(Left) Coco Martin expresses gratitude to the Thomasian community for making him the Students’ Choice for Actor; (Center photos) Comedian Michael V. strikes a pose as he comes up the stage to receive the award for “Bubble Gang”, while ABS-CBN president Charo Santos-Concio thanks her staff for making “Maalaala Mo Kaya” the unbeatable show in the Drama Series category; (Right) Host Boy Abunda receives the award for “The Bottomline”. Photos by PAUL ALLYSON R. QUIAMBAO and JILSON SECKLER C. TIU

THE SEVENTH USTv Awards for television were given out last February 17 amid what many critics admit is a general decline in the quality of TV programming and rampant commercialization of the broadcast media.

Father Rector Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. reminded TV networks that the recognitions were not intended to bolster their ratings, but to inspire shows that upheld moral values.

“The USTv award was not made for boosting the networks’ ratings, but to uphold Thomasian values through media,” said De la Rosa during the awards night at the Plaza Mayor.

“[USTv] also allows students to be involved with the media and contribute towards the improvement of the quality of local television,” Father Rector added.

The jury was headed by Secretary General Fr. Florentino Bolo Jr., O.P. and composed of Thomasian student leaders and media experts, including Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

ABS-CBN (Kapamilya) and its sister networks received the most number of recognition with 15 out of 27 trophies.

Kapamilya broadcasters Ted Failon and Karen Davila were awarded the Students’ Choice for Male and Female News and Current Affairs Program Host, respectively.

Receiving the award for the second time, Failon said that it would be a constant source of inspiration for him.

Maalala Mo Kaya received its seventh straight win for the Students’ Choice for Drama Program category, while Matanglawin and Salamat Doc got their third Students’ Choice for Educational and Public Service Program, respectively.

ABS-CBN’s The Bottomline was awarded the Students’ Choice Award for Talk Show Program and The Buzz won as the Best Entertainment News Show for the fifth time. Boy Abunda, who hosts the two shows, accepted the award.

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“This is the clearest way for us to show to our viewers, especially the Thomasians, that they are important to us and we consider their preferences,” Abunda said.

ABS-CBN celebrities also dominated the awards for entertainment as Coco Martin and Angelica Panganiban won the Students’ Choice Award for Actor and Actress for Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo and Rubi, respectively.

“I have been to different award-giving bodies and received recognitions as well, but the USTv award makes me nervous because students are the ones who gave me this award,” Martin said in Filipino.

Other Kapamilya programs which received USTv prizes were ASAP Rocks (Students’ Choice for Variety Show), He is Beautiful (foreign soap opera), and Agua Bendita (drama program).

Perhaps the rampant commercialization of primetime programming is seen in the top two finalists of the Soap Opera category. Agua Bendita and Magkaribal are over-the-top melodramas, the former a fantastic tale of a girl whose constitution is water that leaves viewers wondering why she never evaporates, and the latter a shrill misogynist tale about clawing women in the fashion business always at each other’s throats.

Meanwhile, GMA7 primetime newscast 24 Oras won the USTv award for Best Local News and Current Affairs Program, while Bubble Gang received its sixth Best in Gag Show award.

Comedians Ogie Alcasid and Michael V received the award for Bubble Gang.

I-Witness won its fifth Students’ Choice for Documentary Program award, while Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho won its fourth Students’ Choice for Magazine Program award.

“Thank you for still making time to honor the media amid your Quadricentennial celebration,” Soho said. “USTv awards provide inspiration to us media personalities.”

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Other winning GMA programs were Mel & Joey (talk variety program), Doraemon (full animated program), Pepito Manaloto (situational comedy), and Hole in the Wall (game show).

Meanwhile, emerging media giant TV5 received the Students’ Choice award for Catholic Program and Reality Show for The Word Exposed and Talentadong Pinoy, respectively.

Studio 23’s coverage of the UAAP games bagged the Students’ Choice for Sports Program. Recently disbanded alternative rock group Bamboo got the Students’ Choice for Local Music Video Artist, while Star Record’s acoustic singer and former MYMP vocalist Juris Fernandez won the Students’ Choice for Local Music Video for her song “‘Di Lang Ikaw”.

“This is my first award as a solo artist,” Fernandez told the audience.

McDonald’s commercial “Tweens” was given the Students’ Choice Award for Value-Laden Advertisement, while the new category Students’ Choice for Music Channel was garnered by MYX, ABS-CBN’s music channel.

Former UST Secretary General Fr. Isidro Abaño, O.P. was honored as the “Father of USTv.”

This year, the USTv tried to survey all Thomasian students, but the online survey facilitated by the Educational Technology Center encountered technical problems. However, more than 20,000 students were able to cast their votes, higher than the previous years when only a statistical sample of enrolled students got the chance to participate in the selection.

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