WATCH: The story behind the process of making the yearly ABS-CBN Christmas IDs

In the past 18 years, ABS-CBN has never failed to warm our hearts and make us LSS with the Christmas station anthems and IDs it annually produces and has since then become a part of the Filipino tradition. And as we found ourselves truly delighted with this year’s “Ikaw Ang Liwanag At Ligaya,” aren’t you curious on the process the hardworking and creative team behind it had gone through in order to come up with a very touching and uplifting ID in spite of the pandemic?

Well, we’re going to give you a peek on the preparations they did – from the brainstorming and conceptualizing, up to the filming and creation of the other elements – via this video titled, “The Making of a Christmas ID.”

But before that, let’s take a look back first on the never-before-seen footages of the creative process behind the most successful station ID of ABS-CBN back in 2009 – the “Bro, Ikaw Ang Star Ng Pasko”.

From simply having 3D animated overall station IDs in the 90s, which was a first in the country, the network went on to have its traditional Christmas station IDs in the early 2000s.

“This is the effort of the network to actually bring all the stars together in one campaign. Kasi alam naman natin that ABS-CBN is really the home of the stars – the biggest stars in the country. And Christmas is really a very special tradition and we feel na ang essence ng Pasko ay really bringing families together,” Yey and Knowledge Channel Head Danie Sedilla stated, who’s also the production manager for “Bro Ikaw Ang Star ng Pasko”.

She continued, “Through the years, nag-iba iba ‘yong concept at execution ng Christmas station ID. Gusto natin na nafe-feature ‘yong iba’t ibang tradition sa iba’t ibang pamilya at mabigay ‘yong focus sa mga ordinaryong Pilipino. Pero laging isa lang ‘yong esensya – Christ is the center of Christmas, so ‘yon ang laging focus ng SID.”

Danie went on to disclose that the original concept for the 2009 CSID was “Dumadaloy Ang Liwanag”. But they had to revise it since it wasn’t suitable anymore to what was happening in the country during that time and for them to be able to still give inspiration to everyone affected by Typhoon Ondoy.

Creative Account Heads and Station ID Producers Kathrina Sanchez and Edsel Misenas recalled how they immediately huddled and how their boss, Creative Communications Management Head Robert Labayen was able to compose a new song in two weeks. Composers Marcus Davis and Amber Davis also had to do alterations in the melody of the song. 

“This was our first Christmas ID. So it was really exciting for us to get that project. Then I do remember a lot of changes that happened. Just kind one of those things just kinda came together. Just the perfect combination of good behind-the-scenes people, good direction. The timing of everything kinda created that magic and it has become one of the most successful ID,” Amber related.

Thus, Robert Labayen, who’s also the lyricist of “Bro, Ikaw Ang Star Ng Pasko”, was really grateful for the opportunity to be able to send the ever-relevant message of hope and faith in the midst of trying times.

“Naging mahalaga sa kanila ‘yong lyrics na, ‘muling magkakakulay ang Pasko’. Parang ‘yon ang tandang-tanda nilang line. Kaya salamat sa Diyos na ginamit tayo para maiparating ang message na ‘yon. At ngayong 2020, naulit na naman ang experience natin. Siguro masasabi natin na bad times need a good song,” he remarked.

Then he added, “Tayong mga Pilipino, ‘di tayo magpapatalo sa kalungkutan ng taong ito. Kaya sa lahat ng Christmas, ito ‘yong taon na hindi pwedeng wala tayong Christmas video.

When asked what motivated them to come up with a station ID this year, Creative Account Head and Production Manager for Station IDs Sheryl Ramos imparted, “Kasi sa bigat ng pinagdaraanan natin – sa pandemya, maraming nawalan ng trabaho, mga sakuna. Kailangan na kailangan ng bawat isa ng uplifting ng spirit. ‘Yong somehow makakapagbalik sa puso nila ng saya, ng hope. At walang ibang makakapagbigay no’n kundi ‘yong spirit of Christmas. Kaya do’n nabuo ‘yong “Ikaw Ang Liwanag At Ligaya”.

Despite the downsizing of the CCM team – from 200 to only 20 – as well as the work-from-home setup, they were still able to pitch and brainstorm ideas through their virtual huddles in the previous months.

“Work from home po kaming lahat, so first time pong nangyari na lahat ng brainstorming ay nangyari online. ‘Yong brainstorming process po namin ay nagsimula sa mga prayers. Nagtanong kami sa mga Kapamilya, sa mga kaibigan, at kahit po sa mga hindi kakilala kung ano po ‘yong kahilingan nila or ‘yong prayers nila ngayong taon bilang marami po tayong pinagdaanan. ‘Yon po ang naging inspirasyon namin sa mensahe, sa lyrics, sa storytelling,” Promo Specialist and Lead Producer for “Ikaw Ang Liwanag at Ligaya” Lawrence Arvin Sibug disclosed.

When it comes to the songwriting process, Creative Group for TV Entertainment Promo and CPG Head Johnny Delos Santos, who’s also the Music Producer for the Station ID, revealed that Sir Robert would come up with a brief relevant to the current situation of the country and the Filipinos. Everyone in the team are very much welcome to submit their ideas and compositions, regardless of their task or position in CCM. Then, together with Music Producer Lloyd Oliver “Tiny” Corpuz, the three of them would finalize the lyrics and have it approved by ABS-CBN Chief Operating Officer for Broadcast Cory V. Vidanes.

And for “Ikaw Ang Liwanag At Ligaya”, they tapped talented composer Thyro Alfaro for the musical arrangements and was blown away with how he seamlessly incorporated the notable melodic rap of the translations of “liwanag” and “ligaya” in various languages and dialects.

Helming the Christmas ID was also bittersweet for Director Paolo Ramos since he’s no longer an employee of the network. Albeit, he’s still happy and motivated to be able to work with other directors and be able to offer another meaningful and stirring masterpiece to Kapamilyas in different parts of the world, despite the limitations in manpower and their movements.

With regards to the greatest challenge they encountered during the filming of the music video, Creative Account Head, Station ID Producer, “Ikaw Ang Liwanag At Ligaya” lyricist Love Rose De Leon imparted that it was really the limitations caused by the pandemic and making sure to completely adhere to the safety protocols.

“Isang pagsubok na hinarap namin ay ‘yong pandemya. Shooting under the new normal. Number one talaga ay ‘yong ma-ensure ang safety ng bawat empleyado, ng talents, ng artists. Walang pwedeng sumali sa shoot kung hindi ka nakakuha ng negative result doon sa PCR test at do’n sa antigen test,” she related.

Thus, Production Manager Sheryl Ramos considers this year’s Christmas ID as the most meaningful they have ever produced as it reflects the real essence of the season.

“Itong Christmas ID natin ngayong taon, ito na siguro ‘yong pinakamalaking collaboration ng ABS-CBN family. Limited lang ‘yong manpower natin, so ‘yong mga programs mismo, sila na mismo ‘yong nag-shoot ng mga executions nila. Kaya talagang napaka-meaningful nitong Christmas ID na ‘to ngayong taon kasi lahat nagtulungan. Dito mo mararamdaman talaga ‘yong Kapamilya spirit,” she said.

Talking about his motivation in writing station IDs, music producer Tiny Corpuz said that it would be the Filipino people, especially those who are overseas. “What motivates me to write station IDs is ‘yong mga tao talaga, especially ‘yong mga Pinoy abroad. Ang elements ng SID ay simple lang – puso siya. Ibigay mo ‘yong buong pagkatao mo at mararamdaman at mararamdaman ng tao ‘yon.”

CCM Head Robert Labayen also went on to note that although the ABS-CBN Christmas videos usually revolve in the theme of God, faith, love, and hope, this year has the “deepest wound” because of everything that happened.

“Itong lyrics ng “Ikaw Ang Liwanag at Ligaya”, ito ‘yong pinagsama-samang panalangin ng mga Pilipino. Kung may isang bagay man na nagbuklod sa mga Pilipino ngayong panahon ng pandemya, masasabi namin na ito ay ‘yong panalangin,” lyricist Love De Leon revealed.

Editor Jaimee Jan Agonia and motion graphic artists Alfie Landayan and Kar Vic recalled as well the challenges they had encountered during the post production of the music video, while print graphic artist Regine Binuya also explained the meaning behind the iconic logo of this year’s Christmas station ID.

“Very simple font and simple star for the logo. ‘Yong star ang pinaka-representation ni God. At ‘yong tatlong sinag ng star ay parang RGB rays ng ABS-CBN pero kulay gold dahil hindi lang ito para sa ABS-CBN, kundi para sa lahat ng tao sa buong bansa at mundo na magdiriwang ng Pasko at magiging liwanag at ligaya sa kapwa,” she relayed.

Creative Head and Station ID producer Dang Baldonado highlighted, too, what makes “Ikaw Ang Liwanag At Ligaya” more valuable and different from the past IDs they did.  “This year has become the most challenging year for us doing the Christmas station ID. CCM was downsized because of the franchise denial. We still had our regular load on top of the ID, so talagang teamwork. Lahat kami may role, lahat kami may assignment, lahat may ginawa. So, this station ID is really a labor of love.”

Sheryl seconded it by saying. “Kahit na mahirap, kinaya namin. ‘Di kami sumuko. Kasi gusto lang naman naming ipagpatuloy ang tradisyon na nasimulan no’n. Ang tradisyon na magbigay taon-taon ng isang Christmas ID na makakapag-inspire ng maraming Pilipino.”

Wrapping up the video were ABS-CBN executives Cory Vidanes and Carlo Katigbak expressing how overwhelmed they were on how the network’s station IDs have become part of the Pinoy Christmas tradition, as well as on the public’s positive reactions on the “Ikaw Ang Liwanag At Ligaya” music video that has already raked in over seven million combined views on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter as of December 15, 2020.

“Ang Christmas ID ng ABS-CBN ay naging bahagi na ng tradisyon tuwing Pasko ng pamilyang Pilipino. Dahil sa mga kwentong ibinahagi namin tungkol sa kabutihan sa kapwa at pagmamahal sa pamilya, naramdaman ng lahat ang kalinga at pag-ibig ng Panginoon. ‘Yon po ang tunay na kahulugan ng Pasko,” COO Cory Vidanes stated.

On the other hand, President and CEO Carlo Katigbak uttered, “Nakakataba ng puso na sila mismo ang nagsasabi na inaabangan nila ‘to. When you think about liwanag and ligaya, we want you to remember the brightness that shines through coming from the people that have done extraordinary things in these difficult times. We want you to find the brightness that radiates in the good deeds that they’ve done to bring light and joy to the rest of us.”

The video ended with CCM Robert Labayen promising that as long as there’s Christmas, there will be a Kapamilya station ID with its new anthem.