Why journalists’ jobs continue to matter

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan


“A doctor pronounces her dead, not the news.”
Don Keefer, HBO’s The Newsroom

ABS-CBN's Jeck Batallones going live for TV Patrol from a market in Taytay Rizal where a truck crashed (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

ABS-CBN’s Jeck Batallones (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Near the 10-wheeler truck that rammed a row of stalls in the New Taytay Public Market in Rizal on June 14, one of the sellers who escaped the accident was telling her companion:

“Sabi sa TV, isa lang patay. Pa’no mo paniniwalaan yun e andaming nakabulagta rito kanina?”

(On TV they said only one died. How can you believe that when there were many bodies lying around here earlier?)

It was on Facebook that the first images and details of the noontime crash broke and spread. The accident was in a public place and people with cellphones swarmed the site. The dozen-plus vehicles dented and crumpled by the truck and the bloodied bodies of victims lying on the ground led witnesses to believe the crash was way deadly.

Their hasty conclusions spread fast online. As many as 16 were reportedly killed. Even a popular motoring issues social media account parroted the info (They later corrected the post). Because there were pictures and they were being shared quickly, the shocking details were passed on too without being verified.

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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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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

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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Waiting for a permanent address

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Muslim refugees pray at a makeshift mosque at the Joaquin F Enriquez Sports Complex in Zamboanga City. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

ZAMBOANGA CITY–The midday call to Muslim prayers blares from a megaphone atop a tent of donated canvas.

Inside on plastic matting, no more than ten men stand, sit, and bow, doing the positions of the salah. Their muddied slippers and sandals wait outside. One man hurries to wash his head, upper body, and limbs with water from a soft drink bottle—the ritualistic cleanse before going in to pray.

The makeshift masjid or mosque stands unnoticeably amid more tents and shanties at the grounds of the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, just a walk near the bay.

It’s the city’s main stadium, but for the tens of thousands of locals here, this has been their house, playground, workplace, and village for the past year.

They once lived in barangays like Rio Hondo, Santa Catalina, and Santa Barbara. But a three-week-long firefight between soldiers and rebels that began exactly 12 months ago razed their communities, left hundreds dead, and forced them from their homes and livelihood.

Here at the grandstand, the year that passed hosted an endless cycle of status quos and struggles for survival. For some, it’s only gotten worse, with no end in sight.
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When a train speeds off-track

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

The news day of August 13 was already slowing down and winding up. At 3 p.m., the lineup for that night’s TV Patrol was already set, and there were hardly any big stories.

The so-called “Butcher”, Jovito Palparan, years at large, was quietly under NBI custody. Food costs were rising again, and I was getting ready to leave the office for a live price watch at the Commonwealth wet market.

Then at 4, my boss said, “Cancel that. You’re going to EDSA Taft.”

People in the newsroom were now standing up, clumped around desktop PCs, and hurrying about. They were saying a carriage of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) plying EDSA had derailed.

Was it true? Everyone looked for proof on social media.

They soon found one, a picture posted by a Twitter user, @ryandgreat. The shot was greeted with gasps. It seemed like the movie “Speed” come to life–minus an explosion. The train had run off in a barrage of debris past the EDSA-Pasay Taft station and onto the asphalt of the Pasay Rotonda.


Writers at the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) scrambled to break the incident in their ongoing newscast with the shot, while crews from the network hadn’t arrived. The pic was being re-tweeted by other news orgs. But a breaking news producer shouted, “Huwag gamitin si @ryandgreat! Taga-TV5 siya!

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‘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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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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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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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 ABS-CBNnews.com 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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