Rose Eclarinal, Danny Buenafe and Gene Alcantara started a TV programme in the UK and Europe called Juan Eu Konek, which aired monthly on ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel (TFC) and ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). It was the brainchild of Rose, a veteran journalist of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, and funding for its two-plus years of existence was provided by her and Gene Alcantara.
Juan Eu Konek showcased the strengths of the veteran journalist’s team in long-form reporting, a departure from the regular short news format used by correspondents in their weekly news reporting. The show was spun off the commemorative episodes Rose Eclarinal produced for TFC’s 20th anniversary in June 2013, featuring longer stories on Filipinos in Europe. TFC subsequently decided to incorporate the show into its regular programming. The first episode of Juan Eu Konek debuted over two weeks on TFC in December 2013 as a two-part, year-end special for ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau.
Delving into political, economic, social and personal lives of Filipinos overseas, Juan Eu Konek brought the diaspora closer, as it connected Filipinos worldwide through their powerful stories of success, suffering and survival. The first of its kind for TFC Europe, Juan Eu Konek was a 45-minute programme divided into three long-form segments, hosted by ABS-CBN Europe’s experienced team of journalists.
Then ABS-CBN Europe and Middle East News Bureau Chief Danny Buenafe reported on the major political and social issues that impacted the lives of Filipinos in the EU, tackling labour and economic concerns such as the plight of migrant domestic workers in the UK and the repercussions of Spain’s lingering economic downturn on Filipino families there.
Meanwhile, then senior correspondent Rose Eclarinal, the show’s executive producer, featured the personal stories of triumph and success and the many, interesting lifestyles of Filipinos in Europe. Whether following the new Filipino leads of the West End revival of the hit musical Miss Saigon, or probing the psyche of Pinoy transsexuals in the UK, Eclarinal offered revealing portraits of Filipino life in Europe.
Of the programme was the regular segment Immigration 101, on immigration matters, hosted by legal consultant and long-time community leader Gene Alcantara. Immigration 101 offered case studies, insight and advice into UK and EU immigration laws, shedding light on such immigration concerns as work permits, travel restriction, spousal visas and changes to European laws, and produced the ground-breaking story “Paglalakbay” about the history of Filipinos in the UK from the 19th century to the present.
The news magazine show regularly produced three 15- minute segments on successful stories about Filipinos, issues concerning the Filipino diaspora, and immigration matters, with producer and Director of Photography Patrick Ropeta, assisted by Edward Lao, among others.
The theme song then was produced by Port Mallillin, a London-based composer and musician. Juan Eu Konek was widely seen around the world and actually won the "Best Regular TV Program" category in the Commission on Filipinos Overseas Migration, Advocacy & Media (MAM) awards for two consecutive years from 2014 to 2015.
Of the TV programme which looked in-depth into the Filipino expatriates in Europe, documenting their rich and varied experiences as they assimilated into a dynamic and foreign culture. Introspective as well as highly entertaining, Juan Eu Konek explored the Filipino’s triumphs and struggles on the European continent, and we had TFC correspondents in Belgium, France, Norway, Spain and Italy assisting with the shoots.
In early 2016, we held the first ground breaking televised townhall “Halalan” in London, held in Westminster Town Hall, which had speakers for each of the Presidentiables at the time, consisting of a Q&A with the hosts and the audience, and a mock election which produced surprising results. Unfortunately, soon after this, we had to stop in 2016 due to lack of resources.
Fast forward to September 2019, we reformed Juan Eu Konek and presented a digital relaunch of the programme to the Filipino community, held at the award-winning London restaurant Cafe Romulo in Kensington High Street, attended by Filipino community leaders, dignitaries, local media and influencers.
The format was more or less the same but this time we had four hosts - Rose Eclarinal, Crystal Dias, Kiara Gregorio and Gene Alcantara, with a new associate producer/songwriter Jay Montelibano-McLeod, and Director of Photography Thirdy Ado, assistant videographer JP Walsh and a team in Manila composed of Chad Solis, Denmark Alejandro and Joy Reyes Bailo, with assistance from Europe by a number of TFC correspondents - Bong Agustinez, Jackie de Vega , Mye Mulingtapang, Sandra Sotelo Aboy, Vangie Jorquia, Raquel Crisostomo, Grace Pickert, Jessica Gross and more.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020
Juan Eu Konek had to change its format to deal with the challenging times. So we started focussing on informing people about Covid-19 and its impact on the communities in Europe, giving them advice and updates from professionals, and importantly recording the lives and deaths of Filipinos. We did this during the lockdowns, changing our approach to livestreams on Facebook and YouTube to adapt to government restrictions on movements.
Our music composer Jay also dedicated the song “When We See The Rainbow” in honour of some 54 frontliners and others who fell victims to the coronavirus pandemic.
We also successfully applied for funding during the pandemic to the National Lottery Community Fund, a public distributor of money raised by National Lottery players across the United Kingdom.
This enabled us to fund “Kontra Corona,” a series of six documentaries on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected and continues to affect the Filipino expatriate communities in the UK and Europe. It highlights the critical role Filipino health frontliners have played in the battle, including those who have lost their lives, those who have survived, and those who continue to put themselves at risk while performing their duties. The first part of the documentary was aired earlier in 2021 on ABS-CBN DZMM TeleRadyo and Sky Cable Channel 26.
The highlight of our work was distilling the six documentaries into “Kontra Corona,” a two-hour film documentary produced by our team, including subtitles, and which premiered in London at the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London on the 6th of November 2021.
On the 16th of March 2022, first-of-its-kind docu-film “Kontra Corona” was awarded the prestigious Migration Advocacy and Media (MAM) Award for Best Documentary in the Film Media category. The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) conceived the MAM Awards in 2011 to recognise the significant role of media in information dissemination and migration and development advocacy.
And so the story of Juan Eu Konek continues…