Reposted with permission from Ms. Karen Legion, former segment producer for news. She recently moved to the United States. This blog was published yesterday in her website, theprojectfirst.com.
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My grandmother thinks that I am our family’s Korina Sanchez. She has always believed that I can make it as big as this woman in the world of Philippine television. She said I could do it. I thought I could too. Then, a window of opportunity opened: GMA Network, Inc. To realize my only living grandparent’s dream while challenging myself in the process, I grabbed the chance. And since then, I have never looked at the media industry the same way again.
It was a cold 16th of July when I made a decision to be a part of this company that has continuously proven to be the country’s news authority. As I entered their lobby, all I kept thinking was how shiny things were: the glass doors, the grand staircase, and the fancy flooring. With my 3-inch heels and blonde hair, I thought to myself, I’d totally fit in.
As I slowly approached the supposed cubicle where I’ll have to blend in, my steps got heavier. Everyone was just so quiet, but the noise of typing in their PCs was hard to ignore. The boss soon called me for a quick chat, and as I did, I felt every person’s head tilt to my direction, with eyes assessing me from top to bottom. After the interview/orientation, I walked out of the boss’ office ready to dive in as a Program Researcher for the investigative/special reports arm of several GMA news programs.
Two days in the job marked my 22nd birthday. This job is my gift to myself, I kept repeating. But with zero background about broadcasting having graduated from a degree that’s at the total opposite end of the communication spectrum, shooting, scripting, editing, and all the jargons in between proved to be more than I could swallow. I began to wonder if I was really where I was supposed to be.
So, I made a deal with myself. I’ll try a hand on my first story assignment. If I survive, maybe another one won’t be so bad. So, did I survive? I did. But the thing is, I didn’t just survive from it. I also found value in it. And that, my friends, was how GMA got me hooked in this cycle of being a “talent”.
As Simon Sinek of http://www.knowyourwhy.com said, WHY is more powerful than WHAT. What I did and what I got as compensation compared low to why I did it in the first place. It didn’t matter if I was not a regular employee because the reasons as to why I stayed weighed more. At that time, I was at an entry level position. My entire salary per month was just some of my college friends’ spare. I had no SSS, no PhilHealth, no PAGIBIG, none. Even as I got promoted as a Segment Producer for one of the, if not the, country’s most awarded news programs, I was still operating from one salary cut off to the next. The responsibilities became larger, but the appreciation, not so much.
Or maybe, somehow, they did show some Kapuso lovin’. A couple of Christmas bonuses here and there, a few free fast food meals once in a while, much needed Gold’s Gym membership discounts, and some Enchanted Kingdom trips brought us all some good times. But, I don’t know if this is just me, but all these just seemed like our masters giving us treats to condition us to do more than what we were supposed to do. Come to think of it, what we asked for was job security. But, all we had was the prestige of working for them. If only prestige can pay the bills, then all’s well that ends well.
But, how can we wake up from the nightmare when it felt so good?
It didn’t feed our growling stomachs, but it fed our hunger of making a change by doing what we do best. Subconsciously, we were bitten by that fuzzy feeling inside, otherwise known as the we-can-all-be-trailblazers-in-our-own-little-way bug.
But, like everyone else, I marched on with nothing but my passion for telling the stories of those people who can’t do it for themselves.
My first ever story was about a group of food court employees, who call themselves as “Tirakis Boys”. This is a group of men of all ages who collect food scraps, wash them until assumed clean, and eventually, eat them. They do it because their income just does not cut it for their daily needs. They do it because they cannot think of any other option to save money. The idea that I can help them get this story out was enough for me to spend a part of my salary, which could have been part of my own savings, to treat them out for lunch. It’s true that I could have just interviewed them at a park or somewhere far from their work area without having to dig down my wallet. But with happy tummies, people warm up to other people they just met. It’s the best way of providing a relaxed platform for case studies to open up, most especially if they have a sensitive issue to talk about. If only ocular food expenses can be reimbursed, I could have felt like I was given credit for unearthing this phenomenon.
The report on “Tirakis Boys” touches on the issue of businesses denying their employees of benefits as required by law:
And then, more shoots came pouring in. Don’t get me wrong: I willingly accepted the following tasks. But, I guess hoping to officially be called as one of their own with stable benefits seemed way too much to ask as a reward.
I went to Dinagat Islands for an ocular alone. I rode a relatively small boat with the only midwife in the area and a local boatman. I was advised not to push through because of the weather condition. But upon knowing that the case study I wanted to interview was in that isolated island, I didn’t have to think twice. Only my prayers kept me going as the huge waves rocked us in all directions.
I went to South Cotabato, with a reporter, a video journalist, and an assistant, for a 3-day production. As we were watching South Cotabato’s most wanted tribe leader address our questions, his agitation accidentally made him drop the grenade pinned on his chest. I counted…1, 2, 3. Boom. We could all have been a thing of the past. But, it didn’t go off. Everyone in that room still had a mission to finish after all.
There are other jobs out there that are far more demanding, far more strenous, far more threatening. But, you see people do them anyway without complaining primarily for three reasons: they love it, they are loved, or they know nothing else that they excel in. Either of these ways, they stay. I have all these three reasons for staying and yet here I am breaking the culture of silence, finally mustering the courage to tell my story. Because if I don’t tell my story, who else will?
One, I loved my job, especially the part when I met and interviewed some of the most interesting people I ever knew. Two, I felt loved doing it, not by the company, but by the people I worked with behind the camera. And three, I excelled most in relating with other people’s stories, otherwise known as case study hunting.
This is my truth.
There is no perfect first job. No perfect job as it is. But as in all things, it’s a matter of perspective. The bright side? Lessons are learned, characters are formed, friendships are strengthened, and stories are created. Now that I’m at the other side of the globe, I already made the choice of letting go of all the bad stuff and just be grateful of the select good memories.
This way, I know I still made my grandmother proud.
View the original post in its entirety here: http://theprojectfirst.com/2014/11/18/first-job-media/
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