The Holy Week has come once again and you’re probably getting ready for your summer getaway. And if you’re planning to stay at home to enjoy the only time Metro Manila gets relatively quiet, I’m sure you have a lot of shows and films you need to catch up on, too. But remember what it’s like, fellow millennial, when you could get ginataang bilo-bilo from your neighbor’s karidad, and the elders’ pabasa ng pasyon blared from loudspeakers set up around the baranggay? And at home, your favorite anime and teleseryes aren’t on?
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy uncle, a lot of kids these days will never know the drought of films and television shows we experienced yearly during this time of the year. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember what it was like to spend the Holy Week in front of the television.
Here’s a rundown of what millennials could watch on TV during Lent in the 90s to 2000s.
Eat Bulaga’s Holy Week Specials
Every year, the hosts of the longest-running noontime show would be divided into three groups led by Tito, Vic, and Joey, and act in three different hour-long drama specials to air on Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Holy Wednesday before they go off air from Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday. Is there an episode you remember?
Studio 23’s 7th Heaven marathons
One of the most beloved families in American TV history, the Camdens used to have a home in the now-defunct Studio 23. And before it was canceled in 2006, it enjoyed 10 heartwarming seasons and provided entertainment to so many millennials stuck at home during its many Lenten reruns in ABS-CBN’s sister network.
Ang Munting Paraiso reruns
If Hollywood had the Camdens, Mother Ignacia had the Dionisio family. This family drama that used to air on Saturdays (replacing another Filipino classic, Coney Reyes on Camera) led by Coney Reyes and Ronaldo Valdez was funny, heartwarming, to downright devastating as they tackled real family matters from dealing with children’s growing pains, to cheating, and even, at one point, the death of a child. Also, Jericho Rosales entered this show as a former Mister Pogi contestant and left it a bonafide dramatic actor!
The Best MMK Episodes
One of my favorite things to watch during Lent when I was younger was all my favorites from this iconic television show. And considering how long it was on air, it definitely had so many great episodes in its catalog. The Vilma Santos-led “Regalo”. Regine Velazquez as an autistic young woman opposite Piolo Pascual in “Lobo”. Albert Martinez selling his kidney to save his daughter, Camille Prats, in “Bato”. The featured episode above where Jaclyn Jose and Ricky Davao lost their son to cancer. The list goes on!
There’s a new 3D Superbook series out now but older millennials may remember seeing its original version on weekend mornings on GMA-7. And the Kapuso Network would also fill the Lenten season’s morning slots with reruns of this animated series where a young boy and his companions get to travel to the events of classic Bible stories.
Handy Chef etc.
There’s the Iron Quick System, the Ab Rocket, The Chopper, and so many more, but none of them quite reached the level of iconic that is The Handy Chef. “And look, ma! No shells!” It’s the Beyonce of home TV shopping and it was always on repeat on what was then RPN 9, thankfully even in select times during the Holy Week. Spoiler alert though, the dicer grid? Difficult to work with in real life. We eventually had to make our french fries with a knife because the potato wouldn’t go through.
Philippine Cinema Classics
Honestly, staying home during Lent in the 90s to the early 2000s could make a Philippine cinema fan out of you because ABS-CBN, which has the biggest archive of Filipino films, would really bring the classics out for their Lenten programming. Eddie Romero’s Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon? Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Karnal. Lino Brocka’s Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang. Peque Gallaga’s Oro, Plata, Mata. Mike De Leon’s Kisapmata. Mario O’Hara’s Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos. And of course, Ishmael Bernal’s Himala. These are films from some of our greatest Filipino filmmakers and National Artists and we got to watch them all for free! But yeah, I suppose it’s easier to appreciate them now that we’re older, fine.
The Ten Commandments
And lastly, is it even Holy Week in the ’90s without seeing this Cecil B. DeMille classic about Moses delivering his people from slavery? I think not. Before Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ, there were The Seven Last Words, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Last Temptation of Christ, and of course, this 1957 Oscar winner for Best Special Effects! (Yes, my grandmother wouldn’t shut up about how awesome it was when Moses parted the sea.)
Is there anything we missed? What do you remember watching from the Holy Weeks of yesteryears? Sound off below and may this be a meaningful Lenten season for you!