I noticed a swift turn of tables when I started writing for Pinoy Gazette, a Filipino newspaper that has been circulating in Japan for 11 years now.
I remember writing for a mainstream broadsheet has made me feel like somebody from the royal family because whenever I want to interview a showbiz figure, his manager or publicist is always willing and able to arrange a schedule for me on the spot. If I badly need the interview, the manager would give me the number of her artist so I could secure the interview that instant. No sweat.
My entry to Pinoy Gazette changed everything though. Folks in PR offices, artist handlers and the corporate communications department of TV networks have become difficult to deal with. Their constant line would be, “‘Yong top 3 po kasi ang priority.” There were many occasions when I wanted to blurt, “Keep your top 3! FYI, I’m writing for an international paper. Damn you!,” but preferred to keep these words stored in my head for my own good.
My heyday with one of the top broadsheets in the country is now over and I had to gather stories and arrange interviews the hard way for Pinoy Gazette. It was difficult at first because I was so used to having an editor who provides me with all the contact numbers of people I would need to get my job done. She was very influential, after all.
After a couple of months, I found myself back on track! What’s more, I realized I’m working for a company that carries a noble cause for our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Truth is, it recently held a job fair alongside the grand launch of Access TV’s GMA Life TV (sister company of Q-11). You see, apart from being a publishing company, IPS is also the broadcast carrier of GMA-7 in Japan.
Below is a writeup on the said event which came out last Sunday in the Philippine Star.
CONVERSATIONS with Ricky Lo
Sunday, March 30, 2008
NAGOYA, Japan — Philippine Airlines’ PR 431touched down on Good Friday in this compact Japanese city at dusk after a four-hour-plus flight from Manila. Our group — with Kamandag stars Richard Gutierrez and Jewel Mische with their handlers, POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) director Nini Lanto and Aster Amoyo representing the IPS (International Placement Service) — was shuttled from a virtual oven to the freezer. Manila was sweltering hot while Nagoya was freezing cold.
After checking in at the Princess Garden Hotel, we had a hearty dinner (cholesterol-free, burp!) at a nearby restaurant, shoes off, and then we retired to our respective rooms for a dreamless sleep, waking up to a bright spring morning in a city with very clean streets (look, sir, no potholes!), very polite people (and honest, too; you leave your valuables at a restaurant and find them intact after several hours…and no cellphone-snatchers), and trees lining almost every lane. Paradise!
We were here for a joint event: The first ever job fair sponsored by the IPS, which is headed by the soft-spoken Koji Miyashita (who has homes in both Japan and the Philippines where IPS also maintains an office managed by Ms. Amoyo), and the launch of the second channel of the GMA Life TV which began airing shows (including, blush, The Ricky Lo Exclusives) of its sister channel Q-11 last month. (GMA 7’s Pinoy TV, the international channel, has been airing shows for a few years now.) The provider of both GMA channels is the Access TV of IPS which has expanded its services beyond job placement, and now including publishing (Pinoy Gazette and Access TV magazines, etc.), systematic overseas call centers and running a caregiver academy. The work force of IPS is 90 percent Filipino.
The job fair was kicked off at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 22, with POEA director Nini Lanto giving an inspirational talk. The venue, accessible by foot two turns away from the hotel, was packed full with Filipinos wearing contented smiles, some of them carrying Japino babies along with application forms as they hop from one booth to another, put up by the 70 participating companies.
And then came the GMA Life TV launch as finale. Glued in their off-hours to GMA (and now Q-11) shows, thanks to Access TV, the OFWs as well as the Pinoy migrants are familiar with GMA/Q-11 stars. When Richard and Jewel appeared onstage, the whole place erupted into wild cheers. Jewel sang first; Richard then joined her in a duet. Part of the agenda was a Q&A portion, with GMA/Q-11 goodies (T-shirts, bags, etc.) given away as prizes for those who answered correctly.
For almost two hours, our homesick kababayan had a grand time posing for photographs with the two stars and getting their autographs.
That same night, after a quick supper at Denny’s, our group took the bullet train for the two-hour trip (very smooth!) to Tokyo. We arrived at past 10 and retired to our assigned rooms at the Hotel Fontaine in the Shinbasi area.