When I was young, my brother and I (and the rest of the Philippines, I’m pretty sure) had this ritual. Every Halloween, we would watch the Magandang Gabi Bayan Halloween specials. The show is a news magazine program aired in the Philippines in 1988. They usually featured news and current events, but sometimes they would include the usual oddities. Every end of October, they would air their highly popular Halloween specials–each episode infused with ghost stories from all over the country. Part of my childhood revolved around these episodes.
The MGB Halloween specials boasted the usual white and black ladies, the ghosts, the floating caskets, the engkantos, the haunted houses, and the queen of horror herself, Miss Lilia Cuntapay. The production of these shows were mediocre to good during that time. The show’s anchor, the former vice president Noli “Kabayan” de Castro’s narration was so effective that we held on to his every word. The reenactments were corny and predictable, but still, my brother and I would be so scared shitless that we didn’t dare sleep with the lights off. I had to wake our househelp up so I could have someone accompany me to the bathroom. My imagination would play with me during the night that I had to cover myself up with a blanket to get to sleep.
All of these ended in 2005 when Magandang Gabi Bayan was pulled out by the station. From then on, every Halloween, everyone would somehow miss the show and watch some recorded videos on YouTube. Thankfully, this year, ABS-CBN decided to air a one-time MGB Halloween Special. I knew that I couldn’t miss it for the world.
The first two segments of the show were scary enough. That haunted house sounded legit, and the antique stuff scared me out of my wits. After that followed the usual sanib or possession videos. At this point, I started to lose my interest with the show and focused my attention to Twitter instead. It all goes downhill from there. The story of a faith healer named Master Charles who had trouble healing a woman possessed–but I prefer the term gangraped, rather–by 9,000 demons came next.
The show also featured the story of Master Charles healing a couple of men who were having a serious case of gonorrhea. After this came the exorcism videos. By this time, a lot of my contacts and friends have been complaining about the show. One of my friends was looking for the “90s MGB”. A few were looking for Lilia Cuntapay. Some were being kind enough to tolerate the show, but most of my contacts graded it as “disappointing”. I couldn’t help but agree. I didn’t even finish the show because I had to run to the bathroom. I didn’t need someone to accompany me there. An upset stomach scared me more.
On a final note, it was fun while it lasted. Those few minutes of nostalgia were enough to bring back sweet memories from the past. Hearing Kabayan say his signature greeting “Magandang Gabi…Bayan” was priceless. It’s a shame that the episode wasn’t what everyone expected it to be, but it can pass. I just hope that I can sleep with the lights off tonight.
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