Two decades since the first episode, “I-Witness” has rolled out a thousand documentaries that have pursued the truth about Filipino values, culture, current events, and the human condition.
The hosts of the pioneering and longest-running documentary program are Kara David, Sandra Aguinaldo, Atom Araullo, and Howie Severino.
“I-Witness” won the Philippines’ first George Foster Peabody Award in its inaugural year, with Jessica Soho’s groundbreaking stories, “Kamao” and “Kidneys for Sale.” The program won a second Peabody in 2010 for Kara David’s “Ambulansyang de Paa,” making it the only program to win two trophies from the prestigious award-giving body.
The program continued to be recognized internationally with awards from the ABU/CASBAA UNICEF Child Rights Award (“Selda Inosente” and “Bata-k,” Kara David; “Batang CP,” Jay Taruc), the New York Festivals (including “Askal,” Vicky Morales; “Sabah: Sex Slaves,” Maki Pulido; “Boy Pusit,” Sandra Aguinaldo; “Ganito Kami Noong Martial Law,” Howie Severino), and the U.S. International Film and Video Festivals (“Buto’t Balat,” Kara David; “Iskul Ko No. 1,” Sandra Aguinaldo; “Busal,” Howie Severino; “Silang Kinalimutan,” Atom Araullo, etc.), among others.
It is also a regular winner in local awards such as the Catholic Mass Media Awards, the PMPC Star Awards for Television, the Gandingan Awards of UP Los Baños, and more.
For its 20th anniversary, “I-Witness” hosts learn how conditions have changed, if at all, in some of the program’s most memorable stories since they were first told.
Kara, known for her compassion and empathy towards the youth, travels to three provinces to reunite with former subjects, once children who have had to bear the burden of poverty and dangerous labor at a tender age.
Atom faces issues in housing head on, nearly 40 years since the establishment of the National Housing Authority. “I-Witness” searches for answers through the lives of those who first faced this struggle many years ago.
Sandra has led “I-Witness” in confronting issues on education, from the triumphs of exceptional schools and teachers, to glaring concerns in access, quality, and resources. This year, she and her team question the state of Philippine education today, through the stories of a school in a conflict-ridden community and a young woman who continues to change her family’s life through education.
Howie returns to Isabela more than 10 years since first witnessing attempts to end illegal logging in the province. In a time of global warming and the ruthless depletion of natural resources, the state of the largest protected area in the Philippines reminds us of an urgent issue that concerns us all.
“I-Witness” airs its 20th anniversary specials all Saturdays of November, beginning Nov.2 on GMA-7.