Paolo Bediones is a self-confessed perfectionist, and it seems well-researched and well-executed shows come together when he’s on the job. It’s good stuff for which he’s won a fair share of PMPC Star Awards and an Aliw Award Hall of Fame trophy.
The first thing you notice about him is how still he can be, being comfortable in his skin without the self-indulgent or bombastic connotation. He’s quiet, even reserved, and it could very well be misconstrued as an aloof snobbishness if it wasn’t for the fact that he acknowledges and replies to any conversation thrown his way. He talks a mile a minute, and yet you can sense he’s mulling every word, meaning everything that comes out his mouth. He will never be taken for a showbiz airhead—a good host who can riff on the fly, roll with the punches and improvise like nobody’s business.
His finishing-school English, peppered with American slang—gonna, wanna, shoulda—is both refined and articulate. His diction may have been sharpened by broadcast demands, but he admits, “I’m still bulol, sometimes…my R goes missing.” And the way his sentences fall, when he switches to Tagalog, is very newsy—the flowing and slightly theatrical style favored by local anchors.
He doesn’t curse. Perhaps that’s got to do with being a born-again Christian, but it’s possible that’s just the way he’s been wired and raised that way—an all-around genuine good guy.
Tall and model-like, he’s almost gangly, if it weren’t for the lean way his fitness is apparent. He confesses though that he’s not a gym rat who needs to regularly grapple with machines to fend off stress. He’s way into sprinting and trying to develop his endurance and conditioning. It also helps that he doesn’t have any vices.
“I don’t count my calories, just eat what I want. And it feels really good!” he grins.
Right now he’s involved in three local football teams, one of them as a motivational coach of a girls’ team. “We do a lot of abdominal and core work. There’s a lot of planking going on. At 38, at my age? I’ve never been this active in my life. It feels really good.”
Which is great for a guy who found out just a couple of months ago that he has sleep apnea, and stops breathing an average of 26 times in a night for about 45 seconds. He now has a CPAP machine to alleviate that, but his doctor did chide him, upon getting his tests back: “It’s amazing you’re still alive!” He said thanks.
The speed of talk
While the transition to hardcore journo wasn’t smooth at all, Paolo is very candid about his transfer from his old network to TV5, and the change of gears from lifestyle TV host to broadcast anchor and reporter.
He recalls, “There comes a point in everyone’s life when, if you continue on the path you’re on, growth will be very difficult. After 12 years in … the network that discovered and took care of me, it unfortunately came to a point where longevity was an issue. There was no category for what I was doing [there]. Actors act, they sing and dance. Anchors are reporters, documentary makers. I was struggling between the two for years.
There were meetings with upper management, offers to make new shows or to host existing ones, and discussions about direction, but it still felt to Paolo like going over the same old ground. Then a third door opened when he got a phone call from TV5. He mimes holding a phone to his head with his left hand, his thumb and pinky extended. “[The TV5 executive] said: `Here’s what we want to do with you: We’ll make you an anchor.’ An anchor? `A news anchor, yes. Do you know what’s happening in the world?’ Of course I do. `Do you know the issues?’ Yes I do.” He smiles. “So it seemed logical right there.”
So it was in December of 2009 that Paolo left the comfy confines of lifestyle and showbiz hosting for the terra incognita of hardcore current affairs in TV5, under the direction of Probe Productions alum Luchi Cruz-Valdez.
In any change of gears there’s a learning curve to be hurdled. Paolo surmises it took him approximately eight months to be comfortable in the reporter’s seat and earn his basic dues.
“They put me on-air right behind a news desk right away the first time,” he recalls. “And I was shaking in my boots! It felt totally wrong. If you come from that hosting style where you just memorize the lines and you put spice in it and not just rattle them off. In Survivor we didn’t have teleprompters, I just memorized the challenges, memorized the spiels, conducted the tribal council on the fly. But the news needs to be exact because you’re talking about facts.”
He narrates, “At a certain point I realized andami ko pang kailangan malaman beyond just the skills needed, or being able to read the news perfectly. So the only way to gain and earn the respect of my peers, which was the most important thing at that time, was to go out on field.”
Paolo on TV, in full-on reportorial mode, is like the athletic guy next door who did the home gym sell-a-visions trying his hand at being Vicky Vale. The results should have been awkward but Paolo’s dedication to polishing his skills has him attacking the news with gusto, and now has him enunciating “mamamahayag” without a hitch. Up close, Paolo’s like the jock who eschewed the easy way up and trudged his way through the books and the mental grind to find out that, hey, he actually liked all this learning and could he have more, please?
To hear him talk about it, he’s particularly proud of his move to TV5 as a third option that thrust him into a subculture that valued earning stripes and discourse over instant celebrity and obfuscating glitz. The athlete-turned-host got way more than he bargained for, but he liked it just fine. He just said, “Bring it on.”
Busy on-air career
People would say and have said the worst things about a lifestyle host and actor suddenly being fielded into the newsroom. But Paolo went on to cover stories in the ARMM, in Maguindanao and in Basilan. What he considers his baptism of fire though was in March of 2011, in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake. He and a skeleton crew were at the capital and on location in some of the worst disaster-affected areas of Japan for five days as foreign correspondents.
“We were really on our own,” he recalls. “We had a seven-hour snow storm, there’s no more food, no more water. That was fantastic for me! I realized I could do this job.”
The Japan earthquake coverage eventually won a Catholic Mass Media Award. “It was an acknowledgement, a recognition that, yes, kaya mong maging mamamahayag. When you come from an environment like [lifestyle hosting] and then you’re thrust into another that has its own rules, its own culture and its own traditions, you will definitely encounter some resistance. Kapag may pumipigil, that’s what really forces us to become better at what we do.”
Find out more about Paolo’s journey and transformation—grab a copy of HealthToday’s October issue from newsstands and bookstores.