Last Days on RPN News Watch…

Update as of June 2011: RPN’s NewsWatch had a repreive. We are still airing but only on free tv channel 9. We have been removed from the cable broadcast of ETC. We have no idea how long the program will last but we are still praying the newscast will continue and that new money and talent will be injected into it as well. It costs nothing to keep on hoping!

Now that its been announced on AM radio that the days of RPN News Watch are numbered, I’d just like to share about my short two year journey with the women and men of this historic network.

When Jay Esteban, then-anchor of RPN News Watch called me to tell me that RPN9 was looking for a newscaster and that I was being invited to audition for anchor, I was so excited; I had been offย  TV news for 5 years after resigning from ANC to help my husband in his Christian radio project. But I was also troubled; assuming I passed the audition, would I really want to work for a station sequestered by the government?

Wow, this is a photo of my audition at Ch9!!!

I had a hard time answering that question – I loved presenting the news but hated the idea that I’d be ‘working for the government’ but I went and auditioned anyway. They did not hire me right off the bat but about three months later, while I was walking down a street in Chiang Rai, Thailand, I received a call form RPN9 asking if I could start in a couple of weeks.

And because I was so uncertain about it, I prayed and then called 5 of my friends – Pastors and respected Christians in media – asking for advice. After all 5 said, “Go for it!” I shook off all my misgivings and accepted the assignment believing that God had a purpose in it all.

Me with my boss and RPN News Watch co-anchor Marigold Haber Dunca

In the beginning it felt like a lonely journey; it was not easy making friends in the network but I was bent on building relationships as opportunities presented themselves. News people are not the easiest to get along with; they tend to raise questions and their eyebrows a lot. But with a dogged determination to fit in, I just plowed on, grabbing opportunities to get to know people better. And now that I have been there for two years, I can say that I have gained a tribe of friends whom I can count on forever.

The reporters, the producers, the floor staff and director’s team in the control booth, my co-anchors, the guards, the cameramen, the make-up artists and drivers – they were the ones who showed me that all my fears about working for a government sequestered station were unfounded. Kasi tutoo sila. And they did what they could to stick to the truth.

You see, one of the worst things a journalist/news presenter can be called is a ‘government hack’. In fact, I once got called that to my face by a friend in media; while he was obviously joking, it still felt like Novocaine shot – a painful poke that leaves you numb for hours.

Then another time, while chatting with a semi-retired media guy, he flat out said – Oh RPN is looking for a male anchor? I’m not interested; it would just destroy my credibility. Now who died and made him the Zeus of news?

But it doesn’t end there – just a few days ago while chatting with a friend on FB, he ended his conversation with me by typing, “Between you and me, for a station that was the first to go color, you’re SO left behind.” I SO wished I had a chainsaw that moment.

While the truth is painful, it becomes excruciating when clueless friends verbalize it. It’s almost like telling a harelip – excuse me, but you’ve got a gap in your upper lip.ย  While I am not here to defend the quality of RPN’s Newscasts, I am here to say a few things about the PEOPLE behind them –

The reporters rock my world! They work hard (in the midst of the dissing by other reporters on the field) and they never fail to bring home the stories and tell it – minus sensationalist tactics. If I could just open my own news station, I’d hire them lickety-split. And no, they are not ‘fed’ the news; they go out and dig up the stories and tell it like it is.

The writers and producers are solid! They are walking newspapers who save me P20 a day and a visit to the newsstand.

My co-anchors and floor staff have provided me with countless hours of craziness before the news, during commercial breaks and after sign-off.

The make-up artists taught me how to become a discerning soap opera viewer (think Temptation of Wife).

Of course, I humbly apologize to the directors’ team for the days I wore white (it throws off the lighting) for missing my cues and coughing at the most inopportune time.

To the guards, I owe them big time for carrying my kikay-kit-on-wheels and guarding it with their lives!

While I am grateful for all that, I hope they all remember the Christmas parties where my unmatchable dance skills won the News Dept. the Best Presentation two years in a row!!!!

As I count down the remaining time I have on RPN, I just want thank all the people that made my daily 1.5 hour ride through traffic on Ayala, C5 and Katipunan worth it. YOU are golden!

RPN News Watch Team February 2011