Given the state of how the Philippine television industry works, we do not really have much venues that broadcast TV programs which are located outside the studio complex of the broadcaster. Then again, such venues like New York City’s Ed Sullivan Theater where US late night program The Late Show (of both David Letterman and Stephen Colbert) are a rarity themselves. There is, however, one notable example broadcast venue located beyond the studio complex, of GMA Network in this case. Today, this urban roaming takes us to that Quezon City landmark known as Broadway Centrum.
Knowing its geography and history gives one the impression that its name connotes more than a single meaning. The first is its location at the corner of Aurora Boulevard and Doña Juana Rodriguez Avenue, also known as Broadway Avenue in Quezon City’s New Manila district. Then there is also the “showtime” and high energy live performances that the name “Broadway” evokes. While the QC Broadway was nowhere as fabulous as NYC’s Broadway, Broadway Centrum at least gave us some semblance of that vibe through the programs that were broadcasted in this venue over the years.
The idea for Broadway Centrum came about in the 1980s to serve as a bigger venue for the live programs GMA Network was broadcasting which could no longer accommodate the growing crowds who wanted to watch them. Broadway Centrum became fully operational in 1987, a structure with basement parking which helped secure celebrities to their rides from rowdy fans, a ground floor reserved for commercial space and a second level where the theaters are located. There are actually two theaters (or studios) on the opposite sides which are called West Side, which has a 300 seating capacity, and East Side which has a 400 seating capacity.
The opening of the venue could not have come at a better time, as GMA’s youth-oriented variety program called That’s Entertainment was beginning to take Philippine television, and the greater entertainment industry as a whole by storm. Fans of celebrities who were at “That’s” queue up on every broadcast day to see their idols and show their support. And yeah, there were fan wars going on as well sometimes outside the theater. On Saturdays, when many of the different “That’s” groups would perform together, you can imagine how things were “livelier” than usual. In the greater scheme of things, this flurry of activity also benefited the commercial establishments in and around Broadway Centrum, especially in those days before Gilmore came along.
However, Broadway Centrum would fall into a long decline by the mid-1990s as the three GMA shows that were being broadcasted there ended their runs one by one. At the same time, GMA Network was improving its South Triangle studios so the newer variety programs opted to broadcast from the GMA studios instead. There were some exceptions like the late Saturday night program hosted by That’s Entertainment and GMA Supershow host German Moreno called “Master Showman Presents” which eventually was renamed “Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman” after Moreno’s famous tagline first made famous in the show; it eventually moved to the GMA Network studios by 2010. There was also GMA’s reality program called Starstruck which aims to discover the next hottest celebrities, which in a way was like That’s Entertainment. Except for the finale shows, most of the episodes of the show during its initial run from 2003-2009 were broadcasted at Broadway Centrum as well.
Then, there was Eat Bulaga, the long-running noontime program, which made Broadway Centrum its home after it moved to GMA in 1995. Save for a brief period when the program temporarily broadcasted at the studio across it, Eat Bulaga made Broadway Centrum’s East Side Studio (which was renamed as TAPE studio, after the program’s production company TAPE) as its home since. As such, Broadway Centrum has been associated with Eat Bulaga quite often, a connection that strengthened in 2015 as Broadway Centrum became a venue for Eat Bulaga’s hit segment called “Kalyeserye” that catapulted into fame its lead stars Alden Richards and Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza, the love team known as “Aldub.”
As for the West Side Studio, after GMA let go of the facility, TV5 used it from 2010-2014 as venue for some of the programs it was broadcasting like Face to Face and Talentadong Pinoy. It even served as venue for auditions for the Philippine edition Who Wants To Be A Millionaire that the network was broadcasting; I should know because this was where I auditioned. But TV5 eventually gave up the studio as it was looking at the new TV5 Media Center to be its new venue for its entertainment programs (still not finished though, after two years at this time of writing).
Despite these activities, sadly Broadway Centrum no longer had the luster it once had as an entertainment and commercial venue. Not even its attempt to capitalize on the boom of the Gilmore IT hub nearby help boost its profile. Today, there are still some commercial activity in the area, but it is no longer as vibrant as it was before.
In the mid-2010s, Broadway Centrum was sold to property developer Empire East, which made no secret of its plans to redevelop the property into a residential-commercial development project upon the expiration of the lease contracts. This would mean that Eat Bulaga would have to soon move to a new studio. And it actually is moving to a new studio, which is expected to happen before the end of the year with the construction of its own studio in Cainta, right at the site of the old KB Studio, where programs like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire used to tape its episodes. (again, I should know since I was a contestant once…ehem, ehem)
With these developments, we may be looking right now at what could be the last days of Broadway Centrum as it will have to give way to yet another urban residential-commercial project in the metropolis though its final fate is yet to be determined. At this point, there are only our memories and this tribute for its contributions to Philippine television and entertainment history. And whatever plans that will be made at this part of the metropolis is hoped to reflect the legacy it has manage to create throughout its almost 30-year history.
Acknowledgements as well to Wikipedia, Skyscrapercity, and Manila Bulletin