JUST SAYIN’. We have to hand it to Kris Aquino. When every one thought the “Queen of All Media” was done after more than a year of having almost no presence in media, she, like Jesus Christ last Easter, was ‘resurrected.’
And, boy, like all other Kristeta pasabog, social media was abuzz. It still remains one of the most talked about in showbiz news.
Although still mum about her specific role and project, social media revealed that she could possibly join the all-star, all-Asian cast of the adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel Crazy Rich Asians to be produced by a major Hollywood studio. Confirmed cast includes Michelle Yeoh, Constance Wu and Sonoya Mizuno. Her latest Instagram post shows that she has already signed a talent management contract with East West Artists, an agency based in Hollywood.
It seems Kris was really born with so many auspicious stars in her chart despite her many perceived shortcomings. Her unique and larger-than-life personality really stands out that it is hard for her to just fade away.
And like a true survivor, she has yet again managed to find a way out of showbiz extinction.
Just like Kris Aquino, Ali Sotto is one tough survivor. The radio broadcaster has had more than her fair share of trials and tribulations.
“Survivor ako, hindi ba? I’ve survived an attempt in my life. Pinasok ako, sinaksak ako. I’m surviving the death of a son, so I know grief. I’ve been through so much,” she tells me one afternoon after the presscon of Dobol B Sa News TV.
The singer/actress-turned-news-personality will finally be seen on free-to-air TV starting Monday, April 24, as her newscast and shows in AM station DZBB will be shown in GMA News TV Channel 11 from 6 to 10 a.m. on weekdays.
Most other people would have crumbled, but the 55-year-old recalls that she might have temporarily thought of giving up especially right after her son Miko died in 2003, but being a tough cookie, her faith in herself and a higher being prevailed.
Sotto displays the mark of a person who has developed the capacity to go beyond herself. She proudly says she has learned “lifting everything up” to her Creator. By this admission, she has come to realize that she remains fallible, and thus, is aware that she is bound to create mistakes over and over again. Her admission that she is as human as anyone else has also made her more empathetic about causes that affect a majority of Filipinos.
She shares that it is one of the reasons she knew from the start that she wanted to influence and educate a greater group of people. Sotto took Communication Arts from the University of Santo Tomas and proceeded to take two years of law at the Ateneo De Manila University. Afterwards, she would jet set the world with her now retired husband, who used to be a diplomat. A self-confessed Inglesera, she said it was an effort for her to read Virgilio Almario’s books written in Filipino.
“I could have reached out to the AB crowd, but early on I already knew that I wanted to talk to a larger group of people,” she shares. Her show Sino? with Mike Enriquez and Arnold Clavio leans toward political satire. That way, she says, her target audience will be inclined to listen. On one hand, they get to be entertained; on the other, they are informed of the underlying issues behind every joke and pun delivered.
She stresses that behind her makulit persona, often coming out in her frequent banters with Clavio who see considers as her younger brother, she sees her role as a huge responsibility.
“There’s a huge responsibility. You can’t take it lightly if you want to be a communicator, whether in front of camera, microphone or writing somebody else’s script. Behind the glamour and hard work, you’re molding people’s minds. For me, it’s a blessing and privilege that God put me in this place where I can make a difference in peoples’ lives,” shares the newscaster who also revealed quite a few interesting qualities that make her relatable to people.
One of this is her admission that she has, in essence, remained a tomboy at heart because she feels that dressing and makeup is an “effort” and that shopping is a “chore.” She explains that it was growing up with three brothers that made her more comfortable with men.
As she has come to terms with her calling as an instrument of positively influencing and educating people, Sotto sees her position as not a woman of power but a woman who was given a power to influence and, as a result, effect change.
With 40 years in the industry, Sotto offers some tips for future broadcasters. “Get the right tools. If you want to be a communicator, it presupposes that you know the basics of grammar. If you want to be a broadcaster, it presupposes you have good diction. Work on that first. And then read a lot. For me, I call reading a vice. I read everything, even junk. Be a wide reader. And I guess it’s a given that you have an innate curiosity about life. In terms of career path, it should be clear to you who your target audience is,” enumerates Sotto.
The 6 to 10 a.m. Dobol B Sa News TV slot also features seasoned news reader and commentator Joel Reyes Zobel who reports on the latest news and issue with Enriquez during the 7 a.m. bulletin.
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In the last two decades or more, two women have proven that they are quite the survivors in the upper echelons of the TV industry.
One of them is Wilma Galvante. She may not be as visible these days as compared to her stints at two major networks, GMA-7 and TV5, before.
Galvante, however, retains a presence. After announcing her retirement as chief content officer of TV5, she went on to put up her own production house with other TV professionals.
In 2015, she and six other friends put up Content Cows Company, an independent production house. The company comprises of colleagues who have worked with all three major networks. Margie Natividad serves as the president. Ryan Benitez and Renato Custodio are the writers, while Ivan Dedicatoria is the in-house director. They also have Joshua de Guzman and Nico Natividad as part of the team.
“We’re seven in the team. We complement each other. I’m the CEO and I head concept development. I make them work and I teach them. That’s where I am now. I’m more into sharing of what I’ve learned and what I continue to learn,” shares Galvante during the launch of new shows of Colours Channel.
Galvante’s production company created two of the contents for the channel, Mombiz and 40 Is The New 30. The first one is a show dedicated to mothers and is hosted by best friends and basketball wives Danica Sotto-Pingris and LJ Moreno-Alapag. Pia Guanio hosts the 30-minute magazine show for women in their 40s who still embody women who go through the highs and lows of self-discovery and reinvention.
The two shows complete the list of new shows for the channel, namely, Celebrity Scoop, Films&Stars, Fashion Forward, InstaGlamour and Dinosaur Train.
Now that she has ventured into her own production outfit, I asked her after the launch which she finds fulfilling: working for a big organization or heading her own production company?
“Both are fulfilling and challenging. I’m less stressed now because... ratings are really... mahirap yun eh (laughs). I’m not saying not to do it. But I think I’m already done with working for a particular network. Now, I’m freer,” she shared.
It was also the reason she decided to produce 40 Is The New 30 because it is culled from her own experience of having been in the TV industry for 40 years.
“I’ve been in the business for 40 years, and it is still very dynamic. I tell myself that after all these years, I still don’t get tired of thinking of developing stories because there are still so much to tell,” she said.
She was part of GMA-7 when the fantasy shows Mulawin, Encantadia, Darna and Captain Barbell were introduced in mid-2000s. These shows gave rival networks a run for their money and paved the way for the popularity of fantasy shows. In fact, two of these are currently being readapted for a younger set of viewers.
She was also part of the fledgling team of TV5 a few years ago when the network decided to join in on the ratings game and recruited big name stars, as well as started producing their own shows.
The seasoned TV producer was as enthusiastic as any mother would be talking about her favorite child or pet project. Now that she is heading her own production outfit, her goal is to create a variety of shows that would pique her interest.
She might put a priority on shows with substance, but being a seasoned TV executive, she knows full well that some time down her new path she should be creating content that would pull in the viewers. Her current pet project is a reality supernatural show that has never been seen before. No, it will not have ghosts or similar entities, but it will deal with the mystical world in a realistic way, she promises.
In that short interview with Galvante, she struck me as someone enigmatic. There is a reason she remains a fixture in the industry. Knowing full well that a survivor tells a story, she dares to tell stories her own way and as her own boss.
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Another lady who has practically ruled above men is Charo Santos-Concio. She may have retired two years ago as the president of ABS-CBN, but she left an indelible mark in an industry where executive positions used to be lorded over by men.
Her storied life is as worthy as the numerous true-to-life stories she reads once a week for the longest-running drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya.
She is the second eldest daughter who grew up in a middle-class household with a physician for a father in Albay. Possessed of a charming beauty, she was soon discovered and started to strut the runway as a model and beauty queen. Later, she would be the darling muse of legendary directors of experimental cinema during the 1980s. In the middle of that decade, she would find herself working behind the cameras as part of ABS-CBN. While tinkering with production, her charisma and soothing on-cam personality made her visible on TV via the drama anthology she hosts until now.
“I’m not used to being in the spotlight, the very reason why I guess I moved from acting to production. I love the work, but not the attention that it brings,” confesses Santos-Concio during the launch of her book, My Journey: The Story of An Unexpected Leader.
Amid her jitters, the current chief content officer of ABS-CBN and president of ABS-CBN University, despite her self- tag as shy girl, still commands presence. Her grace and demeanor, perhaps, are what make people listen and look up to her. But, believe it or not, she confesses she was not the type who planned her life when she was a child as most leader-types do.
“If you would read the book, the common theme in my stories from my childhood to my journey of leadership was that I never really intended anything. I never really planned out my life the way it unfolded. I was just really open to the opportunities that came my way. I guess I’m like many of you here. One can be full of self-doubts, insecurities and fears and I had to grapple with them. It made me in touch with my inner self. It also allowed me to connect the dots and gave me a chance to appreciate the person I’ve become and be kind to myself. I learned to learn from my mistakes and embrace everything about me,” relates Charo.
Making the book took a lot of convincing for her because she felt vulnerable talking about her life. She also took into consideration her husband and two sons, who she says are very private people. Ernie Lopez, head of ABS-CBN Publishing, and his editorial team including the book’s co-author An Alcantara, were able to convince the lady boss to tell her story. They pitched that it would not just be a memoir or biography, but, above all, her life stories and journey will be the anchor of the book that would focus on leadership and what it takes to be one.
While the book might be told in the perspective of a woman, she believes that My Journey would resonate with all including men — indeed, with anyone who has had to deal with their fears and self-doubt whether in life or career.
These days, she might not be sitting in one of the executive offices of ABS-CBN, but Charo continues to leave an indelible mark on print and paper. While not busy, she dabbles with painting. Like any other woman who has been surviving a competitive world such as TV production, Charo is paying it forward by embarking on a new mission. She tours schools and corporate events, speaking on leadership.
Talk about walking the talk! These women surely are survivors and winners in life and career, and that is why they rule.
Follow me on Twitter @celluloidsurfer.