Top broadcast journalist Devin Scillian, WDIV-TV (Channel 4) news anchor, cited the extraordinary power of television in mobilizing the public during emergencies when he spoke at the recent 11th Annual Banquet of the Michigan chapter of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA-Michigan).
The event, which was held last Oct. 3 at Somerset Inn, Troy, marked NaFFAA- Michigan’s celebration of Filipino-American Heritage Month (October).
Scillian, who was the keynote speaker, also regaled the audience, numbering at least 250, with his recollections of his stay in the Philippines when he was a still boy.
[box type=”default” size=”large”] TV news anchor recalls his 3-year stay in PHL at NaFFAA event [/box]He said he stayed for three years (1967-1969) at a subdivision in Quezon City (QC) when his father, then a US military officer, was assigned at JUSMAG (Joint US Military Assistance Group). The JUSMAG headquarters was then located near the QC mansion of the late President Carlos Garcia and some four blocks away from the ABS-CBN compound.
He said he attended kindergarten at a school in QC. He was then six years old.
Scillian, who is also book author and musician, recalled that the house in which his family lived was surrounded by plants – pineapple and banana at one side, a huge coconut tree at the other side and a tamarind tree at the back.
Describing the Philippines as a paradise, he said he likes some Filipino food, especially as “lumpia” (egg roll).
“When Mr. Willie Dechavez (NaFFAA-Michigan chairperson) requested me to be the keynote speaker, I could not refuse him because the Philippines means so much to me,” he said.
In citing the power of television, Scillian related his experience as a broadcast journalist on April 19, 1995 when Oklahoma City was rocked by a powerful explosion caused by the detonation of a large truck bomb. The explosion decimated the Alfred P. Murrah federal building and killed 168 people.
Recalling that he was the KFOR TV reporter at the scene, he said that through TV, the public was called to extend assistance in the search-and-rescue operations. When the rescuers said they need blankets, he appealed to the public to donate blankets. Almost immediately, many people rushed to the scene to donate blankets.
But what he remembered very well was the call for dog shoes needed by police dogs assisting in the search-and-rescue operations. He said there was practically no response to the call because in Oklahoma and nearby areas, there was scant supply of dog shoes.
He said that a woman watching the TV coverage of the bombing in Alaska called to inform the TV station that she has a big cartoon full of dog shoes. Her problem though was how to transport the shoes to Oklahoma.
Scillian said that later, an airline in Alaska transported the dog shoes to Denver, Colorado, and another airline brought the shoes to Oklahoma. What was ironic, he said, was that when the shoes arrived at the scene, the rescuers said they no longer need them.
However, he said, this shows the extraordinary power of TV in tapping the assistance of the public in emergency situations.
Describing that day in Oklahoma as the worst day of his life, Scillian said that for every two evil persons (referring to the two terrorists who detonated bomb), there are millions of good people. (Tony Antonio)