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Going Beyond A Journalist’s Norms

He is the only news anchor with a puppet for an alter ego. He rouses people in the morning, accompanies them to work or school, and fills their day with his signature witty humor as one of the hosts of GMA 7’s morning show. By mid-morning, you would hear him give commentaries on various issues that affect the country on his radio show. And before you sleep at night, you could catch him reporting on serious events in a late-night newscast. But that’s not all — he also has a public affairs program that airs once a week. Arnold Clavio juggles his time between all these, and more — diabetes notwithstanding.

Journalism for Public Awareness
Winning an essay-writing contest in first grade was Arnold Clavio’s jumpstart to a career in writing. “It was my first love,” he enthuses. “I was a consistent staff member of our school organs in elementary and high school, where I also served as editor-in-chief.”

College at the University of Santo Tomas helped Arnold become not only better at writing, but also become a more sensitive human being. Arnold says that he owes it all to Teatro Tomasino, UST’s theatre group, which he joined early on. “I was trained to believe in myself and be successful even with limited resources at hand. They also helped me to have self-confidence and face every challenge that comes my way.”

Years after winning the writing contest and joining Teatro Tomasino, Arnold is now an award-stacking journalist. Co-anchoring the late night news program 24 Oros with Vicky Morales, laughing it up with alter-ego Arn-Arn and the rest of the gang in the morning show Unang Hirit, and discussing anything under the sun in his radio program, are just a few of the things that make Arnold a busybody.

Numerous news coverages have also taken him to countless places, but to him the most memorable are the ones that happened here in his home turf. “I am lucky to be in the right place at the right time whenever there’s breaking news,” he shares. On top of his list of exclusive coverages are the Abu Sayyaf hostage-taking in Basilan, the murder of former Air Transportation Office chief Col. Panfilo Villaruel at the NAIA Tower, and the “Hello Garci” scandal that rocked the country to its roots.

As exciting as news reporting is, Arnold chose not to solely dedicate himself to bringing good and bad news to GMA 7’s avid viewers and listeners. He has also taken the role of spreading public awareness on important issues through the public affairs show Emergency.

Aired every Friday night, Emergency has evolved from tackling emergency news cases alone to a format that allows a wider expanse of subjects. Ever since a clamor for a change in format came from avid viewers, the show has incorporated public health concerns and socio-economic issues that are plaguing the country today.

13 Years of Unparalleled Public Service
October 16, 1995 marked Emergency’s debut on air. Its pilot episode was about the shocking Ozone Disco tragedy. Originally hosted by Edu Manzano, the pioneering stories delved into tragic emergency cases, like the Ozone Disco fire, which some viewers thought were too “heavy” for their taste.

Thirteen years later, with innovative style and broad content, Emergency has greater leeway to tackle more topics on medical issues and other public concerns. “We are sensitive to viewers’ reaction. It is the company’s policy to treat the viewers as ‘boss.’ We can effectively present our story without being sensational or exaggerated. We can still achieve our objective with less gory scenes,” Arnold says.

Emergency’s objectives are clear-cut. “Our priority is the safety of every Filipino. We try to present a lot of medical issues as much as possible. We believe awareness is very important in dealing with any illness, disease, or emergency situation, and it is our role to disseminate the correct information to the public.” He adds: “We would like to continue our annual medical mission to remote areas of the Philippines. It is our commitment to our loyal viewers every time we celebrate our anniversary.”

Thirteen years on the air is a feat on television, an industry where a program is only as good as its last broadcast. It’s even tougher for a public service program like Emergency to keep airing for a year, let alone 13 years. That it has managed to avoid the dreaded “axe” this long is proof that Arnold and his team are doing the right things.

There are other proofs of the program’s relevance and drawing power — recognition from both local and international award-giving bodies. “The latest was the recognition given to Emergency by the New York Film Festival which I personally received in New York. The UN Information Service also gave us a bronze medal for a feature story on three minors from Payatas who make a living from burning or melting metal,” Arnold proudly shares. The show has also been cited in other international award-giving bodies.

Giving Back in Full Measure
With Arnold’s constant interaction with the people he meets for the show, it isn’t hard for him to get attached and realize how blessed his life is. “Emergency provided me a lot of opportunities to learn life’s lessons that I guess made me aware of my moral responsibility as a journalist—that we as a community should go the extra mile to help others, especially the children who need our care the most,” he says.

Going into specifics, Arnold mentions a few of the episodes that have been etched in his mind and heart, moving him to take off his journalist’s hat and wear that of a social worker’s: “Many of our case studies touched my life personally and made me a better person. The story of Nicole Figueroa, the Dongalo brothers, the story of Annabel, really inspired me to put up my own foundation and help our poor children.”

And so, in 2002 Arnold put up the iGAN ng Pilipinas Foundation, which aims “to help lessen the suffering of these children and inspire them to focus on the future. Our mission is to finance the construction of a fun center called ‘Paraiso ng mga iGAN’ in various hospitals to be the sick children’s bastion of joy and emotional support even in the midst of pain and sickness,” Arnold says. He says that iGAN Foundation would like to see the smiles of children who are afflicted with sickness and disabilities. He wants these children to have good reason to stay optimistic despite their condition.

Time Out for Himself
Though Arnold keeps a busy schedule both with his Foundation and his work at GMA-7, he still manages to take a breather now and then. “I spend my day-off with my family andfriends. We play golf, basketball, and badminton together.” Working out at the gym is another activity he engages in whenever his schedule allows.

He mentions that it is very important for him to keep healthy despite a cramped calendar. On TV, he projects a look of perfect health. The truth is, he has diabetes. Because of this condition, he takes his health to heart and has taken command over his lifestyle. “My own experience dictates that we have to change our lifestyle completely if we want to live longer and more meaningfully. Diet and exercise, plus regular checkups with your doctor make a good start in dealing with diabetes,” Arnold narrates. With a touch of humor, he adds, “Hindi no ako tirador ng piyesta at ng kaning lamig.”

Same Old Arnold
Arnold Clavio may have reached the pinnacle of success. His childhood dream has become reality and much, much more. His efforts on the job, for which he has been recognized here and abroad, are precious, and he would not trade them for anything in the world!

None of it has gone to his head, though. Despite the success and the honors, Arnold remains the simple boy that he is. “I would want people to remember me as the poor boy from Tondo who rose from poverty and now enjoys life to the fullest. I want to inspire my kapitbahay that poverty is not a hindrance to success. And that through the years, I am still the same person who loves to strum a guitar and sing from the rooftop.”

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