By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Multi-awarded broadcast journalist Don Tagala always thought that he would be a doctor, until he realized that the media was a more exciting world to tread. He decided to be a journalist in 1994 when he worked as science researcher for the children’s TV show Sineskwela (literally school of Science) of the ABS-CBN Foundation in Manila.
“Ang saya pala sa TV (TV is a lot of fun). I saw a different world. That started it all,” Tagala eagerly shared his professional passion to his colleagues of the Filipino American Press Club of New York on its first professional development session for 2017.
“Can you name any other job where you see history unfolds? This is the best job ever,” he told his colleagues of the press at the Oak Room of the Unification Theological Seminary in Manhattan last February 18.
Since his work with Sineskwela, Tagala keenly observed the craft of filming, editing, and writing and developed his own style of reportage. Tagala has come a long way since that children’s science TV show. Although he has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of the Philippines and was a science whiz teenager at the Manila Science High School, becoming a media practitioner was what his heart had desired.
His many awards and citations are proofs of Tagala’s love for his profession. Today, he continues to work for ABS-CBN North America’s “Balitang America” (American News) for US and Philippine audiences.
Tagala begun his stint as video journalist in 2002 in Chicago and has since then reaped a total of 7 bronze Telly Awards. He is best remembered for his featured story titled “Casting Call: The Story of Sam Milby” which won in the 2012 Telly Awards and 2013 Plaridel Award for Best Documentary.
He remembered when not so long ago, his stories had to be sent overnight to Los Angeles for editing, recording, and then aired the following day. Technological advancement has changed things swiftly since then, but the discipline and ethics of the job remain the same.
Tagala has covered for local community issues and national politics – Pres. Barack Obama’s presidency and Pres. Donald Trump’s inauguration. He likewise braved the path of Hurricane Katrina and reported heart-wrenching tragedies of the Sandy Hook Elementary School and Orlando Pulse Night club shootings.
Asked if he was ever intimidated by media practitioners of giant companies like Fox, MSNBC, or CNN, he said there was that initial feeling. “But it dissipated. It became a really friendly and welcoming feeling when I got to know them through many coverages,” he quipped.