"THE ISLANDERS": An Innovative Concept in Minority Programming
“The Islanders” is a half-hour community access program, made its debut in Alameda, California in October 1987 with volunteer crew who had undergone training at (then United Cable television, TCI, then became AT&T) and recently Comcast. It was one of several programs on the cable channel, Channel 3 then which boasted diversity in programming, including all Filipino American community audience.
Geared to but not limited to Filipino American audience in the immediate vicinity of City of Alameda and managed to get “guest slots” at other cable stations in the area; i. e Oakland, San Francisco, Hayward and Union City. In 1998 , The Islanders was hitting its peak of curiosity in the community because not only was The Islanders being produced and hosted by a Filipina, but it was as well uniquely qualified to showcase talents of neighbors and friends focusing on information imparted by local leaders, champions, diplomats, city, government and public officials, drug and alcohol rehabs, juvenile, IADS, disgruntled military veterans, batterers(on the mend through rehab). Interspersed with very serious subjects, the show had lighter moments which became a signature of the show throughout the year.
Special Holiday shows like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas were mainstays in the community where local schools participated with students of different age groups appeared to perform during this time. Local merchants happily contributed or donated services or products. Communities have sent “live” person to don a Santa suit or a rabbit suit.
What “The Islanders” proposed to be was a sounding board of significant information given to the community as well as springboard for local talents who may never get any kind of publicity other than through community access. “The Islanders” serves this mission well.
“The Islanders” was the only community access program invited by the Philippine Consulate to follow the then president, Fidel Ramos of the Philippines as he trouped to the Bay Area and spoke about partnership agreement in the U.S. The show touted itself on location to grand celebration and welcoming of the Consul General of San Frnacisco Amado Cortez and his wife, Gloria Sevilla, former actress and multiple Famas awardee of the Philippine Cinema; the despidida(Farewell Parties) of outgoing Consuls General as Tessie Marzan, Delia Rosal and Maria Rowena Sanchez. Other guests included the publishers of defunct “The Eye”-the late veteran jouralist, Willie Jurado; President of Business and Professional Women, Madi Layton; Executive Director of Filipinos for Affirmative Action, Lillian Galledo; the late Mayor Ralph Apezzato, the former Alameda City Chief of Police, Burny Matthews, Alex Esclamado, founder of National Filam Council and Philippine News; publisher/editor of Filipinas Magazine and Ang Panahon, Greg Macabenta, and Rodel Rodis, president of S.F. College Board. Etc. When it was still”Tiempo” the former name of “The Islanders”, it produced an offshoot program during the heated Marcos/Aquino political arenas. The media was invited to witness a debate between the Marcos canp and the Aquino camp. What a coup(pardon the pun! )Various newspapers were represented to ask questions following the debate.
Other location shoots included interviews with then Vice president of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,Teofisto Guingona, then Speaker of the House of Representative of the Philippines, Manuel Villar, Congressman Boboy Syjuco, former Pal Chief Executive President, Avelino Zapanta, Senator Tito Soto, Ambassador of the Philippines, including Ernesto Maceda, Ambasador del Rosario and Ambassador Willie Gaa and many more.
Other special guest included presidents of various Filipino American organizations in Northern California, like Cora Ariosa ,president of Bay Area Woman’s Club, then president of 7 Lakes of Northern California, Vince Llamas; religious organizations as Legion of Mary , Knights of Columbus, Couple for Christ and many others. Talents and other personalities included , Elton Lugay, producer of Ginoong Pilipinas, Broadway actress, Stephanie Reese, and other Filipino American political figures as Rebecca Delgado, Manny Fernandez, Pat Gacoscos, Myrna Lim and other local talents, actors and actresses local and Philippines.