You may have been one of the people whom I had informed about my TV hosting debut on Light Network (Zoe Broadcasting Network, Channel 33) this coming June, and it is my pleasure to say that my scheduled appearance has been canceled.
The show is “River of Worship.” It is a program that will be featuring Christian hymns (which will be sung live by a choir) and their respective stories (which will be “briefly” delivered by a host). For those who’ve been following me for quite some time, I’m sure you’d notice that “River of Worship” is very similar to “Dare to Believe”— the radio program I hosted a couple of years ago for Truth On Air.
When I auditioned for Light TV my father was certain they would consider me as a program host (given, according to him, I had a very impressive resume for the position and my audition went well). If they were different from the major networks, I should be confident I would be invited for a follow-up interview.
Around a couple of weeks later I received a message.
Hello Abigail! This is I– —– of Light Network. Congratulations! You are chosen to be one of the tv hosts for our new program. Are you availablen onApril [sic] 6, 2pm for a meeting? Thanks and God bless 🙂
A callback was even unnecessary. I indeed passed the audition, needless to say without any recommendations from “sa loob.”
I swiftly replied:
Blessed afternoon, Miss I–! Thank you for the message. Yes. I’m available on April 6, at 2PM. See you and Yahbless.
On the day of the first meeting, I arrived at the building 30 minutes before the assigned time. Whilst waiting for Miss I–, I had the chance to meet and chat a bit with K——, my co-host for the show.
Miss I– arrived and while food was served, we started to discuss the show: the taping schedules (most probably second and fourth Saturday of the week), the airing schedules (Saturday night), the wardrobe (which they wouldn’t provide) and other sartorial matters (Miss I– couldn’t tell yet if jeans were acceptable but managed to show us the backdrop so I would prompt for dresses), the talent fee, and whatever else was needed to discuss at that point.
She also mentioned why we were chosen for the show.
K—— was selected because she was always all smiles on cam. The musical director (if I heard right goes by the name “Kuya E—”) is her church-mate and upon beholding K——’s audition clip advised the team to hire her.
K—— claimed she was oblivious to Kuya E—’s association with the show. But I’m sure recommended or not, she would still qualify for the job because of her soothing, husky voice and proper English diction. Well, almost qualify. The audition had been open for people 21 to 40 years old, and she was only nineteen. I don’t know why she was allowed to audition. From the tone of my exchanged messages with Miss I–, I was only permitted to try out because I was about to turn 21 this year.
Miss I– explained that I was chosen because of the way I could connect with my viewers. (I probably went artist/spoken poet mode.) The only problem they had with me was my glasses (without which I couldn’t be able to see the words on the teleprompter). They thought my spectacles identified me as a snob (it was probably just my angled brows and red lips), but before we were dismissed, Miss I– promised she would see to it that they helped me get contacts.
The following day Miss I– called, informing me that they couldn’t provide the contacts. She proposed that I take an advance payment (which would be the cost of three tapings). Take note that there was not a breath of protest on my end, yet I was warned of being permanently discharged if I did not act upon their disapproval of my evident eye-wear. I asked if I could use an ear-prompter instead, but they didn’t have one. I considered their offer over lunch, and with my parents’ advice, turned it down: I was going to work for the lenses instead. Ad interim, I would memorize the text. The main producer wanted us to script; thus, it shouldn’t be too difficult at all.
Miss I– also informed me that the shooting would be delayed for two weeks. I would now be having an already scheduled gig on the night before the taping, but it was okay. I accepted the job; I was obliged to give out the best I could for the first taping, and I would.
The script arrived two days before the taping, which I printed out at once, cramming the outlines in my mind during meals or rehearsal breaks or whenever I could. It turned out harder than expected, because, much to my disappointment, the script was not succinct. It was bland, and one with a knack for criticizing literary pieces could tell that at times the scriptwriter, rather than concentrating on how the hymn was written, wound up composing a biography, deflecting, digressing for the sake of a dramatic narrative.
I didn’t complain to them. Miss I– had said that K—— and I would have to write our own scripts in time, and I longed for the day. For now, I had to leave the script be, only tweaking it on insufferable moments, such as wrong tenses and prepositions. By 2 a.m. of Saturday morning, in spite of being diluted from the musical event, I could recite the first episode in less than six minutes.
The first shooting was held on April 25. As usual, I was there at the office before call time. K—— was given the first three episodes, so she was first in the make-up room and studio.
It was past 11 a.m. when I got my turn for shooting. I insisted not to wear glasses at least for the first episode because I was sure I could do it by His strength (that’s what Miss I- also reminded me, a relevant application of Philippians 4:13). But they suddenly allowed me to wear glasses. “For the first three episodes lang naman” – just till I could get contacts. Was it out of grace or doubt, or perhaps a little bit of both? (And which I was thankful for.) A little doubt can be contagious and I became dearly anxious (wavering application of Philippians, dang it, Abigail!).
The cameras were already rolling when I remembered to tell them how the script was riddled with errors (and awkward phrasings), and they gave me permission to do whatever I wanted with the script as long as I didn’t stray away too far from the original. I obeyed.
The result? Disastrous. Only while taping did I realize how much I had to edit the script and the teleprompter was more of a distraction than a help. I needed retakes, and it came to a point someone was questioning my corrections.
“What’s wrong?” the floor director asked on behalf of whoever was asking through her headset. Miss I– and the production team was monitoring the shoot from some other room, most possibly with the director whose face I never beheld.
I explained the erroneous usage of “altogether,” which the scriptwriter confused with “all together,” trying to be as considerate as possible.
The clock struck 1 p.m. even before I could start the third episode so we were dismissed. The people were hungry by that time, and the crew’s hostile auras discouraged me very much I don’t think I would’ve been happy to continue anyway.
K—— and I were repaired back in the conference room, handed our vouchers, and invited to lunch out with the producers.
It was a fair meal. I was silent most of the time, (except for a few moments I tried to socialize, which I perfectly failed at). I know my performance then had been far off from my “best,” but I’m certain it was still okay. Yet I could discern something had terribly gone awry. I had these bells within me, tolling loud and deep the tune of demise.
I tried asking Miss I– when my third episode would be taped and if I should order contacts since I’d gotten money from finishing the first two episodes (I could start with a down payment); she only rejoined with, “Update na lang kita,” and “’Wag muna.”
And that was when I knew the bells tolled for me.
After the meal, the main producer shook my and K——’s hands, profusely thanking us for the hard work. He was the only one who showed acknowledgment of my day’s toil, and his politeness lifted my spirit a bit.
As we dispersed and took our respective routes, I wished Miss I– had told me then upfront what they had in mind for me.
But no: they made me wait for two weeks.