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Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Searching for growth, Julius Babao starts new chapter with TV5

Vanessa A. Balbuena - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Veteran broadcast journalist Julius Babao called it “amazing” how his transfer to TV5 after 28 years with ABS-CBN wasn’t met with criticism from netizens whose often knee-jerk reaction to those switching stations is to question their purported loyalty or sense of gratitude. In the same breath, he said he isn’t also surprised.

“Hindi naman ako nagtataka roon dahil wala naman akong sama ng loob sa ABS-CBN and vice-versa,” Babao told entertainment media during a recent digital conference. “I will not be here in TV5 kung hindi ako pinalaki ng ABS-CBN ng tama. I will always look at the network as parents who raised me, but then it came to a point – like any parent – ang anak mo ay lalagay na sa tahimik, pwedeng mangibang bansa, or lumipat ng bahay. I look at it that way.”

The seasoned news anchor will debut on the Kapatid Network’s primetime newscast “Frontline Pilipinas” tomorrow, February 7, as the new desk partner of fellow veteran anchor Cheryl Cosim. A broadcast personality for over three decades, Babao steps into the seat of Raffy Tulfo who resigned from the program after declaring his Senate candidacy.

“I’m very happy, excited, and looking forward to what’s going to happen. Cheryl and I have been good friends for many years, so we will complement each other,” said Babao, whose transfer raises the ante for TV5 especially as it gears up for its coverage of the May elections.

Aside from anchoring “Frontline Pilipinas” – airing daily every 5:30 pm on TV5 and via livestream at News5 Facebook and YouTube pages – Babao seeks to continue his mission of service through a program that aims to extend generous assistance to select and deserving small and medium scale enterprise (SMSE) owners and even underground economy-reliant Filipinos even as the country navigates the economic and social challenges ahead.

In welcoming Babao to the fold, Cignal and TV President and CEO Robert P. Galang said, “We are excited with the newest addition to our roster of credible and seasoned News 5 anchors. He has made a name for himself as a veteran and multi-awarded journalist, talk show host, and radio commentator. He has the commendable ability to reach people of all ages, social classes in many areas across different media platforms. He shares the same value as News 5 committed to the highest standards of integrity and journalistic excellence – bringing out the truth in every story. We are confident that with him joining our News 5 team into even greater heights.”

Babao started his journalistic career with GMA 7’s DZBB in 1990 before moving to ABS-CBN in 1993 as a reporter for its flagship newscast. He later anchored the station’s morning show with his wife Christine Bersola in 1996 and then filled co-anchor duties in  various primetime, evening and weekend newscasts before finally wrapping-up his 28-year stint with the Kapamilya Network last year.

Among the former ABS-CBN colleagues he is reuniting in TV5 is the network’s First Vice President for News and Information Luchi Cruz-Valdes, who expressed “great faith” in Babao’s upstanding track record.

“I’ve worked with him in Public Affairs so he knows how to make long or short form documentaries, so we’re not just talking here about event reporting. He was a crime investigation correspondent and host. You all know he is Mr. XXX,” said Cruz-Valdes,

“Noong panahon na hindi pa masyadong uso ang CCTV, we employed the use of hidden cameras. We attempted to get into the inner workings of questionable groups – that’s what Julius did with us. So the experience is deep. Magaling din magbasa and mag-project. And of course, he needs no introduction, kilala na.”

Below are some of Babao’s thoughts, including that of the evolving media landscape, how an untarnished name is his best asset, and how he’s reaching out to the Gen Z:

On leaving his network of 28 years for TV5:

It wasn’t easy. Dumating kasi sa point ng buhay at career ko na parang meron akong hinahanap na bagay na hindi ko magawa. Parang may kulang. After ABS-CBN lost its franchise, I stayed on with the network for two years. But I felt it was time that I move on. If you’re always kampante sa iyong trabaho, that’s like close to retirement. It feels stagnant and you need to expand your wings. I asked for signs, and it came to a point that I got to talk to Ma’am Luchi. That’s when my eyes were opened to the possibility of transferring. We didn’t talk for a long time, and later on she messaged if I was still interested in joining their network. That was the sign I was waiting for. Being on TV5 now is easy for me because yung mga nakakausap kong tao, I’ve worked with in the past so hindi na ako naiilang or kinakabahan.

On talent fee not being a factor in his decision:

It’s really about my growth as a news anchor. That was really my basis in transferring to TV5. In discussions with Ma’m Luchi, I saw many opportunities na magawa once nandito na ako. It’s not about an issue of money at all, it’s really about my growth as a news personality and as a person.

On the crucial role of mainstream media in the age of fake news:

The burden really is with mainstream media, so we have to make sure that we protect our credibility and integrity para sa panahon na tayo ay magsasalita, hindi tayo magmumukhang merong agenda or bias towards a certain person. Lalo na ngayon panahon ng election, we have to be cautious with the information that we release. I must admit it’s going to be hard kasi napakalawakng reach ng fake news on social media. Ang hirap minsan bantayan yung pag-spread ng ganitong mga balita. But as long as there’s TV5, there’s Frontline Pilipinas that’s willing gawin ang makakaya para itawid ang mga balita, napakalaking bagay ito para sa ating bayan. I will be contributory because sa tagal ko sa industriya, I have not been tainted, I have never been associated with corruption issues, or being biased for or against a candidate. Talagang maingat ako diyan. What’s really important is to protect your integrity and credibility through the years so that when times likes these comes – yun nga, wala kang maririnig na masama tungkol sa akin. It’s something I really take care of so when I speak out, masasabi mong totoo at hindi binayaran or gawa-gawa lamang para paangatin or siraan ang isang kandidato.

On how audiences can determine fake from fact:

It’s really doing your research. Huwag tayo makontento lang sa sinasabi ng ibang tao or mga kaibigan. Let’s not be swayed by herd mentality – na porke’t ito ang pinaniniwalaan ng kabarkada or ka-barangay mo, yun na din ang paniniwalaan mo. Huwag magpdala sa commentaries ng mga tao na hindi naman talaga equipped with all the information to spread factual news. So malaki ang role na gagampanan ng TV5 and other mainstream news outlets.

On how he connects with younger audiences:

Nagbabago ang audience but their hunger for news will always be there. The greatest challenge now is the spreading of fake news. Iba ang labanan ngayon. With the evolving audience, you have to capture their interest. So I have my own YouTube channel. It’s important to also catch the interest of your younger viewers. I do personal vlogs about what’s happening in my life,  sneakers, art, fashion, whatever, to connect with younger audiences na hindi masyadong nagagawa ng ibang news anchors.  They’ll get to know me better as a fun person.

On his advice to those weighing a change in their lives:

You only live once. So if you feel na naguguluhan kayo or hindi na kayo masaya sa ginagawa ninyo, that’s a major sign na dapat mag isip isip na kayo to explore other directions. Be open to new things. Most importantly, ask for guidance from the Big Boss up there. Magugulat nalang kayo, the signs will come. It will not happen overnight, most of the time matagal. But when the time comes, you’ll know that’s the sign you’ve been waiting for.

JULIUS BABAO

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