Friday, July 24, 2009


There are a few cable companies here but in Manila, the main players are Destiny & Sky Cable. Once we moved to our current home, I signed up for Sky Cable. What appealed to me was the digital cable with box which meant that instead of having to channel surf or watch a VERY slow TV guide channel, at the bottom of the screen, each show would say the title. In addition, I could scroll through all the channels and see what was on all day (somewhat similar to what I used to have in SF).

When we first moved I signed up for every channel they had (with the exception of some foreign language packages) which included three HBO channels. Basic cable here has a single HBO channel but it was always edited (namely for sex) which I had assumed was because it was part of basic cable and not a premium channel. I was wrong. When I signed up for the additional three channels of HBO, I realized they were ALL edited. I can only assume that we get one generic Asia feed which likely includes countries with censorship (i.e., Singapore) but I am not sure. I was watching the movie Traffic once on local network TV here and when a gun was held to Michael Douglas, the gun was blurred out, so who knows. I ended up canceling the HBO package and if there is a movie or HBO series I want to see, I just download it or buy the DVD. I could not take the huge chunks of movies being edited. In addition, most of the movies they showed were repeated a thousand times in the course of a month and were mostly movies I had no interest in seeing (movies along the lines of Problem Child 2, Look Who's Talking 2).

There are some fantastic channels here, namely National Geographic Adventure which is in addition to the regular National Geographic. If I could only watch one channel, this would likely be it. I am in love with "Don't Tell My Mother" (random French guy who visits random countries, i.e., North Korea), "Bondi Rescue" (follows lifeguards on Bondi Beach--way more interesting than it sounds), and "Banged Up Abroad" (a series all about people who were locked up abroad--namely for drug smuggling although some have been people who were kidnapped by extremist groups). I have no idea if these shows are available in the US but I am loving them.

Since my Tagalog still sucks, I do not watch a lot of local television. Once I get more fluent, I want to be able to watch (and understand) Imbestigador and XXX which are both expose shows (similar I guess to 20/20 or Dateline). I never understand what is going on so I am left staring at the TV wondering what is going on. Same with TV Patrol which is an evening news show. There is a local news channel in English, ANC but it never seems as interesting as TV Patrol. There is a local version of Project Runway which I got a kick out of last year and plan to watch the second season once it starts.

I still wish there was a system here that had Television on Demand like I had in SF. Since I usually watch television before going to bed, I usually am watching really weird shows at midnight. I loved being able to watch primetime shows in the middle of the night. A friend of mine in the US recommended getting a DVR but honestly I am not sure if there are enough shows I like to necessitate that. I guess a lot of television here for me consists of shows that are interesting enough but I would likely watch something given the oppourtunity.

Most recently our cable company started offering a "select" service which means that once you book a basic package, you can add on the additional channels you want which is what we did. Most of the channels were P20 a month (~$.50) although even at that price, I am not sure about Fox News. There is Int'l CNN, Int'l BBC, ANC, GMA (local), CNN Headline, and ANC plays Al Jazeera in the afternoon for an hour. I kept Fox News because it is mostly US domestic news, but it is way too slanted (in the wrong direction) for me. What I wouldn't give for some MSNBC.

I shouldn't be so hard on the HBO--in hindsight I did watch War Games which I love, never would have thought to watch again, so I guess it did have some purpose.