I’m as stunned as everyone else whom we knew.
On Tuesday, April 2, a former TV5 colleague posted on Facebook about Joseph Ubalde’s sudden passing. For a brief moment, my thoughts were in suspense.
Everyone, perhaps especially those with journalism training (myself included) had a lot of questions. But in this post, I choose to celebrate the best he had to offer.
Seph, as he was known on and off-camera, was a great find. Back in 2011, he auditioned to become one of our weather presenters for News5’s Aksyon Weather segments. I, with a couple of other desk editors handling weather news, was asked to look at the auditions of the aspiring anchors.
This UP MassComm graduate was a standout. He didn’t need a prompter to deliver weather news and a lot of insight smoothly and accurately. I would just stare at the monitor in the control room because he was worth my attention. And we all knew that it was the kind of reporting that the audience needed.
We were well aware that people needed information not just on whether it will be sunny or rainy, or it already flooded. More importantly, they needed to know why extreme weather events happen and how it will affect them. Delivery was key. People needed to connect so that they could understand things, especially amid climate change. For a non-meteorologist, Seph nailed it.
Perhaps, we can credit this skill to the time he spent with VERA Files, GMA News Online, and InterAksyon – the media outfits he was part of before facing those big TV cameras. Doing special reports and investigative journalism entails a lot of research work, so you could make a solid point.
It vividly reminds me of what my Investigative Journalism teacher Malou Mangahas said in class: “All journalism is investigative.” That was very true with Seph. It shows. When you’ve done your research really well (coupled with extemporaneous skills), it saves you from falling into the traps of dead air – a mortal sin in live television.
I was fortunate to have worked with him during the Saturday shifts of Aksyon Weather, which aired on AksyonTV (now 5Plus). We had hourly weather bulletins from 930AM-830PM. When there was a storm, handling a long shift was easy (and understandable). But during slow weather news days, it got really challenging. Good thing, Seph was there to help me formulate themes for each hourly bulletin. I would come up with the basic concept and the script, but later on during airing, Seph would adlib and make the bulletin a more informative one.
Owing to his online journalism experience, Seph went on to manage and even promote content on News5Everywhere, our former news video portal online. Based on the posts of his colleagues, I could say that he continued making wonders, not just in N5E, but everywhere else he went.
As I visited Seph last night, I thanked him for the service he had given to our country by way of journalism and social media. I thanked the Lord for giving Seph his amazing talents. My deepest condolences go out to Seph’s family. May he rest in peace.
Francis Respicio was a former News Desk Editor for TV5 handling weather and sports coverage