The Butcher | Philippine TV@70:The best 70 shows (Part 2)

Clockwise from top left: Evening With Pilita, Balintataw, Salamisim/Panagimpan, Nida-Nestor Show, and Tisoy.

Photos: Yesterday When I was Young YT Channel, Mel Cyrus FB page,

Clockwise from top left: Evening With Pilita, Balintataw, Salamisim/Panagimpan, Nida-Nestor Show, and Tisoy.

Ninety per cent of television directors in the Philippines today learned the trade on the job. Most of them were former floor directors and cameramen. Only a small fraction of local TV directors went abroad to take formal courses in order to master the medium. Mitos Villarreal was one of those directors who had extensive training in the US.    

It didn’t come as a surprise therefore that An Evening With Pilita turned out to be a prestige program for ABS-CBN. Mitos knew how to light a set and especially the performers.     

Mitos put markers on the studio floor and the artist was well-advised to just stay put there if he or she wanted to look good on television. Pimples and blemishes could disappear through the magic of Mitos’ lighting.

Of course, what made An Evening With Pilita very successful was its star: Pilita Corrales, who will always be considered as one of the best singers in the history of Philippine music.     

A regular mainstay in the show were the Lemons Three composed of Nikki Ross, Katy de la Cruz’ daughter Angie Yoingco, and Mitos herself. When Mitos decided to focus on directing, the tandem of Nikki and Angie became The Wing Duo.     

An Evening With Pilita hardly featured guest performers. With Pilita there and supported by the Wing Duo, the show was complete. On occasions, however, new talents would be featured – like this grade school student from Don Bosco who delighted viewers with his heartfelt rendition of Spanish songs.     

For one Christmas episode, Pilita invited Fernando Poe, Jr. to sing "Little Christmas Tree." While the late action king wasn’t much of a singer, hey, that’s still FPJ – in one of his very rare TV appearances.     

An Evening With Pilita was a consistent winner in the annual Citizens’ Award for Television – or CAT.



ABS-CBN’s rival in capturing the CD market was the Elizalde-owned MBC-11 – what with shows like Tayo’y Maghapi-hapi, Darigold Jamboree, and Alright, OK that were geared to attract the masses.     

The Roces’ ABC-5 was the network that featured mostly shows for the thinking viewer. One of its drama anthologies that screamed “prestige” was Balintataw (Pupil of the Eye), which was mounted with the help of PETA talents. Lino Brocka, Elwood Perez, and Nick Lizaso all honed their directorial skills in that program.     

Most of the stars featured there were seasoned actresses whose movie careers were already headed downhill. One of them was Anita Linda, who was already contemplating on opening a piggery in her native Bulacan – in a place called, believe it or not, Pugad-Baboy. Her regular guest stints in Balintataw put her back in the entertainment radar and this was what enabled her to extend her career until the time she practically breathed her last in 2020.     

Balintataw also helped train young actresses with potential. Helen Gamboa, during her heyday as pop superstar, was given an opportunity by the show to prove her talent as a dramatic actress. In one episode, she played a drunk woman frustrated with life. The most challenging part for her was when she was made to do a long monologue on camera that she delivered in one take.     

Balintataw went off the air when Channel 5 was shut down by martial law in 1972. Cecile Guidote revived the series in 1989 on PTV-4, but the show was unable to recover its old glory.



Even in the old days, ABS-CBN was already notorious for poaching talents from other networks. When it reopened after EDSA I, it established a reputation as the biggest pirate since Captain Hook.     

In the late 1960s, Channel 5 had a top-rating drama anthology called Salamisim (Reminiscence) that starred Marlene Dauden. It was so successful that it was even turned into a movie and became the launching pad of Jeanne Young.    

It didn’t take long before ABS-CBN pirated its star and the entire creative team. In its new home, Salamism became Panagimpan (Dream) and became an even bigger hit.     

The show continued to reap accolades and this was due mainly to its choice of themes that were considered taboo during that time: homosexuality, serial killing, faking death to avail of insurance money, etc.



When ABS-CBN began producing Nida-Nestor Show in the mid-1960s, the reigning movie queens were already Susan Roces and Amalia Fuentes. The previous era’s superstars, Nida Blanca and Gloria Romero, had both gotten married and blessed with one daughter each.     

ABS-CBN gave the two former queens their own comedy shows and reunited them with their their respective former screen partners, Nestor de Villa and Luis Gonzales.  And so on Saturday nights, there was the Gloria-Luis Show. This program, sadly, didn’t last very long on television.     

What turned out to be more enduring was Nida-Nestor Show that aired every Thursday evening at 8 p.m. - after the canned action series Bonanza. Nida-Nestor Show offered more to the viewers. For one, Nida and Nestor were two of the greatest dancers in the history of local entertainment. And what a dancing pair they made.     

Nida-Nestor Show always opened with a lively dance number. This was followed by the program’s main content – a comedy skit. The material for the sketch could be original or sometimes borrowed from the classics. One time, they did a local presentation of O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi, but given a local color.  So instead of the decorative combs, which Della received from husband Jim in the 1905 short story, Nida got a pair of embroidered butterfly sleeves from Nestor.     

Nida-Nestor was so consistent in presenting quality shows, it was always a big winner in the CAT Awards. Nida, Nestor and regular supporting cast member Chichay all won CAT trophies for their respective performances in the comedy series. The show also kept winning in the best variety program category.     

Nida-Nestor didn’t have toilet humor and refrained from cracking offensive jokes about race, gender and religion in the show. All it presented was genuine talent that is hard to come by in this generation that glorifies mediocrity that even gets “likes” on social media.



It all started as a comic strip by Nonoy Marcelo. In 1969, a group of UP speech majors led by Edmund Sicam (future brother-in-law of Jim Paredes) made a play based on this daily series on the funny page. It was so successful that it was re-staged in other campuses.     

ABC-5 then took an interest in it and turned it into a weekly sitcom that starred Jimmy Morato as Tisoy and Pilar Pilapil as Maribubut. A lot of comedians became household names because of Tisoy. Among them were FEU English major Bert Marcelo, who played Tikyo and vaudeville star Moody Diaz who was cast as Aling Otik.     

It was so successful that it was turned into a movie. The contribution of Tisoy to local entertainment was its veiled political and social commentaries hidden in its humor.     

In 1977, Nora Aunor produced a Tisoy remake for husband Christopher de Leon. His Maribubut was Charo Santos. The movie was directed by Ishmael Bernal.     
(To be continued)



The Butcher | Philippine TV@70—The best 70 shows (Part 1)

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