By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan
(UPDATED April 18) Adversity, struggle, triumph, and a desire for change.
These are the real-life stories of ordinary Filipinos–as told by the country’s TV news organizations–that earned nods this year from the reputable New York Festivals (NYF) International Television and Film Awards.
Sixteen entries from the Philippines were picked for the competition shortlist along with hundreds of finalists from more than 30 countries.
They include documentaries on conditions faced by the poor, TV specials that relived the country’s historical moments, profiles of unique lives, and programs that searched for solutions to the nation’s woes.
Five entries from ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs were recognized this year.
They vied for the competition’s Gold, Silver, and Bronze World Medal trophies, which were awarded on April 17 in Las Vegas (the morning of April 18 Manila time). During the ceremony, one debut entry (Krusada, see below) snagged a medal.
Day of big stories
Juaning brought rains to Luzon and pummeled the Bicol region with strong winds and heavy floods. On its first day,10 people were already dead.
TV Patrol aired live reports from Naga City in Bicol and from the weather bureau center. There, officials answered claims by provincial administrators that they were not forewarned of the storm.
The storm was just one of the big stories that headlined the July 26 newscast.
The Supreme Court upheld its decision to junk the commission created by President Noynoy Aquino to probe alleged anomalies during the Arroyo administration.
Three families lost loved ones after a bus skidded off a flyover. The capital region felt a 5.9-magnitude quake.
The show also investigated charges that the gaming agency spent P1-billion on overpriced coffee. It also reported on migratory birds finding sanctuary in the Manila Zoo.
In 2011, TV Patrol’s reporting of the Quirino Grandstand hostage-taking in Manila landed it a finalist certificate in the NYF long-form breaking news coverage category, as well as a medal in the International Emmy Awards.
No ordinary lives
Being judged this year are a series of episodes entitled Magdalene, Contenders, and Life.
Magdalene profiles a comfort woman who suffered through World War 2 and a former prostitute who began as a teenage boy early in the American occupation.
Contenders ends with a 14-year-old boy training in the gym Pacquiao started in, who dreams of succeeding like the boxing champ.
In Life, a wealthy couple who lost their three-year-old son a decade ago continue to relive the experience. While in the slums, a man and his younger partner struggle to bring up a set of twins.
Storyline tells the stories of the famous and the unknown through their own voices.
Created by Paulo Villaluna and Patricia Evangelista, it is the first current affairs show in the country to eschew a host.
Extraordinary stories from ordinary people are the showcase of Sunday newsmagazine Rated K, hosted by Korina Sanchez.
Its episode “Kwento ng Buhay Ko (This is My Life)” contends with two other entries in the magazine format category.
Profiled is a grandmother who again began studying in Grade 1 at age 64 determined to finish basic education. Elsewhere, another lola lives haunted by the memory of four babies she helped abort.
A man in Siquijor province reminisces carrying his polio-stricken elder brother two kilometers to and from their school.
Rated K also went to communities undergoing unique circumstances.
People in a Manila slum area have been selling their kidneys for nearly two decades as a means of livelihood.
South in Lanao del Sur province, female teenagers and mothers also train as “mujaheedin” for confrontations with the military.
“Kwento ng Buhay Ko” is Rated K’s first foray into the NYF finals list.
The one-year-old advocacy documentary Krusada (Crusade) also debuts in the NYF with a finalist and a Bronze World Medal in the social issues / current events field.
In the Krusada episode Laya (Freedom), Abner Mercado revives his campaign for the convicts in the Correctional Institute for Women who are lined up for presidential pardon.
He asks why after a year in office, Pres. Benigno Aquino has yet to grant executive clemency to aging prisoners–the President’s privilege under the law.
Mercado visits the aging inmates on the clemency list. Some have already lived out their sentences, and a number of them are now disabled or terminally ill.
He then tracks the progress of the pending pardons to the Bureau of Pardons and the Department of Justice, where Malacañang returned the list for review.
Mercado finally sends the President a personal message from the detainees, hopeful that PNoy will finally extend a hand of mercy.
To date, Abner Mercado has already made two more follow-ups to his Laya documentary series on Krusada.
The first-hand accounts of another landmark struggle for freedom are documented in EDSA 25: Sulyap sa Kasaysayan (A Glimpse of History), one of the 22 finalists in the history and society category.
Produced in time for the 25th anniversary of the peaceful People Power revolt, the documentary recounts the twilight years of the Ferdinand Marcos regime up to the historic three days of February 1986.
Without a central narrator, the docu stitches together archival footage of the ’70s and ’80s with the voices of eyewitnesses and key players in the events leading to EDSA.
Rolled raw are the sounds of the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, the tunes of the Marcos New Society Hymn and “Bayan Ko”, and the roar of the crowds.
The Aquino and Marcos couples speak for themselves in file videos. Sound bites recorded way back are heard alongside the never-before-heard recollections of the family members, soldiers, officials, activists, and journalists who were there.
Historians end the docu with insights on how EDSA influenced other upheavals all over the world.
Aside from ABS-CBN, GMA Network has 9 documentaries running in the NYF finals, two of whom won Silver World Medals.
TV5, meanwhile, has 2 public affairs programs as its first finalists in the NYF.
In 2011, ABS-CBN bagged eight recognitions from the NYF–two medals and six finalist certificates.
An international panel of 157 media professionals picked out this year’s finals shortlist and will judge what is touted as the World’s Best TV and Films™.
Four members of the jury work for Philippine broadcast companies: Engelbert Apostol from ABS-CBN, and Blesilda Gonzales, Marimil Gutierrez, and Maria Antonia Marcelo from GMA Network.
Panelists evaluate a selected number of submissions online.
They are also encouraged to abstain from judging entries coming from their home companies.
The NYF TV and Film Awards is considered the second largest international competition in television and film, covering programming of all lengths and forms in over 160 categories.
Among the 2012 finalists are programs commemorating the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, as well as coverage of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the Arab Spring protests.
New categories in this edition include: heroes, for reports or features on ordinary people whose acts of heroism and advocacies have made an impact in people’s lives; and green promotion, for environmental awareness campaigns.