2/15/2013 05:15:00 PM

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

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 A-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 Jesus Is Lord founder Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Representative Christian SeƱeres and broadcaster Rizalito Yap. One particular interview turned out to be an early test for Licaros when they had Bam Aquino on the program last week. Licaros quizzed Aquino 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 also serve as a warning to 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's executives for hiring Licaros. Her foray into the demanding world of television news may have been a longtime 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. Now Theresa, this is your best shot so work on it and earn the viewer's trust. Hope you don't disappoint us.

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 develop Licaros as a serious news anchor. Hopefully, they will also let her do some field reporting too and train her in improving her chops. I suspect the real Licaros is curious and 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 GMA-7's 24 Oras or even TV5's Aksyon. Now, if only they could tone down their Showbiz Hot Stuff segment, remove segments like the hitlist, 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.

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 of tweet us @medianewserphil.

Photo courtesy of Gayson Magdadaro