By Kiele Brawner, Student Producer
Episode aired last September 24, 2014
Guest: Jimo Mantaring, UP Student and Pet Owner
Sgt. Marlon Agena, K-9 Handler and Sgt. Danilo Ta-a, K-9 Trainer
Endo, Top Dog (AFP K-9 Unit)
I was having dinner with my family one Saturday night, when I got a text informing me that I would be the next student producer for Kwentuhang Pets ATBP. My mind started to race as I thought of what I had to do in only three days’ time—decide on a topic, contact guest speakers, and write the script.
I had been anxious of this radio production since our Broadcast Journalism professor announced it at the beginning of the semester, and it was no secret why— I still hadn’t outgrown my fear of public speaking. I took some consolation in the fact that they wouldn’t be watching me live and in person; still the thought of all the loyal Kwentuhang Pets and DZUP listeners hearing my voice was nerve-wracking.
Initially, I wanted the episode’s topic to be about animals in captivity. With the recent passing of Tonka, the last killer whale in Ocean Adventure Subic’s captivity, and the beginning of the dolphin-hunting season in Japan, I thought it would make for a good discussion. I was still strongly outraged from watching the documentary Blackfish, and I wanted to inform people of the harmful and deadly effects of keeping animals captive. However with no available guest speakers and not much time left, I had to consider other options.
What seemed to be a setback, appeared to be a blessing in disguise. By production day, we had the AFP’s top K-9, Endo, with us in DZUP together with his trainer and handler. The hour flew by as the members of the AFP K-9 team, shared their stories—from the everyday training in camp to their life-threatening missions all over the Philippines; delighting the listeners and the DZUP staff when they even conducted a bomb-sniffing test for us.
This episode on K-9 units definitely enlightened me, as I hope it did for the show’s listeners. I developed a greater appreciation for bomb-sniffing dogs after hearing the stories of how they, together with their handlers, risk their lives for the safety of ours. And of course, after seeing the charming Endo, so obedient and well behaved despite all the dangerous and life-threatening situations I can only imagine he’s been through.
Most people probably only encounter these dogs at malls and airports, just as I did before this episode. Some, maybe online in viral video clips and blog posts featuring dogs who finally are able to reunite with their handlers after a war. This episode of Kwentuhang Pets ATBP put those images in a local and more relatable perspective; it put a face behind the concept. Endo has white hair and his vision is starting to blur due to his old age. He is nearing retirement and he would soon step down. His glory days are almost over. Questions of where he would go, where he would stay, and who would take care of him were brought up in this episode’s discussion, as we found out that retired AFP dogs would usually live out the rest of their lives in a cage.
Prof. Khrysta Rara, who co-hosted the show, saw the opportunity to turn this situation into an advocacy. She expressed her concern, saying retired AFP dogs should be allowed to go home with their handlers to live out the rest of their lives in the company and care of a loved one. In an article she wrote on Endo (http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/383172/lifestyle/peopleandevents/animalspeak-a-day-in-the-life-of-an-armed-forces-dog), she presented the idea and the possibility of civilians adopting these retired AFP dogs. Imagine my surprise when she told me that the head of CARA read her article, agreeing with and supporting her sentiments; and that a member of the Animal Kingdom Foundation legal council sent an e-mail regarding an Administrative Order currently in the works for these work animals.
The whole radio production experience was definitely a thrilling experience. After all, it’s not everyday that I can say I produced and co-hosted a DZUP radio show. And to make things more meaningful, it put the spotlight on some of our country’s everyday heroes and resulted in an advocacy. It’s great way to say thank you for the service of these K-9 units.
Missed this episode? Listen to it here!