People from the provinces are globally competitive and should not be ashamed of their roots, said GMA Network’s Vice-President, Oliver Victor Amoroso, during TEDxSillimanU last Feb. 3 at Luce Auditorium.
Amoroso, head of GMA Regional TV Department, recalled how the term promdi was associated with derogatory definitions in the past.
He mentioned an Inquirer column of Michael Tan in 2006 that said promdi was coined around the 1980s to mean “prom di province,” capturing the superior attitude of “city slickers” towards migrants from the provinces.
He also cited a study by Miriam College that said promdi was “a term used to describe anyone who is a hillbilly – crude, crass, and cheap.”
Despite this, Amoroso, who was born in Manila but raised in Bukidnon in Mindanao, said he is a proud promdi.
“We have a long list of individuals who have turned from promdi to “lodi (idol)” with their exploits in the worlds they’ve chosen for themselves,” said Amoroso about persons from the provinces who excelled in their careers.
“From the fields of science, business, education, government service, to culture and the arts, these brilliant and cool individuals make us wear our provincial roots with pride,” he continued.
Among those he mentioned were internationally awarded Science Teacher from Iloilo, Josette Biyo, who had a planet named after her; high schooler from Leyte, Hillary Andales, who won P20M worth of prizes for winning a global science contest, and Visayan topnotchers in law, medicine, engineering and education last year.
Amoroso said studying in Silliman in his college years has enabled him to discover and respect the diverse culture of students.
“In Silliman, I felt that there was no ‘right’ or ‘superior’ culture. Every person’s culture is valid, and no culture is ‘better’ than another,” he shared.
He was active in the College of Mass Communication and the SU Student Government, and later became the associate editor of the Weekly Sillimanian (1998-1999) and the editor-in-chief of Portal Yearbook 2001.
However, his journey to the bigger city of Manila wasn’t easy. His resume was placed at the bottom among ten shortlisted candidates for a job he was applying simply because he graduated from the Visayas. Even after he got a job two weeks after graduation, he still experienced discrimination.
“There were people who thought that I couldn‘t write and speak articulately because I graduated from a provincial school. Big projects were assigned to someone who spoke with the accent,” he said.
Fast forward to his career, he realized that studying in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao has enabled him to become more effective in his job in pushing for a programming more attuned to stories, voices and viewership outside Metro Manila.
“I am currently the executive-in-charge of production of GMA’s top-rating and award-winning regional newscasts ‘Balitang Amianan’ in Luzon and ‘Balitang Bisdak’ in the Visayas, and the groundbreaking Mindanao-wide news program, ‘One Mindanao‘.”
Amoroso is also involved in community livelihood programs and projects influencing business and policy makers “to commit to sustainable development policies and approaches, and engage the locals in promoting heritage and cultural awareness, gender empowerment and environmental conservation education…”
“There’s a need now more than ever to be very passionate in engaging Filipinos, especially those in the provinces, to be active participants for the development of regional and provincial communities,” he said.
He advised promdis to be never hurt by the misconceptions about them.
“…But one thing I learned about being promdi is that we are determined to succeed despite circumstances we are facing. We continue to educate ourselves and seek higher learning,” he said.
“Promdis are globally competitive and see opportunities. We don’t stop and rest on our laurels.”
Among the speakers in the first-ever TedxSillimanU were five other graduates from Silliman– Ian Rosales Casocot, an award winning novelist; Michele Joan Valbuena, sports psychologist and activist for humanity; Razcel Jan Salvarita, artist and eco-activist; Regal Oliva, lawyer and LGBTQ advocate, and Stacy Danika Alcantara, foreign service officer.
Casocot talked about “Language We Breathe In,“ Valbuena on “The ego is most challenged in dragon boat,“ Salvarita on “Activism: Effecting Environmental Consciousness through Art,“ Oliva on “Quintessential and Queer” and Alcanatara on “Diplomacy and City.“
TedxSillimanU, with the theme “Convergence, Divergence”, was independently organized by a group of students headed by sophomore Foreign Affairs student, Royd Edcel Chan.