We only wished that that Saturday was like any other first day of the annual Undas (a.k.a. All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day). For TV news, it involved the usual live points at the busiest cemeteries, transport terminals, and highways.
But on November 1, another storm in a stormy year hit Luzon.
It was three letters after the two worst typhoons of 2009, and like those after, one could only guess which areas “Santi” (a.k.a. Mirinae), would hit and how hard.
The “Saint” on All Saints’ Day broke land early morning, and with it the reports of strong winds and rising waters south of Manila.
The desk tasked us to monitor traffic at the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) for “Salamat Dok”, and then move to Los Baños, Laguna later. The province, apparently, suffered the worst.
The gales, not the rains, stopped us from setting up at our planned live point above a flyover. Our nominally sturdy van already swayed with the winds.
Our engineer could not and would not call the setup, not even after we moved to a gas station. So we spent the entire dawn parked there, waiting for instructions and for the worst to fade.
They sent us on to Laguna later. Then the rains had stopped, the wind blew quietly, the sun was out, and “Salamat Dok” was over.
The drive there yielded no dramatic video the likes of Ondoy and Pepeng. Save for some fallen branches, uprooted trees and a few submerged roadways, it seemed no storm had passed.
Had we gone straight to Laguna during “Santi’s” height, like reporter Ryan Chua and his team, our “award-winning” cameraman Bernie Mallari would have caught more action.
Ryan rode on to the capitol in Sta. Cruz just to get government’s side. His exclusive video of the storm all came from the road and told all.
The ENG van team pulled over in Los Baños, the farthest our signal could reach.
Ryan had to send us his tapes so we could transmit it to ABS-CBN. He then came back two-plus hours before 6 p.m. to edit his story.
The live-package report aired on TV Patrol Sabado shows the challenge of balancing TV news values: editing in all the good shots, following the script, allowing for very last minute changes, all the while making it to the first gap of the newscast.
After the adrenaline rush of airing it, we dined on roasted bangus, lechon manok, and hot rice on the banks of the Laguna de Bay. We then packed for home.
All afternoon and evening, our “Saint” was no more in sight.