Sports reporter Trinidad tackles Filipino identity with Pilipinas HD
MANILA, Philippines – The idea came to Chino Trinidad as he sat on his couch one day, watching the History Channel. As he learned about men like John Hancock and Cornelius Vanderbilt, men whose whose names have become synonymous with laying the foundation of America, he was both entertained and troubled.
“As I was enjoying it, I was suffering as well,” the long-time sports reporter tells Rappler. “I was learning more about the country that once conquered the Philippines and up to now influences us in so many ways. I have nothing against Americans, but I want to see who I am as a Filipino and what are the traits that we have. If there are men who built America, I know there are men who built the Philippines.”
This sparked the two-year process and brought Trinidad to Buffalo Wild Wings at Glorietta 4 on Wednesday, June 8, for the media launch event of Pilipinas HD, an independent television station which will focus on documentaries delving into the identity of the Filipino people. The channel will run its test broadcast beginning at 6 am on Sunday, June 12, through June 30, with Trinidad renting satellite space to beam the station to cable providers and direct-to-home operators free of charge. It's hoped that the channel will be picked up for continued broadcasting.
“On [July 1], then we begin serious business,” says Trinidad, who has worked at GMA Sports for 16 years. The channel number assigned to Pilipinas HD will vary depending on the cable provider, though Trinidad would prefer 63. “When you’re out of the country and you need to call home, what numbers do you dial?”
The station’s initial run will be anchored by programs like Decoding Duterte (which Trinidad describes as “an attempt to know President Rodrigo Duterte more intimately”); Duyan Ng Magiting (which translates to Cradle of Great Men and Women), a series highlighting forgotten Filipino heroes; and Pamana (Legacy), which addresses “how Filipino families defend the tradition of their families.”
It’s a significant departure from the norm for the man who followed his father Recah Trinidad’s footsteps into sports reporting in 1990, beginning as a radio announcer for Philippine Basketball Association games on DZAM (now DZAR) before stamping himself on sports history as one of the commentary voices of Manny Pacquiao’s early career. But it’s a challenge which he finds fulfilment in.
“I have not gotten tired of doing sports. It is what defined me as who I am,” said Trinidad. “But there comes a time in the life of anyone, you seek to do something outside of your comfort zone. I could’ve done sports and just lived my life the way I’m doing it. Enjoying it, doing my reports twice a week for GMA. But see, that is not a life well spent.”
The channel and its programming has been a “family undertaking” with Trinidad, wife Babs, and father Recah doing much of the legwork, but with significant help from friends and benefactors who have helped keep the project afloat. Among them is outgoing Mandaluyong City mayor Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr who was present at the launch, as well as bowling legend Paeng Nepomuceno.
Paeng Nepomuceno shows support for Chino Trinidad at the Pilipinas HD launch pic.twitter.com/AkjT48Eqwb— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) June 10, 2016
Trinidad admits that he sank a significant amount of his own money into Pilipinas HD, advancing half a year’s salary at GMA at one point and borrowing from friends. Even affording the press launch was a stretch on his bank account.
“I’m down on debt from well meaning friends who would lend me money and not charge me any interest. I’ve had so many friends who chipped in. This was not done on any single burst, it was piecemeal. When I had extra money on me, I would go out, shoot, do the documentary. It was like being an independent film producer,” said Trinidad.
Trinidad knows it’ll take a lot of good fortune – and financial backers with a fortune – to sustain the project. But for now, he’s content knowing his documentaries will make it to the small screen.
“I can feel the support of people and how they gravitated towards the content. It is a search for who we are as a Filipino. I want to take each and every Filipino on a nice journey, a journey that will not end until we see who we are as a people.” – Rappler.com