What it is like to be a Baguio Chronicler (first of two parts)

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Monday, September 1, 2014


I ONCE said that when one is too engrossed as a cameraman, he will always be a cameraman and that's probably the reason why friends oftentimes look at me with amazement as if something is missing whenever they see me without my gadget. More than two decades after, that notion still remains and it is good that we now have smart phones that can do the task of recording visual images.

Before, I often suspect that friends invite me to their functions and programs not because they want to have me but because they want their event covered and seen on cable television or on the pages of the local weeklies.

There were times when people mistook me as an ABS-CBN cameraman or a Midland Courier reporter. One time, I was yelled at and called "Kodak" by a city mayor who loves wearing cowboy hats. "Saang Studio Kayo?" is a common phrase asked of us. Well, that's what we cameramen get for wearing the usual multi-pocketed vest and not flashing our press cards like a policeman's badge.

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Baguio is normally festive during summer time vacations and the lent is our period of penitence by hosting the annual lucky summer visitors. Sometimes it's hard to stay sober since drinks of various spirits are laid on our tables by sponsors and friends. One time, I told my wife that I must be an occasional free lunch journalist because whenever we attend a press conference, we are served a decent meal but she is quick to reply that there is no such thing as free lunch believing that city life is a matter of give and take. True, those who usually call for a press conference want to access the media for their personal or corporate gains and I heard a lade reporter mention that what was served tastes like politics. We do know what is meant by social responsibility and when it comes to that, we conduct journalism lectures and raise fund for a worthy cause just like what we did in 1991when distributed relief goods to evacuees affected by the Mount Pinatubo eruption. The Baguio Correspondents and Broadcaster's Club BCBC supported a relief operation called Oplan Sayote that brought down solicited goods and food items to those affected by the eruption in Central Luzon.

During our coverage of the return of the once missing mummy Apo Anno to his original cave in Buguias, the customary and traditional practice performed became a big cultural event in 1998 and newsmen acted like Paparazzi. As a result, the words cultural sensitivity became a byword among working journalists. In fact, two journalists reportedly felt ill during the coverage when they did something inappropriate like sneezing during the solemn ritual.

Having spent few months under the government’s television network during the twilight years of the late dictator, I witnessed a memorable event and I treasure my experiences in that historic EDSA People’s Power revolution especially that I was then on the Marcos side. My task then was to assist the Chief Editor on the U-matic recorders, edit sports clips and put together sanitized visuals of Imelda Marcos. A cardinal rule on editing Imelda's tape was to show her best profile and edit-out unwanted takes that showed her double chin and skinny legs that were not proportionate to her heavy built that time. There was a perceived imbalance of TV coverage for presidential candidates during the historic 1995 election campaign and that was the reason why lawyer Joker Arroyo was not joking when he sued Channel-4 for biased reporting. History tells us that as a result of the people’s outrage, the dictator and his cronies fled to Hawaii and the revolutionary government under President Corazon Aquino ruled. Seeing no bright prospect for a Baguio boy to stick it out with a network undergoing an indefinite change, I decided to go back to Baguio to find my luck. Few months later, with a scar from a pellet gun on my forehead as a result of the odd jobs that I engaged in, I joined the National Media Production Center, a Marcos propaganda arm that was resurrected by the Cory government as the Philippine Information Agency.

I volunteered and held the position of Public Assistance Desk Officer before I became an Information officer of PIA. Months later, I was also involved with the Cordillera News Agency, a loose research and media based organization that facilitated the meeting between President Cory Aquino and Fr. Balweg in Mount Pulag. That historic encounter led to a peace pact called "Sipat" which means a slap in the face in literal Ilocano. "Sipat" or "Allasiw" is a tribal practice wherein conflicting parties resolve their differences by exchanging tokens and agreeing to enter into a pact.

(To be continued)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 02, 2014.

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