Gretchen Ho produces docus to retell people’s stories

Gretchen Ho produces docus to retell people’s stories

/ 12:15 AM June 27, 2024

Gretchen Ho produces docus to retell people’s stories

Margielyn Didal (left) and Ho during the special screening of the sports documentary “Beyond the Board” —MARINEL CRUZ

For broadcaster Gretchen Ho, the most challenging part about producing the sports documentary “Beyond the Board” was making skateboarding Olympian Margielyn Didal get personal about her experiences.

“It was tough interviewing Margie. In the beginning, she tried to hide what she really felt, so I had to sit with her for two hours for her to really share her story. I guess it’s because athletes like her don’t want to be mistaken for complaining. We know her as someone who is strong and would just laugh away her troubles, so to be able to get her to lower her guard and trust us with her story was the No. 1 challenge for me,” Ho said.


“Beyond the Board” tells the story of Didal, the country’s first skateboarding Olympian who managed to capture hearts all over the world after a remarkable performance in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. A year later, Didal fractured her ankle on the road to qualifying for the Paris Games 2024.


Another challenge, Ho said, was managing the different sides to Didal’s story. “What Margie went through was really painful. Things didn’t end the way she wanted. We all saw that, but there are also other sides to that. While we were doing this, we weren’t sure yet whether or not Margie would qualify for the Paris Olympics. I guess the question was, ‘How are we going to tell Margie’s story?’” Ho said.

Broadcaster Gretchen Ho

Broadcaster Gretchen Ho —MARINEL CRUZ


Tough challenge

Didal began her skateboarding journey by selling noodles in a skate park in Cebu City to make ends meet, and borrowing boards from fellow skateboarders, who also became her first coaches. She eventually made the national team by bagging a gold in the 2018 Asian Games and two golds in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Yet, this major ankle injury was one that truly tested her mettle. Didal faced a tough challenge: how to strengthen herself yet again and get back to Olympic form in a limited amount of time.

Ho joined Didal in Cebu and also traveled with her to the World Skateboarding Tour in Dubai. “This was because we wanted to provide some context. We wanted to show the shift of skateboarding from being an artistic sport to a competitive sport, and Margie adjusting to that, as well as her fellow skateboarders,” Ho said.

When she and her team went to shoot at the skate park in Baler, Aurora, Ho said they realized that Didal’s story does not end in making it to the Olympics.

The world-class Baler Skatepark, which spans 6,155 square meters and was built at a cost of P39 million, first opened to the public in August 2023.


“Often, sportswriters would stop writing about the athletes after a particular tournament. We don’t see what happens to them after that. The challenge then was to give a more complete picture. It was not just about Margie being injured, but also about letting people understand what led to that,” she said.

Ho, a former volleyball player, said the goal was to tell the story in a way that people would understand the struggles of an Olympic athlete. “The challenge today is for athletes like Margie to build their legacies after the sport. They are now passing on the knowledge to younger kids. This is no longer just about them, but also about the next generation,” Ho began.

Ho (left) joined Didal when the latter revisited her home province, Cebu, for the documentary.

Ho (left) joined Didal when the latter revisited her home province, Cebu, for the documentary. —CONTRIBUTED photo

‘Build their legacies’

“The challenge for us in the sports media is to help athletes build their legacies because this is what we need—to develop younger athletes who will compete for us, for the next generation.

“Another lesson here is how to produce films for TV. I want to learn how to connect stories and retell them so people will understand and appreciate them more. I know I still have a lot to learn, and so I’m excited about the new challenge.”

“Beyond the Board,” in partnership with Red Bull, first aired on Cignal TV’s One News on June 21. The documentary is also published on Ho’s official YouTube page. It is the first production under “WIA Specials.” Woman In Action (WIA) is a travel and documentary TV show, also hosted, co-written and co-produced by Ho. Woman In Action Studios is supported by Cornerstone Studio.

Ho said she continues to make travel documentaries for the second season of “Woman in Action,” also on Cignal TV, “because Filipinos love to travel. It’s my way of getting people to watch our content, and producing documentaries is our way of giving more depth and context to the places that we travel to.”

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She added: “For example, I went to Basilan with Ed Lingao. Who travels to Basilan? We mapped its circumferential road, but we also compared the situation of the then conflict-plagued Basilan and the Basilan of today, now that, authorities said, all of the rebels there have surrendered. I co-wrote that episode with Ed. It’s a very interesting time for news. There is a clamor for long-form content. I hope we can use that opportunity well.”

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