By Nickie Wang
Contributor/Manila Standard Today
31 May 2008
This month, National Geographic Channel celebrates its decade-long success in Asia with a star-studded campaign featuring some of the region’s most celebrated artists and celebrities, co-hosting the best 30 documentaries in the last 10 years.
This high-profile campaign invites viewers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia to vote for their favorite documentaries anchored by celebrities like Jacky Chan, Hong Kong’s Paul Wong, Thailand’s Tata Young and the Philippines’ Gary Valenciano, Donita Rose, Christian Bautista and Kim Atienza.
Being the world’s leading pure documentary channel, NGC’s initiative to draw the viewers closer to the brand is parallel with its engagement to present every possible ways viewers can appreciate, support and understand the world, and to commensurate their continuous patronage to the channel.
For 30 consecutive days in June, one documentary will be featured each night and viewers across the region will have the opportunity to vote for it through www.ngcasia.com/top30.
“We have narrowed all the documentaries [down] to 30 and each one of the documentaries will be featured everyday in June with special host and guest celebrities. We have great hosts across five to six countries and we are lucky we got Jacky Chan and other great artists all over Asia. They are keen to share their favorite documentaries,” said Hong Kong-based director Craig Leeson who was in town to launch the campaign.
Leeson, with his local crew, started the taping for the NGC’s handpicked local celebrities who will present their favorite documentaries. The taping started on May 21 at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife in Quezon City.
“The artists we specially chose here in the Philippines to present their favorite documentaries are: Donita, who is fantastic because she loves what she does; Kim, he has a passion with history and science and he can relate very closely to the documentaries the NGC shows. As a director it’s great to work with someone who understands what I need; and artists like Gary and Christian, we chose them because of their deep connection with the public,” Leeson said.
Gary V’s Seconds from Disaster: Pentagon 911
Gary’s chosen documentary is about the American Airlines flight 77 that was hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Less than an hour after the airplane’s takeoff, it slammed directly into the Pentagon’s West Wall at nearly 530 mph, destroying 30 structural columns and killing 184 innocent people and five terrorists. NGC’s documentary narrated second-by-second tragic event that led to the worst day of terrorist attacks on American soil.
“I would certainly recommend this [documentary] because there’s so much to learn that people would just say ‘oh I didn’t know that’,” Gary revealed. “I think if there’s one event that everyone has been affected by it, is probably this event. This is one event that all ages can look back and see and really would be interested. It would be the details of what went on not just what we saw, but the other things that we never knew about. Like personally, I didn’t know that the Pentagon was built in the 1940s unlike the way buildings were built today.”
Donita’s Amazing Moments-Close Encounter
Former MTV Asia VJ Donita Rose will front her chosen documentary Amazing Moments-Close Encounter. It is a close encounter of the amazing kind—surprising moments when predator meets prey- man meets animals and people look death in the face—in some of the most incredible scenes ever captured on film. Meet people who get up close and personal with rats—from grubs to maggots to whole new octopus. The documentary features amazing encounters between predator and prey, as crocodiles and killer whales fight to survive. It also captured incredible moments where life hangs in the balance—from passengers on a sinking ship to pilot in a mid-air collision.
“I feel privileged to be chosen for this, I had done something that honored our country some few years back, but this one is different. I’ll be hosting a documentary that talks about people and animals in a brink of death” Donita expressed on an interview during the taping.
Christian with Megamovers: Panama Canal Unlocked
Asian pop heartthrob Christian Bautista, who said that watching NGC is not nerdy at all or boring because people could learn a lot on how things work, why things work, and how we can be better part of this world, shared his excitement with chosen documentary about the Panama Canal .
“I was really amazed by this awesome project and to think that it is from the 19th century. I was amazed how people work together to accomplish this huge task. It’s actually full of traffic already in the Panama Canal because of the huge quantity of ships that pass through it. Passing through the canal saves them time, four weeks around the continent so they will be able to get the delivery done,” he narrated.
Kuya Kim’s choices
TV’s weather man Kim Atienza couldn’t believe that he has been chosen to be part of the NGC’s star-studded campaign. He will anchor two documentaries entitled Inside the Tornado and China’s Mystery Mummies.
“I love watching this channel because it sparks an interest to learn more about the world. The topics featured give much relevance to things all around us, focusing not just animals and nature, but science, technology, history, relationships, government and so much more. When my friend told me about it, I thought it was a frank. But when it became reality, I am really flattered,” the TV host said.
Inside the Tornado is about an NGC-sponsored team of storm chasers and photographers who managed to position an armored device with cameras in the direct path of a tornado near Manchester, South Dakota. The device was able to take magnificent pictures.
Being haled by director Leeson as ‘a person in-the-know,’ Matang Lawin host Kuya Kim will also front the documentaries about the mummies in China.
“This is not actually my concern. But in China, mummies are studied and treated as national treasures. But in the Philippines we don’t put importance on the mummies that we have. We have lots of mummies up north in Sagada and Banaue. But sad to say, our mummies are practically gone. We are losing these mummies because of lack of awareness, theft and pilferage. People actually steal the mummies and put them in their homes,” he ended regretfully.