GMA Public Affairs celebrates 20 years of public service on October 28

TinaMonzon-Palma (left) started GMA Public Affairs 20 years ago, along withthen associate producer and now Senior Vice-President of News and PublicAffairs Marissa Flores (right).

Jessica Soho and Arnold Clavio will count down GMA PublicAffairs' biggest, most unforgettable stories in 20: Dalawampung Taon ng GMAPublic Affairs this Sunday, October 28 at 10:30 p.m.

This retrospective TVspecial will feature storiesthat opened the eyes of viewers to shocking realities, stories that touchedhearts, stories that helped change the nation's history, stories that nowdefine GMA's Public Affairs department.

THE BEGINNING. It was the year1987 when Tina Monzon-Palma, then head of GMA News, decided to set up a PublicAffairs department.

This was mannedby only five people, fresh graduates all, who first held office in the tinylocker room of news cameramen.

Marissa Flores,now Senior Vice-President for GMA News and Public Affairs, was one of the firstPublic Affairs employees Tina Monzon-Palma hired in 1987. Ms. Flores recalls,"We had no experience and no equipment, no camera even to call our own. Onour first sets we just glued gold letters to black backing announcing the nameof the program. But we had the passion to work."

Who couldimagine then that from this passion would grow a department of more than 500staffers, now producing 16 of the most awarded programs on Philippinetelevision?

TinaMonzon-Palma says the year public affairs began, there was a hunger forin-depth discussion of issues. After decades of media repression sheexplains, "Filipino viewers wanted to find out what was happening in their newgovernment, the changes that were taking place as well as what befell formerleaders who had been removed via People Power. The half-hour dailynewscast was simply not enough to discuss all this."

GMA PublicAffairs began by producing special reports. Their first long formproduction was Inside Congress which back then won the Catholic MassMedia Award for Best Documentary.


Weekly talkshows soon followed. Jose Mari Velez, a well-known broadcaster at thetime, hosted GMA Public Affairs' first station-produced talk program, Weekendwith Velez, later renamed Velez this Week.

Velez's programwas joined by block timers and co-productions such as Viewpoint with DongPuno, Firing Line with Teddy Benigno, Issues and Answers withArt Borjal, and The Probe Team with Cheche Lazaro.

Now, 20years later, GMA Public Affairs produces the late night block composed of shows such as I-Witness,Reporter's Notebook, Palaban, 100% Pinoy, and Emergency. Italso counts the morning program Unang Hirit and primetime programs KapusoMo, Jessica Soho and Imbestigador among its shows—along withmagazine programs, children's shows, travel documentaries, and reality programs.

The departmentis proud to have won the George Foster Peabody Award for investigative reportsand two Gold Medals from the New York Festivals for its shows.

Marissa Flores creditsthe success of the department to the values already long implanted in the newsorganization. "It was never an option to not be balanced, to not get both sidesof story, there were standards already in place. We stand on theshoulders of those who came before us. "

Tina Monzon-Palmaagrees: "Public affairs has not changed its basic principles—to put issues inthe proper perspective, to be objective and balanced, to put together a goodstory, be it in documentary, magazine or debate format. I think these principleshave kept it not just where it was 20 years ago. It has grown to an evenhigher level of professionalism."

This year, GMAPublic Affairs celebrates 20 years of public service. To mark thismilestone, GMA will be airing a very special retrospective documentary, 20: Dalawampung Taon ng Public Affairs, this Sunday,October 28, at 10:30 pm.






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