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Freeman Cebu Entertainment

As he returns from medical leave Mike Enriquez grapples with how to slow down without leaving broadcasting

Vanessa A. Balbuena - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  “People of the Philippines, I have returned!” exclaims Mike Enriquez as he paraphrases one of his favorite World War II generals, Douglas MacArthur. Like war figures whose exploits are a stuff of history, it’s this hankering to take part, front and center, in history, that was one of the veteran radio and television anchor’s motivations to recover from a recent medical procedure.

A newsman to the bone, Enriquez tells interviewers in a Zoom conference that among his prayers after a kidney transplant last December 16 and a cthree-month mandatory isolation period that followed was that he be well enough to return to work in time for GMA Network’s election coverage. It is after all, one of the country’s most polarizing election year, and Enriquez will be damned if he’ll be just sitting at home and merely watch it all unfold.

“People in media, this is what we live for,” he says. “You know one of my prayers was, ‘Lord, please make me well enough in time for the election coverage.’ And he answered my prayer. It’s a major national and media event. Syempre tayo, kapag merong balita, gusto niyo kasama kayo. If it’s a big story, there’s a feeling of wanting to be part of something historical and important to the nation.”

After ending his isolation on March 16 and getting clearance from doctors, the GMA News pillar and multi-awarded broadcast journalist is back on radio and television today, March 28,

On radio, he will return to his regular programs on GMA’s flagship AM radio station Super Radyo DZBB 594 which are also simulcast on GTV via ‘Dobol B TV.’ He is joined by Joel Reyes Zobel on “Super Balita sa Umaga” at 7 am to deliver the biggest news stories and latest news updates for the day. In the following hour until 9 am, he further provides more information about the issues at hand through interviewing key personalities on “Saksi sa Dobol B.

In the evening, he rejoins Mel Tiangco and Vicky Morales on GMA’s flagship newscast “24 Oras”, while every Saturday, he hosts the long-running public affairs program “Imbestigador.”

“And then coming up, it’s now being prepared, is our huge – and most importantly – credible election coverage,” says Enriquez, who is expected to again play a big part in the “Eleksyon 2022: The GMA News and Public Affairs’ Election Coverage” on May 9, together with fellow GMA News pillars Tiangco, Morales, Arnold Clavio, Howie Severino, and Jessica Soho.

Apart from his on-air duties, Enriquez continues to serve as RGMA Network, Inc. President and GMA Network’s Consultant for Radio Operations, who leads all the Super Radyo and Barangay FM stations across the country.

He is proud that even during his leave, the station managed to maintain his program’s dominance. DZBB’s morning shows remained to be the listeners’ top daily news source. Radio stations in key areas in the Visayas region also posted winning numbers.

In the following interview, Enriquez opened up about contending slowing down in a profession that makes it seemingly impossible to do so, how he plans to help fellow kidney transplant patients after his own ordeal, and what viewers can expect from GMA’s upcoming election debate.

On going through a kidney transplant and isolation:

Yung pinagdaanan ko mahirap. Aside from the kidney transplant, there is a three-month mandatory isolation period for transplant patients. The purpose of that is to avoid the rejection and the infection because kidney transplant patients are immune-compromised. As for myself, I have comorbidities, I’m a senior citizen, I’m diabetic, etc…What I can share to those who might go through what I went through is to keep the faith. I tell my friends and classmates, two things you will need – because I also had a heart bypass operation in 2018 – prayer and humor. If you’re too serious in life, walang mangyayari sayo. And so far it has worked for me.

On how he dealt with missing broadcast work:

At first I missed it especially if I would watch. So what I did, hindi ako nanood. Instead I watched YouTube, CNN, and other streaming devices para mawala sa isip ko. But I’m sure like other media workers, every now and then you would want to put your radio or TV sets on the news. It’s in our blood. I lived alone in a condo during isolation. My suggestion so you won’t be bored to death, don’t watch television too much during your isolation.

On his reflections during isolation:

Reflections and discernment…and I am not finished yet with the process. It’s still ongoing for me. It’s about my future, my career, my life. I promised myself at the start of my surgery that I would spend my time on really taking a serious look at my life and career. Kung ano ba talaga gusto kong mangyari sa buhay ko. Is it time to turn off the microphone? Is it time to not turn off the mic completely but to lessen? Mga ganun ba…and I repeat, I am still in the process of making that discernment. It’s how to slow down without leaving broadcasting. If that’s possible, I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as slowing down in this profession.

You know, I’d have dialysis 3-4 times a week. You’re hooked to a machine for four hours. Ask people who undergo dialysis – para kang binugbog ni Manny Pacquiao ang feeling mo physically. Ngayon wala na. I made the realization na mahirap ang buhay lalo na doon sa hindi maka afford ng medical care. As a matter of fact I was in touch with a couple of friends who are also kidney transplant patients and they were thinking of organizing a group whose advocacy will be to make dialysis and kidney procedures affordable to Filipinos. Maraming Pilipino na walang kalaban-laban simply because wala silang pera. I realized how good God was to me, and how I should pay it forward. I will be meeting with our group and figure out ways and means of helping those who cannot afford dialysis and kidney procedures. It breaks my heart when people come to me asking for help. It breaks my heart to know about patients na nangigitim because they lack dialysis.

On what he’s proudest of in his journalism career:

I’m most proud of the people that I worked with and am associated with through the years. Some people call it legacy, I refuse to call it legacy..wala lang. It’s my being able to say na ‘Yang si ganyan naging katrabaho ko yan. Pareho kami nag-umpisa niyan. I trained him or her.’ Because that’s long-lasting. You cannot erase that. They are my source of pride and joy.

On what viewers can expect with GMA’s upcoming election debate:

In a nutshell, this is what I told one of our producers: The debate is two hours. Kung hindi natin huhusayan ang presentation and packaging, tutulugan tayo ng mga tao. Who wants to listen to politicians for two hours, except themselves? The challenge is how to make the so-called debates interesting, lively, colorful, but no less substantive. That is what we are preparing for, and that is what the audience will get.

On what he’ll miss about Balitang Bisdak’s Bobby Nalzaro:

That trip to Cebu, balikan lang yun. That was my first out of town trip after isolation. With the permission from my doctor of course. When Super Bob is among friends, he’s not super eh. He’s just Bobby Nalzaro. He just comes to work like the rest of us. Bobby and I had a close relationship. It was relationship founded on both professional and personal terms. We shared a lot of stories about broadcasting, about radio, television…we shared a lot of anecdotes and a lot of kwento kwento everytime we would see each other. And I will miss that kay Bobby.

Our people are coping very well and they are a bunch of professionals. When I was in Cebu, we had lunch with the key people, and they are okay. I have been telling our officers that part of our responsibility is to make sure to monitor the morale of the people in Cebu remains okay, strong and high. So far we are succeeding. Our Cebu operation lost two key people. Si Susan Aliño [DYSS Station Manager], and then Bobby.

MIKE ENRIQUEZ

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