As the pandemic continues to restrict mobility with the constant threat of Covid-19, industries understandably take extra precautions while slowly resuming to “new normal.” The same can be said on television and entertainment industry, where most programs are either done on reduced capacity in studios or virtually from the artists’ home.
The latter setup proved to be both advantageous and disadvantageous for GMA Public Affairs hosts which came up with its newest program line-up “New Normal: The Survival Guide.”
Considered as the country’s first daily magazine program entirely conceptualized with the “new normal” in mind, the “New Normal: The Survival Guide” features life hacks, money tips, family bonding ideas, inspirational stories, and burning issues to help Filipinos navigate the new way of living.
Challenges of hosting from home
Rovilson Fernandez and Tonipet Gaba — who join forces in hosting “Home Work” every Thursday night — together with Friday night’s “Family Time” host Drew Arellano admitted to The Manila Times that working from home as hosts has its fair share of challenges.
“We are not the producers and the writers but we are everything else — lighting, DOP [director of photography], floor director, researcher, glam team, art department,” Fernandez shared in this Zoom interview.
“We got medyo spoiled, we’ve got crew within our shows but now, we are our own crew,” he added.
Nonetheless, Fernandez is happy to take on the challenge, “I love that it’s back to the basics, we are all filmmakers at heart so I kind of like the challenge and I love working with our new producers — they are young and they have vision and they are challenging us to some of these shots that we have to set up ourselves.”
Gaba, his co-host, agreed and even expressed his gratitude with the arrival of the new show in time of pandemic.
“On a personal level, it’s actually highly therapeutic for us kasi may venue na ulit kami to express, show and tell stories,” Gaba noted.
“Nakakatuwa kasi back to basics ang mode and to merge that discipline alongside nung disiplina mo sa broadcasting, sa pagsho-shoot at sa paggawa ng isang programa, tapos isama mo sa situation na ito, and present it as one shining package, or episode sa kanila, it’s actually very interesting,” the host added.
Meanwhile, Arellano — who has fully adjusted to working as host from home what with a dedicated space for hosting already setup — had to deal with a different challenge: working around his cute little boys Primo, 4, and Leon, 2.
“Most of the shoots naman aren’t that serious, I let the kids just walk around whatever… if ever lang we do have serious interviews or we are lacking in time, maybe I’ll tell my wife, to be with the two kids muna,” shared Arellano, who since this interview, has welcomed his third child with wife Iya Villania.
“But of course, whenever they cry or nahahagip ng audio yung iyak nila, wala tayong magagawa, we are working from home and maraming uncontrollable factors diyan hindi naman kami nakatira sa isang mansyon at wala rin naman kaming sound proof na studio, so we gotta do what we gotta do.”
Advantages for ‘Mars Pa More’ hosts
In a separate interview for her own talk show “Mars Pa More”,
Arellano’s wife Villania agreed on the said challenge.
“I guess that’s the beauty of working from home and having a network and shows that understand the situation and see it [the cameo of their boys] as a nice spontaneous moment you wouldn’t get in the studio,” Villania said.
With co-host Camille Prats, Villania returns on air in “Mars Pa More” this July 27 — just in time for the show’s first anniversary on GMA Network.
Besides juggling toddlers at home while working, Villania said that their new work had her appreciating the work of studio crew even more.
“Nagkaroon kami ng better appreciation for the people that work on a set because na-realize naming may taga ilaw kami, taga camera kami. Pag nasa bahay kami, we have to find a way to make it work,” Villania shared.
Speaking of appreciation, Prats said she is likewise grateful for having the opportunity to work in a challenging time.
“Mas mahirap, mas challenging, mas marami kang kailangang gawin but in times na ganito, may pinagdadaanan tayong lahat, pag may trabaho tayo, more than enough na iyon para ipagpasalamat natin regardless of our situation.”
The mom of three also said she’s grateful to have the opportunity to work and be with her kids at the same time, “I get to eat lunch with them, I get to make merienda for them, the moment they wake up from their nap, nasa kabilang kwarto lang ako.”
Finally, in weighing the advantages of working in an at-home setup, Villania shared perhaps the biggest positive note not just for moms like her and Prats but for majority of workers allowed to work from home during this challenging time.
“I didn’t have to worry about bringing home the sickness kasi medyo mapa-praning ka rin lumabas ka lang ng bahay baka may malanghap ka and maiuwi mo yan sa pamilya mo,” Villania ended.
“New Normal: The Survival Guide,” airs Monday to Friday, 8:30 p.m. after the 24 Oras simulcast on GMA News TV. “Mars Pa More,” meanwhile, airs weekdays 8:50 a.m. on GMA Channel 7.