Former, present ABS-CBN News anchors, staff gather for Ging Reyes' birthday

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 28 2022 09:21 PM | Updated as of Nov 28 2022 11:41 PM

Past and present members of the ABS-CBN News team have a photo with ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes. Jun Sepe, ABS-CBN News
Past and present members of the ABS-CBN News team have a photo with ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes. Jun Sepe, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Dubbed as one of the biggest homecomings in Philippine media, broadcast and online news personalities and workers gathered over the weekend for the 60th birthday of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes.

It was also a stellar send-off for Reyes who is retiring this year. 

Emerging from the pandemic, leading lights and production staff of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, past and present, from 1986 onwards came in full force to greet Reyes, the longest-serving news chief of ABS-CBN.

The gathering was stunning to say the least, a miracle of sorts, after all that has transpired. Tina Monzon Palma, Noli de Castro, Korina Sanchez, Senator Loren Legarda, former Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Ces Drilon, Ted Failon, Danny Buenafe, Charie Villa, Pia Hontiveros, Atom Araullo, Lynda Jumilla, Twinkle Valdez, Kata Inocencio, current TV Patrol anchors Henry Omaga-Diaz, Karen Davila and Bernadette Sembrano, as well other news workers who are stars in their own right, trooped to the Felicidad Mansion in Quezon City to greet Reyes. The moments of gaiety cannot be replicated in any multiverse. 

Former ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio Lopez III gives a video message to ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes. Jun Sepe, ABS-CBN News
Former ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio Lopez III gives a video message to ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes. Jun Sepe, ABS-CBN News

What was nearly impossible was achieved mainly because Reyes has become the personification of the joys, pain, glories, and struggles of the ABS-CBN news organization through the span of 36 years. 

One of those tapped for the homecoming event was former ABS-CBN online editor Tarra Quismundo, who rendered a fabulous rendition of “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from Broadway's "Sunset Boulevard."

Its message reverberated throughout the night of merriment. 

The past became the present as colleagues refreshed their memories and own struggles in the newsroom with endless exchanges of hugs and banter. 

For other old timers, more than words, the longing eyes and smiles were enough to convey the expression of solidarity with friends and co-workers who became an important part of their lives. 

"Ang tagal na kasi na hindi ko kayo nakita,“ cried Gus Abelgas, as he was welcomed by contemporaries in the newsroom. 

Former ABS-CBN Newsgathering head Villa also enjoyed herself to the hilt, dancing with De Castro and cracking jokes with everyone. "Parang party ko ‘to!" Villa hollered. 

More than anything, the reunion was also a testament of how the news organization survived many upheavals from the last century until now, including threats to press freedom, the revocation of its network franchise, and the debilitating effects of the pandemic. 

ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes enjoys a light moment. Jun Sepe, ABS-CBN News
ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes enjoys a light moment. Jun Sepe, ABS-CBN News

Said Reyes in her speech, “Never forget you are ABS-CBN News! You've been to hell and back. You can face anything. This is the bond that we all share. Defined by hard work, never-say-die-attitude, and an unyielding unrelenting drive to serve!” 

In a swirl of emotions, through tears and laughter, Reyes also expressed gratitude to ABS-CBN News in Manila, the North America News Bureau, the past leadership of the newsroom, and pillars of the network, as well as all news personnel. 

The best is yet to come, so to speak, for Reyes. 

But with the legacy of grit and equanimity amid difficulties, and the bond and connection she has established among news folk, she has done more than enough. 

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Mahal ko kayo. Sa kabila ng lahat ng stress, sleep deprivation, sakit ng ulo, tension, at iba pang problema at hirap, it was a wild and wonderful ride. And I wouldn’t trade my 36 years in ABS-CBN for anything else. Maraming maraming salamat!” 

Reyes is looking forward to enjoying her “senior moments” with her family. 

In a moment of levity, she also expressed her excitement over watching the Christmas reunion of the Eraserheads after Ely Buendia greeted her in a surprise video clip. It was a refreshing sight to see the iron news lady fan-swooning. 

Here is Reyes' farewell speech in full: 

“I really wanted this to be a thanksgiving get together, a birthday celebration and a grand reunion of the old and new newsroom.

To the old and mostly golden colleagues and friends, I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for those glorious years. From you, and with you, I learned so much about our craft. I gained lifelong friends with whom I will most likely spend time, now that I’m entering a life after ABS-CBN.

I see so many faces that I haven’t seen in years….

Thank you Becky my first EP, and later kumare, who trusted me with meaningful work that helped me grow and find my niche in news production. I also want to thank our late friend and colleague Butch Raquel, who gave me my first writing and associate producing job in "The World Tonight." 

And as I get ready to retire, being the first news head to retire upon reaching this beautiful age of 60, let me pay homage to our former news leaders whose contributions to ABS will never be forgotten.

ACJ [Angelo Castro Jr.], who brought me into ABS when it reopened. He was my biggest influence and he remained a true friend to his dying day. 

Rod Reyes, RTR, who inspired me to be a coach and mentor to others, while leading a dynamic newsroom. From him I learned that tough love and compassion and generosity go hand in hand.

Dong Puno, RVP, who taught me to be always be thorough and unassailable in our news stories, firm in my decisions and forgiving of mistakes.

Danny Bernardo, DAB, I thank him for assigning me to the US as bureau chief at a time when I was at a crossroads in my professional and personal life. It was there that I found my center and learned to manage a P&L, do my own budget, and innovate on our gathering operations.

Marami akong natutunan sa mga boss natin na hindi na natin kasama ngayon. They’re all up in heaven, and someday we will all meet again, but not yet!

Here on earth, I thank Boo Chanco, who taught me to appreciate, which led me to dabble in business news, which resulted in me mentoring Cathy [Yang]. And Boo helped the news mancom for several years until he too got kinda laid off following the shutdown in 2020.

When I was stationed in the US, I reported directly to RL, Raffy Lopez, for several years. And unlike my other bosses, he wasn’t a newsman or a journalist. But he supported me and trusted my editorial judgment wholeheartedly. RL stood by me, even at the cost of substantial advertising dollars, which were difficult to get at that time. 

I thank Mark Nepomuceno for his efforts to bring me back home from the States.

Charo Santos for convincing me to accept the job. And for being a champion of news which came as a surprise to me in the beginning! Yes she was and still is a big supporter of news independence.

I thank the Lopez family, most of all EL3 [Eugenio Lopez III]. Gabby Lopez was proud of his news team. We debated at times, he challenged me and made sure I was on my toes all the time. But he always treated me with respect and he recognized the true mission of an independent news organization in a democracy. These last few years, I missed his leadership and his presence. But thank you Gabby for appreciating this homegrown talent, and for standing by me even during the most difficult moments.

I am also grateful for my fellow officers and executives. Our bosses Carlo and Mark. Cory, Raymund, Bobby, Rick and the finance team, Ayo and the legal team, Mark and the HR team, the late Ron Valdueza and many others! We tried to plan a future without a franchise then the COVID pandemic happened! We suffered through hours of grilling and shaming by lawmakers in Congress. That’s one unbreakable bond that ties us forever.

Special shout out to Gina and Dave. My life would be total chaos without them. Believe me when I tried to book my own engagements, Gina had to clean up that mess. I wouldn’t have survived 12 years as news chief without Gina and Dave. You are family to me. 

Salamat sa buong news team -- my Mancom, the news officers, reporters, producers, editors and camera people, central desk, [News] digital team, TVP production team, ANC, Teleradyo, BMPM and our public service group, our engineering and tech team, MMR guys, video editors -- we navigated uncharted waters beginning in 2020. And for almost 3 years, we struggled with uncertainty, the deaths of colleagues and loved ones, financial and other unspeakable losses. But we also showed unyielding loyalty, grit and courage and a resilience like no other. It’s a miracle that we are still operating. 

And it’s this grit and courage that would take you through the future. I may not be there to make decisions, to give input or shepherd this team through the tough times. But it’s gratifying to know that you may have learned a thing or two from me about leading the way, learning from past mistakes and standing up for what is right.

Marami pang hamon at dagok ang darating. Susubukan ang inyong katatagan at tibay ng loob. Pero may tiwala ako na kakayanin ninyong harapin ang anumang hirap! We are strong. You are strong. I may be out of ABS-CBN after this year, but you can’t take ABS-CBN away from me. I’m a lifer! And I will always support you and root for your success. Kapamilya forever!

And believe me, if I see a misspelled grafix, a bad live shot, wrong grammar in a script, an awkward camera shot, or any major freaking error or glitch in your articles or your shows, I would try really really hard… in fact, I would go to the extremes… to resist the temptation to message you or give you a call.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Mahal ko kayo. Sa kabila ng lahat ng stress, sleep deprivation, sakit ng ulo, tension, at iba pang problema at hirap, it was a wild and wonderful ride. And I wouldn’t trade my 36 years in ABS for anything else.

Never forget you are ABS-CBN News! You’ve been to hell and back. You can face anything. This is the bond that we all share… defined by hard work, never-say-die-attitude, and an unyielding unrelenting drive to serve! Maraming maraming salamat!”

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