NOVEMBER 8, 2013. Surely, it will be a date that will never forget in the history of the Philippines.
Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) ravaged Eastern Visayas with 230 km/h winds. The storm cut across the central part of the country westwards, accruing 6,000+ deaths and incurring PHP 89.6 billion in damage.
As we commemorate the anniversary of the strongest storm of this century this weekend, the Turf looked back on how our media of the small screen played their perspectives before, during and after the treacherous natural disaster.
Before the storm’s spotlight
Wednesday, November 6
Every Juan de la Cruz was anticipating for the presence of Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P 10-billion pork barrel swindle, in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee the following morning.
In the media, ABS-CBN uploaded the Christmas ID, “Magkasama Tayo Sa Kwento ng Pasko” on YouTube.
Instead of the hearing being declared as the high-priority news item, most media outlets outlined the entrance of the typhoon in the Philippine Area of Responsibility.
With the intensity of the storm magnified reaching landfall soon, the local authorities in Eastern Visayas declared their suspension of school and government affairs the following day and Friday.
Thursday, November 7
The mind of Juan was confounded the coincidence of the double disaster.
In Pasay City, where the Senate sits, protests were carried near the entrance of the GSIS Building awaiting for Napoles’ convoy and presence before the continuing Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing. Every VHF TV network, except ABS-CBN 2 and GMA 7, tuned on to the hearing of the alleged mastermind donned in a police vest. Questions of senators were thrown out to her but all she can answer include “I invoke my right against self-incrimination” and “I don’t know.” Even Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago made provoking questions and advice to the 49-year-old in limelight.
After noon, PTV 4 decided to interrupt the eventful hearing in favor of Sec. Sonny Coloma’s press briefing regarding the arrival of the typhoon. The rest of the networks covered the hearing decided to continue.
After the hearing, the early evening news focused again on “Yolanda” than the Napoles hearing. On this same night, President Benigno S. (P-Noy) Aquino III warned the public on TV to prepare immediately before hitting landfall. He was tasked with his Cabinet to prepare aid right after the disaster.
D-Day (Disaster Day), Friday, November 8
It was 5:30 a.m.; the main PAGASA HQ in Quezon City declared the first landfall of the super-typhoon in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
The never-ending network war declared a temporary ceasefire as Normal programming is suspended all throughout the country to cover real-time effects in Visayas. In PTV’s case, the weather program, Panahon.TV made an extensive coverage throughout the day on the progress of the storm.
In Tacloban City, the nearby key city, five different journalists in four different networks were assigned.
In ABS-CBN, Atom Araullo was inside a commercial building during the special coverage of Umagang Kay Ganda as the floods increased due to storm surge.
GMA assigned Jiggy Manicad and Love Anover to cover the raging storm but communication lines were down. For Anover, being a native from Leyte was evacuated to Palo Cathedral but the howl of the winds flew off the roof scaring her feeling a near-death experience. Her ordinary fellows gave her aid during the loss of contact. Later, she was on the screen on News TV’s State of the Nation with Jessica Soho giving the testimony of the day.
TV5 assigned Ramon Tulfo and observed the damage.
Lastly, the underdog PTV 4 assigned Jorge Bandola witnessed his own observation of the damage. All four stations shared common results and experiences on the day that stopped the world.
On the night, Metro Manila experienced heavy rains due to the tail of the super-typhoon but much weaker than in Visayas until the storm departed PAR.
Most of Juan and Juana’s discussion of the political hearing was set aside after the force majeure; some felt the political issue was being erased by a storm.
Recreational activities in Metro Manila that are scheduled immediately are either canceled or moved, out of respect to the victims.
In local media, the government’s media consortium Media ng Bayan (PTV and IBC) aired continuously for the following 17 days with “Tulong ng Bayan.” PTV aired a special NewsBreak throughout the weekend immediately after the storm.
In response of the incalculable disaster, ABS-CBN decided to modify the lyrics and to splice the clips of the twin disasters in to their recent Christmas song. They marketed their aid through a special T-shirt and a Solidarity Concert the following month.
In GMA, their biggest talent Julie Anne San Jose performed the motivational song “Pagbangon”. With the Pacquiao vs. Rios fight two weeks after the storm, the said city was given a live commercial-free broadcast of the bout while the rest of the country continued the delayed ritual.
In TV5, the opening of PBA 39th Season (eight days after the storm) marked the moment of silence for the victims before the tip-off across three major cities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
In foreign media, almost all TV networks (be it in Europe or USA) eyed in the city of Tacloban, surveying the damage and observing the people’s resiliency. Among the foreign correspondents, CNN’s Anderson Cooper became one of the most discussed journalists, as he observed no presence of national government officers and slow government response. Cooper’s tongue irked Korina Sanchez — the spouse of the current Secretary of Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas — that there are some presence and response. She knew that there was a hindrance of communication but her on-air rage made the praise of her colleague’s (Araullo) bravery down, causing dissipation of the image not just of ABS-CBN’s credibility but her journalistic integrity.
The ceasefire of networks signified the unity and solidarity of the nation to rise up from the ruins.
One year after
Commemorating the anniversary this weekend, PTV will air a special anniversary coverage tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. GMA will air “Pagbangon” by Jessica Soho tomorrow at 10:30 p.m., after Celebrity Bluff while News TV will air Jiggy Manicad’s viewpoint documentary “Six Hours” the following night.
Indeed, the date of that Friday changed the definition not just for the victims but also for us as a nation. But the battle cry for resilience still resounds, “Never give up.”
Walang iwanan! This will pass.
[Photos courtesy of Liza Suan, InterAksyon.com, ABS-CBN News and Wikimedia Commons]