Mitzi Borromeo: The newscaster as storyteller

Tinnie P. Esguerra (The Philippine Star) - August 25, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – When CNN news anchor Mitzi Borromeo first heard that she won as Best Newscaster for this year’s 24th KBP Golden Dove Awards, she was caught in EDSA traffic on a Friday night.

She recalls, “I got a call from a colleague congratulating me. I had no idea what she was talking about when she excitedly screamed congratulations. And when it finally hit me, everything seemed to freeze and go silent, then I was jumping in the driver’s seat — or maybe it was more like bobbing up and down.”

“The car was shaking. Car passengers nearby must’ve been looking at my car and the weirdo driver suspiciously. The award came a week after my birthday, so it was a wonderful birthday gift!” she adds.

That endearing moment of sheer joy and unabashed silliness seems a stark contrast to Mitzi’s engaging yet authoritative on-air persona, which has — not surprisingly — earned the network its edge in the primetime segment, as well as her own share of fans and followers.

Though relatively new in the newscasting biz, Mitzi is no stranger to the news scene, having chalked up 17 years of media work to date.

She cut her teeth in TV broadcasting in 1999 with the Sarimanok News Channel, before it evolved into the ABS-CBN News Channel. She also became a presenter, writer and segment producer for the daily morning show, Breakfast.

However, she left two years after to focus on NGO work for WWF Philippines, where she further honed her skills in communications, which included journalism and multimedia-related work.

She admires Cheche Lazaro, Jessica Soho and Howie Severino, as well as foreign news reporters like CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Fareed Zakaria, Sanjay Gupta, Andrew Stevens, Kristie Lu Stout and Anna Coren as well as BBC stalwarts George Alagiah, Rico Hizon and Mishal Husain.

Despite the much-deserved validation of her stature as a news journalist, Mitzi prefers not to bask in the limelight, and would rather turn the spotlight on her colleagues.

“It’s a huge honor to be recognized by peers and giants in the industry. But this award isn’t about me, it’s about the entire news team who bends over backwards daily to serve up the day’s top news for public service,” she points out.

However proud and thankful she may be with her newscasting stint, Mitzi feels a deeper sense of fulfillment and connection when helming her own current affairs show, Profiles, where she gets to do more in-depth and personal one-on-one interviews with interesting personalities.

She clarifies, “I love doing both, but they’re different really animals. It’s a whole different ballgame when you’re actually talking to someone face to face and interacting with them than just talking to a camera. I truly enjoy real face time and being in the field, finding connections with people. Once in a while we do studio interviews, but it’s not the same as talking to someone in their environment or capturing them in their element.”

Armed with all the know-how she gleaned from her previous work experiences, Mitzi takes great pride in being hands-on with her show, as producer, writer, researcher and everything else beyond the call of duty.

She exclaims, “I’m grateful and lucky to have the best boss handling current affairs (the unit under which Profiles falls) who is open, dynamic, understanding, creative and supports us in every way. She is an amazing mentor and takes such great care of everyone, and has a sense of humor that helps us all get through the madness, which often characterizes media work.”

Mitzi admits feeling hard-pressed when asked about her more memorable interviews.

She confesses, “I love making connections, for me, those are magical moments. Getting the backstories; unraveling fascinating lives — layer upon layer; making new discoveries… it’s like falling in love each time. And I get to live out lives I’ve dreamt of living, even for just a moment, as I walk through each person’s life for an interview.”

“It’s difficult to say which are the most memorable. But in terms of which were most memorable in terms of making an extra special connection, Leni Robredo, Narda Capuyan, Nora Aunor, Rodallie Mosende, Janette Carlos (midwife at Fabella Hospital), Ernie Gawilan, Bai Rohaniza Usman and Dr. Joven Cuanang.

For someone who lives and breathes news 24/7, Mitzi finds it hard turning off her “journalist’s sentry.”

She says, “It’s somehow ingrained in me because of my natural curiosity and desire to document great stories.”

But when she does manage to unplug, the devout nature lover loves to go hiking and diving, and continues to support environmental groups such as WWF Philippines and other sustainable development advocacy groups. She is also a staunch recycling advocate, and is a volunteer for the Tzu Chi Foundation.

Aside from Mitzi’s Best Newscaster award, CNN Philippines also bagged six other Golden Dove awards, namely: Best TV Public Service Announcement (Metro-Wide Earthquake Drill 2015), Best Special Program (The Story of the Filipino People: Yolanda), Best TV Magazine Program (Leading Women), Best Sports Program (Sports Desk) and Best TV Culture and Arts Program (What I See Season 3).

Inspired by their recent harvest of awards, Mitzi and her CNN colleagues look forward to furthering their commitment to public service.

“I’m excited to be part of such a wonderful network of such passionate and dedicated people. There are so many bright prospects ahead. I’m proud to be able to contribute to a network that strives to help build a better nation through public service in broadcasting and other multi-media platforms.”

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