ZAMBOANGA CITY–It’s one of the thrills of the job: Nothing happens on schedule. It’s also one of its hassles.
We were turning in after a rather slow news day when we found out the day would still not end.
They’re called dull days when little action happens, no big words are said, and few lives are affected. Thus the merest break from normality or a little journalistic enterprise becomes a headline.
Our Thursday coverage was only punctuated by a bomb threat at the Court of Appeals in Manila. It forced the employees out for almost two hours and kept us in the media outside the gates. But no bomb went off.
One did, at an airport down south in Zamboanga.
It bumped the top stories of that night’s TV Patrol and entered each gap with updates, fresh video, and a phone interview with the city mayor.
It also altered our Friday plans. We were told we would head there too.
When our PAL flight landed just after sunrise, it was as if there had been no blast.
We saw no wreck at the arrival gate, where the explosion happened. The only sign was the dozen police and bomb squad officers combing the place for evidence.
There we wondered where we could set up our satellite and where our reporter Ron Gagalac would stand for his TV Patrol report.
Our worries mounted though when we learned that our equipment on cargo was delayed for the next flight. It would arrive at 6 p.m–too late to reach the first gap of Patrol. And our competitors were here too.
The hours in between saw a series of SOS calls to and from Manila, a series of failed attempts to move the cargo to an earlier flight, and a series of rides between the airport and the local ABS-CBN station.
All to ensure Sir Ron went on the air as scheduled despite another unexpected turn.
We had to guarantee Manila that we could still send our video using the only hardware I carried–a MacBook and its accessories of ports and wires.
Thankfully, our Zambo station which was a kilometer or so from the airport could feed and go live. Only, we could not have the airport as a background.
So I edited Sir Ron’s voiceover at the Garden Orchid Hotel and shuttled to the station to feed it.
We had to transmit it before 5:30 p.m. when TV Patrol Chavacano went live. Another editor in Manila also needed the time to add in graphics, animation, and previous video of the blast.
When it became clear the cargo was coming way past 6, we rushed to the station where a setup was quickly put up after the local newscast.
The live report went smoothly despite the unavoidable satellite delay and the dark background. We still had time to rehearse Sir Ron’s poses for the augmented reality look.
He went live for ANC’s Rundown and Bandila, and then the next day on TV Patrol Weekend, finally at the airport.
Another lesson on the unexpected: Never assume all is lost until you have tried all options.