Broadcaster Atom Araullo is a celebrity in his own right. Try as he might to shake off the “star factor” his public sees in him—hoping they keep their focus on the news instead of his face and form—there is no doubt he remains one of the most recognizable faces in the field of journalism.
It can be recalled therefore that in mid-September, Araullo’s decision to leave his home network of 10 years, ABS-CBN, made it to the news and trending topics on social media.
And like most celebrities, the cause of his resignation spurred endless speculations until it was announced he was joining GMA’s News and Public Affairs Division.
But before anyone can accuse the 34-year-old of enjoying the attention being lavished on him right now, Araullo revealed that the turnaround is also something strange to him.
“It feels a little unusual because usually the camera is not directed towards you. I am not used to it,” Araullo shared during his official press launch as a “Kapuso.”
The event also became a platform for Araullo to clarify the reason why he chose to return to what had actually been his first home network.
He related how he wanted growth and the chance to explore other media, after getting more involved in photography and starring in his first movie “Citizen Jake,” among other new discoveries. He declined to reply when asked if his former network prohibited him from doing what he wanted to do. Ever politely, he said he does not want to compare his experience with the two networks.
But when The Manila Times directly asked him if GMA promised him to be more lenient with his desire to dabble into other media, Araullo instantly said, “Yes.”
To his credit, Araullo fits the bill of a celebrity if only for its definition of “being a famous person.”
The son of both doctors and activists, Araullo—whose parental influence led him to being a student activist as well during his tenure in University of the Philippines Diliman—made a name for himself as a co-host of the kid-oriented magazine show “5 and Up” during his tween years. Later, he hosted the sports segment of GMA’s “24 Oras,” the “Atomic Sports.”
And while he eventually pursued his love for science by taking up Applied Physics in college, Araullo returned in front of the camera sometime later via Studio 23’s morning show “Breakfast.”
Not stopping there, he would become a full-pledged reporter via primetime news cast “TV Patrol” and a documentarist/host through the station’s programs “Kalye,” and “Red Alert.” He also returned to morning show by co-hosting “Umagang Kay Ganda” beginning 2009.
With his longer airtime and undeniable charm, his audience grew appreciation for him and soon, like most celebs, people would ask for a photo with “one of the most goodlooking newscasters” around.
For Araullo, it was the same popularity that led his switch to hog the headlines.
“I think it has to do with the celebrity culture. We tend to give our celebs a certain power or magic, we feel attached to them. In that sense, when they are no longer who we want them to be, we feel like the world has ended,” the broadcaster weighed.
Nevertheless, Araullo is thankful for the attention for it allows him to propagate his advocacies, including his campaign for the preservation of the Philippine seas.
“I think the so called popularity is both a boon and a bane but since it’s there already, I just have to make sure that I am able to use this significant influence to attract people to the stories that I have to tell and make an impact on their lives so even after airing, we can inspire and encourage them to act on things we want to change or improve,” Araullo noted.
Araullo also repeatedly mentioned that he wanted the opportunity to create more documentaries, undeniably a strength for GMA.
As such, it came as no surprise that his first ever project in GMA 7 combines his two passions.
Premiering on November 5 is Araullo’s “Philippine Seas,” a documentary he began studying and filming right after closing the deal with GMA.
“I really love the outdoors so it’s a perfect fit for me to have Philippine Seas as my first documentary,” he proudly noted.
Araullo further detailed that through Philippine Seas, he hopes to uncover the wonders and threats surrounding the Philippines’ marine gems.
To really get to know the country’s own seas, the journalist went on a rigorous 10-day expedition across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and did not shy in revealing that he experienced many firsts.
In Moalboal, Cebu—famous for its diving sites—Araullo saw firsthand thousands of sardines gathered in a single ball. In Sarangi, he experienced waiting for what felt like a whole day to catch a single tuna. Then in Palawan, Araullo and his team got the surprise of their lives when they were able to see the rare and endangered dugong or sea cow.
“It was a life-changing experience and I hope people can see it too,” Araullo invited.
Philippine Seas will be just the first documentary for Araullo as award-winning documentarists Sandra Aguinaldo, Kara David, Howie Severino and Jay Taruc also welcomed him as the newest member of “i-Witness.”
In the end, Araullo reminded everyone, “Journalists should do good journalism wherever they are, whatever outlet they maybe affiliated with. That’s the most important thing.”