Apr 24
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24 Oras: World’s best

Author: Isah V. Red
Column: Life & Entertainment

Not many will agree, but the world has acknowledged GMA News’ excellence as one of the world’s best, if not the best.

Recently, 24 Oras bagged two important honors at the 2009 New York Festivals, besting the best from the world’s biggest news organizations. It even beat Cable News Network (CNN), which has possibly the best reportorial team in the world in the on-going story and best newscast categories.

That should make us Filipinos really proud, after all, we’re from a Third World country and limited technological resources available to our news organizations.

24 Oras won the Gold World Medal for the report on Angelo Abeto, the Marine corporal who died after his team was ambushed by the Abu Sayyaf in Tipo-tipo, Basilan last Aug. 12, 2008.

GMA senior producer Jiggy Manicad filed the report and a day after its telecast stirred everyone to react emotionally to it. Manicad is now a seasoned broadcast journalist after his baptism of fire during the siege of Malacañang by a crowd loyal to deposed (now convicted and pardoned plunderer) President Joseph Estrada when a fanatic hurled a stone at the building his TV crew was holding out for the coverage. The stone went through the window and hit Manicad at the temple of his head.

In the reporter’s story, he said that the delay in the evacuation of the troops, lasting for four hours, exacerbated the severely injured Abeto’s condition. He needed urgently a blood transfusion to save him, but the delay had had his fate entrusted to death. Manicad recorded Abeto’s final words before he expired.

That story was unbeatable, it seemed, that CNN’s continuing coverage of Iraq filed by a formidable team of war correspondents had to settle for the Bronze World Medal.

“The story of Corporal Angelo Abeto proves we are still a land of heroes. That in the midst of stories about corrupt government officials and manipulative businessmen, there are Filipinos who genuinely love the country,” 24 Oras executive producer Tonio Magsumbol said during a luncheon tendered by the news organization.

“It was a very sensitive story in many levels. There’s the helplessness of his comrades in battle while they watched him suffer, the seeming insensitivity of higher-ups to the plight of foot soldiers, the never-ending issue on anomalous procurement of supply and transport, the anguish of the family, and the effect it will have on viewers. I am elated that 24 Oras rose up to the challenge. It was a notable team effort, with high marks to Jiggy Manicad, his news crew, and Grace de la Peña and Tex Jimenez who were keeping an eye on them from the newsroom,” 24 Oras program manager John Oliver T. Manalastas added.

Manicad, who was seated beside me during the lunch, was unassumingly quiet, listening to the news executives on their thoughts why the report got high marks from the jurors.

At the opposite side of the table were newscasters Mike Enriquez and Mel Tiangco, also listening as the team announced that 24 Oras, as a matter of fact, also won Silver World Medal for Best Newscast for its coverage of the Lanao del Norte attacks last Aug. 19, 2008.

Both Mike and Mel said that while they were never out on the field gathering stories, they make sure that the stories are given the right treatment in the newscast. The anchors, as we all professionals agree, should have more than just excellent reading skills but must have insight to the stories to give them a sense of urgency.

While the news teams of Ivan Mayrina, Maki Pulido, Michael Fajatin and Chino Gaston were able to gather footage of burning houses and properties in the town of Kolambugan, purportedly perpetrated by members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), it was Tiangco and Enriquez that gave the story the spunk needed to hook the audience and pay attention to it.

The two anchors were thrilled at the double win of 24 Oras at the New York Festivals.

Mel Tiangco said, “24 Oras is the product of the hard work of so many men and women dedicated to their profession. But dedication, professionalism, creativity and hard work are not enough. All these have to be harnessed and focused on a very important aspect of the news: walang kinikilingan, walang pinoprotektahan, walang kasinungalingan, serbisyong totoo lamang. That’s 24 Oras

Mike Enriquez added, “It is a blessing and an inspiration to work with the men and women of GMA News and Public Affairs. Basta Kapuso, world class.”

May be self-serving words, but said from the deepest recesses of their hearts. And how many Filipinos have been able to stir the world with stories about fellow Filipinos in conflict, fighting for different ideological principles?

We learned that the festival didn’t give a Gold World Medal for Best Newscast this year. Without it, the Silver World Medal for Best Newscast given to 24 Oras was the highest honor this year.

The Gold and Silver won by the newscast is by far the most significant in Philippine broadcasting, and it underscores the integrity of GMA News and Public Affairs, much more so cements its credibility as the news organization to reckon with in the world.

GMA News vice president Jessica Soho is deeply honored for the recognition. “I am very proud of 24 Oras. It is no mean feat that our humble newscast beat the world’s heavyweights in perhaps the toughest categories of the New York Festival. Saksi also won the Gold World Medal for Best Newscast in 2002. With our twin wins now, it’s as if we have gone full circle. It is, to me, an affirmation that GMA News can compete and win against the best in the world.”

Since Marissa L. Flores took the helm of the GMA News and Public Affairs as senior vice president, the department has won numerous international awards.

Jiggy jiggles with the Gold

While he continuously tried to deny himself of the honor by telling us it was 24 Oras and not himself that won the Gold, it was by no means his win considering the work he put in to file the story.

The Gold Medal at the New York Festivals is no mere decoration. It is an affirmation of the world’s journalistic community of one’s commitment to the profession.

We remember Jiggy when he cheated death in a chopper crash six years ago while on the beat, got stoned during an uprising that led to the ouster of a former President. He said, like most journalists, he has received threats and intimidations for exposing anomalies and corruption.

Rodrigo “Jiggy” Manicad has not been cowered to kowtow to anyone of those who had crossed his path as a journalist by sheer intimidation. That is why, in a field of beat journalists, he remains one of the Philippines’ most respected.

Experience has taught him to be objective, no matter what. His stories of national concern and international relevance in the last 12 years as a broadcast journalist has made him to be more than just a man on the beat, but a committed journalist.

While he may not be willing to risk his life on the field, he is still there seeking the most relevant of stories audiences of 24 Oras would love to see and hear on the newscast.

He is normally in Mindanao covering the conflict between government forces and the rebels, in areas ravaged by natural calamities and in places where infraction of the law is like a daily occurrence.

He has been to the Middle East, Central Asia, US and Europe covering different stories for GMA News and Public Affairs, the country’s number one television station. If you’ve been watching 24 Oras, you would have seen Manicad with his stories as he prowled Jalalabad in Afghanistan for a shadow of Osama bin Laden, the streets of war-torn Iraq in 2003, at the funeral of former US President Ronald Reagan, in Iraq and Dubai to report on the Filipino hostage crisis in 2004, in Belfast, Northern Island to file a story on the Filipino Al Qaida suspect, and even in London when it was declared as the host city of the 2012 Olympic Games and when the city was bombed by suspected Al Qaida members.

He also did a coverage of the first attempt of a Filipino to reach the summit of Mt. Everest in Nepal in 2006.

In 2004, he was awarded the prestigious and highly competitive British Chevening Scholarship Award. He then took a post-graduate course on International Broadcast Journalism at the Cardiff University in Wales, United Kingdom. He was chosen from 800 applicant-journalists from all over the country. As part of the program, he had his practicum at the BBC in Norwich, England.

Manicad has distinctively used media as a tool to raise the nation’s awareness on different issues. This made him earn the respect and recognition of numerous groups in the country including government and police authorities, the academe, students and his peers in the profession.

In 2006, Manicad was adjudged Best TV Reporter by University of the Philippines, Los Baños. Aside from being a television reporter, he is also one of the hosts of the investigative television program Reporter’s Notebook.

His work has been recognized locally and internationally. For the documentary Sa Pusod ng Iraq (In the Navel of Iraq) he hosted with Mike Enriquez and Howie Severino, Manicad shared the Silver Screen Award from the Director’s Guild of America in 2004. His work in Reporter’s Notebook has also garnered recognition. In 2005, his short documentary Batang Hitman (Child Assassins) was highly commended by the prestigious Asian TV Awards. The piece also won a Silver Screen Award from the 39th United States International Film and TV Festivals (USIFVF) that same year. His story Fuga Island: Ang Pagbabalik (The Return to Fuga Island) also earned a Certificate for Creative Excellence in the Best Documentary category of the USIFVF. In 2006, Reporter’s Notebook’s Guinsaugon Special Episode, a special account on the landslide in Southern Leyte, Philippines, was also a finalist in the Monte Carlo Awards. And just this year, Gatilyo (Trigger) received another Certificate for Creative Excellence from the USIFVF Awards in California.

Among all these achievements, he considers two of his reports as the finest and most noteworthy. One was his investigative work that led to the rescue of a Filipino-Chinese kidnap victim and the other which led to the surrender of four of the 20 primary suspects in the kidnapping and slaying of a top soft drink company executive in the country.

With all these laurels around his head, Manicad has remained unaffected, albeit even more challenged to pursue the ideals of a journalist, and that is to tell the truth in all the stories he files for the newscast.

Bye, bye Gretchen

Hers was the shortest TV career ever. Last night, Gretchen Barretto cried when she announced You and Me Against the World was saying goodbye.

Despite the guaranteed P1-million cash prize given away every week, the show didn’t quite create a stir among television audiences in Metro Manila and other parts of the archipelago.

Last night, in a fitting finale, Bebe Gandanghari (the person that replaced the actor we knew as Rustom Padilla) was the guest. And how the former man who is now a woman almost made Gretchen feel so uninteresting, all of a sudden.

Shall we ever see Gretchen back on TV again?

My maid asked me, “Bakit?”

Belated happy birthday

Rizal First Lady Andrea-Bautista Ynares, or just Andeng to most of us, celebrated her birthday recently with close friends and family members. Among those who greeted Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s younger sister were Precy Estrada (Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s wife), Rowena Bautista, designer Paul Cabral, husband Jun-jun’s sister Mia Ynares, Lorna Tolentino and Lani Mercado.

The celebration was held at the Ynares Center in Antipolo coinciding with Araw ng Kababaihan ng Rizal.

Source: Manila Standard Today