1. Moving from one province to another, what is your most memorable place growing up?
I consider my growing up years in the province as the best times of my life. Most memorable, though, was in Bukidnon. I remember that the yard next to our cottage inside the university became a favorite spot for outdoor games for friends and neighbors who came to play with my siblings and I after school. In the absence of new technology, life in the early 90s was simpler. Aside from soccer and other ball games, we enjoyed playing Luksong-Baka, Pitik-Bulag, Tagu-tago, Bato-lata and Sipa.
2. What do you love most about provinces?
Can’t think of just one. I love the culture, the food and the people. Traffic is definitely not a problem in the province. And, fruits and vegetables are always fresh.
3. Where do you prefer living? City or province?
Either. I credit my experiences growing up in Bukidnon and studying in Dumaguete for enriching my present career as Vice President and Head of GMA Regional TV. Although I am now based in Manila, I travel a lot in the regions either for work or vacation. I am also a passionate traveller and have travelled extensively in Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America. But I will always be a “promdi” at heart.
4. What inspired you to talk about breaking stereotypes of “promdis”?
It has some derogatory meaning, but being called “promdi” doesn’t faze me. In fact, I am proud of it. This is why I chose the topic for my TEDxSillimanU talk, so I can tackle the persistent stereotypes of those coming from the provinces and how we can counter and make them work to our advantage instead.
5. Do you think that the problem of underestimating “promdis” is still present at this time?
Yes, it still exists in this digital age, but it is changing especially that diversity is such a big word nowadays especially the center has already started to make space or look to those from the off-center.
6. What is the importance of bridging provinces in the Philippines through regional television programs?
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. At this point in the nation’s history, when Filipinos in the provinces have taken center stage, it is imperative that the regional viewers have access to fair and balanced information, through locally-produced news programs, which are vital to growth and progress as a united community.
7. Who is the most memorable celebrity you have worked with?
I’ve worked with so many memorable celebrities and personalities for the past 15 years — but if I have to choose two, it will be my good friends Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes. My friendship with the couple extends far beyond the borders of show business. One of the activities that made an impact on me was when Marian joined my team and I in our relief operations in far-flung coastal and mountainous communities in Northern Cebu just after the province was devastated by super typhoon Yolanda. Without the cameras, we were able to lead in the building and rehabilitation of bangkas for 340 fisher folk families in the island of Bantayan in Northern Cebu. The project provided long-term and holistic rehabilitation efforts through education and livelihood opportunities. Dingdong, on the other hand, has always been very generous with his time for my regional initiatives and seeks advice for his projects as well. In this industry which many believe that it’s impossible to find genuine relationships, my friendship with the couple defies this perception.
8. What character should every TV executive embody?
9. What’s it been like being the youngest Vice President in GMA or in the Philippine TV Industry?
Putting aside the crazy hours and stress, it’s cool to be young in this position. I can roll up my sleeves to make things done at work — and enjoy other things off work. Hopefully, I’ll retire in my late 40s or early 50s and travel the world to complete my bucket list.
10. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from studying in Silliman?
In Silliman U, I have experienced to live on my own and be part of a multi-cultural environment where being a “promdi” is not an issue. No one labeled another as “promdi.” Life in Silliman taught me to see people and situations from multiple perspectives after being exposed to various organizations, especially the Weekly Sillimanian, which I first became part of in my freshman year. Inside its portals, I felt that there was no “right” or “superior” culture. Every person’s culture is valid, and no culture is “better” than another. During my membership in the Kapunungan sa mga Mass Communicators (KMC) and stint in the Silliman University Student Government (SUSG), I never felt inferior. In fact, it gave me the confidence to interact with other people since we spoke the same language and bonded under a strong sense of shared traditions, experiences and cultural identity. We validated each other. The affinity somehow helped build a stronger sense of self, ready to take on anything beyond the university’s portals.
11. What is the greatest part of your job?
The greatest part of my job is being a TV producer — producing local news programs and specials that are 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”.
12. What is your message to your fellow “promdi” in pursuing their careers?
If you find yourself confronted with derogatory labels, they will stay and hurt you but only if you allow them. Misconceptions are misconceptions because you don’t have to live up to them.