“Ang swerte niyo at naabutan niyo ‘to. Naka-hataw agad kayo.”
That’s what some of the boys at Newsgathering told us new hires during a lull in those five historic days. With all due respect to the late great President, of course.
There was no better time to start and get to know the job, the dire circumstances aside.
For ABS-CBN–my new employer–Cory Aquino’s death was a chance to show its gratitude to the leader responsible for bringing it back to its former glory. And it came out full force to give Filipinos and the world a golden piece of history. Both its News and TV Production divisions joined to deliver.
In the front lines of News–behind the anchors, reporters, and the airing of those emotional moments–were the field producers.
Editors, reporters, directors, planners and managers in one, these handful helped ensure the quality of each report transmitted from each live location. Needed and high-profile, but no easy job.
Kerch and I could not fly solo at that rate. We only accompanied two field producers and watched them work the controls, weave clips and SOTs (sound on tape), and dictate requirements.
Maybe the boys had it right. First weeks on the job don’t usually involve full-length coverage, but “Salamat, President Cory” had it.
With the producers we timed in at Central as early as 3 a.m., caught the shuttle to La Salle Green Hills, and stayed there to as late as midnight. We expected learning the basics, and we got more than that, seeing our seniors move from spot to spot and think on their toes.
Funnily, Kerch and I felt the anxiety that our producers didn’t show. Naka-hataw nga agad.
At least–yet best of all–we saw history up close.
The coffin. The long queues of yellow under the heat and rain. The emotion inside and outside Manila Cathedral during the funeral service. The shouts of “Cory, Cory, Cory” as the cortege passed. People of all walks connected by one person. And those four honor guards thrust into the limelight.
Being in field production though, you might be in the midst of history but not exactly there.
Instead, you’re seated in a very cold or very hot van–take your pick. Inside you see first and decide what the viewing public would see. Big responsibility.
While I consider myself emotional, I could not gather my thoughts in the middle of recent Pinoy history’s most emotional week.
Somehow I knew what was happening all around was special, memorable, but I had to stop at that.
My heart marveled at the love–what else could you call it?–Filipinos showed Cory and showered her family. My mind though couldn’t imagine why they’d go to such lengths, focusing then on how largely middle class the crowd was, and how many enterprising Pinoys took the chance to sale their yellow wares.
That’s probably a dictate of the job–rein your feelings in and consider all the sides.
I surely remember one thing: My eyes did well up in time with the crescendos of Kris Aquino’s self-pointing albeit heartfelt speech. Around me in front of a monitor outside Manila Cathedral, I could see hankies and hear sniffs.
The public knows how the “first” (aka the guests of honor), became the last to leave the cathedral. That was even after the guarded coffin left Intramuros.
While we newbies waited for word on where to go next, we found Sen. Joker Arroyo–Cory’s executive secretary–ambling around our van, which was propped in Plaza Roma, and later talking on a phone.
I itched to have a “fanboy” picture with him, and asked my friend Ewa to take the shot. But I backed down.
Suddenly he approached me, held up his Nokia, and asked, “Could you ask my driver where he is kasi hindi ko siya marinig.”
The “maverick” senator’s chauffeur told me he was parked by the local Chowking. Senator Arroyo asked me where it was.
“Sir, diretso po, at nasa kanan–uh–kaliwa po,” pointing my hand to the left. I couldn’t see it from there but I knew it was nearby.
He turned to leave, but I stopped him.
“Sir, pwede po magpa-picture?” He gamely posed then walked on.
Moments later, I realized the Chowking was at the right. I just hoped the Senator had noticed the difference but not my blunder.
I could not help but look toward Kerch, who cautiously nodded.
I looked back at Sir, and flashed a smile.
Lots to process after a first week high.
*Redux: brought back, revisited