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Front Row executive producer Joseph Laban received the UNICEF Asia Pacific Child Rights Award in Macau last October 27

Front Row executive producer Joseph Laban received the UNICEF Asia Pacific Child Rights Award in Macau last October 27

Front Row won Grand Prize at the UNICEF Asia Pacific Child Rights Award for Television for its documentary Ulilang Lubos

Front Row won Grand Prize at the UNICEF Asia Pacific Child Rights Award for Television for its documentary Ulilang Lubos

One of GMA Network’s award-winning documentary programs, Front Row is this year’s winner of the prestigious UNICEF Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award for Television.

Its winning documentary, “Ulilang Lubos” (Orphaned) follows the daily life of 10-year-old Princess, who has had to take care of three younger siblings since their mother abandoned them. Princess washes produce at a wet market to earn money. She receives five to 20 pesos for this.

After working the entire morning, Princess then proceeds to her second job: scavenging. She has to do this every day to feed herself and her siblings.

“I haven’t seen my mom since she left us three years ago,” Princess says. “We started scavenging to get some money and asking around for food. Sometimes we don’t have anything to eat and our stomachs hurt. We sleep on cardboard boxes on the floor. I envy my friends because they go to school but I don’t.”

“Front Row: Ulilang Lubos” was praised by the jurors for reflecting the vulnerable children’s world in their own eyes. “It was very effective,” they said. “There are many heartbreaking moments in this film. The interviews were handled with sensitivity and the three children came across as everyday kids. Their interaction during bath and meal times was very naturalistic, as if the cameras weren’t there. This is a powerful story that really captured the plight of these children.”


The UNICEF further says, “Front Row: Orphaned is a powerful piece of television. It shows the importance of protecting and nurturing children, and the strength and resilience they possess, through the eyes of four abandoned children trying desperately to make the most of their lives,” said Christopher de Bono, Chief of Communications, UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific.


“It is also a testimony to the value of powerful television storytelling, by motivating all of us to meet our responsibilities and address the suffering of children in need.”   Dr Javad Mottaghi, ABU Secretary-General, said: “To know there are documentary makers of this quality working in our region, chronicling the lives of our most vulnerable children and celebrating the triumph of their young spirits over great adversity, must spur us all on to be the best media messengers we possibly can.


‘Front Row: Orphaned’ shows how great documentary-making not only exposes inequality and exploitation but journeys deeper into the human spirit and reminds us that each human being, however young, poor and disadvantaged, carries the light of hope in their soul.” Christopher Slaughter, CEO of CASBAA, said: “CASBAA congratulates GMA Network for their unflinching look at childhood poverty in ‘Front Row: Orphaned’. Our industry reaches hundreds of millions of people around the world daily. It is heartening to see our medium being used as a platform not just for entertainment, but in the service of such a worthy cause as alleviating the plight of children in need.”


Managing Producer Joseph Israel Laban accepted the prestigious UNICEF prize last October 27 at the Asia Broadcasting Union awards ceremony held in Macau. He shared the viewers’ positive response to the program. “Since the documentary aired, one of the children’s relatives has reached out to them. Viewers are now sending two of the children to school and more help is still coming in. But we are hoping for a more permanent and comprehensive solution to address the plight of Filipino orphans, perhaps with better Government facilities to take care of them and their basic needs.”


The UNICEF Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award was established by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), CASBAA and UNICEF in 2001. It recognizes the efforts of broadcasters and producers in pursuing high quality children’s television and better coverage of children’s issues, and is given each year to the best programme on children’s rights produced in the Asia-Pacific region.

Front Row’s “Ulilang Lubos” also previously won a Silver Screen Award at the 2014 United States International Film and Video Festival and received a Finalist citation at the 2014 URTI Grand Prix for Author’s Documentary in Monaco, the sole Philippine program to be honoured this year.


Kapuso viewers abroad can catch the multi-awarded documentary program Front Row on GMA News TV International, which is available to subscribers in the Asia Pacific, Middle East, North Africa, and Canada.

Adding to its recent string of victories in international competitions, GMA Network gained eight recognitions in the 2014 US International Film and Video Festival (USIFVF) based in Los Angeles, California.

GMA’s latest win consists of two Gold Camera and five Silver Screen awards for its News and Public Affairs shows, and a Certificate of Creative Excellence for one of its Entertainment programs.

Taking home golds (first place) are GMA News TV shows in the Documentary production category, namely Wagas: Mga Kuwento ng Totoong Pag-Ibig, for Docudrama programs; and Brigada, for Social Issues programs.

Wagas has also been included in the shortlist of documentaries nominated for the Best of Festival (Grand Prix) Award, reserved only for the most outstanding Gold Camera recipients. Winners will be announced on June 16.

Sid Lucero and Gwen Zamora in Wagas: Mga Kwento ng Totoong Pag-Ibig Episode Cerebral Palsy

Sid Lucero and Gwen Zamora in Wagas: Mga Kwento ng Totoong Pag-Ibig Episode Cerebral Palsy

The show’s entry was its “Cerebral Palsy” episode, which featured the inspiring love story of an ailing Ron Saniposo (played by Sid Lucero) and his wife Grace (portrayed by GMA Artist Center talent Gwen Zamora).

Brigada’s “Gintong Krudo” episode, meanwhile, exposed the hazards faced by impoverished children at the Navotas Fish Port, who swim in filthy waters to collect spilled crude oil.

The same episode also won the Silver World Medal in the 2014 New York Festival, where GMA bagged one gold, two more silvers, and three bronze world medals.

More honors

State of the Nation Host Jessica Soho

State of the Nation Host Jessica Soho

Earning one of five Silver Screen awards (second place) for the network was GMA News TV’s primetime newscast, State of the Nation with Jessica Soho, in the TV News category for Continuing News Stories.

The newscast was cited for its coverage of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international code name: Haiyan) last November. It was also part of GMA News and Public Affairs’ gold medal triumph at the George Foster Peabody Awards, considered the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for electronic media.

This is the third consecutive year that State of the Nation was recognized by the USIFVF. Last year, it won the Silver Screen Award for “The Wrath of the Monsoon,” its coverage of the disastrous habagat rains that swamped Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

In 2012, State of the Nation received a Certificate for Creative Excellence (third place) for its episode on the aftermath of Typhoon Sendong (international code name: Washi).

Silver streak

Reporter's Notebook Maki Pulido and Jiggy Manicad

Reporter’s Notebook Maki Pulido and Jiggy Manicad

For its part, Reporter’s Notebook earned a Silver Screen Award in the Documentary Programs: Current Affairs category for its “Bakas ng Trahedya” episode. Anchored by Maki Pulido and Jiggy Manicad, the episode shed light on the plight of Yolanda survivors and the government’s response in the wake of the tragedy.

Reality documentary program Reel Time won two silvers for “Silang Wala sa Mapa” in the Documentary Programs: Health, Medical category, and “Dungkoy” in the Documentary Programs: Biography category.

“Silang Wala sa Mapa” showed how the B’laan indigenous people of Mindanao survived for generations without modern medicine. It was also a Silver World Medal recipient in the 2014 New York Festival.

“Dungkoy,” on the other hand, told the story of a nine-year-old boy who takes care of his paralyzed grandmother. Both characters share similar fates of being forsaken by their own families.

GMA-7’s Front Row received a Silver Screen Award in the Documentary Programs: Social Issues category. Its winning episode, “Ulilang Lubos,” featured the plight of abandoned children who are forced to fend for themselves.

Picture! Picture! Host Ryan Agoncillo

Picture! Picture! Host Ryan Agoncillo

Finally, family-oriented quiz show Picture! Picture! earned a Certificate for Creative Excellence for the Entertainment Program & Specials: Game Show category. Hosted by Ryan Agoncillo, Picture! Picture is an original creation of the GMA Entertainment TV group.

Founded in 1967, the US International Film and Video Festival recognizes outstanding corporate, education, entertainment, documentary, and student productions.

Filipinos abroad may catch Reporter’s Notebook, Wagas and Picture! Picture! on GMA Pinoy TV, while Front Row, Reel Time, State of the Nation, and Brigada airs internationally on GMA News TV International. For more details, visit