MY PERSONAL affairs with Alto Broadcasting Corporation and Chronicle Broadcasting Network or ABS-CBN dates back to the time of the late strongman Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. It was actually towards the end of the Marcos regime that I entered the defunct Newscenter-4 when a street in Quezon City now known as Mo. Ignacia Ave was still referred to as Bohol Avenue.
It was November of 1985 when I first set foot inside the premises of the Maharlika Broadcasting System's (MBS) Newscenter-4 to join the video editor's pool. My background as editor was basically on 8mm and 16mm film and as a neophyte video editor, the task assigned to me was to choose, cut and trim select shots from camera crews and newly arrived international news tapes for television news segments. I was also in charge of the delivery of U-matic tapes to the Engineering Department at the basement of the broadcast building and there were times that I had to shout "may dadaan" so people will clear my way as I bring said news items to the technical operations center (TOC) below.
Mang Leleng, one of the original film-based editors of ABS-CBN taught me how to operate the Sony BVU-800 U-matic editing machines narrated to me how the Marcos Administration took over the station when Martial Law was declared. During their time, electronic news gathering (ENG) was film-based and accordingly, they had to cut strips of film called "footages" inside darkrooms and dip it in a tub of developing chemicals with their outstretched hands holding both ends. After drying, said footages were run through a signal converter called telecine for the live broadcast feed. Having noted the network's logo carved in wood at the wall facing the newsroom of Newscenter-4, I was of the belief then that the facility may after all be returned to its original owner.
Since my entry to the MBS-4 it was barely a few months before the 1986 Snap Elections, I did not have any appointment papers but I had an understanding that I can be officially hired after the polls because of the election hiring ban.
My stint at MBS Ch-4 was short-lived because of the turn-out of the Edsa Uno uprising but it became a learning experience for me as a multimedia artist. I brushed aside tags of "Marcos Loyalist" and "Balimbing" as I am non-partisan when it comes to politics. We have noted the rise of the "Yellow Fever", watched reports from the camp of "Tita Cory" including Jim Laurie's BBC report showing footage that we believed was shipped out by local contacts. I listened to DZRJ's Radyo Bandido and heard much about media turn-coatism but I looked at myself as an artist just trying to absorb and understand what was happening around my country.
After the evening news of February 22, 1986, I left the station and took the midnight bus ride for Baguio only to find out the following morning (February 23) from news broadcast that a people power had taken over Edsa reaching world news by the storm. I saw action in Baguio with confetti showers out of PLDT Yellow Page strips messing-up Session Road while rebel soldiers took foothold and encamped at the Cathedral grounds.
The following day, February 24, reports spread that at 9:50 a.m. as President Marcos made another TV appearance at MBS Channel 4 but was suddenly taken over by reformist soldiers of the AFP and signs off as its studios and facilities at the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center were captured.
Around 1:25 p.m., Channel-4 restarted transmissions as People's Television with ex-ABS-CBN technicians supervising. When Corazon C. Aquino was sworn in as President by Senior Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee and Salvador Laurel as Vice-President by Justice Vicente Abad Santos at Club Filipino in San Juan followed by confirmation by US Air Force TV station and FEN of Marcos' departure, I had the inkling that my stint with Newscenter-4 was about to end.
I returned to the news station by around the end of February seeing a different situation and scenario at the newsroom. New faces and anchors took the news booths including personalities like Tina Monzon-Palma, Bong Lapira and others from the entertainment circle. I hung on for about a week without really being given a task to work on and I finally decided to go home for good.
The bonus part was that I enriched my knowledge about Philippine politics and learned the technical aspects of television news broadcasting that it is not really the quality of camera-works, narration and editing that matters but how fast you can show a fresh news item to the general public.
The matter of television broadcasting is a far cry from what I learned from my training on filmmaking and cinematography because the later gives you more room for artistry while in television, you have tight working deadlines where a split second really matters.
I was young, single and aware that all these experiences prepared me for a much longer engagement. Rightfully, after the summer of 1986, I found my paths leading to the National Media Production Center (NMPC) of the then Old City Auditorium as Information Officer of what is to become the Philippine Information Agency. Today, the former MBS-Ch 4 is now Peoples Television-4 and it has its own building and tower at Visayas Ave. QC just behind the Philippine Information Agency.