Collage of various DZMM Radyo Patrol reporters in group poses

There’s something about that Radyo Patrol number

By Anjo Bagaoisan

Radyo Patrol 48 Zandro Ochona and Radyo Patrol 49 Zhander Cayabyab get their DZMM call signs from their boss Radyo Patrol 37 Edwin Sevidal during the DZMM 30th anniversary. ((Shot by Sofia Monica Regalado)

Getting their numbers. (Shot by Sofia Monica Regalado)

Zandro and Zhander were both outside the room when it happened.

It was a party—the 30th anniversary bash of DZMM last October 4 to be exact—and yet Zandro was working the remote TeleRadyo booth outside the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Pasay, interviewing Radyo Patrol veterans for a live broadcast.

“Bigla akong pinabalik ng PA [program associate], sabi kailangan ako sa loob. E hindi naman ako sasayaw! (A PA suddenly called me back to the ballroom, saying I was needed inside. But I wasn’t scheduled to dance!)” he said.

Inside, Zandro saw ABS-CBN Integrated News head Ging Reyes and his boss, DZMM news gathering chief Edwin Sevidal, standing on the stage. Knowing what it meant, he fought tears as he walked towards them.

He and Zhander already had an inkling of this early in the night, but decided not to expect much. They even thought it might not happen since the program was already ending then.

Zhander was taking pictures with work mates then. Someone opened the ballroom door and called out to him: “Hoy pumunta ka ng stage (Hey, go up the stage)!”

“Noong nakita ko na naglalakad si Zandro on stage, alam ko na (When I saw Zandro also going up, I knew).”

Zandro Ochona, Radyo Patrol 48, and Zhander Cayabyab, Radyo Patrol 49, finally got the numbers they’ve been waiting and working for for 5 years.

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THROWBACK: The fall of Camp Abubakar

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

The MILF flag is brought down after the seizure of Camp Abubakar. (Grab from ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol)

The MILF flag is brought down after the seizure of Camp Abubakar. (Grab from ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol)

[UPDATED] Camp Abubakar, a place firmly associated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the long-winded struggle for peace in Mindanao, no longer evokes the immense respect, fear or awareness it once did almost two decades ago.

Until the late 1990s, the camp was not just the stronghold of the rebel group but also its largest settlement and seat of its Shariah-based government.

Its territory stretched to tens of thousands of hectares (initial figures were 2,000, later stretching from 10,000-15,000; in some accounts, up to 32,000), covering the Maguindanao towns of Barira, Buldon, Matanog and Parang. Forests and bodies of water acted as natural barriers around the camp, augmented by trenches and tunnels dug by the MILF.

The group’s leaders—founder and chairman Salamat Hashim and then-military chief Al Haj Murad Ibrahim—lived and held office there. Abubakar contained a school, a training academy, a hospital, businesses, farms and markets, providing for the needs of its fighters and civilian residents.

The camp meant security for those claiming allegiance to the Bangsa Moro, but caution for the Christian locals and armed forces surrounding it. None dared approach or pass through.

All that changed on July 9, 2000 when Camp Abubakar fell into the hands of the Philippine military at the end of a two-month offensive. More than 20,000 residents were affected by the clash. Continue reading

To Saudi with ‘Love’

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Andy and Mabel in Polaroid

In Polaroid.

It was a crazy idea. She was already an up-and-coming manager in a Makati-based firm. Her husband was an architect abroad. They already had a house, a car, and two rowdy toddlers. And now he wanted them to live with him in a country she’d never been to?

Her hubby–they called each other ‘Love’–wasn’t away for too long anyways. He regularly flew home–but not for long. Like many wives in similar situations, she also earned her share in the family budget, took care of the kids, and eagerly waited for each letter, photo, or cassette tape that came in the mail.

She was already used to the state of things. Leaving that and practically starting a new leaf just didn’t seem right.

And yet in 1994, barely six years after getting married to Andy Bagaoisan, Mabel and her sons Anjo, 5, and Nico, 3, boarded a direct flight to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Alone in Las Pinas: Mabel, Nico, Anjo

Alone in Las Pinas: Mabel, Nico, Anjo

At the back of her mind, Mabel could not yet shake off her uneasiness. It was summed up in one question: What would she do there? Her parents had asked her the same. Her boss did too, as he tried everything just so a company asset wouldn’t leave. In Saudi, she knew, she would go from career woman to housewife. Was she ready for it?

Then again, this was her chance to live out married life with Andy full-time. He had flown to Saudi just months after they became an item, and came home 2 years later to get married. Since then, he only visited Manila a handful of times. It paid off: he was now in a stable post designing for a major developer in the capital, Riyadh.

Mabel was unsure where this new chapter would bring her family, but she trusted Andy and his plans.

Life in Riyadh was hot, boring, and restrictive, especially for women. Mabel had to get used to not being able to go out just any time, and whenever she could, going out wearing the black abaya, not getting to drive, and more so, not having maids around.

At least there, families enjoyed more benefits and preferential treatment than single expats. Mabel grew at home with her new routine. She and Andy learned to split and alternate housework with kid-caring duties. And she soon became pregnant with their first daughter.

First family pic in Riyadh.

1995: First family pic in Riyadh.

But in religiously conservative Saudi, Mabel and Andy found the biggest, most unlikely change–a deeper, renewed faith.

It came to Andy first–through other Filipinos who invited him to gatherings held clandestinely under the radar of the mutawa or religious police. These meetings in houses or in the desert focused on studying and living out the Bible and stressed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. With it he found a new direction and a new community of brothers and sisters.

At first, Mabel resisted Andy’s efforts to share with her what he had found. Again, it seemed crazy, and went against all she was long used to.

But love won out. He was faithful and patient despite their momentary differences. She gradually saw the bigger Love behind his actions for her. Soon, she decided that as she went where her husband went, she would love God as he had come to love Him. Their family became part of a spiritual family–a church.

What once were four now grew to six. Two more A’s added to the mix: Andrebelle and Andric Mark. As the older boys entered grade school, Mabel gradually got to work again–first as a pre-school teacher and later as an accountant. Between engaging their school’s PTA and a few Filipino community groups, the family’s life revolved around that of their church.

2000: From four to six.

2000: From four to six.

The 12 years that followed my dad and mom’s decision to live together in the land of sand and camels were not perfect or smooth, but they were surely the most memorable.

For my siblings and me, it was a coming of age, a steady growth in our awareness of life. It was also a chance to witness how our parents loved and respected each other and their decisions. If they had disagreements, they spared us from seeing that. We saw how faith led them in guiding how they managed our family.

My mother would look back on her uneasiness in going to Saudi with a smile. She’d long realized that she had followed a plan greater than my father’s. They learned to love each other more, and to bring one important person into their relationship–God.

Call it a crazy idea, but it was a trip worth taking the risk.

08092014406 copy

Shot in 2000.

———-

This is the long-overdue follow-up to the love story of my parents, which I first wrote for their 25th wedding anniversary last year. Read about how they first met here.

Special thanks go to Sushmita Chim, Anna Marie Pagtabunan, Aljan Quilates, and Hiyas Villanueva, communication graduates of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) who found my blog and thought my parents’ story a fitting profile for their thesis on lives touched by the Light Rail Transit. I used a part of their interview with my parents as a source for this post.

10 events that made headlines on a weekend

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

TV Patrol Weekend's first and current logos 2004 & 2014

TV Patrol Weekend’s first and current logos

Before “TV Patrol Linggo” debuted on the air on May 9, 2004, TV news on weekends was usually relegated to short, late-night rundowns of the day’s events or the week’s top stories. Today, the weekend newscast is a mainstay in a 24/7 news environment. While manned by smaller teams, aired on tighter time slots, and watched by lesser viewers, they provide a needed avenue for public service–especially when the breaking event strikes.

Watch the opening to TVP Linggo’s first newscast here:

As TV Patrol’s weekend edition marks its 10th year, here are 10 of the country’s biggest stories that broke under its watch, proving that patrolling the news never stops:

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When Filipinos last saw Pope John Paul II

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Pope John Paul II waves a final goodbye to Filipinos in Manila during his 1995 visit before boarding his plane. (Screengrab courtesy of ABS-CBN / TV Patrol)

Pope John Paul II waves a final goodbye to Manila during his 1995 visit. (Screen grab courtesy of ABS-CBN / TV Patrol)

Rare are the saints of the Catholic church who have been seen, encountered, or heard by so many people. And on April 27, Pope Francis canonized the man who could be the most-met saint yet.

Filipino Catholics count two countrymen among the church’s thousands of saints. But many of them will probably relate more to St. John Paul II, who led the church for more than half a century, visiting almost every country and being exposed to the most media coverage.

It is the former pope’s two visits to Manila that stand out in Filipinos’ memories. He first came here in 1981–three years after becoming pope–during the waning days of strongman Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. Pope John Paul II’s trip was soon followed by Marcos’s purported lifting of martial law.

The 10th World Youth Day in January 1995 became the pontiff’s last trip to the Philippines and his most remembered.

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When did ABS-CBN first use ‘Kapamilya’?

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

ABS-CBN 60 years of Philippine Television logoContrary to popular belief, way back in 2000. Back then, ABS-CBN Channel 2 was solidly number one in the Mega Manila ratings. When asked to comment then about his station’s rivalry with GMA 7, CEO Eugenio Gabriel “Gabby” Lopez III quipped, “What network war?”

On New Year’s day that year, the network unveiled a new logo: Its iconic three rings in a bigger, transparent, 3D box, its initials transformed to modern Malayan typeface and joined together below.

Soon, ABS-CBN aired interstitials (plugs aired during commercial breaks) introducing its personalities to speak for the network. At the end of the spiels, the network’s voiceover Peter Musngi said:

“Ka-pamilya namin.
Ka-pamilya ninyo.
Ka-pamilya ng bawat Pilipino.”

The series of plugs also included Dolphy and Noli De Castro and ran up until early 2001 during the height of EDSA Dos.

Here’s one featuring then “Balitang K” anchor Korina Sanchez:

The idea was revolutionary–using a term of familiarity, even endearment, to describe the relationship of a television station to its audience. It would set the tone for the brewing network war of years to come. It would set off the likes of Kapuso, Kabarkada, Kabisyo, and Kapatid.

But it was only three years after, during the 50th year of Philippine TV in 2003, that ABS-CBN officially adopted Kapamilya as its slogan and moniker for its viewers and talents.

Remember your UPCAT?

Cover of SPIS Insights, Volume V, Issue No. 2, August-November 2004 - the Official Student Publication of the Second Philippine International School in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,

SPIS Insights, Aug-Nov 2004 issue

Except for some hazy mental snapshots, I have little to recall of the time I took the University of the Philippines College Admission Test or UPCAT.

The Nokia 6600 was only beginning the wave of cellphone picture-taking. I guess we were also rather excited to bother taking shots.

The test questions evade my memory too.

My classmates and I took the exam in October–way past the national testing month of August.

Fortunately, they brought the UPCAT to the Middle East. The hundreds of senior students studying in the region’s 34 Philippine schools no longer needed to cut classes to fly home.

Our testing centers were the Philippine embassy and consulates. The testing fee–100 US Dollars.

What I only remember now is what’s captured in this feature we did in our school paper a month after our UPCAT.

Our features editor Bea Borja collected the quips. No surprise she later passed and finished her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics at the university.

UPCAT 2004

Thoughts and quotes from the test room

(Published on Page 10, Feature section of SPIS Insights, the Official Student Publication of the Second Philippine International School in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Volume V, Issue No. 2, August-November 2004)

BEFORE the test…

“Andiyan na si Ma’am Francial.”
“O ano? Puntahan na natin?”
“Sakay tayo sa bus para kunyari hinatid tayo!”
“Wag masyadong magulo!”
“Guys, let’s pray na.”
“Hala…Kinabahan ako!”
“Ano na nga ba ang formula ng surface area ng cube?”
“Eh, ung forumla ng surface area ng cube?”
“Nagdala ka pa ng libro? Ay, baon mo pala. Huh?”
“Ay! Pinto pala ‘to! Kanina pa ako nagtataka kung paano sila nakakapasok.”
“Malamig ba sa loob? Bakit sila naka-jacket?”
“Mag-CR na ang dapat mag-CR.”
“Uy, camera, camera! Dali pose na!”
“Makikita tayo sa TFC! Chance na natin ‘to para ma-discover!”
“Ang gulo niyo, Fourth Year. Hindi ako natutuwa, hindi ako natutuwa.”
“Teka! Sino pa ang wala?”
“Sina Sarah, Dean at Ronnie po.”
“Asan si Sarah?”
“Nagbo-blower pa yata ng kanyang hair.”
“Naku si Ronnie! Hinarang na yata sa entrance!”
“Ganun?”
“Paano kaya kung sumigaw ako dito ng ‘Bomba!’?”
“Ang tagal naman! Lalo akong kinakabahan, eh.”
“Nakita niyo na yung kamukha ni Ma’am Aficial?”
“Alin diyan?”
“Yun. Yung kauupo lang.”
“O pila na, pila na. Boys first, alphabetical.”
*THIS IS the moment! (Ala-Erik)*
“Eto na! Good luck, good luck…”
“God speed people!”

DURING…

*tinginan…smila*
*scratch…*
“Hmmp! Ang hirap!”
“Sir, pahingi pa po ng scratch paper…”
“Excuse me po…”
“Hmm… Ugh!”
*kamot sa ulo*

AFTER…

“O kumusta?”
“Ano, kita-kits na lang sa PLM!”
“Ang hirap nung Science!”
“Oo nga! Limot ko na yung mga moles-moles na yan, eh!”
“Ang haba pa nung Reading Comprehension!”
“Natapos mo?”
“Hindi nga, eh.”
“Nag-iwan ka ng blanks?”
“Oo. Bakit, ikaw?”
“Hindi. Di naman daw right-minus-wrong talaga, eh.”
“Psst, sino nga pala yung katabi mo kanina?”
“Hey, pray tayo uli!”
“Thank you po sa lahat, Lord…”
“O, sinong susundo sa ‘yo?”
“Si Daddy.”
“Pakner, pwedeng makisabay?”
“Ang haba pala talaga nun!”
“Hirap pa!”
“Ang tagal naman ng sundo ko!”
“Hmmp! Gutom na ako!”

*Compiled by the 18 Seniors who took the UP College Admission Test at the Philippine Embassy last Oct. 24

No matter when one took the UPCAT, all results still come out on January or February the following year. Another memorable moment for a UP student.

To the prospective Iskos and Iskas whose student numbers will begin with “13”, all the best!

Dolphy and ACJ: End of two eras

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Dolphy in Home Along Da Riles and Angelo Castro, Jr. in The World Tonight (Courtesy: ABS-CBN)

Rodolfo “Dolphy” Quizon and Angelo Castro, Jr. (Courtesy: ABS-CBN)

From Makati Med to Heritage Park, they did not end. The ordinary and the famed both came to pay their respects to this great. And when time or distance prevented, Filipinos tipped their hats to Dolphy all the way to cyberspace.

The King of Comedy’s final days saw a nostalgia trip in pop culture as his past performances made a comeback on TV.

With that, the tributes on Twitter and Facebook recalled Dolphy’s unforgettable characters and their impact on generations of viewers.

Similar sentiments echoed as our reporters took the pulse of those who showed up at the hospital and the memorial park.

It was no different back in April when another TV luminary, anchorman Angelo Castro, Jr. passed away.

The physical line was shorter, the media noise less, but the collective recollection streamed nonetheless—especially online.

Viewers old enough to remember revisited the days when newscasts in English were still the norm for late-night.

Sam Concepcion singing at tribute service for Dolphy at ABS-CBN's Dolphy Theater, July 12, 2012 (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Salamat, Tito Dolphy at ABS-CBN’s Dolphy Theater (Videos upon clicking – Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

In Dolphy’s wake, Filipinos resurrected John Puruntong and Pacifica Falayfay.

The deaths of famous people conjure up not just personal memories of them, but also the zeitgeist (the spirit of the times) during their heyday in the public eye.

And now in this age of the digital village, we have realized all the more a shared loss of one less character who embodied our hopes and experiences.

With the loss of figures like Dolphy and Angelo Castro, we are also nudged to look back to their times and reflect how things have differed since.

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