A time for heroes, and villains, too

NAKHON RATCHASIMA–There was grating regret among NBN-4 television crewmen when they learned a few minutes late that mountain bike’s Jovy Barba had landed RP’s first gold in the 24th Southeast Asian Games.

This was midmorning of Dec. 6, the Games opening day.

NBN production head Edgar Reyes squinted and shook his head, trying to ward off frustration.

No assigned NBN cameraman at the finish line, no video feed of the event from the site of the downhill bike race either.

There was a mini disaster brewing.

The government coverage team could not afford to let one golden moment slip for excited viewers back home.

Not to worry. The NBN team, with logistics man Manny de Asis promptly dashing out of sight, would pull strings at the International Broadcast Center.

By mid-afternoon, NBN had a video of the opening gold for Team Philippines, courtesy of friends from Thai television.

Barba’s golden feat, a buena mano, was played up to anchor a subsequent 11-gold RP medal harvest on the third day of the Southeast Asian Games in this charming, quiet, tree-lined capital three hours by car from Bangkok.

For the record, Reyes reported, NBN-4 has not allowed a single RP gold medal slip.

He said the government television coverage team here, which got a rah-rah visit from chairman Rolly Reyes on the eve of the opening, has faithfully recorded and reported all vital details of the Philippine participation.

NBN came here with a medium-size crew, backed by six broadcasters, in pursuit of the coverage theme “A Time for Heroes.”

It was mostly a toast to Filipino victors but, at the same time, it could not be helped that losers, including a few Filipino villains, also surface on the television screen.

OK, this is a little exaggerated, but among the unseen, unsung heroes here are some 30 staffers, the core of the NBN work crew, flown over for the Games.

You bet that’s a huge group, twice the size of a basketball team.

But it could be oversized if it’s only basketball, boxing and billiards the TV crew has had to cope with. Filipino athletes have participated in a total of 43 events here.

“By a plain count, we are directly involved in the coverage of 30 events here, excluding those in Pattaya and Bangkok,” explained NBN-4 delegation head Bobby Arias.

Indeed, the challenge could be daunting, awesome as crossing the ocean when all you have is a frail boat for a short ride down the river.

The good news is that, with a day left in the 24th Southeast Asian Games Friday, the intrepid NBN team has reached shore commendably.

It’s not very easy, bared chief producer Chit Gatan, but the secret is multi-tasking.
For example, technical expert Louie Lamata, on a regular 8 a.m. to midnight shift, takes care of not two or three, but a total of 12 studio monitors.

One cameraman provides technical support, does editing and, at the same time, run assorted errands.

They have an unsavory name for this type of coverage: guerilla operation.

Naturally, with NBN-4 crew up on its toes 24 hours a day, practically everything involving the RP participation, like defeat and frustration, gets its deserved footage.

For example, there was also focus on the villains who tried to conceal their perennial ineptitude with an unwarranted walkout in boxing, thereby displaying the ugly side of the Filipino here.

Yes, it’s not defined among its role, but when it showed the glaring inferiority of the RP women boxers against their Thai rivals, NBN-4 has, in a big way, also helped discourage mediocrity in Philippine sports.

Please send in more heroic, dedicated Filipino sports officials.


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