FilAms in LA Media Share Success Stories

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES — Hard work, perseverance, and a little luck are the keys to success that mainstream FilAm TV broadcasters Maria Quiban of Fox News and Denise Dador of KABC shared to young FilAm co-eds at the “Filipino in the Media panel” discussion held at Loyola Marymount University last November 13.

LMU’s Filipino American Experience class sponsored the event. It was the first class about FilAm history at LMU since 2005.

Professor Florente Ibanez said the class is a way for younger FilAms to learn about their heritage.Students in the class not only learn about the FilAm experience but also about their contributions in the US.

“There’s a thirst among young FilAms to know about their roots,” said Ibanez. “Us, Filipinos are trying to discover ourselves because it’s not taught to us. When we think about Asians, we think about Chinese and Japanese but the Philippines has a long relationship with the US people don’t recognize.”

“I wish I had this kind of event to go to when I went to school,” said Moderator Winston Emano to the thirty students in the audience. “This is an important event for the younger generation of FilAms who are not used to seeing themselves on TV or other forms of media. If we don’t have people who represent us in the media who’s going to tell our stories and accurately?”

“It is a rarity to see ourselves on screen,” he added. “We have here two of the very few faces representing us and disseminating the news for the Southern California audience.”

Broadcast beginnings

“When I grew up, proper Filipino children went to law school and medical school,” said Quiban. She was born in Cebu, Philippines and raised in Hawaii.

“Parents expected you to have special careers generally not in the media. Back then it wasn’t considered a real professional career so for generations we weren’t encouraged to go in that direction,” she added. “But when I moved to Hawaii, I saw people on TV like me,” she added. “It inspired me and I know it inspired a few others and it’s like the old adage ‘if I can do it, you can do it.’”

Tough job

“Of all the people who go into broadcasting [career] only two or three percent ever make it to a major top 10 market,” Dador said about the stiff competition in the industry. “You have to really want this job.”

Dador started her broadcasting career while at Mills College in the Bay Area. She was a host of Manila Manila, a FilAm TV talk show. Famous comedian Rex Navarette was her cameraman during those days.

She said ideally incoming broadcasters and TV reporters work their way up from a small media market before the larger networks hire them.

“You have to make a lot of sacrifices,” she said. “You have to move away from your home town. You miss your friends and your family. Your social life suffers. It’s really hard to meet somebody in the industry. Reporters are either single or divorced.“

After graduating, Dador left for Fresno, a smaller media market. She then moved to Detroit, Michigan.

“I was the only Asian American person in Detroit for the longest time,” she recalled. “For years, I was the only one. I think when I left they hired another one.”

Dador said the industry is full of jealousy and backstabbing.

“Detroit was a tough place to work,” she said. “I might have felt I was being discriminated against not so much because I was Asian but the fact that I was young and up-and-coming.”

Passion

“If you come in here wanting to become a big star, you’re not going to make it,” Dador revealed. “You have to come in here and have a genuine passion to give information. If you do make it, don’t forget about your community.”

“I had a lot of mentors,” she added. “Asian American reporters and anchors whom I admired would come and speak to the class and talk about how difficult it was. They had families, they had long hours in their jobs, but they came here because they felt it was important to talk to the students.”

“They had to choose that night between their families and their students and I thought ‘wow that was so cool that they chose to be with us.’ That kind of stuck with me,” she said.

No one road

Being a teen mother, Quiban did double duty taking care of her son and going to school. Quiban discovered broadcast journalism in college. She got her break when she met a TV producer for a Filipino TV show while working as a waitress.

She revealed she started from the bottom.

“I would be on the set, clean the floors. One day, the news reader got sick -  ‘I swear I didn’t poison her,’” she joked. “I raised my hand and told them I could do it. And I’ve been doing it ever since.”

“If there is one message that I want to tell all of you is that there is no one road,” she added. “I started in news in Hawaii and fortunately, I didn’t have to move to Yuma or Fresno for my start.”

She encouraged the students to “go for it and don’t be afraid. If you’re in Los Angeles, you can find a job in Los Angeles.”    Joanna Nuval, a 20-year-old Communication Studies major, said she felt empowered after listening to Dador and Quiban speak.

“I can identify with them,” she said. “They are someone just like me. Seeing ourselves in the media is empowering and raises my awareness of other Filipino issues.”

Carissa Caparas, a 19-year-old Communication and Asian Pacific Studies major said she felt the same way.

“I admire that they have a lot of Filipino pride,” she said. (www.asianjournal.com)

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