Filipino journalists

Off cam, Mike Enriquez was wise mentor who taught lessons beyond journalism

Jairo Bolledo

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Off cam, Mike Enriquez was wise mentor who taught lessons beyond journalism

FAREWELL. File photo of late veteran journalist and GMA News pillar Mike Enriquez.

Mike Enriquez's Facebook page

With Mike's passing, Philippine journalism lost one of its pillars. Many also bid goodbye to a kind friend and inspiring mentor they fondly called 'Booma'.

MANILA, Philippines – Generations of Filipinos grew up with Miguel “Mike” Enriquez’s iconic lines, “Hindi namin kayo tatantanan (We will be relentless),” and “Excuse me po!”

The veteran broadcast journalist was a staple in Philippine television, having anchored GMA’s flagship newscast “24 Oras,” among other GMA news programs. He became one of the faces of hard-hitting journalism through his decades-long program, “Imbestigador,” where he zoomed in on the crimes affecting ordinary Filipinos.

Mike’s iconic voice and unconventional way of delivering the news also graced the airwaves of Philippine radio. He anchored DZBB’s “Super Balita sa Umaga” and “Saksi sa Dobol B.”

But before becoming a respected journalist, Mike, in his younger years, dreamt of becoming a priest. In an interview with The Philippine Star in 2012, the veteran journalist said he would have become one except that he did not get his parents’ approval.

Mike finished grade school in La Salle in 1964, high school at La Salle Greenhills in 1968, and obtained his commerce degree from the De La Salle University in 1973.

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‘Hindi namin kayo tatantanan,’ ‘Excuse me po,’ and other Mike Enriquez quotes

‘Hindi namin kayo tatantanan,’ ‘Excuse me po,’ and other Mike Enriquez quotes

Before his television persona was born, he was known as DJ “Baby Michael” on FM radio, his calm and soothing voice back then, the polar opposite of his booming and rattling news voice that he adopted for television.

“The passion for radio is still very much with me. TV now is the main source of news, beamed satellite worldwide, and now also through the Internet. Despite all these, my passion for radio has not diminished,” Mike said in his 2010 piece published by the GMA News Online.

For 54 years, Mike served Filipinos with his passion and dedication to journalism. But he signed off on August 29 at age 71.

With his passing, Philippine journalism lost one of its pillars. Many also bid goodbye to a kind friend and inspiring mentor they fondly called “Booma.”

‘Mellow Mike’

Apart from his tough and fearless persona Filipinos knew him for, Mike had a “mellow” side. Veteran journalist and Mike’s fellow GMA News pillar Howie Severino recalled how he witnessed this during their coverage of the US invasion of Iraq 20 years ago.

“I saw and heard then another side of Mike that most are unfamiliar with – the mellow, English-speaking voice and un-jologs De La Salle graduate who could converse comfortably with the celebrity foreign anchors of the time,” Severino wrote in his post dedicated to his colleague.

“It was another display of a remarkable tool kit that enabled him to adapt to any part of the broadcast industry he found himself in and build one of the longest and most successful careers in our field,” he added. Severino also recalled Mike as a journalist who “rarely refused assignments or adventure.”

In a heartfelt post originally written in 2006, but reposted after Mike’s passing, veteran television producer JJ Jimeno detailed the time she drove for Mike, and got exposed to his softer side. Jimeno worked closely with Mike for half a decade.

“Drive this (car) out of town, relish the sights, just you and the road, and your music. That’s what I do. It’s bound to make you feel and work better,” Jimeno quoted Mike as saying. “Your Tita and I spend Sunday mornings just reading newspapers and having coffee. It doesn’t cost us anything, save for the paper and the coffee. Cherish the simple things and remember how blessed you are.”

Jimeno added: “This is the tender part of the man who people think yells a lot. He does not. He is a kind man, a bit cantankerous at times, but very endearing, generous, and kind-hearted most of the time.”

Model journo

An attentive journalist with the eagerness to always be on the field – that’s how journalist Raffy Tima remembered his Ninong (godfather) Mike. Tima, in his tribute post, shared one of the most memorable times he spent with him.

After Super Typhoon Yolanda hit in 2013, Mike went to Tacloban City, where Tima was covering. Despite his legend status in the field, the veteran journalist did not hesitate to sleep inside a military ship along with his fellow GMA journalists.

“The next day, Mike woke me up very early in the morning. He was already ready to go out and cover.
That is how I will remember you Ninong Mike. Always ready, always eager, and always happy to be out on the field even after being in the industry for decades,” Tima wrote.

“The void you left will never be filled. Thank you for over a half century of service to our beloved industry,” he added.

Ramona dela Paz, a television producer who worked with Mike for his segment, “Imbestigador ng Bayan,” said she will never forget the veteran journalist’s professionalism and proficiency in reporting.

Nangangapa pa ko noong una. Pero pagdating na pagdating niya, sinabi niya agad kung ano ang gusto niyang makunan and everything just flowed smoothly (At first, I was still unsure about my work. But when he arrived, he immediately listed what he wanted to capture and everything just flowed smoothly),” Dela Paz said, recalling her first day working with Mike in 2012.

Bilib na bilib na ako sa kanya noon, lalo na habang pinapanood ko siya during live. He delivered beyond the script. Ang natural para sa kanya. Ganoon pala ang feeling makatrabaho ang nag-iisang Mike Enriquez,” she added.

(I was so amazed by him at that time, especially when I was watching him live. He delivered beyond the script. It felt so natural for him. That day I knew how it felt to work with the one and only Mike Enriquez.)

Dela Paz and Mike spent the next years working together with reports on Super Typhoon Yolanda, Traslacion (Feast of the Black Nazarene), and Undas (All Saint’s Day), among other countless coverages. Dela Paz said she would miss Mike who showed her nothing but generosity and affection.

The godfather

Unknown to many, Mike also stood as a godfather to countless of his colleagues. He did not fall short in imparting wisdom to his fellow journalists and godchildren.

Mariz Umali, Tima’s wife, said she will always remember their ninong as “always very encouraging and always having words of wisdom to share.”

“I recall the moment when I first anchored 24 Oras with you – your very words when you saw me as you entered the studio (was) ‘It’s about time!’ Those words resonated deeply, an encouragement that ignited the flame in my young journalist heart,” Umali said in her tribute post.

Umali added that Mike extended his “wisdom beyond the mic,” and gave her and Raffy important counsel about marriage.

Simple lang ang bilin ‘nyo po sa amin ni Raffy Tima noong ikasal kami – na kahit mag-asawa na kami, ‘wag naming kalilimutang mag-date pa rin lagi, mag-holding hands pa rin lagi, at lalong pagtibayin ang aming pagiging magkaibigan (Your advise was very simple when Raffy and I got married – even after we had tied the knot, to not forget to always go out on dates, always hold hands, and strengthen our friendship all the more),” Umali said.

Nessa Valdellon, senior vice president for GMA Pictures and concurrent first vice president for Public Affairs, said she will always remember all the arguments and laughter she had with Mike, whom she worked with for a long time. Valdellon, in a Facebook post, reminisced how Mike took a 12-hour ride to Ilocos region, from an event in Makati City, just to be godfather to her wedding.

The GMA executive said she and her husband used to talk about their ninong as he delivered the nightly news. Valdellon added that her son learned how to speak Filipino by listening to Mike.

The veteran journalist was also a godfather to journalists Rida Reyes and Cedric Castillo.

Reyes said Mike was “a constant source of encouragement, a fount of wisdom” to them, and “had the gift of humor.” The former GMA reporter said that even though Mike was unwell and undergoing treatment at the time of her wedding, the veteran journalist made an effort to witness her union with Castillo.

Their ninong even admonished her husband: “‘Pag pinaiyak mo si Rida, hindi kita tatantanan (If you hurt Rida, I will hunt you down)!”

Mike left not only a remarkable legacy in journalism, but also an indelible mark on the lives of people he worked with, influenced, and inspired. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.