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Kara David lives on cutting
edge of her TV stories

By Jocelyn Valle
Inquirer News Service

KARA David (Batch 91-C of Diliman -web nanny's note)doesn't want to see her face on TV. "Kaya lang, ''I-Witness' nga ang title ng program namin (But “I-Witness” was the title of our program), so I have to be there." Kara never really dreamed of becoming an on-cam personality. She had wanted to be an elementary-school teacher, specializing in her favorite subject, History. But after earning a degree in broadcast communication in 1994, she got a part-time job as production assistant and researcher for GMA-7's coverage of the national elections. Kara officially joined the network in 1996 as researcher for "Emergency." Then she became a reporter for another public-affairs program, "Brigada Siete," which gave her first taste of on-cam work..

Kara during a November'94 Tambay with the Diliman sisses

"Malaking problema sa akin 'yun (That was my big problem)," she recounts, shaking her head. "Hindi ako marunong mag-makeup. High-pitched ang boses ko. Gusto kong magpa-nose lift! (I did know how to put on make-up. My voice was high-pitched. I wanted a nose-lift.)" How she looked on TV didn't matter to viewers, though. They loved the way she presented her reports with clarity and sincerity.

In 2001, Kara became a full-fledged news reporter, and the following year she became a part of the Monday-night documentary program.

"Pangarap ko talagang mag-'I-Witness,' (It was my dream to be in “I-Witness”)" she smiles. "Sinabi nila sa akin na maghanap ako ng cutting-edge na story. Sabi ko gagawin ko 'yung gusto ko-children, simpleng buhay sa probinsya. During that time uso 'yung PPA, so naisip ko na maghanap ng isang barangay na walang kuryente. (They told me to look for a cutting edge story. I said I’ll do a report on children and the simple life in the provice. During that time PPA was ‘in’ so I thought I must look for a village without electricity.)"

Then suddenly she remembered the teacher who wrote to her just before "Brigada" folded up. "Sabi niya (She said)," she relates, "baka naman puwedeng bigyan mo kami ng gasera o lumang baterya ng kotse para mailawan ang eskwelahan namin (you may want to give us a gas lamp or old car batteries so that we could light up the school).'

Upon the suggestion of her executive producer, Nanette Matilac, Kara and her researcher looked for another barangay in a similar situation. They discovered one in Ifugao, but this time a solution had been found in the invention of a hydroelectric plant by one of its villagers.

"Gamu-gamo sa Dilim" tugged at the hearts of viewers, and she was able to replicate the same affecting result in her succeeding documentaries: "Kasambahay," "Laruan" (about street kids who got into prostitution), "Breadwinner," "Deboto," "Bangungot ng mga Anghel" (kids who lost their minds because of the abuses they suffered) and "Teacher."

When it comes to editing her script, though, the EP has the last say. "And it breaks my heart," she groans. "Ang style ko daw kasi, pang-libro na walang limit. Dapat daw matuto akong magpa-iksi. Hindi ibig sabihin na 'pag maiksi s'ya, 'di na puwedeng maging lyrical. Marunong naman akong makinig sa kanila. (My style, they say, is by the book, no limits. I have to learn how to keep it concise. It doesn’t mean that if it’s concise, it won’t by lyrical. I can say I know how to listen to them.)"

Kara also admits that she used to be cynical about the power of faith and prayers before she met Christian, her case study for "Deboto." "Pinaakyat n'ya ako sa Nazareno sa Quiapo (He wanted me to climb on the image of the Black Nazarene)," she recounts her first close encounter of the religious kind. "Dati pinagtatawanan ko lang 'yung mga pumupunta doon. Pero naiyak talaga ako. (Before I used to scoff at those who join the procession. But now I was moved.)" After the documentary was aired, Kara got a call the following day from a donor who wanted to help Christian. "Dinala namin siya sa Makati Med (We brought him to the Makati Medical Center)," she relates. "The doctors tried to insert a tube inside his body. Pero masyadong maliit ang katawan n'ya. 'Di talaga kaya. Maraming problema ang batang 'yun. (He had a frail body. He could not take it. He had a lot of problems.)

"Hopeless na, kaya tinext ko lahat ng mga kaibigan ko: Please pray for Christian. Sila naman: Ha? Parang it's not you-pero magpi-pray na rin kami. First time kong mag-ask ng prayer. Dati kasi kapag may nangyayaring magandang bagay dahil sa prayer, hindi ako naniniwala. (It was hopeless so I texted all my friends: Please pray for Christian. They said: What? It’s like it’s not you but we’ll pray nevertheless. It was the first time to ask for prayers. Before, when something beautiful happens out of prayer, I did not believe it.)"

After a month of receiving therapy at their home in Pampanga, Christian was miraculously healed. "Ang taba na niya! (He is now healthy)" she exclaims. "Nakaka-smile na siya. Nagre-respond na siya. Nung una kasi akala namin blind siya. (He can now smile. He can respond. At first we thought he was blind.)"

Christian is not the only person she's interviewed that Kara's has gotten attached to. On her mobile phone, she has stored digital images of the children who have touched her life, side by side with her own two-year-old daughter, Julia Kristiana.

©2003 all rights reserved
I-witness logo courtesy of

Have you read about Kara's UNICEF award?
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Kara's "Laruan" eoisode inspires a UPD Stude
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