The Spice Boys of Kapuso News
- Ricky Lo () - May 6, 2012 - 12:00am

You see them night after night on the Kapuso GMA 7’s newscasts (24 Oras, Saksi, etc.) and sometimes you focus more on how good-looking they are than on how well they deliver their stories (yes, very well!).

They could easily give the Kapuso stars a run for their good looks even without their trying to. I’m sure that if they would aspire for it, they could be actors. Fortunately, or unfortunately, they are starry-eyed…just yet? You can never tell.

Let’s call them the Spice Boys of the Kapuso News & Public Affairs department. There are many of them but for the time being let’s limit our choices to only three.

Here they are:

• Mark Pegenia Salazar, 35 (Sept. 26, 1977), finished elementary education at Buna Lejos Elementary School in Buna Lejos, Indang, Cavite; secondary education at the Don Severino Agricultural College (now Cavite State University); and college at De La Salle University-Cavite (which named him Most Outstanding Alumnus in the Field of Broadcast Journalism). Started at GMA as news producer in 2001, now an associate producer (for 24 Oras Weekend), and anchor (since 2005) of GMA Flash Report (on Sundays) and of Balita Pilipinas Ngayon (a daily newscast on GMA News TV from 4:30 to 5 p.m.).

• Ronald Ian G. Cruz, 33 (June 30, 1979), graduated cum laude with a degree of AB Masscom from FEU; started as TV production assistant at ABS-CBN (Oct. 1999 to Feb. 2000), worked as a reporter for Abante and Abante Tonite (April 2000 to Oct., 2005), segment producer of Women’s Desk on QTV Channel 11 (Oct. 2005 to July 2006); and has been a senior correspondent of GMA News since July 2006. Interests: Books, music, current events, history, geography and travel.

• Al Hadji S. Rieta, 25 (Jan. 16, 1987), finished elementary education “with distinction” at the San Nicolas Elementary School, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte; secondary education as salutatorian in the same school; and AB Masscom at Northwestern University (ISO Accredited). Produced a docu titled Little Hawaii as an output for Probe Media Foundation-sponsored seminar-workshop on migration (2008-2009), worked as reporter/anchor of ABS-CBN Laoag in Ilocos Sur, and a junior correspondent for GMA News & Public Affairs since June 2011.  

How do you prepare for the day’s coverage?

Mark: I always go online in the morning to research about the story assigned to me for the day. Before taking a shower, I finish my coffee on my veranda. I have a beautiful view of hilly Rizal; it helps me start the day with a good disposition.

Ian: I catch our late-night news program for any development so I can plan ahead on what to do the following day. In the morning, I usually check Twitter alerts for national and international news updates. I also check the websites of various news organizations. I do all these before I coordinate with my contacts/sources for my assignment.

Hadji: I read both foreign and local news online. I see to it that I keep myself updated on what’s happening. I also check my day’s assignment and call my sources.

How much do you think do good looks impact on the delivery of the news?

Mark: The bottom line is…none at all. Maybe it can help you get attention to yourself at first. But in the media industry, the bosses, your colleagues and the public measure you by your talent and ability. Good looks do not deliver the news; what does is your capability to storytell with in-depth content and accountability.

Ian: Good looks may be important especially on TV. It is important to look neat and to dress appropriately. But in our country, being blessed with good looks is just a plus factor because the quality and substance of your reports are more important to the viewers.

Hadji: For me, good looks are just an added value to the news that we’re reporting.

How do you take care of your body?

Mark: I avoid eating too much meat and junk food. I’ve given up searching for the best sisig in town. I’m now enjoying bulanglang na gulay. I go to the gym every so often but not regularly. An eight-hour sleep is a must. I go to the spa every chance I get.

Ian: I used to work out on weekdays but since my schedule is full nowadays, I just do some light exercises in the morning. I drink plenty of water. I sleep an average of four to six hours per night. I know that’s not enough but on my days off, I find more time to sleep and relax. I also go for a swim to keep fit and to chill out as well.

Hadji: I go to the gym twice a week. I use the treadmill and lift some weights. Eight hours of sleep per night are already a dream for me because I usually find it hard to sleep even if I’m already tired from work.

Do journalists (not hard-hitting TV hosts) at your level get death threats?

Mark: I got one way back in Zamboanga. It was so serious that I had to evacuate immediately from my coverage. Since then, none.

Ian: Threats are inevitable to journalists. You go out every day, exposing wrongdoings of some individuals or organizations. Your report may not please some people. There was an incident last year during an out-of-town coverage when my team and I were threatened by an alleged big-time financier while we were having dinner inside a local canteen. He was drunk. He confronted us, criticized my reports and demanded that we should interview the local official he was with. When I declined, he started shouting; he was fuming. He told us that it would be best to leave town soon. The situation was alarming. Good thing we were really scheduled to leave that province the following day.

Hadji: I’m just into my second year as a journalist. Fortunately, I haven’t received any.

Have you ever received any indecent proposal?

Mark: Sometimes. I just ignore them. I have a group of friends with whom I always go out. I guess temptations are less when you don’t go out much with people outside of your inner circle.

Ian: Yes, in several instances already. I just don’t take them seriously.

Hadji: Not to be boastful…but yes, I have. Some would ask for my contact number or home address so that they could send me gadgets, money, etc. I have to admit that I’m surprised by all of these because I’m a reporter and not a celebrity. I just tell them politely that I do appreciate them, but it’s a no.

How much private time do you have for yourself?

Mark: I live alone so I always have private time whenever I want it, but I’m not the loner type. Conveniently, I have close friends living in the same building so company is always available.

Ian: I don’t have much time because I’m always out in the field for work. But if I have spare time, I go to church with my family, get a nice haircut and pamper myself with a body massage. Sometimes, I play the guitar. And just recently, I started to learn how to play the piano. I enjoy music so much. Being a rock star is one of my fondest dreams. Hahaha!

Hadji: I usually have private time during my days off from work. Private time is important for me because it’s my time to reflect and to set goals for myself.

Who are your role models and why?

Mark: Christiane Amanpour (now back at CNN). She’s very brave and sharp. I admire Arnold Clavio’s wit and Jessica Soho’s intelligence and dedication. I also look up to my friends Susan Enriquez for her drive and Maki Pulido for her passion.

Ian: I’m inspired by Jose Rizal’s contribution to our nation. His works still influence today’s world. Among today’s foreign journalists, I find Brian Williams of NBC and Anderson Cooper of CNN admirable.

Hadji: CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. She asks questions in a way that nobody does. CNN’s Anderson Cooper. I like the way he does his stand-uppers (spiels). At GMA, aside from Mark and Ian, I admire Jessica Soho for the way she makes her story very compelling; Kara David, for her writing skills and the way she reports her stories; and Chino Gaston who, for me, is the Anderson Cooper of the Philippines.

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