The Risks I Took to Be a Reporter

The Risks I Took to Be a Reporter. Written by Jervis Manahan for SubSelfie.com.

My hands were shaking as I handed my resignation letter to my bosses. My thoughts were all incoherent as I explained why I was leaving GMA News. The only rational thing I remember telling them: I was a millennial seeking to explore the bigger world outside the newsroom.

My bosses were shocked because I didn’t show any foreshadowing that I was resigning.  A few months ago, I received a job promotion in Unang Balita. I was an Associate Producer and whenever our Executive Producer wasn’t around, I would sub in as EP. That time, I was also a News Producer for 24 Oras.

I almost didn’t have any valid reason for leaving. Despite the labor issues, my shows paid me quite handsomely and treated me well. The people were all nice, and I was given the opportunity to work with people I admire and respect. The routine was stressful but I felt relevant. I wrote news reports read by no less than Mike Enriquez, Mel Tiangco, Vicky Morales, and the Unang Hirit anchors. It was fullfilling, but at the back of my mind, I knew it was time to pursue my biggest dream — to go to the field and report stories from there.

So I mustered all the courage I had, resigned, and packed my bags. That time, everything felt uncertain. I was leaving a big TV network where I worked for more than three years. But with the help of a few trusted friends, I made a big leap of faith. As one of my mentors told me, I would never know what’s in store for me if I stayed in my comfort zone.

A few days later, I successfully landed a job as a news reporter for a government TV station. The network was definitely smaller and the audience reach was significantly lower. I also had less people to deal with. When I started working last October 19, 2015, Typhoon Lando had just passed and many communities were still suffering from the storm’s wrath. On my first day of duty, I was sent to check the situation in Marikina River. I shot situationers around the river and in nearby communities. I was also lucky to get an interview with Mayor Del de Guzman. I remember stuttering during my first standupper, which had to be taken five times. But nevertheless, it was an experience I loved. That day, the universe validated that my decision was right. I knew I was in a job that I can do for the rest of my life.

Marikina river.
Marikina river.

Before noon of that day, I got a call to proceed to NDRRMC where our OB Van was stationed. Our news head told me that I was reporting live for the 1 p.m. newscast. The universe must have been playing a joke, because I never would have imagined that my first report would be delivered live. I handed my P2 card to the operator and wrote a short script. GMA News taught me how to write voiceover reports but I didn’t know how to do it live. Since I was new on the job, our anchor Kirby Cristobal called me to brief me about the questions he would be asking. Mariz Umali, my former colleague from GMA News and UP BroadAss orgmate, was covering there too. Ten minutes before I went live, she gave me a crash course on how to do it. My legs were shaking as I stood in front of the lights and the camera, waiting for my turn. Sabi nga ni Alma Moreno, “Dasal, dasal lang talaga.” 

I eventually delivered my first live report and it was one for the books. I went home with so much joy, knowing that my childhood dreams came true. There was nothing sweeter than seeing your dreams come to life. I was in second year high school, around 2006, when I became certain that I wanted to be a TV news reporter. Even close friends doubted me because I don’t enunciate my words clearly. It has been a long road, entering UP as a journalism student, but eventually shifting to Broadcast Communication to learn the ropes of television. I also worked several jobs in GMA News. Things didn’t go as planned, but the universe has better plans. Slowly I realized that to be truly happy, one has to give up so many things — for me, it included a big chunk of my original paycheck and the prestige of working in a large network.

It’s not exactly a very smooth run though. Working for the government TV station has its own challenges, too. We cannot be so critical of the shortcomings of the administration. The resources are not that extensive and we have to maximize the little that we have. Sometimes, when my cameraman is sick, no other cameraman could replace him. The dynamics are different and the organizational structure is far from my previous experience. But I am in awe how my colleagues there work with so much passion. They are all soft-spoken and nice and the stress level is extremely lower. They helped me adjust to my new environment, and they treated me as an equal even on my first few days. No power tripping, no superior mentality.

We don’t report crimes or showbiz stories, but that doesn’t mean we are less substantial or that we have less to offer. We don’t work as a propaganda arm of the administration either. I honestly don’t think that PTV is an inferior news organization. We just view things differently and we offer an alternative perspective on issues.

Sure, we’ve got to report the activities of the President, but we also have many stories to tell. During my first week, I was sent to cover floods in Calumpit, Bulacan. I also covered the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) as it decided on the case against Senator Grace Poe, spent a few days in COMELEC, had an interview with CBCP President Archbishop Soc Villegas and former president Fidel V. Ramos, among others. I reported about traffic and human interest stories such as the UP Lantern Parade and the record-breaking New Year countdown in Philippine Arena. Last January 9, I tried joining the devotees of the Black Nazarene in climbing the Andas during Traslacion 2016. Each day, I was out on a new adventure. And each night, I went home with new experiences and lessons to learn. At last, I wasn’t stuck in the newsroom. It makes more sense to be alive when you’re doing what you love.

My biggest learning here so far is that if we want something, we must go for it with fire and perseverance. Parang love lang. Our dreams will not land in our palms if we don’t seek them. Also, Paulo Coelho was right. If you want something so badly, the universe will conspire for you to achieve it. Today, I have been a news reporter for three months already. And I’m definitely not stopping here. There are still more goals to reach, dreams to curate, and moments to live.

UP Lantern Parade 2015.
UP Lantern Parade 2015.

[Entry 118, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Jervis Manahan.

Jervis Manahan is a News Reporter for PTV 4. He is also a Contributor for SubSelfie.com but is part of the original roster that founded the site. He was previously a News Writer for 24 Oras and Unang Balita and a News Researcher for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho. Broadcast Communication 2012, UP Diliman. Read more of his articles here.

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