The internet has been abuzz with “ABS-CBN”, “Filipino-Chinese”, “Chinese News TV”, and other related terms, which have been trending for a day already. Here’s what you should know about what went down.
So what was ANC’s partnership with Chinatown News TV?
Earlier this week, it was announced that ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) entered an agreement with Filipino-Chinese media company Horizon of the Sun Communications, Inc. to air the nightly weekday news program Chinese News TV (CNTV), which is delivered mainly in Mandarin Chinese. It has since been renamed to Chinatown News TV.
Horizon of the Sun Communications, Inc. is the same production house behind Chinatown TV, which is the longest-running Filipino-Chinese lifestyle show airing on IBC 13 and NET 25.
What is CNTV exactly?
According to its website, Chinatown News TV is meant to “promote our shared Filipino-Chinese culture” and to “to deliver concise and factual headlines both locally and globally, in a language and medium that addresses the Filipino-Chinese community.” This is why they offer trilingual news reports, with Mandarin Chinese as their main language and Filipino and English as supporting languages.
The show also puts a spotlight through a special segment on China’s “One Belt One Road” advocacy, which is China’s initiative to link them economically with partners across Asia, Europe, and Africa. Spreading this advocacy was written as one of the show’s goals, but has since been removed from the website.
According to their website, the show’s target audience is “Fil-Chi entrepreneurs, parents, and families” as their viewers while also aiming to open up “an avenue for Filipinos who are interested to learn more about Chinese news and culture.”
How big is our Filipino-Chinese community?
The short answer is: significant. Big enough that cities and towns have smaller “towns” dedicated to the Filipino-Chinese community (e.g.) Binondo).
According to the Joshua Project database, there are about 1,739,100 members of the Filipino-Chinese community, which is further broken down into 548,000 Fil-Chi Mestizo, 14,000 Cantonese, 1,100 Mandarin, and 1,176,000 Min Nan (or alternatively, Fukienese, Hainanese, Hokkien, etc). This is the sizable community that the show aims to serve.
I just saw Chinatown News TV on ANC. Based on tonight’s episode, there was nothing to indicate the show has any political leaning. It’s a multilingual newscast that runs your run of the mill news reports w/ a dash of Chinoy stories. Why Mandarin? Try writing in Hokkien. https://t.co/rW3HrV9y1a
— Barnaby Lo 吳宗鴻 (@barnabychuck) April 14, 2021
This is one of the main questions that people were asking. If most of the Filipino-Chinese community speak mostly Hokkien, and not Mandarin, why is the news program primarily delivered in Mandarin?
According to some members of the Fil-Chi community, the answer is simple: It’s just much harder to speak and write in Hokkien than it is in Mandarin. While much of Hokkien was derived from Mandarin, it has transformed to a much more complicated form involving traditional Mandarin characters and dialect characters. Mandarin has a standardized version that many who speak Hokkien can easily follow.
Why was there an uproar?
The show was also launched at what may be the worst possible moment: the Chinese military presence in the West Philippine Sea remains a controversial topic, and there’s a lot of tension between China and the Philippines.
After learning about this news program airing on Philippine TV, many took to the internet to express their concern over the show. A frequently cited grievance was that ANC decided to put in a Mandarin news program instead of giving the slot to news programs in other Philippine languages. Many aired out their fears, saying that the show could be a possible platform to further China’s agenda.
What was ANC’s statement?
I understand the concerns on Chinese incursions in the West Ph sea & many other issues related to the country’s relations with China. ABS-CBN News has vigorously covered these issues, in our pursuit of truth and public enlightenment. But we resist discrimination against any race
— GING REYES (@gingreyes) April 14, 2021
After the public backlash, ANC News Chief Ging Reyes defended the decision to air the news program. She acknowledged the concerns being raised, especially when the PH-China relations are so tense. Reyes also assured that ABS-CBN would have “editorial control over their content” and she “ensure[s] accuracy of the translation from Mandarin to English subtitles.”
But she asked the audience to stop “belittl[ing] their attempt to provide a service to their local community” and instead “embrac[e]the diversity of this land we all call home.”
But they eventually canceled the show
Hi, @jeralduy @raymundmargallo. We’d like to share an update with you that CNTV will no longer air on ANC. We truly appreciate your support for ABS-CBN and hope that you continue to share with us feedback on our programs. Stay safe, Kapamilya!
— iWantTFC (@iwanttfc) April 16, 2021
Only a few days after the news program started airing, ABS-CBN via iWantTFC announced that Chinatown TV would no longer be airing on ANC. Netizens expressed their gratitude and praise for the network’s move by listening to the sentiments of their audience.
The racism persists
I am talking about comments like this with unfounded claims: Chinese Filipinos as Chinese spies, as traitors. pic.twitter.com/aUjWoQwnFN
— J. R. R. Go 吴安平 (@WuAnping) April 14, 2021
Though the show has been canceled, the damage to the Filipino-Chinese community has already been done. Some people are resorting to attacking members of the Fil-Chi community. We should remember that actions like this aren’t helpful, and only divide our communities further. Cool your hot head and make your arguments in a logical and respectful manner. Racist remarks and unfounded claims will do no good, and we have enough problems as it is.
What do you think of ANC’s latest news program?