How 2015 USTV intro’d TV show winners

USTV Orchestra at the 11th USTV Awards 2015 (Grab courtesy of the USTV Awards)

(Grab courtesy of the USTV Awards)

The past USTV Awards often played a recording of the theme music of winning TV shows as they were announced. This 2015 the organizers went a step further and had them performed live–with an orchestra to boot!

For any staff or on-cam talent of these shows, hearing familiar tunes played by a band surely makes receiving the awards extra special. One of them even remarked, “Nakakaiyak naman iyong intro.”

It will end up a little-noticed detail of the 11th USTV Awards, which gave awards of excellence to 4 shows from ABS-CBN and 3 from GMA 7 for winning the student body’s award 5 or more times.

Still, live musical intros are something we have yet to see in local TV awards shows. And this from a school-based award-giving body!

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The 2014 SONA in HD

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Pres. Benigno Aquino III delivering his fifth State of the Nation Address (Courtesy: Radio TV Malacanang)

(Courtesy: Radio Television Malacanang)

Only tech-versed viewers who habitually flip channels might have noticed. The fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Pres. Benigno Aquino III also goes down as the first to be shot in high definition (HD).

There’s little fanfare for the Presidential Broadcast Staff – Radio Television Malacañang (PBS-RTVM), which bags the credit for this long-overdue upgrade. They’ve always handled the SONA pool feed, being charged after all with documenting the chief executive’s speeches and activities.

At these events, the SOP for network live news crews is to hook up with RTVM’s feed since they have more camera angles, and more importantly, prime access to the president. However, the RTVM feed was at times of lower quality than that of the networks’ own cameras and fell prey to technical glitches that made it risky to air.

RTVM stayed in the technical cellar for years, as the privately-owned networks bulked up on the latest equipment. Moves to update their tech capabilities went gradually, going only as far as the government’s budget could allow.

Then in 2012, the Philippines was picked to host the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia.

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ABS-CBN reaps most trophies at 10th USTv awards

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

(This is an updated version of an article first published on on Feb. 20, 2014. I was at the UST that night to help mount TV Patrol’s live coverage from the university’s Plaza Mayor, where anchors Korina Sanchez and Noli De Castro came to receive awards. As we finished transmitting live footage of the event, I put together the winners and some quips from the recipients into a story that was e-mailed to base before my tech team left UST.)

"TV Patrol" anchors Korina Sanchez and Noli De Castro received the newscast's "Student's Choice of News Program" award from the 10th USTv Awards. (Grab c/o UST Tomasian Cable)

“TV Patrol” anchors Korina Sanchez and Noli De Castro receive the newscast’s award from USTv. (Grab c/o UST Tomasian Cable)

ABS-CBN took home the most awards at the 10th USTv Students’ Choice Awards held at the University of Santo Tomas on Thursday.

The Kapamilya network was recognized by the Tomasian student leaders as their choice of TV network.

Its public service arm, the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc., was among those picked student leaders’ choice of network foundation.

ABS-CBN flagship newscast “TV Patrol” led the winners in the news and public affairs category as students’ choice of news program.

Anchors Noli De Castro and Korina Sanchez received the award, which “TV Patrol” also won in 2013.

“Sa araw-araw, gabi-gabi, binabalita lang namin ang nangyayari. Ang mga artista po diyan ay kung sino ang involved sa mga balita. Ang kinatutuwa po namin ay pinahahalagahan ninyo ang mga balita,” De Castro said.

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Up close: ABS-CBN’s New York Festivals 2012 bets

Composite view of ABS-CBN's bets in the 2012 New York Festivals

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.

Leading the pack is prime-time newscast TV Patrol‘s broadcast during the onslaught of tropical storm Juaning on July 26, 2011, which is nominated for the best newscast.

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Remembrance: A year back at the massacre site

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

AMPATUAN, MAGUINDANAO–The morning heat stung on the faces of the throng trekking the leveled dirt road across this remote hill.

Many came by the truckloads from other towns and were likely dropped off at the dirt road’s entrance, a left turn from the national highway. There police officers filtered the vehicles that came in.

For every truck that passed through, dozens scrambled to hitchhike and save the long, hot, and arduous walk hundreds of others made.

The sight was unlikely in this area before. Few dared come here by themselves, a thing explained by the heavy security presence.

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Yet we still asked as our van rolled up and down and further inward, why would many, especially locals, brave the weather and the hanging danger?

The sheer number of people and the prominence of the event somehow assured us that nothing grave would catch us.

As the shed built over the site drew near, we saw a few thatched huts scattered along rather-tended greenery. Whether anyone lived in them, we weren’t sure.

If there were, could they have witnessed the gruesome end of 58 people diverted here exactly a year before? And if they had, were they silenced forcefully, or worse, permanently?

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

We came here a year ago, when the nation’s memory centered for one day on a southern sitio named Masalay and on the worst political crime of recent history done here.

This year, journalists, locals, and families of the slain again converged on this area to remember. The place has undergone a makeover, and the country has seen game-changing events of its own.

Yet like the circumstances of the first year, those commemorating two years since the Ampatuan massacre have only seen the slow pace of justice.

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Incoming video

Our cameraman Rolly & his assistant Mike at the airstrip. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

IPIL, ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY–4:30 PM, two hours before TV Patrol: Our team was still on standby at our setup in the police provincial office.

Usually by that time, we’ve begun editing our report for the newscast, which for the past 3 days had made us their top story.

But the day’s story had not yet arrived.

It was still on its way, in helicopters carrying Gov. Rommel Jalosjos and his team to the Ipil runway, or on a Navy boat of policemen sailing for the local port.

With them were the first images of the central camp occupied until the previous day by groups pursued by the government after the fighting in Basilan island that left 19 soldiers dead.

Media people were discouraged from going due to the threat of being kidnapped for ransom or as shields by bandits. We were assured cameras were brought along to document the location.

I joined our reporter Ron Gagalac and his team at the 102nd infantry brigade, a short drive from the police headquarters and the airstrip.

Ron reported the night before that armed forces had finally seized the camp up north in Labatan, Payao town after days of air strikes.

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

We were hoping to link up with the army photographer who was flying back, copy his shots into my laptop, and rush to our setup to go live in time for Patrol’s first gap.

5:25 p.m.: Two helicopters landed on the airstrip. The governor waved a greeting to us from the SUV that came to fetch him.

But our man, who walked to where we stood carrying a backpack, boots, and a rifle, had returned empty-handed of the shots.

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Ground shots, top shots

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.

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PROBE nation

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, yes, and it can even inspire. But, it can only do so to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.”

–journalism luminary Edward R. Murrow on television, 1958

Today, not many TV shows here aim for that potential. And the best and eldest of them has just pulled the plug, after 24 years of teaching, illuminating, inspiring, and giving currency to one word: Probing.

It was first a spark in the dark, conceived in the uncharted information void after EDSA 1.

The Probe Team has since outlived the competitors it set off, produced many of the industry’s best people, recorded history, and stayed true to its brand of hard-hitting yet ethical journalism.

Probe pioneered the news magazine in the Philippines when TV public affairs consisted mostly of studio talk.

First popularized by CBS’s 60 Minutes, the format meant sections (or segments) of topics varying from the serious to the light.

One just need look at today’s most-watched current affairs shows to see Probe’s influence, like weekend magazines Failon Ngayon, Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho, and Rated K.

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Inaugural patrol

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

TV technical people are the unsung heroes of coverage–“first in and last out.” I heard that tag not from anyone in the industry, but from a teacher I met in one of our early-morning features.

While confined to Metro Manila, the many live points of one TV station covering the biggest event of 6 years have to share the same limited reserved space with other stations and other media.

A big deference, of course, to broadcast–them with their OB (outside broadcast) vans, satellites, microwave dishes, scaffolds, lights, cameras, cables, computers, PAs, and staff.

And for an event scheduled for 10 a.m., our live teams were in place at the Quirino Grandstand, Malacañan Palace, Times Street, and Quezon Memorial Circle as early as midnight of June 30–President Benigno Aquino III’s inaugural day.

This inauguration marks my first entry to the presidential palace. Our team spent the previous day waiting to park, getting permits, and then drawing lots with reps from Channels 4, 5, and 7 for setup space.

Each reporter was only allowed to report within those blue borders.

You don’t easily set up in Malacañan. You go through layers of coordination with the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and Radio-Television Malacañang (RTVM). A third of that is done from the office, a third via phone, and a third on-site.

Only one live camera per network reporter is allowed inside the Malacañan driveway. All the stations’ vans need to hook up to RTVM, the sole team with cameras inside.

Anyone who watched the President’s historic walk up the Palace staircase live saw the same shot, regardless of the channel.

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