Media personality Anthony Taberna makes many a Filipino’s day.
From the crack of dawn, his bold but witty editorials perk up what could easily be another drab work week with his one-man segment “Punto por Punto” over ABS-CBN’s daily current affairs program, Umagang Kay Ganda.
By sunset, he wraps up the day’s events for the common tao on radio dzMM via Dos Por Dos by talking to them in their own language, as he delivers an incisive and fair analysis of pressing national issues in his distinctly humble and humorous way.
Indeed, Taberna has successfully etched his name as one of the most credible broadcast journalists of today, and in a path all on his own. He is proof that to be “hard-hitting,” one can do so with respect, and yes, a whole lot of laughter.
Tunying, as Taberna is fondly called by his enormous following on television and radio, has clearly earned the public’s trust what with the multiple responsibilities his home network has given him.
Besides the morning and afternoon programs, he also hosts Tapatan every Thursday on ABS-CBN where he conducts one-on-one interviews with the most controversial figures in the country, be they from politics or show business.
He also delivers a Filipino evening newscast on the English language sports channel of ABS-CBN (formerly Studio 23) via Iba-Balita (weeknights at 9); and scrutinizes likely political candidates for the 2016 elections in Mano-Mano (Sundays, 9:30 p.m.) on the same channel.
Yet exceedingly busy as he is famous, Taberna says that he draws his strength to pursue what is fair and true from the love and inspiration he unconditionally receives from three women. His beautiful wife Rossel and doting daughters Zoe, six, and Helga, four. Yes, the fearless news idol is also a family man. (See related story in sidebar).
“All I wanted to be was to be a minister” Taberna, who is a devout Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) member, confessed to The Sunday Times Magazine.
“I was in second year high school when a pastor advised me to take up Mass Communications for college, saying it would help me to eventually become a good minister,” he continued. “But another kind of mission came up.”
The fourth child in the brood of seven, Taberna was born on January 16, 1975 in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija. His birthday falls on the date of the town fiesta, as well as that of his father who was a bus driver.
“My father died on August 18, 2002 when I just starting to do well [in the broadcast industry]. I was able to give him a passenger jeep assembled in Pampanga,” recalled the dutiful son.
“When he died, I asked my mother if I could use his name ‘Tunying.’ He is the original Antonio Taberna, and I am just his junior.”
Assuming the now famous pet name is both poignant and significant for Taberna since it was his father who taught the importance of honesty and man’s responsibility to fight for what is right.
“Ang mali ay mali, ang tama ay tama [what is wrong can never be right]is what my father taught me,” he declared.
Meanwhile, he credits his beloved mother, Benita Talens Taberna, who only completed her elementary education, for teaching him “basic moral ethics,” which he strives to espouse to this very day.
Taberna was a valedictorian in elementary school and a consistent honor student in high school, despite the hardships he experienced in his young life.
He recalled a time when their family had very little to go on from day to day that his parents could no longer afford his tuition.
Beloved then as he is now, his high school teacher, Mrs. Castillo picked him up from all the way in the rice field where his family lived to tell him to enroll for his senior year. Sadly, he told her they had no money for his schooling since his father just had a mild stroke, and that just like his siblings who never finished their education he has decided to help out in the family’s small farm.
The following day, his teacher returned with good news. Because he was such a promising student, the school’s principal, Noemi Villanueva, paid for his tuition and miscellaneous fees.
Grateful for their kindness, Taberna never let his teachers or his parents down and became scholar in his first two years in New Era College as a student of Mass Communications. A hard worker through and through, he applied for a part-time job to augment his daily needs.
Fortunately, he was hired by radio station dzEC to translate English editorials to Filipino, and naturally did good.
“Tuwang-tuwa ako nung marinig ko na binabasa ang isinalin ko sa Filipino na hindi pinalitan ng anchor [I was so happy when I heard the anchor read my Filipino translation word for word],” Taberna related.
For five years from 1992, Taberna worked with radio dzEC of Eagle Broadcasting Corp. He credits this experience for teaching him the basics of journalism and preparing him for his next job as a Radio Patrol reporter for ABS-CBN’s AM station dzMM in 1997,
As a reporter, he covered all the major beats—Malacañang, to the Senate, and House of Representatives, the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice, to the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan.
Among these, he was most excited in covering the Supreme Court where he read piles of decisions every day. He fancied them as scenes straight out of John Grisham books, and was even inspired to pursue Law in 1998, only to discover he had unfinished units in college.
“Because of my job, I was not able to attend to some of my classes,” admitted Taberna, who eventually completed his course and secured his diploma. “But I’m still dreaming of studying Law someday.”
Interviews and exposes
According to Taberna, there are two very challenging interviews that steered his career to where it is today—not to mention impact changes in the political landscape of the Philippines.
“The first was when I interviewed Zaldy Ampatuan inside his cell, where he told me that he was part of a scheme to defraud FPJ [Fernando Poe, Jr.] during the 2004 elections in favor of former President Gloria Arroyo,” he recalled.
“The second was my exclusive interview with Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol who also made an on-cam admission that he was also part of the same scheme,” he continued.
He considered these two interviews significant because they compelled former Sen. Miguel Zubiri to resign from his post with allegations that his votes benefited from the nationwide poll fraud.
Moreover, the two interviews provided significant evidence that led to Arroyo’s impeachment and imprisonment.
Taberna was also responsible for airing the contents of the
infamous “Hello Garci” recording, an alleged audio recording of a phone call conversation between then President Arroyo and Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano discussing the rigging of the 2004 national elections.
Because of this “no fear” attitude in exposing the truth, Taberna gained the trust and respect of his listeners and viewers, as well as his first Best Radio Reporter trophy at the 2005 KBP Golden Dove Awards.
Faith on the job
As a member of the INC, Taberna acknowledges that his faith is crucial in helping him fulfill his responsibility to the Filipino people as a broadcast journalist.
“My upbringing as an INC is what compels me to do what is right in all aspects of my life. Simple lang naman, ibunyag ang mali, tuligsain ang mali at itaguyod ang tama [It’s very simple: Expose what is wrong; explain why it so; and fight for what is right],” he modestly shrugged his shoulders.
Since he was 14 years old, Taberna hardly ever missed a two-hour bible study session every Sunday after attending the “Pasasalamat” (the INC service). His wife Rossel comes with him to these services, which strengthen their beautiful family all the more.
Call to service
With the 2016 elections looming, there have been talks that Sen. Grace Poe is challenging Taberna to run for the Senate.
Laughing in his endearing way, he responded, “Sen. Grace Poe is just joking. She said she will run for higher position if I will run for the Senate.”
He reiterated what he had long said that he has no plans of going into politics. “You can serve your country even if you’re just an ordinary citizen as long as you serve others.”
He knows he can do this in his profession, and with the support of his family whom he calls his “lucky charms.”
Ultimately, there is also the grace from up above to succeed in one’s goals.
As humble hard-hitting journalist concluded, “I believe our God will guide us if we do what is right.”