Telum Talks To… Gerard de la Pena, Radio Anchor, Radyo5 92.3 News FM and Correspondent, News5
Can you tell us a little about your career path, and how you ended up as a Radio Anchor / News Correspondent at TV5?
I prepared myself for a career in theatre early. From workshops and production work in high school and getting involved in my university’s theatre guild to acting gigs and working full time as an Assistant Production Manager in a theatre company. However, I wasn’t happy, and things were not how I expected them to be.
Strangely enough, it is while doing theatre work that I discovered that I could write. I took a chance and kickstarted my media career at BusinessWorld as a Features Writer and then eventually, became a Reporter covering banking, finance and the presidential palace.
Later, the former ABC5 was rebranding under a different management and it piqued my interest in TV reporting. I landed a new role around the same time TV5 beefed up a radio station – an FM station with AM content. Reporters were given slots and luckily, my show “Oplan Asenso” together with fellow Reporter Michelle Orosa-Ople survived and is still on air after almost 10 years!
With dual roles in the network, what does your typical workday look like?
My work is mainly as a TV Reporter so I start my day early by listening to the news, browsing headlines online, and updates on various social media outlets where I can get leads. Since the lockdown in March, I spend my mornings doing virtual interviews with officials. I go out with my camera crew afterwards and do my live reports when I get home – on my balcony! It is also while researching in the morning that I get leads as to how our show will be like for the weekends.
Previously in the arts and theatre industry, what made you decide you wanted to report on hard news and business instead?
Looking back, I would have loved to write about arts and culture. However, during my stint as a Features Writer, I got so fascinated at how financial markets and the entire economy works. It was also great talking to industry leaders and government officials where I learnt a lot of things – from foreign exchange, to stock and bond markets, to inflation and monetary policy. I also found it challenging to report these complex concepts such that the average Filipino can understand.
In your opinion, how can start-up founders and budding entrepreneurs stay resilient amid COVID-19 and the current political landscape?
I think it’s innovation, perseverance, and hard work. The many entrepreneurs that I had the pleasure of having an interview with overcame the incubation stage and lasted in their respective businesses because they are able to ride out crises by creatively responding to the needs of their market. They never surrendered, and they kept on beating the odds while calculating the risks that they are taking.
What is the greatest piece of advice you also took away from hosting Oplan Asenso and interviewing various industry experts?
I always ask entrepreneurs how they could encourage people to get into the entrepreneurship path, and their answers are all the same: do not be afraid to take risks and always do whatever you are passionate about. I think the same goes for career or whatever undertaking we do in life.
How should PR practitioners and communications teams go about pitching to you? What do you think are some of the best practices?
It’s easy to look at our show as a platform to advertise one’s business; but really, it’s not about that. Our show is about inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs who can help alleviate poverty and improve everyone’s lives. We also espouse financial literacy and educate everyone about investing. When pitching to us, PR practitioners should look beyond brand exposure and think about how compelling and unique the stories of their subjects, and how our listeners or viewers may benefit from them.