For the first time in forever, all three major TV networks—ABS-CBN, GMA, and TV5—appear together in their Christmas station IDs for 2023. At last, after decades of intense rivalry, there’s unity.
The tradition kicks the holiday season into high gear in which the networks try to outshine each other with new original holiday ditties and try to out-star the others with their shining, shimmering, splendid music videos.
This has, consequently, birthed the tradition among some viewers of pitting the videos against each other and evaluating them to declare a winner as though it was some pageant. All videos have branded sponsors, anyway, pretty much like beauty tilts. And that’s all we’ll say about that.
It’s silly. But it’s also fun, and it’s exactly why we’re doing it, too. Here goes.
Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla are no longer KathNiel in the ABS-CBN Christmas station ID, appearing separately on the 13-minute music video. (News flash for those who’ve been living under a rock these past couple of weeks: They’ve broken up after 11 years of KathNielship for reel and real.)
Aside from the one-two punch of Kath/Niel and network unity, the Kapamilya network’s 2023 Christmas station ID has another striking distinction. Clocking in just eight seconds shy of 14 minutes, the video is one of the longest in ages, if not ever.
Almost half of it is devoted to a loop of the song’s chorus, apparently to give enough time to feature solos of the network’s constellation of stars, big and small. That remains the most formidable lineup among all networks despite the absence of a franchise for two years now. The difference is there’s now a crossover: the likes of superstars Coco Martin and Vice Ganda and the young love team, DonBelle (Donny Pangilinan and Belle Mariano), also grace another station ID.
The tune is called Pasko Ang Pinakamagandang Kwento, but the video doesn’t do much storytelling, if at all. The most it offers is a video of “real people” alongside the onscreen celebrities, apparently to give the project some gravitas, relatability, and heartwarming moments for the viewers. But it stops at identifying them as, specifically, a deaf family, a couple who finally succeeded in bearing a child after a miscarriage, and a same-sex couple advocating mental health. Beautiful people, to be sure, who, like Christ, bring beautiful gifts of love and inspiration to everyone around them, but the video gives nothing else to back up the song’s “pinakamagandang kwento” theme. It feels a bit like tokenism.
What it does give are two songs. Midway through, the track slows further down from a mid tempo tune to an outright ballad with a different melody and English lyrics. As a bridge, it glides smoothly enough and is effectively soaring. But the shift in music and lyrics does not necessarily work. It seems like they could not decide on just one direction and so they went to marry the two creative streams. It also feels a tad unnecessary, although not nearly as unnecessary as the rest of the clip that’s more of the loop of the chorus and more Kapamilya stars and staff, including Pinoys abroad, singing and swaying along in various locations inside the network compound.
The video concludes with a mashup of the Tagalog and English choruses until Sarah Geronimo and Imogen, the kid singer who opens it, bring things home to a quiet end as more heartwarming scenes of the ordinary folks play out. It forgets, though, to bring back the beautiful animation that opens the video, which is arguably the best part of the video. Viewers would be forgiven if they opt out much earlier and not make it to the end of this overlong, meandering non-story story.
There are no uncouples and uniteams in the Kapuso network’s 2023 Christmas station ID. What it has is what ABS-CBN’s video promised but didn’t deliver—stories and storytelling.
Billed as Feeling Blessed Ngayong Pasko, GMA’s video also puts the spotlight on a handful of ordinary people and a couple of known personalities. The video devotes about a third of its 6-minute-plus total running time to them in spoken segments, introducing them properly and actually telling about their special real-life tales that make them inspiring, if not heroic, figures. The common theme: They feel blessed and pay it forward by sharing their blessings with others and by being blessings themselves.
The mini stories are smartly integrated and smoothly edited into the uptempo song, making the video dynamic and engaging and not unbearably repetitive. It helps that the production did not scrimp on the location, or at least not by much, filming in different places outside the GMA studios. It made the video look expansive, less exclusive and more, well, open.
By the time the tune kicks into higher gear for the final stretch of the video, viewers are likely to be giddily singing along to the “Oh oh feeling blessed” chorus with the merry Kapuso stars on the screen. This is what effective storytelling in music video looks, sounds, and feels like.
For the first time in ages, a TV5 station ID has the bright sparkle of several certified superstars, namely, the eternal Eat Bulaga! trio of Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon, the Unkabogable Vice Ganda, Coco Martin, and, for the young crowd, the still-intact DonBelle love team.
This is certainly the video’s most striking element. That’s not to say it doesn’t have anything else going for it. There’s the bouncy and catchy upbeat music, the eye-candy graphics and visual effects, and the sumptuous sets and production design.
Unlike the other station IDs, Feel na Feel ang Paskong Kapatid is unencumbered with any narrative layer. It’s a simple, straightforward music video that succeeds in delivering happy feels and holiday cheer.