When broadcast journalist Atom Araullo transferred to GMA 7 last month, the Kapuso network welcomed him as it would a prized actor—a teaser was put up on social media, a “big reveal” was touted by its evening news, followed by Atom’s one-on-one interview with Jessica Soho, who described him as someone who possesses both “looks” and “brains.”
Araullo is both a reporter and, in his own right, a celebrity. But while he acknowledged that he’s “lucky” to be in such a “unique position,” he said that it could also be “a boon or bane.”
“There are two sides to it. I suppose you can say that it’s unorthodox for a person who delivers the news to be part of the news. But since it’s there—and it is what it is—I just have to make sure that I put it to good use; definitely, we can utilize that,” Araullo said, when asked by the Inquirer at a press conference about his thoughts on being perceived as a celebrity by the public.
His popularity is an advantage. According to Araullo, wielding a certain amount of influence can be good because people are more likely to listen. But it shouldn’t end there, he stressed.
“Trust is earned. And the only way to do that is to continue doing good work,” pointed out the 35-year-old journalist, who started out in the media as one of the hosts of “5 and Up”—a 1990s youth-oriented magazine program. “It’s up to me to prove that the quality of my work matches the kind attention being given to me.”
Araullo recently signed a two-year contract with GMA News and Public Affairs.
For his first project as a Kapuso, the documentary “Philippine Seas” (airs Nov. 5 at 3:30 p.m.), Araullo went on a 10-day expedition in the waters of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to uncover the gems around and beneath them, as well as the threats that beset them.
In Moalboal, Cebu, he shows how sardines form an “impressive” bait ball; in Bais, Negros Oriental, he looks into the situation of dolphins; in Sarangani, Araullo tags along with tuna fishermen and seeks to understand their daily hardships; and in Palawan, he visits the site where various species of sharks were recently confiscated from Vietnamese poachers, before getting a chance encounter with a dugong.
Apart from the documentary, Araullo is also poised to make his big-screen debut via “Citizen Jake,” the comeback film of acclaimed but reclusive director Mike de Leon. But still, he’s wary of being called an “artist.” He simply sees himself as an open-minded person who has taken an opportunity to learn in a field that’s foreign to him.
“It was a humbling experience. There’s always this excitement from learning from other people who are good at what they do. You realize you’re in no position to think highly of yourself, because people have their own expertise from which others could learn,” Araullo said.
Asked what he thought of his acting, he quipped that he “tried” his “best.” “You will never know until you try it,” he related. “I can only hope the result would be worth everyone’s while. But, I will focus on news and public affairs for now—that’s where my core competency lies, and that’s where I find my relevance and fulfillment,” he said.