I have good memories of Mario Dumaual. In 1982, we both wrote for the Times Journal. I covered the arts and he was into entertainment. But as I was also into film reviewing, our paths crossed during premiere nights and movie presscons.
I liked Mario’s pleasant profile, congenial at every turn. He was a natural when showing deep concern for people he cared about.
“Wala ka na sa CCP [Cultural Center of the Philippines]?” he asked me once when we met at the Manila Metropolitan Theater (the Met), where I was holding office as an impresario and doing a bit of Met publicity in the late 1980s in the company of Boy Abunda and Floy Quintos. Mario was covering a Vilma Santos show at the Met, and I was presenting a season of classical music in the same venue in close coordination with Tita Conching (Conchita Chuidian Sunico).
At the time, Mario must have realized I was wearing two hats—one for performing arts and the other for the movies.
As for Mario, he was still in perfectly good health at that time, reporting into his early 60s.
During movie presscons, the questions coming from Mario and me would be the most awaited.
Quipped the late Isah Red: “Pablo [Tariman] never runs out of profound questions. But I prefer the down-to-earth questions of Mario [Dumaual].”
Indeed, I was into high art and Mario was into the unpredictable world of showbiz.
Showbiz is not exactly a place where you find good people. It is a place where friendships hardly last. It is a dog-eat-dog world where movie stars work their ass off wrapping up film commitments, and where movie reporters beat deadlines 24-7. At times, it is a virtual school for scandal, which is the stuff of the showbiz talk shows of Cristy Fermin and Boy Abunda.
Observing Mario Dumaual in the last 41 years of his showbiz reporting life was like finding a heart of gold in a sea of infamy. He exuded kindness in every showbiz reportage he did. Still, he made sure he observed the basics of reporting—truth, fact-checking, and most of all, fairness, balance, and responsibility.
To be sure, he had modest career beginnings.
Born on July 31, 1958, Mario finished Communication Arts at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in 1979. In college, he did assorted writing, from sports to agricultural reportage, in the university paper—The UPLB Perspective.
His first job after college was with the Ministry of Agriculture, where he did some agriculture-related writing. What followed were short stints with a financing company and a shipping line.
He was working with the daily newspaper Malaya when Angelique Lazo hired him for the “TV Patrol” segment of ABS-CBN’s first groundbreaking newscast. “What’s the title of the newscast? Or should this be: hired him for a segment of TV Patrol, ABS-CBN’s first groundbreaking newscast.?”
There was no turning back on showbiz reporting after the newscast’s initial telecast.
Isagani de Castro, Jr., was editor of ABS-CBN News online when Mario Dumaual worked for him as a stringer for showbiz news, apart from his regular reporting segment for TV Patrol. De Castro can only remember Dumaual’s professionalism. De Castro recalls that Dumaual would write one or two showbiz stories daily until his (de Castro’s) retirement in 2022.
While highly visible on TV, Dumaual also wrote showbiz stories for other online publications. Like, for BusinessMirror, he covered Nora Aunor’s 70th year.
After 41 years in showbiz reporting, Dumaual wrote thirty last July 5, <2023,?> a month after he had a heart attack on June 5. The family revealed that the reporter died from septic shock and from severe fungal infection after his recovery from a heart attack at the Heart Center.
He is survived by his wife Cherie and children Luigi, Miguel, Maxine, William, and Thessa.
UNBLEMISHED WORK ETHIC
Friends and colleagues have varying recollections of some chapters in Mario Dumaual’s 64 years of life.
Cherry Cornell, Mario’s long-time desk editor at ABS-CBN, recalled that Mario was always on time with deadlines. “His stories needed very little editing, as he took time to fine-tune and double-check his stories.”
Mario’s former cameraman, Ariel Fulgado, said he was witness to the late reporter’s unblemished work ethic: “He was such a professional that he was held in high esteem by the entertainment press. For me, he was irreplaceable.”
TV Patrol anchor Henry Omaga Diaz was a friend of Dumaual for almost 30 years. Their conversations were mostly about work, but then of late, before Dumaual’s death, the subjects had turned to their respective families, most especially about their grandchildren.
ABS-CBN News Chief of Reporters Jeff Canoy recalled how Dumaual prepared for the digital age in news reporting: “In our last conversation, he consulted me on how to do YouTube. I think he was contemplating doing his own vlog.”
Former ABS-CBN News head of newsgathering and online operations Charie Villa recalled Dumaual’s selflessness in the office. He would often knock on their door asking for help for colleagues in need. He never showed up looking like a big boss. “For us, he will always be the mentor who constantly guides and is concerned about others before himself.”
Four other reporters benefitted from the mentoring of Dumaual—namely, Marie Lozano, Gretchen Fullido, Ginger Conejero, and the last, Ganiel Krishnan.
Cherry Cornell said Dumaual has an eye for promising news reporters: “He guides them every step of the way to be useful to the needs of the industry.”
ABS-CBN News chief Francis Toral paid tribute to the family for the precious time Dumaual spent with the ABS-CBN news staff for almost four decades.
Although he was first and foremost a professional, Mario Dumaual was a family man of the first order. He said that, more than the accolades and the awards he got in the showbiz beat, he valued the love and support he got from his family.
The Mario Dumaual son who took after his father as news reporter was Miguel Dumaual, who is also editor of the ABS-CBN News Digital.
Said Miguel in response to the tribute to his father: “We are still at a loss for words. He was the pillar of strength for the family. We all felt safe when he was around. We didn’t worry about the future with him around. Now we don’t quite know how to start coping.”
Miguel Dumaual added: “But with your support, coupled with love and respect for my father, we will learn how to value the high esteem that he got from his colleagues and friends. He taught us how to value our job and how to make the best of it.”
Mario was not wanting in citations and awards.
The German Moreno Walk of Fame Foundation honored him earlier this year with a five-point brass star in the Eastwood City Walk of Fame.
Last year, the Society of Philippine Entertainment Editors conferred on him the Joe Quirino Memorial Award.
He was also given the Joe Quirino Memorial Award at the 5th EDDYS (Entertainment Editors’ Choice) awards night.
Before his body was interred at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina on July 9, Mario received a resounding standing ovation from his friends and colleagues.
Commented Gary Valenciano: “Mario Dumaual was part of our careers. And he never put out anything that made us look bad. He always wanted to bring out the best in all of us. Even if the artist was going through controversy and all, he would try to focus on ‘Yeah, but it can’t be all bad. There’s a reason why that artist ay naging artista—dahil gusto siya ng tao.’” Gary added: “My prayer is ‘Lord, he’s in your hands.’ That’s the safest place to be.”
Said Sharon Cuneta: “He was a showbiz reporter with a difference. He was decent, fair, and widely loved.”
My dear Mario would have been 65 on July 31.