‘Patrol ng Pilipino’ no more?

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

ABS-CBN News reporter Adrian Ayalin preparing for a live report at the Ombudsman (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

ABS-CBN News reporter Adrian Ayalin preparing for a live report at the Ombudsman (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

It was a small switch—just a handful of words. But it made some people do a double take on their TV sets. At first, they thought that a story for another show might have wandered into the May 19 line-up of “TV Patrol”.

Then in report after report, they heard it again. The tag line “Patrol ng Pilipino” with which ABS-CBN reporters closed their stories for almost a decade was now taking a rest.

And it was not just on “TV Patrol.” Later that night, viewers heard the same new extro on “News Plus” in Channel 23 and on “Bandila”: the reporter’s name, followed by “ABS-CBN News”. Come “Umagang KayGanda” the next morning, it was clear this was no slip or experiment.

It was a small switch that reflected big, gradual changes in the news organization.

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As ‘TV Patrol’ turns 27

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Collage of TV Patrol logos from 1987 to 2014

TV Patrol’s logos from 1987 to 2014

For most Filipinos, it is TV Patrol that has been their window to recent history for the longest time.

It has chronicled the ups and downs of the Fifth Republic, some of them coinciding with its own. Its headlines have shown scandals in the halls of power and brawls in obscure barangay corners. And its subjects have ranged from the ordinary to the influential.

The past 12 months were no exception to big news.

TV Patrol’s crews, reporters, and anchors took their cameras to the farthest and the worst, to the best and the most awe-striking. They were at the fringes of two border disputes and at the crossfire of a downtown skirmish. They uncovered schemes of greed and deceit and covered the outrage that followed.

They saw white smoke signal change in a centuries’ old institution, welcomed another countryman to the pantheon of saints, and celebrated the victories of other Pinoys in the global community.

They braved an earthquake, monsoons, and typhoons, including the deadliest where some of them barely escaped with their lives. And they carried the worldwide call for help and helped bring it there.

If 2013 was any indication, it’s that there are always new experiences for an old-timer, especially in news.

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Lessons from ABS-CBN’s ‘Kapitan’

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Cover of "Kapitan: Geny Lopez and the Making of ABS-CBN" by Raul Rodrigo

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

I loaned “Kapitan: Geny Lopez and the Making of ABS-CBN” from the company library for research. But only when I had to return it did I start reading the coffee-table book cover to cover. It took two days, one of which took an entire afternoon.
ABS-CBN 60 years of Philippine Television logo

The book’s subject matter is daunting. It squeezes 55 years of Philippine television—not just ABS-CBN—into 450 pages. Eugenio Lopez, Jr., who did not start the network but steered it to dominance, actually figures in only less than three-fourths of its pages.

The late author Raul Rodrigo begins not with the birth of Lopez, but with the conception of Bolinao Electronics Corporation (ABS-CBN’s corporate predecessor) in 1946. Likewise, Rodrigo’s flash-forward mentions go way beyond Lopez’s death on June 29, 1999.

The influence of “Kapitan” (an honorific christened him by employees) nonetheless comes up in each turn of the page, especially in anecdotes that have grown part of company lore.

In marking 60 years of television in the Philippines and the 14th anniversary of Geny Lopez’s death, here are some notes on his personal philosophy and management style:

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That epic ABS-CBN News music video (Because journalists also dream of singing stardom)

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Composite screenshot of ABS-CBN journalists in video cover of I Want It That Way

“Slow news day?” was the query of the pleasantly surprised.

For how in the middle of a plane crash, fleeting low pressure areas, and robberies caught on CCTV did journalists manage to make a potentially viral music video?

Well, it is as easy as facing the camera atop the PC. Or employing an iPad app that can record and edit in shots to a song.

It took a few days last week of shadowing and persuading a cast to join. Yes, a mini-shoot. Post-work and TV shows, of course.

Jenny (Reyes) cut up the song parts to sing, Chiara (Zambrano) “booked” whoever was willing to sing, and Jeff (Canoy) shot with his iPad.

Jeff was the consummate director who was sold-out to his opus.

He even poked all the way to Eastern Samar where Atom Araullo and our team were wondering if we still had any post-earthquake stories left to report.

“You’re missing out on the best video of all time!” Jeff messaged us. Atom and I got on Skype and Jeff showed us the video so far. And he wanted Atom to perform one part via web cam.

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Pagharap ni PNoy sa Pinoy

Si Pang. Aquino sa Manila Hotel, Hunyo 24, bago tanggapin ang "Outstanding Manilan" award.

Sunud-sunod ang panggulat sa bayan ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino. Marahil dahil nasanay tayo sa nakaraang pamahalaan, bawat gawin nyang bago ay malaki nang bagay.

Ang pag-iwas sa wangwang. Ang pagkaipit sa trapik. Ang pagiging takda sa oras. Ang magiliw na pakikitungo sa media. At ang SONA sa wika ng lahat.

Pinapakita lang ng pangulo na kailangan nyang mapalapit sa mamamayan. Siyam na taon silang maituturing na nawalay sa gobyernong nasangkot sa mga kontrobersyang hindi nito pinagtuunang isagot.

Kaya naman, bawat pagkakataong makasagot, sinasamantala ngayon.

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Back behind coverage lines

University of the Philippines students line up to vote at the College of Arts and Letters library on Feb. 26, 2010, during the campus's second automated student council vote. Photo by Roehl Nino Bautista of Tinig ng Plaridel

UP students line up to vote on a PC. (Photo by Roehl Nino Bautista)

While old generals fade away, “old” reporters just keep coming back for more, so signed off an industry icon.

I’ve fought in those trenches four years as a student, and have since retired–or rather, was forced to. I just had to see how the new troops were faring.

A comrade called this effort a “revered tradition,” for our team started it all: the concept of real-time, multimedia coverage of a campus vote.

It was unoriginal as far as elections go. But at the student level, it was innovative. And with blogs and social networks gaining ground, opportune.

As UP pubs released irregular issues and campus radio tapped a tiny audience, our team from Tinig ng Plaridel (TNP) decided to partner with other student media and focus on where its print counterparts did not.

First on the Web

Frontpage of Tinig ng Plaridel's post election issue for 2009

Frontpage of TNP's 2009 post election issue

TNP first posted online the lists of the university and College of Mass Communication (CMC) council candidates who won in 2008, the last these polls saw a manual count that lasted till after midnight.

Editors working with dzUP radio also went on the air first with the results from various colleges.

The blogged updates lacked the pomp of Inquirer.net, abs-cbnNEWS.com, or GMAnews.tv, but that year they served as the instant source of election info for UP students online.

It made a mark that Months after, the other major UP papers imitated applied the real-time format to cover the first instance Iskos voted on the fate of the next Student Regent.

TNP then combined forces with these pubs for “Halalan sa Diliman ’09,”

hoping to coincide UP’s first automated polls with faster, wider, and meatier reporting.

The coverage highlighted the limitations of UP student media. Of 20 plus colleges, only a handful had active publications for want of funds, support, volunteers, or interest.

They still delivered–but thanks more to the papers’ attempts to step up their own news gathering over each other rather than deliberately contributing to the joint project.

This year we who experienced it feared its happening again. It did.

Coverage case studies

Franz dela Fuente, TNP editor in chief and Katherine Elona, TNP writer fighting the online battle on election night 2010

Franz dela Fuente, TNP editor in chief and Katherine Elona, TNP writer, fighting the online battle on election night 2010

Much like the national one, covering elections in UP Diliman tests a novice’s skill and highlights the veteran’s expertise.

Election reporters battle time, distance, competition, academics, inaccuracy, mobile signals, and laptop batteries to break news first.

The eight newbies of TNP’s 2010 staff–in place for only two months–were said to have been left on their own too early to face those factors. Their output supposedly turned out half-baked, despite all-out and commendable efforts.

This batch though had more laptops and wireless connections to blog, Plurk, FB, and Tweet updates than previous ones.

Each pub again fared on its own, TNP and the Philippine Collegian working full time. Plus, few bothered or succeeded in putting out deeper, more provoking content. Nothing improved from last year.

A UP Linux Users' Group (UnPLUG) member monitors the electronic election.Election registration at the UP College of Mass Communication. Photo by Roehl Nino Bautista

Voting at the UP CMC (Photos by Roehl Nino Bautista)

Such pieces that asked and tried to answer how and why went out online, but through FactCheck UP Diliman, a month-old Multiply blog.

It broke “exclusives” on party activities, asked “the crucial questions” on issues, and added comment. An anonymous group professing various party biases and colleges sourced stories from unidentified students.

They did cause a stir, much for highlighting issues the campus papers either forgot or bypassed.

These traits that made the site stand out were its liabilities. Being produced incognito and fading out soon after the vote, it seemed its sole purpose was to add ferment to the polls.

Next time

Tinig ng Plaridel staff 2010 on election duty Tinig ng Plaridel 2010 staff on duty during UP election day 2010

Election duty: On a caf or on the floor

FactCheck’s success is still a slap or comment on the publications supposed to do that job.

The culprit, then and now, was lack of planning. Money was never an object since the battle was waged online. The pubs waited for each other to initiate plans and then failed to follow through.

Few reporters were trained to cover the campaign or oriented on UP elections and politics. And few noted or addressed the issues that matter in UP’s changing student landscape.

For 2011, pubs please learn and pioneer ways of telling stories and delivering news.

Look back. Provide more background on matters like voting histories, party stands and performances. Feel the students’ pulse, and then guide it.

Make partnership deals early. Involve more students a la Boto Mo iPatrol Mo.

Wars, indeed, merit intensive training.

Things now are stirring in a bigger field I will be deployed to in May. Let’s see if my skirmishes in college prepared me to cover the elections that will determine the fate of the nation.

Hearts and hugs at the Araneta

Screengrabs from people who posted vids on YouTube. Click on them to watch.

I dashed from the station to the far entrance of the stadium.

Good thing the line was nowhere near the queue the last I came to such a night. I snatched my ticket from friends already inside and rushed in.

Aussie church band Planetshakers would perform their first to a less packed crowd at Manila’s Big Dome.

Sitting at upper box B, my mind recalled that other queue in another arena. That was late 2006, my first as a teen, and also the first for Hillsong United, another band from Down Under.

Understandable, since United songs (like “One Way”) have long filled the worship lineups of youth groups here. The Shakers have yet to enter local awareness.

Three years have changed much. I’m now a single, paying professional. Before, this would’ve been a break from class work. Now it’s a reunion.

Catch up conversations about life–and love–gave way as the arena darkened, the stage lights brightened, the band went up, and a roar arose with the beat.

We asked, “Pwede na ba tumayo?” The stadium lost no time, stood and joined the noise.

Thank God, some things don’t change.

* * * * * *

A tip for worship events: When encountering new songs, try to sing along. They’re usually easy to catch on. One might even become your favorite.

The point, after all, is not what songs you know, but who you’re singing them to.

* * * * * *

These “concerts” though attract mostly those familiar, or fanatical.

Yes, avid followers abound even in Christian music. I was once. With one United album in 2003, I liked their alternative sound and bought them all later. Continue reading

All Together Separate*

Once upon a time we all lived together,

and then lived separate lives;

Now we’re connected more than ever,

but miles and minds apart.

It’s the irony of technology, the grand price of the grand prix: how we live some more yet die a little; or come together yet make no more than a superficial connection.

Find it in the themes of recent doomsday and futuristic movies. Even in tearjerkers set in the oh-so-familiar present, with their many-angled takes on the classic carpe diem (Latin, “seize the day”).

They all warn: the price of our progress is the pending harm not only of our planet, but more tragically, of ourselves.

This warning unfolds in the Bruce Willis action film “Surrogates”. In its very-near-future setting, society looks, acts, and feels like our own. But no one’s really there. Instead, it’s virtual reality come alive.

The catch? Almost everyone you see is a physically perfect robotic stand-in (read: surrogate) controlled by the real person lying at home. A situation that can deceive.

Surrogates Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell (courtesy: scificool.com)

Like old Bruce Willis (right) controls younger Bruce Willis (center). Or even female partner (left).

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