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After withdrawing from KBP, GMA 7 became No. 1!
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Crispina Martinez Belen

After withdrawing its membership from the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), GMA Network became No. 1, edging its nearest competitor, ABS-CBN who was No. 1 for about 15 years, to No. 2. Because of their public affairs and news entertainment programs, GMA Network became No. 1 on Sept. 23, 2004. This was what Atty. Felipe L. Gozon, chairman/president/CEO of GMA Network told us during a luncheon interview at The Port Seafood Restaurant at the Waterfront Lahug in Cebu City during the weekend when the network presented in that city Kapuso Day! as part of the 56th anniversary of GMA 7.

"But I’m not saying that because we withdrew from KBP, we became No. 1," Atty. Gozon hazened to add. "It’s just that soon after we withdrew our membership from the KBP, we became No. 1." They became No. 1 because of hard work; because they did the right moves and the right projects, after studying the strength and weaknesses of their closest rival. "Pinag-aralan kong mabuti kung ano ang mga ginagawa nila sa kabila, with the same dedication and zeal like when I reviewed for the bar." I have to learn from their weakness and strength. What he found out among others was that their closest rival had no homegrown talents at that time, that they were just "buying contracts" (that resulted in the rampant piracy of their talents) so they were somewhat operating on "borrowed abilities." And on their side, because they were counter-programming, he removed those standing on the way.

He closed down their entities that weren’t making money, like GMA Films (they lost about P40-million from their so-called ambitious projecst like "Rizal" he said), but when they had developed enough talents of their own (from their reality-based programs like the first ever artista search in the country, "StarStruck") he not only revived GMA Films (with his daughter Atty. Annette G. Abrogar at the helm) which he was proud to say is already making enough money to stand on its own; and GMA Records.

He said that his bold moves were borne out of his belief that if you own and produce the content of your programs, "kailangan ka ng mga viewers and they are our partners." But of course, at first, his people at GMA were skeptical. "So I had to get their cooperation and make myself credible to them first." Atty. Gozon had been chairman of the network since l977, he said but it was only in 2001 when he and his group including Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr., EVP/COO) assumed management from the Jimenezes. He and Duavit own 65% of the network, and the Jimenez group, the remaining 35%. Atty. Gozon now holds the distinction of having "instituted a culture of excellence, making GMA the No. 1 TV station in the country.

Success motivates him, he said, and he never regrets anything he does, "even if I fail." His goal now is to make his network remain at No. 1 for the longest time, but he also said he’s not scared to become No. 2 again, if worst comes to worst. "After all, we’ve been there before."

A graduate of UP College of Law who took his masters at Yale University (his daughter Annette took hers at Harvard) Atty. Gozon was a corporate lawyer before joining GMA Network. Now he finds it more challenging to run a TV station than lawyering. "You can’t make research for your success in the broadcast industry," he said.

But why did GMA Network withdrew membership from the KBP?

"Because I did not believe in the regulatory function that KBP was imposing on members. That was obsolete already. The KBP was Marcos’ idea to regulate the broadcast industry. I did not agree in what KBP wanted to impose. I do not believe in censorship. I did not agree on load limitation. Even the US National Association of Broadcasters couldn’t impose load limitation now after they were hauled to court and the court ruled in favor of the complainant."

At the press conference held at the GMA station in Cebu, Atty. Gozon enumerated GMA’s achievements for the consumption of the local media. For almost three years now, "we have been the undisputed No. 1 TV station in the country. And we are confident that we will be able to maintain the No. 1 position in the future," he said.

"Last year, we were named Terrestrial TV Station of the Year by the Asian Television Awards, beating the TV stations from 14 Asian countries. And this year - after three years of not finding a station worthy to receive the award - the Rotary Club of Manila gave GMA Network the TV Station of the Year Award.

Atty. Gozon also reported with excitement the success of their international channel, the GMA Pinoy TV which now has 91,000 subscribers in the USA, Japan, Guam, Malaysia and the Middle East, after only a year of its launching. "By the end of July, we hope that the number would reach to more than 100,000 subscribers. We are currently negotiating with carriers in Canada, Europe, Australia and other parts of the US particularly the East Coast for the carriage of GMA Pinoy TV in these areas. We also plan to add another international channel to our GNA Pinoy TV by late this year or next year."

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HCSB dancers go to Singapore

for another competition

They’ve just had a memorable performance in Brunei and now the acclaimed Halili Cruz School of Ballet dancers are leaving again (today!) to participate a competition in Singapore.

One may wonder on how the dancers of HCSB and the Quezon City Ballet are able to sustain the energy, enthusiasm and the quality of work they have shown for the many activities they’ve been engaged into. The HCSB conducts regular classes from Beginners to the Advanced Level, presents performances both local and international, handles workshops for dancers and aspiring teachers, accommodates TV interviews and appearances, and participates in international festivals and competitions. The achievements of the HCSB is anchored on its very dedicated and creative Artistic Team led by its Artistic Director, Shirley Halili–Cruz and teachers/choreographers; Grace Gerlade–Perez, Anna Lissa Tuazon–Balmadrid and Anna Kathrina Halili Cruz. They have trained their young students to be world–class performers who are admired both for their dancing and behavior. They had successfully performed in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Brunei, Hong Kong, Beijing, China, Australia, New York, USA and Europe.

The HCSB, awarded as the Most Outstanding Ballet School in Asia, was established out of the passion and deep desire of its founder and artistic director, Shirley Halili Cruz to share her talent, creativity and love for dance. She puts in personal resources to offer the best to the aspiring ballerinas who come to her school. Ms. Shirley Halili–Cruz, a former ballerina herself, brings good training, a lot of experiences and a summa cum laude with Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree and carrying three majors – Accounting, Management and Marketing.

Aside from all her social work and her many civic organization involvement, she is an executive board member of the World Dance Alliance, project director of International Dance Day and Sayaw Pinoy, and board member and associate executive director of the Philippine Ballet Theatre. She also authored the 12 level ballet syllabus of the HCSB ballet curriculum. She is also a regular Resource Person of the National Commissioin for Culture and the Arts, National Dance and Choreographers Workshops. She is a ballet director par excellence - untiring, dynamic, artistic, creative, generous, and overflowing with love and dedication.

Shirley Halili–Cruz is a multi–awarded ballet director and dance educator.

Complementing the dedication of Ms. Halili–Cruz is Grace Garalde–Perez, her protege. She was only eight years old when she started to train under her and Jeng Halili’s personal tutelage. Grace graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts Journalism from UST.. Through her teacher, Ms. Shirley, Grace was awarded a full scholarship to New York Summer School of Excellence Teacher’s Program and was a gold medallist with Distinction in the American Ballet’s Performance Awards Program.

Grace is currently a ballet teacher and choreographer at HCB and QCB. As a ballerina, she has performed in Singapore, Malaysia, China and New York and has won the 1st prize in the Asia–Pacific Dance Competition in Singapore. She has also received many awards for her work.

Anna Lisa Tuazon–Balmadrid is a ballet teacher and choreographer of HCSB and QCB and is an outstanding graduate of the school. She started to train in ballet when she was nine years old under the personal tutelage of Shirley Halili Cruz and Jeng Halili. She graduated from UST with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Arts. As a ballerina she has performed lead roles in Swan Lake, Raymonda, Don Quixote, Tchaikovsky Grand Pas, Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere among others. She also awarded a scholarship to the teacher training course in New York.

She is a Mabuhay Filipino Achiever awardee and 2001 World Class Achiever awardee.

Completing the Artistic Team is Anna Kathrina Halili Cruz, Shirley’s daughter and protegé, who started dancing at the age of 3. She was an outstanding student in Poveda, an awardee – in academics, leadership and dance. Anna Kathrina finished her graduate degree in Management at the University of Asia and the Pacific where she also completed her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities major in Management. Aside from teaching ballet, she worked as the Product Development Manager of Natori and Sampling Department Manager of the FF Pedro Poveda College. She exemplifies a true balance between professional commitment, academics and the arts.

The American Academy of Ballet awarded her a full scholarship to the New York Summer School of Excellence where she received a Gold Medal in the Performance Awards Program and first prize in the Ballet Quiz Bee. She also took classes at the Broadway Dance Center in New York and under ballet masters David Howard, Gus Giordano, Madame Darvash, Stephanie, Caligari of ABT, Sergey Bykov of Moscow and Anatoli among others. She was also the school’s representative to the 2nd Asia Pacific Dance Competition held in Singapore where she won 1st Prize in the National Solo and Modern Solo.

With these qualifications of the director, teachers and choreographers, one can foresee nothing but far greater achievements for the HCSB and the QCB. What is amazing about this team is that they are all dedicated, talented and full of energy in training their students to become world–class artists.

* * *

Tidbits: Happy b-day greetings today, July 21, go to Eric John Salut of ABS-CBN; Dr. Nenita Lee-Tan, Patrick Nolasco, Candy Mendoza, Dr. Carrie R. Legaspi, Manniz Igrobay, Jhi Diola Gopez and Ding Mercado...

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