Review: Andar Ng Mga Balita with Martin Andanar and Theresa Licaros

By | Friday, February 15, 2013

What a difference a "difference" makes for Andar Ng Mga Balita. Following the ill-fated tandem of Martin Andanar and Grace Lee comes a reinvigorated AksyonTV newscast, with a new co-anchor and a determined focus on hard news.

To sum up the Grace Lee era in two words, it's a "failed experiment." Marked by criticism for Ms. Lee being a lightweight, News5 decided to find a new perfect match for Andanar, hiring former beauty queen Theresa Licaros.

Ms. Licaros' addition to the newscast is representing a bigger and noteworthy change on Andar Ng Mga Balita. For a couple of nights that I've been watching the newscast, I have noticed a renewed emphasis on national news and headlines. Gone are the police news stories in the first block and there is already a strong political coverage, which hopefully will continue even after the midterm elections.

The portion which I enjoy watching the most on Andar is the Pa-Andaran segment, where aspiring senators undergo Q&A with the anchors, answering light to tough questions, produced the same way as that of Bandila's 2010 segment called Hot Seat.

This past week, we've seen Andanar and Licaros interviewing the likes of Jesus Is Lord founder Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Representative Christian SeƱeres, Bam Aquino and broadcaster Rizalito Yap.

The Bam Aquino interview aired last week turned out to be an early test for Licaros. She quizzed the senatoriable as to whether he was urged by PNoy to run for the senate, and was prompt to throw a follow-up question: "Did he give you any good advice on campaigning?"

While introducing Aquino, Licaros made a slip with the word "pinarangalan" to which she remarked: "Halatang fan ako, medyo naano (nabulol) ako sa pinaranangalan."

Maybe this interview will serve as a warning for Licaros — to carefully check what she's saying on air. A fan of a senatoriable? I don't remember Mel Tiangco ever admitting her admiration for Noli De Castro (on national TV) back when he was a government official. By saying that on air, it's like Licaros gave Aquino a ringing endorsement.

Nitpicking aside, I can't help but salute the TV5 executives for hiring Licaros. Her foray into the demanding world of television news may have been a long time coming. I remember watching an interview with Licaros just after winning the prestigious Bb. Pilipinas crown, where she expressed her interest in pursuing her lifelong dream to work in news. Five years later, at the age of 28, that dream finally came true.

The way I see it, Andanar has finally found his best match. A co-anchor who he can depend on every night to deliver the most important news of the day. Someone who's knowledgeable on current events and someone who has interest in what she does. To make a comparison, his on-cam chemistry with Grace Lee seemed forced and they can't banter together spontaneously. At times, he seemed left out to command most of the top interviews, with Lee watching on the sidelines.

It will be interesting to see how News5 will develop Licaros as a serious news anchor. Hopefully, they will also let her do some field reporting which can improve her journalistic chops. I suspect the real Licaros is a go-getter exactly what they (News5) need at the moment. Someone who can hold her own, someone who can prove viewers that she's not just another pretty face and someone who can match Andar Ng Mga Balita's improved format.

Content-wise, the current Andar is more like State of the Nation than its sister newscast Aksyon on TV5. Sure, there are still some you-can-do-better-than-that critiques as far the entire format of the newscast is concern, but we can safely say that its latest incarnation is far superior than its TV5 counterpart.

Now, if only they could tone down their Showbiz Hot Stuff segment, remove segments like the Andar Hit List, have a more serious tone, and come up with a better graphics and set, then maybe that can convince viewers to sample them over Jessica Soho's highly praised newscast, or even the ever watchable Solar Nightly News with Nancy Irlanda.

Question: Do you watch Andar Ng Mga Balita? Do you like Ms. Licaros as the new anchor? Let us know by posting your comments below or tweet us @medianewserphil.