Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dan Campilan: Brief, brilliant life in journalism

The only time I had the chance to talk with Dan was during a training workshop for GMA News reporters early this year. I presented to the reporters the new website of GMA News and invited them to write stories for the site.

During the break I joined some of them for a chat. Dan was there. Maybe because of my Visayan diction that he introduced himself as Cebuano. He was happy to learn that I too am a Bisaya. He said "daghan na tang Bisaya sa GMA."

He also said he wanted to write. I told him to just start writing. "Maulaw man ko," he said. I told him there's no reason not to try. "There's always a first time," I said.

He was excited. There's a lot of life in him. I wished him the best. I saw a very promising and very eager journalist.

When I woke up this morning I saw several messages on my phone. Some were asking what happened to Dan. Lean, Newsbreak's artist, said Dan is a classmate at PUP's Open University as a first year broadcast communication student.

The man had a dream. As Jessica Soho said, Dan is an inspiration. May his short life inspire us.

Here's a tribute to our colleague:

Danifel "Dan" Campilan had a brief but exciting five-year career as a broadcast journalist. It ended in Quezon City the way it started in his home province of Cebu – by accident.

In his iGMA.Tv homepage, Dan recalled his first job: "Aksidente lang ang pagiging broadcaster ko. Pagkatapos ng kolehiyo, nag-work muna ako as a Bingo caller sa Cebu — as in Bingo na sugal: letter B 2. Then I found out na may boses pala ako at kaya magsalita in public."

[My being a broadcaster started by accident. After college, I worked first as a Bingo caller in Cebu — as in Bingo the gambling game: letter B 2. Then I found out that I had the voice and could speak in public.]

And so Dan applied for a job with Bombo Radyo Cebu. Readily, he was hired — but not just because of voice. He had some experience in campus journalism at the Cebu Institute of Technology, where he took a course in Information Technology as a scholar of the Department of Science and Technology.

His first major coverage assignment earned him a promotion.

Curiously, his career rose after he reported on the sinking of the M/V Asia South Korea tragedy in Daanbantayan, Cebu.

"The tragedy happened on December 23, 1999, and Christmas was near. Together with the survivors, we spent our Christmas at the site," Dan wrote.

"It was a major break for my radio broadcast career, because I was promoted on the 27th day of the same month to cover national news in our Bombo News Center in Makati."

Thereafter, his career steadily picked up at every turn that he covered accident, melee, upheaval, one after another.

Memorable stories

His profile offered a summary: "Dan Campilan was practically in the center of many upheavals and shakeups that the country has gone through, from the impeachment of Erap and the swearing in of PGMA to the impeachment bid of Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr."

He was a young journalist but Dan ran a long list of memorable coverage events.

As a Bombo Radyo Makati reporter, he covered both EDSA Dos and "EDSA Tres," or the siege of MalacaƱang by pro-Estrada supporters on May Day 2001.

"Di ko makalimutan ang May 1 siege coverage na ito," he recalled.

"Habang nagko-cover sa dispersal ng mga Erap supporters noon biglang umulan ng tear gas at tinamaan ako at nagpulasan na lahat. Para mawala ang anghang sa mata, dinakot ko yung ice cream na tinitinda nung mama sa Mendiola at pinanghilamos. Nagsunuran na rin yung iba. Sorry sa manong, but you saved my life."

For GMA 7, Dan’s diligence and discipline yielded good stories. He was the first to break the story on cases of meninggococcemia in Baguio City.

He reported on the tragedy that befell the people and communities of Infanta, Quezon, after a terrible typhoon in 2005.

Great little lives, beings

But the big political upheavals were not what really caught Dan's fancy.

Some of the stories he found memorable were the features he did on great, little lives and beings, like the one on Juliet Chavez, the first Dumagat to win a beauty contest at the Sabutan Festival.

"Pinakagusto ko rin yung nire-rescue namin yung mga eagle, sawa, at unggoy at iba't iba pang mga hayop na inire-report sa GMA at dinadala namin sa Wildlife Rescue Center," he said. At home, he said he had love birds for pets.

[I liked it best when we would rescue eagles, snakes, monkeys and a variety of other animals, and we would take them to the Wildlife Rescue Center.]

Between tight work schedules, Dan managed to give time to two hobbies.

The first is job-related -- watching TV, art films and documentaries. The other is totally unrelated, even unexpected of a strong and sprightly man – cooking.

Dan had the built of an athlete and was given to sports. In high school, he was a varsity player in volleyball and table tennis, but also dabbled in basketball, badminton, swimming and track.

Dream: To be a farmer

Apart from sports, he was grounded in nature. In fact, if his broadcasting career had not taken off, Dan said he would have wanted to become a farmer.

"Kasi yun ang pangarap ko noon para tulungan ang aking mga lolo't lola sa pagtatanim ng mais sa probinsya. Ha-ha-ha, ang babaw lang ng mga pangarap ko. Kahit ngayon I still want to become a farmer, pero siguro pag nag-retire na kasi kailangan ko kumita."

[My dream is to be a farmer and help my grandfather and grandmother plant corn in the province. Ha-ha-ha, I have such a simple dream. To this day, I still want to become a farmer. Maybe when I retire I would, but for now, I have to earn a living.]

Retirement would have been a long way off except that the lie of life visited Dan so suddenly, just before he could turn 26 years old on November 27.

Since joining GMA News Dan had really been busy, so busy that on August 17, 2005, he started a blog — Kapusong Cebuano. More than a year later all that the blog contains is its first, and unfortunately also last, entry:

"matapos ang ilang linggong trabaho, day-off ako today at gumawa nitong first blog ko.

"trial pa lang ito kasi di ko alam paano mag-blog. hehehe."

[After weeks of work, I finally had a day-off today and so here is my first blog. This is a trial blog for now because I still don’t know how to blog. Hehehe.]

Treasured possessions

At the time of his unfinished blog’s posting, Dan wrote that his mobile phone was his most treasured possession.

It was, after all, the one thing that "keeps me in touch with my family in the province." As important, too, were "my steno notebook and pilot ballpen – the most important items while working in the field."

Just recently, Dan did something for himself for a change. He bought a second-hand car to drive to and from work.

It was, unfortunately, while driving it that he would meet yet another accident that would cap his brief but brilliant career as a broadcast journalist. - GMANews.TV

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you forgot to mention, joe, that dan was also an activist, having been a member of the LFS. here is Bayan's tribute to him:

Tribute to Dan Campilan, journalist and activist
Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
Secretary General, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
October 7, 2006

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan conveys its heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of comrade Dan Campilan, TV journalist and activist.

Before becoming a reporter for GMA 7, Dan Campilan was a member of the League of Filipino Students in Cebu. He believed and upheld the principles and ideals of genuine freedom and democracy and could identify with the plight of the poor. He worked closely with the likes of Marvin Marquez, the martyred leader of Anakbayan, Cebu.

His background as an activist served him well as a journalist because his reporting genuinely reflected the situation of the poor and oppressed.

We remember Dan for covering major rallies and mobilizations this year such as the State of the Nation Address and the September 21 protest against political killings. He was conscientious in his coverage of rallies, paying attention to speeches and not minding the difficulties of rain, long marches and even violent dispersals by the police. It was at the September 21 rally that we last saw Dan.

In one June rally going to Mendiola, he said he was almost moved to tears by the speeches and actions of the marchers from the provinces who were fighting political repression and militarization. He said it was sometimes difficult for him to cover rallies because he could always relate to the speeches and presentations and that these agitated him even more. Yet he enjoyed being there covering the action, almost even marching together with the other protesters, be it from UP to Commonwealth Avenue, Espana to Mendiola, or Alabang to Liwasang Bonifacio.

We will surely miss Dan Campilan. His untimely death is a great loss for the broadcast industry as well as the people’s movement he belonged to and covered with great interest.

Again our heartfelt salute to our comrade, friend and reporter for the people, Dan Campilan. May his example inspire others to continue his unfinished work as journalist and activist.