MUKHA: A night in the life of a photojournalist, rollman

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2017 02:10 AM

These men spend their nights working on stories that would make the news the next day.

Both Vincent Go and Rolly Damasco work in the news - Go as a photojournalist, and Damasco as a rollman for a local newspaper.

Both also work on the night shift, going after stories and preparing these stories for the next day.

Go left his previous work in the advertising industry to be a freelance photojournalist. 

For him, photojournalism is about showing the truth behind the stories of ordinary people.

"While sa advertising, ang pinaka-main objective mo is to sell the product. Maski na pangit siya kaya mo pagandahin 'yan eh. It's very different from this. It's very different from photojournalism na you're telling a story about the social issues with your photos. I find it more challenging," Go said.

Freelancers like him used to bear the misconception of being unemployed or having difficulties in getting a regular job.

But freelancing has become a new norm in Philippine industries. 

"Ako mas prefer ko na freelancer ako. I have leeway to cover stories that matter to me," Go said.

Times have changed the norm in many media companies, and Go has seen this unfold before his eyes.

"Gears ang getting cheaper, and the quality of cellphone cameras are getting ano na, are getting better... a lot of news agencies take advantage of this."

"Kasi minsan a photojournalist won't make it to a certain place at certain time, pero kukunin nila whoever has that photo. Kailangan kasi 'yung image, malaking role ang image to a story. So, kumukuha sila to augment the ano, the story," Go added.

For Go, being a freelancer nowadays is more difficult, since almost everyone has a camera.

"Mas nahihirapan ngayon 'yung freelancers na mag-survive, who are dedicated in doing this work, nahihirapan sila. Pero in terms of quality, there's a big difference in the quality of na-produce-- napo-produce ng isang freelance photojournalist, compared to ano-- anybody with a camera."

Go has received offers for a full-time job, but he would rather stay as a freelancer. 

"Kasi we want to follow up-- follow on our 'yung mga stories na gusto naming i-cover. Kapag once na employed ka na, kapag inutos sa 'yo na gawin mo 'to, wala kang magagawa talaga eh."

PRINTING NEWSPAPERS

As editors and deskmen prepare the news for the next day's edition, Damasco is busy setting up the machine needed for the night’s heavy load.

"Dito po sa amin sa printing pagpasok mo siyempre ‘yung business mo halimbawa ako pine-prepare ko na po kaagad ‘yung gagamitin ko as a roll man. Maghahakot na po ako ng reel pre-prepare ko po lahat ng gagamitin ko... Maghahakot ka, mag-ii-stock ka ng sarili mong rolyo," he said.

But even before the real work begins, the burden of night-shift employees is already evident.

"Siyempre sanay ka sa natutulog ka ng gabi, talagang mafi-feel mo talaga ‘yung babagsak ‘yung mata mo. Nakadilat kang ganyan, nakabantay kang ganyan talagang kukurap-kurap ka talaga, malalabanan mo rin ‘yun, eh, ‘pag nasanay ka na, malalabanan mo na," Damasco said.

When the final layout arrives to the production area, there is no more time to waste.

Every machine is run by a group of 10 dedicated members - each of whom is assigned a particular task.

The printing process takes a coordination of movements from every worker, but what seems to be a simple job is not without danger.

"Kunwari ‘yung mga nababagsakan ka ng mga bara, ganyan. Noon kasiang aksidente madalas noon kasi noong panahon namin manual po. Lahat ng hinahawakan namin mainit," Damasco said.

Despite getting into an accident in the past, Damasco opted to stay in his job.

But the bigger casualty in this kind of work is his time with the family.

"Pag-uwi mo siyempre madilim pa minsan. Dadating ka doon alas-kwatro, alas-singko, alas-sais. Tapos ikaw lang mag-isa sila tulog, ingat-ingat ka kasi kasarapan ng tulog nila," Damasco said.

Every night, an average of 200,000 copies of newspapers are printed here.

The publication uses old-style printing machines, giving many a chance for employment.

But the need to upgrade technology is inevitable. 

Although there are uncertainties about the future of the medium, Rolly says he hasn’t seen any significant change in the volume of their work.

Still, there remains the threat of the digital age on printed news. 

"Talagang mawawala po ang dyaryo, ‘yung iba nagpupunta nagko-computerize na... through internet na ‘yung mga kwan natin dyaryo, pwede naman i-search ‘yun," Damasco said.

While the rest of the nation is in bed, these are the people making sure that at the break of dawn, Filipinos are served with the truth they deserve. - Mukha, ANC