Mike Enriquez, reluctant radio newscaster-turned-top TV anchor; 71


Mike Enriquez

It was only fitting that the news of his death was confirmed by the show he considered home.

While whispers of Mike Enriquez’s passing spread within the media industry as early as Tuesday afternoon, it wasn’t until GMA Network’s flagship newscast, “24 Oras,” made the official announcement that other mainstream news sites and publications followed suit.

In the closing seconds of the show, Mel Tiangco, one of Enriquez’s longtime colleagues, turned emotional as she read the network’s statement: “It’s with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Kapuso and friend Mike Enriquez. His dedication to the industry will serve as an inspiration to all. We pray for the eternal repose of our Kapuso.”

Distinctive voice, style

Enriquez, whose distinctive voice and style of news delivery had become a fixture on the local radio and television airwaves for 54 years, was 71. “The sound of our beloved Mike’s voice will no longer be heard, but will remain clear in our hearts,” the network said. “It will be our guide in delivering service, truth and courageous reporting.”

While no exact cause of death was mentioned, Enriquez had always been open about his battle with kidney failure and other health issues.

In August 2018, Enriquez took a medical leave from “24 Oras” and his other GMA 7 shows, after being diagnosed with advanced kidney disease and undergoing a quadruple heart bypass surgery. He returned to work three months later, juggling his dialysis and other treatments with his various duties as a host and anchor.

In December 2021, he underwent a kidney transplant. “What I went through was difficult. I had to go on a three-month isolation,” Enriquez told the Inquirer in March 2022 to announce his return on air and his participation in GMA 7’s coverage of presidential elections. However, he took another break just a few months later for a series of medical tests and tended to his other health concerns.

Not much was heard from Enriquez since. “I really wanted to call him, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was wary. And I might only get sad if he says that he’s not doing so well,” Tiangco told reporters in November 2022.

Born on Sept. 29, 1951, in Sta. Ana, Manila, Miguel “Mike” Enriquez was once an altar boy who dreamed of becoming a priest. In 1967, he entered a Franciscan seminary, where he stayed for only less than a year; his parents refused to sign the consent form and took him back home. Instead, he took up AB Commerce at the De La Salle University the following year.

While he has always loved listening to the radio, Enriquez’s foray into the broadcasting industry was purely by accident. One morning in 1969—with nothing else to do because his professor was absent—he thought of catching up with a friend who worked as an announcer at the Manila Broadcasting Company.

It so happened that then station manager, Tony Romero, was desperate to have a new announcer, just so the rest of the staff could have a day off. His friend volunteered him and was made to read out a newspaper article. The reluctant Enriquez got the job. As it turned out, he was good at it and ended up loving it, so much so that he decided to pursue a career in radio.

He then worked as a reporter, program director, station manager and deejay with stints in various radio companies, including Filipinas Broadcasting Systems Inc., Freedom Broadcasting Radio, WKC 93.9 and Radio Mindanao, where he was vice president. In 1995, he joined GMA Network’s dzBB to spearhead its radio expansion.

Unexpected TV career

His television career was just as unexpected. After all, as he would often joke, he had a face made for radio. “Itong mukhang ’to, hindi pang-TV,” he was quoted as saying a number of times.

What was supposed to be a one-day TV anchoring job for a special election coverage in 1995 extended to 27 years. He coanchored the evening-turned-late-night news show “Saksi” from 1995 to 2004 before joining the network’s flagship evening newscast “24 Oras,” where he stayed until his illness took its toll.

Enriquez also hosted the weekend investigative docudrama “Imbestigador” where he exposed different crimes, heard grievances and chased after erring officials. The program, which ran for 23 years, spawned one of Enriquez’s popular catchphrases, “’Di namin kayo tatantanan!” while covering a story of a woman hit by a stray bullet fired by a policeman.

And while his television career flourished, never did he consider giving up radio, his first passion. He served as president of RGMA Network and GMA Network’s senior vice president and consultant for radio operations. He also anchored dzBB’s “Super Balita sa Umaga” and “Saksi sa Dobol B.”

Throughout his career, Enriquez won numerous recognitions from various award-giving bodies, both here and abroad, including the Asian Television Awards and the Catholic Mass Media Awards.

A video tribute by “24 Oras” showed some of Enriquez’s most important and memorable coverage, from the war in Iraq to Pope John Paul II’s funeral. There were also lighthearted moments, like his oft-parodied “Excuse me po!” line he used to blurt out after a coughing fit on air.

“The mark and contributions he made in the industry he loved with all his heart are undeniable,” said Tiangco, who gave her dear friend a round of applause.

Tributes from friends, colleagues and viewers continued to pour in on social media. On Instagram, Arnold Clavio described his longtime radio coanchor as a “father, friend, mentor, kasabwat and tagapagtanggol.” “Sabi mo walang iwanan! Ang daya mo!” he wrote. “Your memory will stay alive in the hearts and minds of many Filipinos. Until we meet again.”

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