Journos for Jesus

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GMA-7 broadcasters Mariz Umali – Tima and Raffy Tima (Photo: Dominic Barrios)

QUEZON City, March 15, 2016 – People tend to think of newsreaders as fast-talking, poker-faced professionals who earn tons of cash simply by lipping in front of the camera what others had written for them.

Not so with Raffy Tima and Mariz Umali. They have proven time and again there’s more to broadcast journalists than meets the eye.

For the record, they’re not just reporters of news, they’re also proclaimers of God’s Good News.

“Our values as Christians are reflected in the stories we make, at least the basic ones, by being fair, by being honest,” stressed Raffy in an interview.

Since they can’t sound “preachy” while on air, the Umalis make it a point to let their non-verbal gestures do most of the evangelization on their behalf.

Religion + Profession

According to Mariz, they always try to find balance between religion and profession by being prudent, fair, sensitive, and responsible media practitioners.

After all, these are values consistent with the Church’s teaching.

“These are the basic tenets of journalism and the basic tenets of Christianity,” Raffy noted.

Off cam, the couple relish those rare, precious moments they spend alone together like watching movies, eating out, diving, or going out of town.

But more often than not, when not mouthing scripts in the name of Serbisyong Totoo, Mariz can be spotted reading the greatest script of all time—Scriptures—at Sacred Heart Parish in Kamuning on a Sunday as a lector, or crowning images of the Blessed Virgin wherever one is scheduled.

The Marian devotee shared she was only a girl of seven when her mother introduced her and her siblings to a ministry in the church.

Proud Catholic

“Of course, that was not the first time we stepped together inside the church … But that was the time my mom brought us there for us to become members of the Sacred Heart Parish Choir. So I was seven, my other sibling was six, and the youngest was four. That early, we were already exposed to the serving Christ through a ministry in the parish,” she said.

A Catholic from head to foot, Mariz counts Sts. Clare of Assisi, Rita of Cascia, Thérèse of Lisieux, and our very own Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila and Pedro Calungsod of Cebu among her heavenly “barkadas.”

Moreover, she considers her coverage of the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII in Rome as the highlight of her career.

“When the relics of St. Clare was brought here [at GMA], one of the things I asked through her intercession was for me to be sent [by the management] to the Vatican to cover the canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII,” she said.

A veteran of the World Youth Day held in Manila in 1995, Mariz boasted it was a dream come true and an experience of a lifetime witnessing personally John Paul II’s “raising to the altar.”

“It was a big deal for me, really. I felt like it was the closest thing to meeting him … It’s as though I now have a direct line to heaven,” she said.

Ecumenical marriage

Meanwhile, Raffy credits his Christian upbringing for making him more accepting of the views and beliefs of others.

As the son of an anthropologist who was a former Protestant minister at that, he was exposed to different cultures as a child.

In Zambales where he grew up among the Aetas, Raffy learned the importance of giving.

Through the Christian foundation the elder Tima put up, the father and son were able to help those in need regardless of color or creed.

Three years after their wedding—they exchanged vows on Dec. 8, 2012, feast of the Immaculate Conception, at Santuario de San José in San Juan—the couple attended Couples for Christ’s Christian Life Program (CLP).

“Although CLP is Catholic-based, its fundamentals are Christian, so in a way it is just a continuation of my background [in Zambales],” explained Raffy, a Protestant, thanking the CLP—and Mariz— for rekindling his relationship with the Lord.

For her part, Mariz feels happy her husband doesn’t allow theological differences get in the way of a richer married life.

In fact, Raffy goes with her to the various Marian events she has marked in her calendar. And whenever she prays the Rosary, he patiently joins, silently listening and waiting for her to finish.

“I find it amazing that I have a support like his. That’s why the things we mistake for challenges, like not having enough time for each other, or sometimes being apart because of assignments out of town or abroad, all of these we are able to overcome, thanks to the strong faith that we have in Christ, because we have Christ at the center of our relationship. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)

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