Cheche not retiring, just slowing down

By Marge C. Enriquez

Final episode on Tuesday

THE "PROBE TEAM" airs its final episode on Tuesday, Nov. 25, on GMA 7 -- after producing 2,242 stories and winning 29 local prizes and three international awards.

The last episode, "Ang Aming Kuwento, Ang Huling Kabanata," will feature its anniversary reports, behind-the-scene reportage and a tribute to Cecilia "Cheche" Lazaro, the Probe Productions president and anchor person.

Lazaro isn't about to get mushy about the last show, even if she admits that she is saddened that a longtime relationship could end so abruptly because of one story.

"On the other side, there is a reason for celebrating," she said. "We lasted for 16 years when we batted for only one. The people I worked with are doing well in their respective fields. That goes back to us -- the camaraderie, the growth we experienced together.

"It is a celebration that we have had a caring team that produces the show not as work but as part of its mission orientation, which is rare nowadays."

Uncertainty is the only thing that Lazaro is certain about as far as the investigative news magazine is concerned. For now, she wants to spend more time with her husband and visit her daughter in Boston. She has no plans of retiring, only of slowing down.

"I think we deserve a rest," she said. "I hope the Probe Team doesn't die. It has made some contribution to the industry. It has much more to give. We have had more than 100 people who have passed through the Probe Team. They are in the industry. Whatever they can contribute will put a positive mark on the industry. With that alone, we have achieved our objectives."

Lazaro's decision to terminate the show even before its contract with GMA 7 expired was spurred by the network's censure of the show's lifestyle check report on Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chief Efraim Genuino. The television network GMA 7, one of the parent companies of, claimed that the episode had incomplete documentation.

Letting go

The most admirable thing about Lazaro's decision is that she knows when to let go instead of holding on. She believes she has made a contribution to the broadcast industry by training such talents as Maria Ressa, now CNN Southeast Asia bureau chief, and Luchi Cruz-Valdez, now an ABS-CBN executive.

Lazaro had always been fascinated by news. As a teenager, she marveled at the groundbreaking investigative television show, "60 Minutes." In local journalism, she admired the in-depth series on an opium den by Rodolfo Reyes, then a reporter for the old Manila Times.

Said Lazaro, "My impression was, what a way to get a story! It was enterprise journalism. You go out with the story and don't report just facts and figures. It's experiential. This was what the Probe Team was all about."

"The Probe Team" started out as a vision of an investigative news magazine.


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