FIGHTING FEAR. GMA 7 video journalist Teodorico “Jun” Solon Jr. (left) and Balitang Bisdak reporter Gregy Magdadaro fought fear, hunger and fatigue while covering super typhoon Yolanda’s wrath in northern Cebu.

Honor for covering, surviving tempest

GMA 7 Balitang Bisdak reporter Gregy Magdadaro and veteran video journalist Teodorico “Jun” Solon Jr. were stuck inside their vehicle.

They were in the midst of super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), covering her wrath in the northern Cebu town of Daanbantayan last November.

And another storm was brewing, Magdadaro recalled.

But it came from a different place: inside him. At the most inconvenient time, he was suffering from an upset stomach.

Magdadaro, 26, said he suppressed the “storm” he felt as he watched the surroundings: overcast sky, howling wind, pelting rain.

“Honestly, I was super scared and nervous seeing debris and trees flying left and right. It was the first time in my life that I had witnessed such devastation from a typhoon,” he said.

He never imagined he could be placed in such a dangerous situation because he had abandoned mass communication in 2006.

Jumping to Liberal Arts and Commerce (Liacom) major in Communication and Marketing on his second year at the University of San Jose-Recoletos, he had surrendered any hope of landing a spot in the tough world of mainstream journalism.

In January 2009, however, GMA 7 Cebu hired him as production assistant and researcher for a magazine show. Three years later, he was field reporter for the Balitang Bisdak news program, covering everything under the sun and moon: murder, vehicular accident, robbery, courtroom drama, boring press conference.

During their coverage of Yolanda, Magdadaro and Solon parked their vehicle beside the La Purisima Chapel in Barangay Tinubdan.

Solon, 42, said he fought fear, fatigue and hunger so he could fulfill his job: capture the situation in northern Cebu that was in Yolanda’s path.

“We thought of how we could go back home safely and submit our story,” said Solon, recipient of an associate degree in General Radio Communication from the Cebu Technological School (now College of Technological Sciences) in 1991.

A cameraman for GMA 7 since 1991, he became one of the pioneering cameramen for Balitang Bisdak eight years later.

Last May 19, Magdadaro and Solon were among 13 people recognized by SM Foundation Inc. in the local media category of the S.U.P.E.R. (Salute to Unparalleled People, Endeavors and Resources) Awards for Media in Manila, for risking all to cover the strongest storm to make landfall in world history. National and international media also received awards.

With their cash prizes, the two gave sheets of galvanized iron for the replacement of La Purisima Chapel’s damaged roofing.

There was another reward for Magdadaro—scoring a selfie with GMA 7 Manila’s gorgeous reporter Micaela Papa, a fellow SM S.U.P.E.R. Awardee.