People Power Revolution triggered me to commit to the people’s issues

Host of gender-sensitive Tele-radio, DWNE 900, Nueva Ecija

and Information Officer, Office of the Provincial Governor, Province of Nueva Ecija; Manila, Philippines.

What type of projects do you do? 

  •  Produce and host a gender-sensitive radio or tele-radio program (Simulcast radio and television transmission)

  • Accept invitations to be a resource speaker in gender-sensitivity seminars organized by national government agencies such as Government Insurance system (GSIS); Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP); 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija

  • Organize gender-sensitivity training seminars and serve as a speaker

Why did this sort work interest you, and how did you get started?

  • After earning my bachelor’s degree in mass communication in 1975, three years after martial law was declared by then dictator President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, I started teaching mass communication subjects. I was invited to be a disc jockey in the first all-woman FM radio station, DWDM 95.5FM.  Later I transferred to a radio program on an AM station to work as a reporter, news writer, newscaster, news coordinator and music librarian.

  • Eventually, I learned how to produce and host a public affairs radio program as a block timer (independent radio program producer and host, buying a time slot in a radio station through sponsorship). Initially, the president of an alliance of trade workers, who used to frequent my regular station-produced program, invested on my new block time program which I entitled Open Forum.  I got the chance to network with individuals and mass organizations belonging to the massive people’s movement against the dictatorship. The People Power Revolution in February 1986 ensued and ousted President Ferdinand Marcos. In a conjugal dictatorship with his wife, then First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, the Marcoses had plundered the country’s wealth, caused severe environmental degradation and the destruction of thousands of human lives, individuals and Filipino families alike, through their gross 20-year rule in the Philippines.

  • The People Power Revolution became known as the 1986 EDSA Revolution as it occurred along the 54-kilometer stretch of Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue or EDSA in Metro Manila. The unprecedented event, which gained international prominence, triggered me to commit my radio production to the people’s issues. Most interestingly, towards 1989, I got engaged with the women’s movement. 

  • In 1989, then Representative Hon. Anna Dominique “Nikki” Coseteng, who later became a Senator, recommended me to her colleagues in the Women’s Media Circle to host a radio program being conceptualized for women, by women and about women. In April 1989, I started hosting RADYO WOMANWATCH, the first feminist radio program, at least in Metro Manila.  Sen. Nikki Coseteng hosted WOMANWATCH on PTV4, a block time TV show in a government-run television station while I became her counterpart in radio. RADYO WOMANWATCH was heard over a number of private radio stations. Consequently, a number of women’s groups approached me to train them in radio hosting. The late Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani hired me to co-host in her lunchtime program over a top-ranking radio/TV network.

  • In 1990, I was invited by an all-male Rotary Club of Cubao EDSA, presided then by a former Assemblyman, Atty. Roger Quiambao, to organize the first all women Rotary Club in Rotary International District 3780, Quezon City. I was reluctant, but after nine months of collective work with other professional women, the second all-woman Rotary Club in the Philippines was recognized. Unanimously agreed by the members, I named it the Rotary Club of Prima Vida Cubao; Prima Vida meaning “first life”. It was chartered on May 20, 1991 with me as Charter President. I was later appointed as a District Officer, most distinguished for me, was the Chair of the District Committee on Women Affairs. We were honored by different awards and citations.

  • Inevitably, my contract with Women’s Media Circle ended in 1995.  I moved on as a freelance broadcast journalist.

  • In 1996, I put up WOMANTOUCH MEDIA, had it registered at the Philippine Stock and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a non-profit, non-stock association and launched “WOMANTOUCH RADYO” a gender-sensitive radio production. 

  • In the same year, 1996, the Rotary International media team invited me to the Rotary International Convention in Singapore, to speak on Rotary and Children’s Issues. To maximize my five-day stay in Singapore, I took the opportunity to produce a radio documentary about the plight of Filipino women overseas workers, with the help of an organization group of Filipino OFWs in Singapore. The project was sparked by the execution of a Filipina domestic helper, Flor Contemplacion in Singapore. Written in Filipino by me, assisted by my colleagues in Womantouch Media, it was recorded, edited and aired in a series through my own self-sustaining radio program WOMANTOUCH RADYO and heard over a government-run radio station connected with the Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS).

  • In 2000, I was hired as Project Manager by Isis International to help organize a seminar-workshop for women broadcasters in Asia and the Pacific on digital radio broadcast and editing, held in Bangkok, Thailand.

  • In 2001, after then Philippine President Joseph Estrada was ousted by the second EDSA People Power Revolution, Kodao Productions found me and took me in to host a block time radio production which I entitled “NGAYON NA BAYAN! (People, Unite Now!)” It gained a considerable following and an organized group of listeners. In 2002, “Ngayon Na, Bayan!” received the 12th KBP Golden Dove Award for the Best Public Affairs Radio Program. KBP is Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP). (pic right: Sonia M. Capio (left) at the Star Theatre, Cultural Center of the Philippines, during the 25th KPB Golden Dove Awards.

  • Coincidentally, on the same occasion, I was recognized as one of the finalists for Best Public Affairs Radio Program Host for hosting Womantouch Radio. A series of recognitions by the Catholic Mass Media Awards followed. However, “Ngayon na, Bayan!” lasted only until February 2006.  Our program was the first casualty of Proclamation 1017 imposed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declaring a state of national emergency, quite similar to the 1972 martial law of the deposed dictator Marcos. Earlier, despite a number of warnings from Malacanang Palace, (the official Presidential residence/office) we were dauntless in our investigative broadcasts. This was in spite of the propagation of “Know Your Enemy” readings from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which demonized some media practitioners and institutions that were critical of the incumbent government. Malacanang Palace then threatened our carrying radio station, DZRJ. Thus, we were put off the air.

  • In July 2007, I was offered a teaching job in a community college run by the provincial government of Nueva Ecija. Thus, from Metro Manila where I worked almost half of my lifetime, I moved to Nueva Ecija, the largest province among the seven provinces in Region 3 or Central Luzon. I became the confidante of the college president. As a college extension project, a gender-responsive public affairs program was conceptualized and called it MAGTULUNGAN TAYO! (Unite and Work Together, Now!) Eventually, the provincial government of Nueva Ecija took me in as a Consultant of the Governor on Broadcast and Gender Concerns. In 2011 I was given a permanent position.

  • Since 2008, the MAGTULUNGAN TAYO! radio program, produced by Gender Voice Promotions has been self-sustaining.  It is continuously aired through DWNE 900, the provincial radio station.  We have been networking with and assisting national government agencies and local government units in Nueva Ecija without a fee. However, a number of them sponsor media projects and the gender-sensitive training seminars we organize through Gender Voice Promotions. Gender Voice Promotions also coordinates with mass media organizations which I serve as Chair, like the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Nueva Ecija Chapter; Nueva Ecija-Aurora Energy Press Corps (NE-AEPC) organized by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, Region 3; and the Central Luzon Media Association (CLMA) Nueva Ecija Chapter in which I serve as Executive Vice President.

What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging?

  • Personally, what is most satisfying for me is when individuals, organizations, NGAs and LGAs seek my assistance to participate as a resource speaker in their GAD Seminars and to promote their programs, activities and projects.

  • They subsidize all my travel accommodation costs just to ensure that I will be with them. Quite satisfying indeed are recognitions through citations, plaques and tokens.

  • In previous years, it was most challenging to address the indifference of government officials and even a number of female and male media persons about the significance of gender and development.

  • The foremost challenge was being able to feature topics and guests from non-government organizations and women’s groups to provide them a broadcast slot in my radio production to speak out against government policies and actions which did not truly serve the people’s welfare, and providing them a space to suggest rational recommendations. 

What do you like and not like about working in this industry?

  • What I like about working in the mass media industry is the continuing education for me. I do research almost every day; monitor news and commentaries, and read documents related to pressing issues. This gives me the chance to equip myself with necessary background and information to be confident in radio interviews, in press conferences and ambush interviews.

  • Likewise, by attending seminars, forums and roundtable discussions organized by mass organizations, women and gender advocates and the education sector, I gain opportunities to be part of the solution.

  • What I don’t like most is when some people in the mass media, private institutions, national government agencies and local government units trivialize even basic gender and development concepts. It is quite disappointing that some media leaders and top government officials, who are supposed to take the lead in mainstreaming the gender and development program, do not exert efforts to understand GAD, to use such to improve their work style and to serve better.

My strongest assets/skills, areas of knowledge, personality traits and values are….

  • Thank God for all the blessings, opportunities and the gift in broadcasting and GAD advocacy.

  • Modesty aside, I strongly believe that I have passion and considerable expertise in conceptualizing and hosting gender-sensitive radio and TV productions.  I certainly believe that God has reasons for me to go on living soundly, surviving two surgical operations on uterine cancer and metastatic lung cancer. The foremost reason for me is to continue my commitment as a gender-sensitive broadcaster and educator.

Has IAWRT’s network of media women around the world helped or inspired you?

·         This is my first time to be involved with the IAWRT Philippines.  I intend first to inspire the group, and then be inspired by every member and the entire group consequently.

What are your long-term goals?

  • I’m now in my senior years but have not lost my heart’s desire to educate and inspire people and society, for the country.

  • My long-term goal is to establish a broadcast and gender studies center in Nueva Ecija - educating women and men, young and older ones alike, on personality development, progressive leadership values, and gender-sensitive broadcast work through gender and development (GAD) capacity enhancement seminar-workshops.

What special advice do you have for young women seeking to qualify for this type of work?

  • My first advice for young women seeking to work in mass media is this: Believe in your dreams; small people will ignore them and those who are really great will help you achieve your goals.

Do you have any special words of warning, or encouragement, because of your experience?

  • Women media persons deserve respect.  Whether you are neophyte in media work or more experienced, no one has any right to sexually harass you or to humiliate you. Some will dampen your spirit because they feel you are a threat to them.  You can make them treat you well, if you respect yourself.

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