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#424486 - 12/07/11 09:16 AM 20 years of News Five; 1992 revisited
Marty Offline

In the next few days, we will be celebrating twenty years of broadcasting. Great Belize Productions started as a video production company in 1982, a year after television was first introduced in Belize. We pioneered local television news and our first newscast was on December ninth, 1991. Our award winning newscast continues to be our flagship and we have retained a standard of excellence in the quality local programming that we continue to produce. Today, we went back to our archives and picked out a number of stories that provide viewers with a retrospective of how it all began. These will be shown as part of our anniversary celebrations. A constant has been among our staff, and a number of them still remain with us as you may recognize in the following a story by Stewart Krohn on the first anniversary of News Five in 1992.

Stewart Krohn Reporting

“The roots of the station goes back to 1982 and the formation of great Belize Productions—a partnership between myself and Emory King—which began producing commercials and documentaries for the burgeoning number of television stations which we springing up around the country. Although the company sought a broadcasting license as far back as 1988, it was not until July of 1991 that one was granted. Over the course of the next six months, a staff of twenty-five was hired and trained, premises renovated and the various components of a television station; purchased, assembled and installed largely by the staff itself.

The first regular broadcast day opened with the national anthem at six a.m. and the first live production was that evening—edition number one of News Five Live.

That broadcast was followed by almost two hundred and fifty more—some more exciting than others.

{Highlights of various news stories…}

Other Channel Five original productions have included performances by the Belize Dance Company and dozens of local artists—both large and small.

[Highlight of performances…}

Celebrations in all their Belizean variations have also been popular.

{Highlight of celebrations…}

Other offerings, like the Andy Palacio Show, brought Belize television to the streets.

While each week, Spotlight added the public’s input to that of the inquisitive attorneys; Courtenay and Barrow.

In the realm of foreign programming, Channel Five’s emphasis has always been on the Caribbean. The station pioneered the presentation of shows like Carib-Scope, Caribbean Eye, Tangled Lives, Desmonds and Oliver.

And the future? In its second year, Channel Five hopes to acquire a license to transmit nationwide and create new types of programming to serve a public that wants and deserves better. Stewart Krohn for News Five.

Don’t forget to stay tuned tonight for Gimme 5, which is all part of anniversary celebrations.

Channel 5

#424632 - 12/08/11 08:19 AM Re: 20 years of News Five; 1992 revisited [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

20 years of Channel 5; 1992 Homeless feature revisited

Channel 5 is celebrating twenty years and we are bringing back features that occurred over the past two decades. Tonight we are featuring a story done by former News Five Reporter, William Neal, who is now the co-host of Open Your Eyes. In this 1992 piece on the homeless situation Belize City, you will see the old post office, Neal with a full head of hair and well-known personality and former News Five Anchor, Ernesto Vasquez.

William Neal [File: 1992]

William Neal

“If you walk the streets of Belize City you can’t help but notice them. Visit the post office or the Bliss Institute and you might even trip over them. Not too long ago, the homeless meant only elderly males. Today the group includes younger Belizeans of both sexes.”

Life on the streets require streets smarts and success in this hand to mouth existence depends on lady luck, the kindness of strangers or pickings from a dirt box. However, when smarts luck and charity fails and hunger takes over, many find their way to Mercy Kitchen on Queen Street. The Mercy Kitchen, serving lunch to the homeless and elderly since 1989, began serving breakfast in October of last year. Magnus Vernon, who lives under the Parcel Post Building on Church Street, visits the kitchen at every opportunity.

Magnus Vernon

“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays and Fridays—the other three days well you bounce like wa tennis ball.”

William Neal

Magnus Vernon

“What do you do for food on those days?”

Magnus Vernon

“Well just bum around, fight the world.”

Miss Rita Douglas, the assistant director at the kitchen, said the number of clients is steadily increasing.”

Rita Douglas

Rita Douglas, Assistant Director, Mercy Kitchen

“On our guest list we have eighty-six people and we at this moment we are not able to take on anymore due to the allowance that we have. So few would come in at times, we’d give them that plate of food but we cannot have them on our list added on. So it’s hard.”

After satisfying their appetite, many of these people check out their health at the Mercy Clinic, housed in St. Catherine’s Convent. Misses Donecia Aguet is the head nurse at the clinic.

Donecia Aguet, Head Nurse, Mercy Clinic

Donecia Aguet

“We have about thirty-five homeless. These men—mostly they are men—are cases with enlarged prostate gland and they would come in with a continent of mostly urine or feces and that’s why mostly it is for bathing daily because they are so smelly when they come. And they are sent to the Belize City hospital for further treatment. If they need operation to correct that problem.”

Misses Aguet also said that the clinic offers a change of clothing to the clients and in December they hand out blankets to keep them warm in their streets beds. There are a lucky few who have found a home at Gann’s Rest House operated by the Salvation Army and located on East Canal. The institution can house twenty people and provides bed, breakfast and supper. Those who can afford it pays one dollar a night and there has been only a slight increase in the numbers staying here recently.

Errol Robateau, Commander, Salvation Army

Errol Robateau

“The reason for that is that most people want to bring in sick people and we do not take sick people because we do not have the ability to take care of sick people. If they are here and they become sick because of age after a number of years, well we try to tolerate and take care of them.”

Mister Walter Banner is a long time resident of Gann’s. Over five years ago he was abandoned by his family.

William Neal

“Where would you be if you weren’t here at Gann’s yourself?”

Walter Banner

“Well I would have to be alone.”

Shortly after this interview Mister Banner died but thanks to Gann’s Rest House, he did not spend his last days alone or on the streets.

Are Belizeans taking notice of the plight of the homeless?’

Resident # 1

“Well I’d like to do something about it. I feel like I’d like to take them home myself and care of them.”

Resident # 2

“Most people say I’m—they are people who have probably had a rough early life and they are just paying the consequences of their way of living—whether they’d be drunkards or just poor or whatever. But I am not sure if that is a good excuse to just leave them there anyway noh.”

Magnus Vernon

“They don’t know that some could be fortunate and some unfortunate so people just pass all kind of remarks on the streets—not pleasant—that’s all I can say.”

Resident # 3

“Just build something where you can put them ina and make them come off of the street and get their meal to time.”

William Neal

“Has anyone every beat you on the street/”

Magnus Vernon

“Beat me no. Well I think I am able to take care of myself.”

The Ministry of Social Services has plans to build a home. But until that home is built perhaps the one thing that even a homeless Belizean can count on is his best friend. William Neal, Channel Five News, Belize City.

Gann’s Guest House, which provided shelter for so many, has closed its doors because of lack of financing.

Channel 5

#424717 - 12/09/11 08:51 AM Re: 20 years of News Five; 1992 revisited [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Channel Five at year 1 in a Chiclero feature

As part of our twenty-year anniversary we re-visit another feature from News Five’s first year of broadcasting. In 1992, a very young news Reporter, William Neal, ventured into the jungles of Belize to visit a master at his trade. It was one of the first times a Chiclero was shown on national television extracting and producing gum from a sapodilla tree.

William Neal, Reporting [File: 1992]

For most Belizeans, chicle—if you are not chewing it—is something found only in history books. And economic anachronism ranking in importance somewhere between mahogany and logwood. But economics have a way of changing and with the world’s appetite for natural products growing daily, Belize’s chicle is once again flowing.

Meet Atanascio Soler, chiclero extraordinaire. For over fifty years, Tenico as he is known to his friends has bled the sap of the sapodilla tree. Born in Benque Viejo, he has scaled the heights of his profession in Guatemala, Mexico and virtually every piece of jungle between Hondo and Sarstoon. Today, tenico and his son, Tenash, are working the forest near Rancho Dolores in the Belize District.

Atanscio Soler, Chiclero

“Yo make some core this way and every three core yo take out, you take out a row to go and meet the back part of the tree with the other one. If yo doesn’t do it that way, the milk go and hide.”

Chicle extraction is a mixture of science and art. Poorly made incisions can result in a low yield of precious sap while overzealous cutting can actually kill the tree. With proper planning, the milk can be harvested over time without causing damage. This is why environmentalists see the chicle industry as a prime example of sustainable development—evidence they say that the rainforest is more valuable standing than cut down.

Atanscio Soler

Atanascio Soler

“I left one limb to the back that I neva wanted to chop or I mi too tired. Next year I can come back and chop that tree and the two limbs that I chop this year, the next seven eight years, they are good again; they are ready to give milk again.”

The sap is collected in wax-coated canvas bags which are left overnight to fill. Tenico will cut about seven or eight trees each day as well as collect the milk from the day before.

When enough sap has been harvested, it is gathered together and brought back to the camp for cooking.

Depending on the quality and quantity of the milk, it may take around three hours of careful boiling to remove all the excess water.

Atanscio Soler

“When yo see the bubble come and it brings that ugly black smoke that dah dampness. So that’s the way you know the chicle; when it bring the bubble with clear smoke that is the time it cook.”

Various bush utensils are used like the comalong.

Atanscio Soler

“You haul it up in the jungle. It’s a palm tree that has lotta fine roots. And the lotta fine roots gather up the chicle fast. Sometimes the chicle get too over hot like what happen to me today—too hot—and when I shub in the chamol, which is what we call the stick that we work it with, instead of it get hard it get thinner and it start to raise and overflow out of the pot. So when you shub in the comalong that’s the one that bring it down—he hold it down and gather it. don’t care how it’s hot; he fix it up.”

Meanwhile, the molding trays have been washed and soaked—a process not all that different from baking a cake. The chicle will harden over the course of an hour and finally turned out of the mold.

William Neal

William Neal

“Now the hard work is done. The trees have been bled, the chicle cooked and the molds cast. From here, Tenico will take his blocks to Belize City where they will be exported to Japan only to be imported back as this (PK chicle) or as nylon ropes, tires or even pigtail buckets—virtually anything made from plastic.”

But the intricacies of international commerce seem far away from the forest of Belize and the life that Tenico, despite the hardships, has grown to appreciate.

Atanscio Soler

“Because I get to like it. I get to like to be a free boss of myself because let me tell you something, when I am working good and I meet plenty work like up there, I make three of those for the week and four. Anytime I make four it is two hundred and eighty-odd dollars; up to three hundred dollars. An old man like me; where can I make that around home or in Belize? I’m not an office man, I’m not a special man; I’m a rough man.”

William Neal for Channel Five.

Channel 5


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