Veteran broadcast journalist Cesar Apolinario, host of award-winning programs I-Witness and i-Juander, once thought of taking up Accountancy and Civil Engineering back then.

Coming from a poor family, he thought that it was only through numbers that he could help his family because he was good at Math subjects.

“It was one of the most difficult decisions I made as an adolescent. The decision was crucial at that time because I knew that there’s not enough money left in my savings.”

Without looking back, he pursued his new love for film and the arts, and now he’s a successful broadcast journalist and a filmmaker.

His big break, “Banal,” won him his first award in the 2007 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), followed by “Puntod,” which gained him the Best Digital Movie Director of the Year by the Star Awards and “Estasyon.”

“By accident or not, I think it is safe to say that fate brought me to my present career,” Cesar said.

A different direction

The renowned reporter needed to take other jobs first to complete his studies. He worked stints from being a fast food attendant to a contractual employee in Bahrain.

One of his bosses, Thomasian alumnus Joe Carlos, influenced him to take up Communication Arts in UST to hone his skills in broadcasting.

Cesar is a person of simplicity, saying he prefers to shy away from the camera.

“I wanted to stay and work in a place where no one can see me,” he said.

He then decided to take several subjects in filmmaking at the University of the Philippines.

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While studying, he also worked as a researcher and segment director in local network RPN 9.

He even got the chance to work as the production assistant of multi-awarded filmmaker Peque Gallaga in 1996 and famous Filipino director Nick de Ocampo after graduation.

But his road to filmmaking was cut short in 1991 when he became a cameraman for I-Witness program. After six months, one of his bosses in local network GMA-7 encouraged him to become a reporter instead.

Since then, Cesar jumpstarted his broadcasting career in the shows 24 Oras, State of the Nation and I-Witness. In 2000, he made a short documentary called “Payatas: The Promised Land” which became one of the finalists in the Hawaii International Film Festival.

A father of three kids, Cesar said he would always make sure that his love for his career in reporting and filmmaking would not get in the way in his family.

“For me success is the result of good decisions, sacrifices, guts and risks and many joys and heartaches in life. Having said that I must say I am in front of the line when God decided to choose those who will be successful in life,” Cesar said.

Promoting Filipino culture

His desire to promote the Filipino culture inspired him to venture in the film industry.

“I’d like to inform my audience more about the positive and beautiful side of our culture and reintroduce more of our Filipino values and traits that I think are already forgotten,” he said.

Instead of the usual glamorous themes in films, Cesar said he preferred the small stories that inspire and those that best reflect the “ill-effects of poverty and corruption.”

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“Through my news reports and public affairs programs, I am able to reflect what the people feel about and what’s important to them, to all of us,” Cesar said.

He admitted that both jobs as a news reporter and an independent filmmaker were tiring, but they are both equally important and helped in shaping him to become the person that he is today.

“A Filipino must be an inspiration. After all, our society needs to be more sensitive, be more listening, more ethical and respectful so that we can better deal with the political, economic and social ills confronting many of us,” Cesar said.

He added that his advocacy in elevating the Filipino culture is one of the important lessons he learned as a Thomasian.

“I always think of doing things that will elevate our nation by showing how rich our culture is and how innovative we are.”

As a true Thomasian, he said he was contributing to the society through honest and ethical reporting and filmmaking.

“I must say that these hands were made to weave stories, documentaries, screenplays and news reports, while my mind was honed to inspire underprivileged people,” he said.

“I am more proud that I have become a person whom they express the joys and miseries and challenges in their daily lives. That some of these stories have become the subject of some of the films I made.”

Being able to pursue quality education amid difficult conditions in life was one of the things he would like to impart to others.

“I know that knowledge is our legacy. If we die equipped with all the knowledge we gained and shared all our lives, we will leave a legacy that will never be taken away from us,” Cesar said.

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Students should be more confident to “act, move, listen and speak” for themselves because no one could design their destinies but them, he said.

“As everyone aspire to become famous like others. You have to work hard in exploring and giving out the best in you.”

While he loves reporting, Cesar said that his passion lies in filmmaking, but both professions helped him produce stories and uphold his advocacies.

“I guess what separates me to others is the fact that I go out of my way to deviate from a more conventional way of reporting,” he said. Catalina Ricci S. Madarang


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