Farewell, Unang Hirit — and Thank You

“Do you want to try Unang Hirit?”

This is the question I will never forget, because it started my career, for which I will be forever grateful.

It was back in July 2016 when I was asked that fateful question by one of my bosses. I was working then as producer for Balitanghali when his message popped up in my computer screen.

I answered his question with another: “UH writer po?”

He replied, timidly, that another Unang Hirit boss would talk to me about this.

He offered me the position of Executive Producer for News of Unang Hirit.

I was in disbelief.

I talked to many people I highly look up to and sought their advice, to help me come up with the right decision.

After a few days, I decided to accept the challenge.

Aside from the honor of leading the news section of the country’s leading and longest-running morning show, the position also gave me that long-awaited opportunity for me to finally become a regular employee. You see, I had already given seven years of my professional life to the company, but only as a talent/project-based employee.

Like many others, I started my career in GMA 7 as a researcher. For a time, I was even a phone patch operator, until one of my superiors gave me the chance to become a writer/producer.

My days as a phone patch operator

Coming from that, I had one goal when I accepted the EP post: to impart to my staff the value of true leadership, and the essence of being a team. I knew what it was like for them—the pressure of having to accomplish tasks flawlessly with hardly any guidance—and I wanted to run things differently. I also wanted them to have a boss who could command respect but still be approachable.

“Character above everything else.” This is my greatest principle in life. I believe that greatness can be learned through time, but character is deeply rooted in one’s self and cannot simply be developed, like, say, talent in writing TV scripts.

For four years, I did my best in the position that was entrusted to me. But at some point, burnout started to creep in. Like any normal human being, I began to feel tired.

Then came that pivotal moment when I finally had to choose which one to prioritize: work or family? That was a no-brainer, of course—my family will always come first.

Let me paint you a picture of what used to be my daily routine: By 11:30 p.m., I start traveling from my home in Biñan, Laguna, to GMA. I then begin lining up news stories by 12:30 a.m., and then, of course, I perform all my other tasks throughout the show, which airs from 4:55 to 8 a.m. I clock out at 9 a.m. (or later, depending on the day’s meetings), arriving home at 1 p.m. (or later, again). If I am lucky, I get to play with my three young children before sleeping at 3 p.m.; then I wake up at 6 to catch the primetime news so as to be informed of the big stories I will need to line up. I sleep again for just a couple of hours before gearing up for another day.

On top of that, I had to keep abreast of news developments 24/7. I was also constantly glued to my phone in order to constantly communicate with my team, so we could plan the daily newscasts.

As the head of the family—I’m also taking care of my aging mom—the challenges I went through were no joke. Every leave I filed came with an inner struggle because of the nature of my work; it was as if I was committing a mortal sin whenever I missed work to attend to something personal, even though I was entitled to those leaves.

These factors led me to my decision to leave the company where I honed my skills, from the time when I was still a low-ranking employee until I became supervisor.

It wasn’t an easy decision. GMA was my comfort zone—until it no longer offered any comfort. After 11 years, I had to say goodbye. I feel sad, but my heart is full knowing that I did my best, and that this experience has made me a stronger person.

As for the lessons I set out to impart to my staff, I believe they were well-received, judging by the heartwarming messages I received during the days leading up to my resignation. After eleven years, I can only hope that my leadership will also be my legacy in the company that was once my second home.

[Entry 291, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Ryan Insorio Juego spent 11 years of his career in media with GMA Network, Inc., starting as a researcher under the Public Affairs section of Unang Hirit. He then moved to News, taking on different roles in shows such as Unang Balita, Balitanghali, and 24 Oras. His career came full circle when he was appointed Unang Hirit’s Executive Producer for News, for 3 years up until his resignation. A proud father of three, Ryan is now taking a break from the broadcast industry—but his love for news remains.

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