Core Evolution: Journey of an undaunted core

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The JFCM Youth Camp core and staff, 2012-2016

As part of the tag of the revived JFCM general youth camps, the phrase “our camp” holds a more personal meaning for those of us who have lived and breathed it way beyond the three days and two nights.

From thinking about what theme to pursue and what name to call it, up to which portions of the program need to be bumped off or will wake-up call be moved, we’ve seen it all, zoomed in and zoomed out.

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Duterte-Cayetano wall mural in Davao City (Shot c/o Melchor Zarate)

Countdown to the end game in Duterte-land

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Davao City private billboard supporting mayor Rodrigo Duterte's presidential bid

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

DAVAO CITY— In the city of pomelos and durians, it’s business as usual under the scorching sun.

The streets bustle only with the rush-hour jams of vehicles driving under the mandatory 30-kph speed limit. Pedestrians shy away from the elements at high noon, except for the occasional street hawker peddling beads.

If not for the campaign posters that sparsely dot this city, you would hardly notice that it’s election season.

It still qualifies as quiet here, much as it was in the days that led to an election that has elevated Davao City and its most famous resident to national and international prominence.

Common poster area at Davao City for 2016 elections

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

The quiet is also characteristic. This city has gained a reputation as a blueprint for where 16 million Filipinos think the Philippines should be.

But the tranquility masks the mix of anxiety and excitement here, as it did during the countdown to the May 9 vote.

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‘Harapan Na!’ A primer to the PiliPinas town hall debate

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

PiliPinas Debates 2016 logo (courtesy ABS-CBN)

DAGUPAN CITY, PANGASINAN–For one last day, all roads in the 2016 race for Malacañang will converge here.

At a basketball-court-sized covered quadrangle in the center of the Phinma University of Pangasinan, lights, columns, speakers and streamers have risen over the stage that will bring together Jejomar Binay, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe and Mar Roxas for a final appeal to voters.

ABS-CBN technicians and set assembly crews were the first at the campus early Thursday, selecting and securing spots for their set-ups in Sunday’s big event.

Students at the U-Pang continued on with their classes, occasionally sneaking glances at the court and casually passing through the piles of equipment as if no hauling was going on.

Venue of the PiliPinas 2016 Town Hall debate (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

The venue. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Still absent are the touches of politics that will pervade this area during the weekend. No colors, posters or supporters.

But the school residents know all eyes will be on their school when all these arrive, more so the objects of all this support.

At a stairway, one student watches snippets of the last Comelec-sponsored debate on his phone. A duo of communication majors go around the school’s food court asking people they could interview their expectations on how the presidential candidates will perform.

Much indeed hangs on the April 24 debate hosted by ABS-CBN and the Manila Bulletin.

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‘A newsman’s newsman’: Colleagues pay tribute to Rod T. Reyes

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Former ABS-CBN News chief Rod T. Reyes (Grab from TV Patrol)

Rod T. Reyes (Grab from TV Patrol)

Down-to-earth. Cool-headed. Simple. Soft-spoken. A coach. Role model. Inspiration. A newsman’s newsman.

These were how journalists and former co-workers saluted veteran reporter, editor, news director and press secretary Rodolfo “Rod” T. Reyes, who died on April 14 at the age of 80.

People who knew him in various capacities throughout a five-decade career that spanned print, broadcast and public media honored his impact as a daring investigative journalist.

But more so, they reminisced about Reyes’s unassuming and laid-back qualities in a relentless and tough profession.

Coach leadership

At ABS-CBN, where Rod Reyes headed its news and public affairs division both before and after Martial Law, his former employees recalled how “RTR” (their monicker for him based on his initials) embodied the news organization’s slogan “malasakit”.

“Here was a small man with a soft voice who told us, ‘Good morning guys, I’m your new coach!’ I won’t forget that because it embodied RTR’s style of leadership,” recalled current ABS-CBN News chief Ging Reyes of their first time meeting her predecessor when he took over the reins of the  back in 1990.

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The 3 stages of falling in love with your job according to Charo Santos

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

My moment with the execs. (Shot by Joseph Jacob)

My moment with the execs. (Shot by Joseph Jacob)

In the time of “walang forever”, staying in the same company or line of work for more than 5 years is already a prize.

It may be due to the scarcity of tenured posts, the allure of shifting workplaces for better offers or simply the impatience often ascribed to today’s Millennials.

Whatever the reason, loyalty to a job or an organization these days remains the unheeded advice from the older generation. Many of them grew up seeing ascent in the corporate ladder as the main evidence of success.

But there are professions like journalism and media whose hold on their practitioners is for more than bread and butter. And there are companies whose opportunities can span a spectrum of careers one could explore without leaving their backyard.

Getting to last long in these places is encouraged and in some, rewarded.

At ABS-CBN, they call it the “Kapamilya Awards”, a gala to recognize employees who reached 5-year milestones in their service with the company. They are treated to dinner, performances by ABS-CBN artists and receive a personalized token along with a moment with the executives.
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Beneath Lando’s clouds

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

PinoyJourn’s 2015 year-end series, Log 1

Landfall of Typhoon Lando as seen from the town landmark of Baler, Aurora (Shot by Brian Pimentel, ABS-CBN News)

(Shot by Brian Pimentel, ABS-CBN News)

(Note: In a succession of stories, this blog revisits major events and trends witnessed by this writer, all of which made 2015 a year for the books.)

BALER, AURORA–We were prepared for the worst.

Our news team in Baler had met the night before. Everyone had to know what we expected from the typhoon and from each other in those crucial first hours, and what to do if the unfortunate happened.

But what caught us all by surprise was the arrival of Typhoon Lando (internationally Koppu) 7 hours before the time weather bureau PAGASA first predicted it would reach land.

Our 3 news gathering teams would take their posts in different vantage points around Baler before the supposed landfall time of 8 a.m. We had agreed to be up as early as 3 a.m. that Sunday morning to give them time to leave our hotel.

Our technical team would stay the fort at our lodgings and make sure our means of broadcasting the aftermath to the world would survive the typhoon’s onslaught.

We heard the town would switch off power as early as 10:30 p.m., but most of us had already gone to sleep when the lights did go out past 1 a.m.

It would be shorter sleep than expected for most of us.

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All ABS-CBN Newsers want for Christmas

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Covering the biggest events of 2015 did not keep the men and women of ABS-CBN News from spreading some Christmas cheer with a little fun and lip-syncing.

The assignment: a simple music video to cap the 2015 Integrated News Christmas party.

The outcome: a happy project that went beyond the journalists behind it.

News logistics head Mitchelle Tan recruited reporter Jeff Canoy to direct. Jeff then drafted me to the team to help shoot and form the final cut. We wanted to deliver a piece that would represent all departments in the news division.

Jeff–along with fellow reporters Jenny Reyes and Chiara Zambrano—had also directed the 2012 viral video of Kapamilya anchors and reporters singing along to the Backstreet Boys tune “I Want It That Way”.

(READ: The story and bigger picture behind that video)

A sequel to the “I Want It” video was hinted at back then–long before Dubsmash trended among Filipinos. But none came through until now.

Tina Monzon-Palma with ANC's The World Tonight team (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Tina Monzon-Palma with ANC’s The World Tonight team. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

This time, American pop diva Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” was the dubbing pick. And it would not just be the on-air personalities singing, but also the drivers, technicians, cameramen, production assistants, researchers, writers, editors, producers, bosses and support employees who keep ABS-CBN’s news platforms up and running.

‘Energy! Energy!’

Jeff wanted to up the ante. The iPad he used to shoot in 2012 now became just the music player. We had a DSLR and a laptop for the rest.

There were only a few days before the division party. So, in between coverages of the worsening holiday traffic (one of which included a bike ride along EDSA), Jeff and I shot the takes at the broadcast center with Mitchelle and some co-workers who tagged along.

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We hauled any reporter who was around, picked their lines and paired them with the available members of a news department. We also visited the anchors of our main platforms TV Patrol, Bandila, ANC and DZMM in their studios and convinced them to sing.

Jeff lugged the camera. I borrowed his to shoot when he was preparing reports. News courier Michael Bagtas at times brought his own cam. Fellow field producers July Cruz, Rommel Manimbo acted as “audio people” with me to play music from the iPad.

Reporters Francis Faulve and Jobert Navallo joined us in pitching in lights from our phones, while Mitchelle, July and reporters Zen Hernandez and Chiara Zambrano became floor directors, motivating the “talents” with their own gyrations and shouts of “Energy! Energy!”

Carolyn Bonquin's take with the field ops team. (Shot by Bernie Mallari)

Carolyn Bonquin’s take with the field ops team. (Shot by Bernie Mallari)

Many took heartily to the shoot, like the Field Operations boys who even brought out their LED lights to the ENG truck parking area at dusk. Illuminated by the lights, no less than our big boss Ging Reyes kicked off the video from there.

There were the current affairs staff and make-up artists who dusted off Christmas decorations to use for their parts. Employees who grabbed—wait, borrowed—actual corporate gifts as props. And execs like Futures, Investigative and Research Group head Chi Almario who choreographed steps for her team.

Previewing the shoot at Studio 7. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Previewing the shoot at Studio 7. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

The units’ names can be a mouthful, like News Systems and Technology Management (a.k.a. our studio, field, editing, graphics and technical operations), and they aren’t all identified in the video. But they along with others like the Central News Desk, News Library, Human Resources and Business Development provide the fuel for what you see on the air and online.

Across the globe

The video gradually took shape, but we felt it could grow in scope and tuck in some surprises.

Jeff chatted up our bureaus and reporters overseas if they could send videos. Locally, we also tried getting shots from a station in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to stand for the over 20 affiliates making up our regional team all over the Philippines.

Paul Henson and the North America news bureau (Shot from ABS-CBN North America)

(Shot from ABS-CBN North America)

And those who sent theirs in the limited time did not disappoint. One even uploaded a well produced shot just a couple of hours before the music video was finished.

The unexpected appearance of the North America news team led by bureau chief Paul Henson drew the biggest cheers when the video finally premiered at the middle of the News Christmas Party.

Jeff and I were still editing and exporting the video even as the party program had already begun. Hearing the final piece on loudspeakers amid the cheers and laughs of our colleagues gave us a sigh of relief.

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Anchors Karen Davila and Ces Drilon lead in laughter at the Bandila set (Shots by Anjo Bagaoisan)

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Delighted with the video, Ms. Ging also had it shown to Kapamilya employees at the corporate Christmas party the following week, and then cleared it for sharing on social media after.

It took three years, but “ain’t nothing but a heartache” finally found a happier Christmas sequel.

The sight of our icons jamming with our behind-the-scenes personnel expressed the spirit of what our news organization has faced and overcome together in 2015.

It’s our way of sharing the unity and hope that we pray for our country in the coming crucial year.

Aren’t those what we all want this Christmas?

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