Live from Isabela, Day 2
CAUAYAN CITY, ISABELA–A call from Manila woke us up to a clear sky and a cool breeze. A relief from the darkness.
The provincial capitol was surrounded by open fields, baring a panorama of the devastation we came to the night before.
We had dozed off at our car seats. For the long haul of that night, five hours of shuteye wasn’t enough. But it was probably the sleep of the dead.
Instant cup noodles was only what my teammates could buy for dinner at 10 p.m. I rarely ate them, yet the hot La Paz Batchoy soup gladly filled a stomach that hadn’t eaten a meal since 9 in the morning.
No, Jeff Canoy and I did not take one grain of the lugaw Sagip Kapamilya fed the locals.
Jeff and his team “forced” a Jollibee store in Cauayan to serve Chickenjoy just when they were about to close. They had driven 30 minutes to the city, where a hotel and electricity awaited. The manager saw them and insisted letting them in.
The Manila news desk wanted Jeff back in Ilagan by morning and reporting live for Umagang Kay Ganda‘s 6 a.m. newscast.
Common for election and out-of-town disaster coverages: you and your material will likely go on the air for breakfast, lunch, merienda, dinner, and the midnight snack.
My cellphone still had not stirred from unconsciousness. The desk called our system engineer and asked for fresh video, or even a live shot. Too far for our camera.
Jeff and fresh video only arrived at 6:30. He wore jersey shorts going live. He hadn’t washed yet. None of us had.
We used the restrooms at the capitol building, where life went on. Sacks of rice and boxes of canned goods were stacked on one end of the lobby. More than 200 yellow ballot boxes for the barangay elections lay on the other.
So far, no stop signal for the polls here. Except for the three areas whose havoc became the face of Isabela this day.
Our satellite team moved to Cauayan after UKG. It was best for all since supplies, shelter, and again, electricity were closer. Plus, the outlook of events pointed to the province’s airport located here.
A hundred-year-old house beside our new setup allowed us bed, bath, and breakfast. Ten kilometers on, we had lunch at my father’s family house.
Our new location also gave this interesting live stand-up background for Jeff later on Patrol:
The airport took our coverage upward, and exposed the damage wrought to three coastal towns separated by the mountain range: Palanan, Maconacon, and Divilacan.
Authorities initiated the fly-overs for reconnaissance. The residents were incommunicado, and would remain so for one more day.
Only a GMA 7 cameraman and a photographer were allowed to ride along in the army chopper.
The TV crews chose GMA to shoot the pool video, largely because they still recorded on tape. We’ve been using CF cards for our Ikegami cams, while TV5 uses Panasonic P2 cards, both digital storage formats.
GMA, TV5, and a stringer for Reuters stopped by our setup to dub the tape. Our system engineer managed to get two computers and one camera to record the aerial shots from one player at the same time.
The ruins as seen from above spoke much. Couple it with the penetrating thwock-thwocks of the chopper blades, plus the horrified reactions of those who saw it themselves, and you have a story.