Boston-based reporter Philip Marcelo used his family's harrowing experiences with the regime of Ferdinand Marcos as the hook for a deeply reported first-person essay examining how the Filipino diaspora is reacting to the election of the late dictator’s son as president of the Philippines.

Marcelo is a Filipino American who grew up hearing the traumatic story of Emmanuel "Manny" Yap, an uncle he never met who was disappeared by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The family’s experience with the brutal regime offered unique framing for Marcelo’s piece, as he wove his family's anguish into a broader narrative powered by interviews with other Filipinos abroad.

The story moved a week ahead of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s inauguration, providing a distinctively personal account that set AP apart from other news organizations.

It scored solid play with customers and received a shoutout from National Review’s Jay Nordlinger, wrote: “Philip Marcelo ... has written an article I wish I could award a prize. ... The article is reportorial, analytical, and personal, all three. Fascinating — also moving. Even a little disturbing.”

Pips AP 22152114269130 2000i

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of ousted Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, celebrates outside his headquarters in Mandaluyong, Philippines, May 11, 2022. Filipino voters overwhelmingly elected Marcos Jr. as president in the May 2022 elections, completing a stunning return to power for the family.

AP Photo / Aaron Favila

Ted Anthony, AP’s director of new storytelling and newsroom innovation, said Marcelo’s tale “represents an important dimension to our news report — keeping people interested in a news event (or creating new interest in it) at the back end of the breaking-news arc.”

“A story like this — identifiable to many across the world, particularly in the Philippines and the United States — helps do that and provides another doorway for people to engage with a major news event like the Philippines elections,” said Anthony, who worked with Marcelo to shape the piece.