have chosen to welcome the golden gays into our home,” said Mr. Robi Lolin, PRO for the Hapi Christians.

“This is our way of showing our love, and this is under the guidance of our leaders, Bro. Eli and Kuya Daniel,” Lolin added, referring to MCGI leaders Bro. Eliseo Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon.


MCGI, UNTV and Hapi Christians gleefully welcome members of the Home for the Golden Gays to their new home. Rodel Lumiares, Photoville International

MCGI, UNTV and Hapi Christians gleefully welcome members of the Home for the Golden Gays to their new home. Rodel Lumiares, Photoville International

To make sure that the special elderly in the Home for the Golden Gays utilize their skills, talents and time, the Hapi Christians will also organize seminars and trainings for the elderly gays.

“Based on interviews that we conduct, we check what the elderly are still capable of doing, based on their age. We want them to be productive. Some of them have experience with being masseuses, and some of them know how to cut hair,” said Mr. Relin Gimena, Hapi Christians’ Business Manager.

“We are planning to organize ways on how to come up with services for them to generate income for themselves,” stated Gimena.

Mr. Ramon Busa, President of the Home for the Golden Gays, thanked the Hapi Christians organization for their help and support to the Golden Gays during the live telecast of the MOA signing at the UNTV building.

“We greatly thank the Hapi organization for their helping and welcoming the members of our organization,” remarked Mr. Busa.

“Yesterday, we were formally relocated and were welcomed by the Hapi organization in Barangay Talipapa. In fact, some of the members of the Home for the Golden Gays are already living there. Thank you very much,” stated Busa.

“We will not be able to carry on with this project if it weren’t for God’s help. It is through Him that we are able to do this,” replied Mr. Larry Espinosa, President of the Hapi Christians group.

“Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel [always] teach us that we must help those who are in need of it,” he added.

The Hapi Christians is the Christian gay community of the Members Church of God International, who are being taught to utilize their talents, skills and abilities for the glory of God. Read more about them here.




1] Pascual, P. (2014). A moment for the sunset beauty queens. Retrieved from:

2] UNTVKasangbahayMo. (2014, June 23). MOA Signing between BMPI, UNTV, Hapi Christians and Home for the Golden Gays. [Video file] Retrieved from:




A Sojourn to the South – MCGI’s International Thanksgiving in South America, 2014 (Part 1)

News, Events and Second Glances


The Genesis of an Exodus

Armed with a little bit of caffeine and a system-full of adrenaline plus a copious amount of excitement, we prepared to brave the skies with heavy bags – both in our hands and eyes.

We were part of the New York delegates of the International Thanksgiving to God celebration of the Members Church of God International (MCGI), and we traveled to South America for the first time to witness biblical history unfold.

The night before our journey had been hectic; with last-minute preparations, there had been no chance to lie down and rest. Not that we wanted to. In reality, we were too giddy to sleep, even after a full day’s worth of working.

Several hours later, I found ourselves sitting by the waiting area of our first flight’s designated gate. At 12 p.m., less than two hours before our flight, we joined the community prayer on UNTV 37’s Radio La Verdad via the network’s mobile app.

We joined the community prayer at 12 a.m. PHT via the UNTV radio app. Because we were taught to pray before each undertaking.

We joined the community prayer at 12 a.m. PHT via the UNTV radio app. The UNTV app is free to download on iTunes and the Play Store.

A sudden hush fell over every corner and crevice of the airport as the prayer started. At least it had for my friend Eunice and I.

In that moment, the small gap of time between wiping away warm tears from closed eyes and saying “amen” in my mind – I knew our journey had officially begun – because everything that has led to this blessed opportunity had started with a prayer.

And as I closed my eyes during take off, I thanked God silently. I lost track of how many times I’ve uttered my gratitude to Him who made this possible.

Because it is nothing short of a modern-day miracle: a relatively cash-strapped girl from New York traveled thousands of miles to be with her Ingkong once more.

Take off. Self-portrait. April 2014.

Anticipation, a self-portrait. New York, NY. April 2014. Pol Arellano, PVI NY


Bogota, Colombia

Our trip consisted of a 12-hour stay at Bogota, Colombia.

We arrived in the wee hours of the morning.

To pass the time, we walked around. Though on a strict budget, we were able to eat and even drink amazing Colombian coffee, because thankfully, prices in Colombia were not as steep as New York’s. We napped.

We ran out of things to do, and time went by slowly. Numerous times did we wish to speed it up a bit so we could get to our special destination faster.

Colombian coffee. Bogota, Colombia. April 2014.

Colombian coffee. Bogota, Colombia. April 2014. Pol Arellano, PVI NY


A bit over an hour before we left Colombia, we found a group of people who made us re-think our wishes about time even for just a few more minutes.

It was there that we met the Colombian delegates who were accompanied by Filipino Church workers. As fate would have it, we were sharing the same flight from Colombia to our final destination.

PVI_PArellano_2014 (19 of 586)

Our Colombian and Filipino brethren pre-departure. Bogota, Colombia. April 2014. Pol Arellano, PVI NY

They all greeted us with firm and friendly handshakes and warm hugs. In my excitement, I forgot that there was an issue of me not knowing enough Spanish to let them in on what I was feeling at that time.

I wanted to let them know how thrilled I was to see native Colombians – non-Filipinos, who are the fruits of God’s calling in that foreign land.

I wanted to tell them that there are thousands upon thousands of Filipino brethren who would be ecstatic to see our Spanish-speaking believers in that part of the world.

I wanted to explain the tears of happiness that fogged up my square glasses.

But everything that I wanted to say seemed to have already been said in an unspoken manner after every smile, handshake, and hug were exchanged. And for this language of love, I am deeply thankful to God.

A little fun before boarding the plane. Bogota, Colombia. April 2014. Pol Arellano, PVI NY

A little fun before boarding the plane. Bogota, Colombia. April 2014. Pol Arellano, PVI NY

And as we were on our final flight, Filipinos and Colombians alike,  I napped with a smile etched on my excited face thousands of feet up in the clouds.


When and Where Dreams Came True

As we made our way towards the airport’s arrival area, a group of brethren from different countries such as Oman, United Arab Emirates, Dubai and the Philippines were already there, waiting for us with welcoming smiles. We all traveled together to our final destination.

KNP Bro. Bong Bodeña welcomed the Colombian brethren and the rest of the delegates at the local airport. April 2014. Pol Arellano, PVI NY

We all felt that we were finally near the place of our common dreams.

Almost there. South America. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Almost there. South America. April 2014. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY


And it was when the bus finally stopped I felt my heart race the most.

The skies were lit up by the moon and numerous stars when I first stepped foot on the venue, and reality struck the wind out of me, leaving me breathless with glee — I was really there. It was really happening, I thought.

As I waited for my luggage to be brought down from the vehicle, brethren from various countries milled around me. Spearheaded by the youth ministry, several brethren greeted those who arrived from other long flights. I welcomed the feeling of deja vu.

I have seen this before and I have felt this peculiar feeling, years ago, in a place called Apalit, Pampanga.


Graças a Deus

On the first day of the International Thanksgiving, I stood  by the left side of the stage holding my three-year-old Rebel T3i camera. On stage stood choir members of different races donning the same signature black and white uniform. Below them, the Teatro Kristiano members of the Church danced gracefully and as one.

The Teatro Kristiano danced their praise to God, as accompanied by the Church's international chorale members.

The Teatro Kristiano danced their praise to God, as accompanied by the Church’s international chorale members. Pol Arellano, PVI NY

Choir members led the congregants in singing both lively and solemn songs of praises to God, simultaneously switching from Tagalog to Portuguese songs.

And for the first time in Church history, the solemn hymn number 50 was sang in Filipino, Spanish, English and Portuguese all at the same time.

The solemn prayer was uttered in three languages and was accompanied by the sound of helpless yet hopeful sobbing by brethren of different nationalities.

Afterwards, a colorful burst of energy and excitement flooded the stage as the different representatives of various countries paraded in front of the whole congregation. This was aptly called the Parade of Colors.


And after the different nations’ flags have been raised and flown, the celebrant made his way into the stage.

After several years of not seeing Bro. Eli, at the first sight of him standing amidst a sea of brethren who traveled from different corners of the world to be with him, a feeling of indescribable elation overwhelmed me. I felt light, and at the moment, I knew what happiness was.

I remember the last time I saw Bro. Eli vividly. He wore a purple barong and walked around the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga in the Philippines. Back then, he was thinner, and had more energy.

As I stared at Bro. Eli, the fact that he is no longer as young as he was before was obvious. The years of hard work, of sleepless nights, of burdens that abound — is unmistakable.

With an excited and warm smile, Bro. Eli greeted the brethren in Brazil and in all parts of the world. He  was welcomed with deafening cheers and claps.

The international preacher who had been in exile in a foreign land for several years, has not been in the company of a multitude of brethren, especially Filipino brethren. As he spoke to the brethren in South America, on that very moment, his bliss, his appreciation of and his gratitude to God for this grand Church event was evident on his whole person.

Bro. Eli was happy to see the brethren once more. Tears of joy made his eyes sparkle even more than it usually does.

And when words of love, of gratitude are not enough, sometimes, a fitting song does justice — the right song speaks from one longing heart to another.

From the grateful hearts of Bro. Eli and Vice-Presiding Minister Bro. Daniel Razon sprung the desire to sing to the brotherhood. To express their love for each and everyone of the members, regardless of language or color.

The Church leaders sang Through the Years. And even though at times, their voices broke with escaping sobs and tears, the joy in their hearts were felt by the whole congregation who sang along with them.

Looking at our Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking brethren who did not understand much English, the tears in their eyes were enough to tell me that even though the song was sung in English, the spirit of the song transcends language barriers. It was enough to let me know that they understood what our preachers wanted to express.

Bro. Eliseo Soriano sang Through the Years with Bro. Daniel Razon.

Bro. Eliseo Soriano sang Through the Years with Bro. Daniel Razon. April 2014. Pol Arellano, PVI NY

Bro. Eli:

I can’t remember when you weren’t there
When I didn’t care for anyone but you
I swear we’ve been through everything there is
Can’t imagine anything we’ve missed
Can’t imagine anything the two of us can’t do

Through the years
You’ve never let me down
You turned my life around
The sweetest days I’ve found
I’ve found with you
Through the years
I’ve never been afraid
I’ve loved the life we’ve made
And I’m so glad I stayed
Right here with you
Through the years

Bro. Daniel:

I can’t remember what I used to do
Who I trusted whom, I listened to before
I swear you’ve taught me everything I know
Can’t imagine needing someone so
But through the years it seems to me
I need you more and more

Through the years
Through all the good and bad
I knew how much we had
I’ve always been so glad
To be with you
Through the years
It’s better everyday
You’ve kissed my tears away
As long as it’s okay
I’ll stay with you
Through the years

The song hit me right in the chest, and I found myself sobbing, with my camera parked at my hip, with a violent mix of emotions. 

After a memorable opening song number, in true Members Church of God International fashion, the day was filled with a Bible-based topic, delivered by Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel.

The day flew by so fast. And before I knew it, I was making my way towards where I would rest a good night’s rest after saying thanks to Him who gave me the gift of that wonderful day.


And that concluded the first day of the International Thanksgiving in South America.







Prayer is the Answer: The Philippines’ Refuge against Typhoon Haiyan

News, Events and Second Glances

In one of the more popular coffee houses in New York, a Filipino man stood in line, waiting for his order. His eyes fall from the colorful displays to the shabby newspaper stand. He sees a photo on the front page of the New York Times depicting a frightening sight – uprooted trees, houses and buildings reduced to rubbles, and traumatized people stood still in one scene. This is what a town’s been reduced to after the fierce ravaging of Typhoon Haiyan.

The scene is set in Tacloban City, Philippines. After almost a week since one of the deadliest typhoons in history struck the country, the scene has not improved significantly.

If news stories are to be believed, days after the Typhoon, the situation in the typhoon-hit areas have not improved at all.


The Destructive Force that is Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan, locally named Typhoon Yolanda, has managed to make a mark – rather, a painfully unforgettable dent – if you will, in Philippine history. Bringing with it brisk winds and a deadly storm surge as high as about 20 feet, the famous typhoon took the lives of about ten thousand Filipinos, and still counting.

If the unbelievable pain of tragically losing family members and friends isn’t bad enough, survivors also battle the hard-hitting realities of hunger, diseases, lack of shelter, lack of security, lack of a whole list of things that are ideally, the rights that each individual should have.

“Get international help to come here now – not tomorrow, now!” states one of Typhoon Yolanda’s survivors as interviewed by Anderson Cooper. Screen grab from

“Get international help to come here now – not tomorrow, now!” states one of Typhoon Yolanda’s survivors as interviewed by Anderson Cooper. Screen grab from

On broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper’s report on CNN, viewers see just how widespread the devastation is in the region of Visayas, Philippines, and just how badly the people seek the international community’s help – because the local and national government units are just not as effective in giving aid to people in the affected areas than expected.

The Surge of Problems after the Storm

With the surge of financial donations from private individuals, small and large companies, and even from various international organizations and countries, not to mention donations in kind hauled and repackaged in various makeshift centers, it is still a wonder how majority if not all news materials stemming from the region still feature the hungry, angry, homeless citizens of the nation.

Up until now, not all areas have been reached. And in the areas that have been reached, not all of the people have received help in any form.

With relief operations at a snail’s pace, the very hungry survivors are said to have no choice but to resort in looting and other similar acts, in order to live.

With the low security in local subdivisions and main streets, people fear that rebel groups and criminals will take advantage of the situation and cause trouble for the already troubled folks.

The bodies of those who did not make it after the super typhoon still lay on the roads, on main streets, and some, even inside barangay centers. Not all of the corpses identified, there are still an unknown number of dead people underneath the piles of debris in the streets of Tacloban and neighboring cities.

It would seem that attaining relief in situations as dire and as dismal as these, a question would inevitably dance inside a person’s mind – who can a person turn to? When the forces of nature overwhelm the combined forces of man, where can a person run to seek solace?

The Power of Prayer

Bro. Eliseo Soriano's take on the power of prayer. Image taken from

Bro. Eliseo Soriano’s take on the power of prayer. Image taken from

“A prayer is an act of humbling oneself before God! The reason we pray is that we are asking God to do something we cannot do,” writes Bro. Eliseo Soriano on his blog entitled A Prayer and a Wish, where he discusses the importance of prayers.

“In prayers we admit before His majesty that we are inferior and helpless! In prayers we thank and praise Him, realizing that what He is doing, He alone can,” adds Bro. Soriano. The international preacher and blogger is also the popular host of television show Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path).

Members Church of God International (MCGI) Presiding Minister Bro. Eli Soriano has recently launched a Community Prayer service on UNTV 37 together with the Church’s Vice-Presiding Minister, Bro. Daniel Razon.

At a time when it could be considered to be right on spiritual cue, the UNTV Community Prayer aims to unite the country by promoting the Christian lifestyle of regularly calling upon God’s name in prayer.

And a nation that has been so badly beaten and bruised by one devastating calamity after the next needs the help of He who can do more than what any experienced medical practitioner or any generous millionaire can.

He can give us the strength to stand up after the storm, the wisdom to see through the hardships and the pain, and the hope that there will be perfect justice in God’s perfect time for those who do His will.

In times like these, the value of a solemn, heartfelt prayer is a little over the cost of being priceless.


The man in the coffee house stared at the frightening image on the newspaper for a while without him realizing it, almost mesmerized by the destruction brought about by Typhoon Haiyan. For a moment he felt that everything had stopped in mid-air.

And it is in that moment when the man —  standing inside one of the more popular coffee houses in New York, in the middle of the coffee smells, bossa nova music, and people stating and taking coffee orders — that Filipino man closed his eyes to silently and secretly pray.









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.