by Anthony Capirayan, SSP
How about we start off with some facts?
First, scoring an interview with a media personality takes a whole lot of luck. Second, interviewing a media person, and a TV host at that, should be, like news reporting: straightforward and brisk. And third, I sweat bullets and stammer when interviewing a beautiful career woman. (The third one though is a pure opinion of my self-effacing persona.)
But when Tina sits in front of me, my uneasiness starts to wear off. She exudes nothing but warmth and friendliness and sincerity. Her sentences are strewn with po and opo, though we are just both twenty-one, er, twenty-eight years old. For almost six years that she’s been with ABS-CBN as a newscaster, Ma. Kristina May “Tina” Marasigan, has never been blinded by the trappings of the media-stardom. She remains simple in every way.
“I went to St. Scholastica’s Academy in Marikina and our hashtags then were #oraetlabora (pray and work) and #simplicityoflifestyle. Hanggang ngayon dala-dala ko po siya,” Tina begins.
Twist of Fate
After high school, she went to the University of Sto. Tomas where she finished her course in BS Psychology in 2009. Still undecided about going to med school and wanting to experience the thrill and joy of earning money, she worked at San Miguel Corporation after graduation. She stayed there for two years until boredom started to creep in. “Sabi ko parang hindi talaga ito ang calling ko. So magbe-break muna ako, but I didn’t know where to go.”
A friend had been coaxing her to join a pageant since college, but she was putting off the idea as she wanted to focus on her studies. Standing at the crossroad of her life, she finally gave Binibining Pilipinas a shot. She made it, but only up to the semi-finals. It was Shamcey Supsup who was crowned Bb. Pilipinas then.
“Pero it was a blessing in disguise po because ABS-CBN opened its platforms for the nonwinners,” she says. Exhibiting a certain kind of brilliance, a gift of the gab, and strength in character, she was absorbed by ABS-CBN Sports and DZMM. She was placed as a courtside reporter of the UST Growling Tigers as well as one of the traffic angels. “Mabigat na agad yong responsibility na ibinigay sa akin kasi wala naman po akong experience on-cam at hindi naman po talaga ako nag-aral ng journalism. But it was really my first love!”
Tina admits that before choosing BS Psychology in UST, she took the entrance exam for broadcast communication in the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Unfortunately (or otherwise), though her University Predicted Grade (UPG) reached the cut-off mark, she never made it to the quota of new students for that course.
“Noong nakapasok ako sa ABS-CBN sabi ko, ‘Lord, manager talaga kita. Magiging journalist din pala ako sa pagkahaba-haba ng prosesyon,’” she recalls with a deep sigh of gratitude.
And from those two platforms, Tina has now several segments on her plate. Though she considers herself a beginner in the media arena, she’s fortunate to be working with some senior journalists. At present, she appears in Pamilya On-Guard, Umagang Kay Ganda, and Fast Break in ABS-CBN Sports and Action, among others.
With several programs under her belt, Tina claims that she owes everything to God. “I don’t want to think na binigyan ako ng trabaho kasi magaling ako, or kasi kaya ko ’to. Binibigay ito sa akin kasi maawain ang Diyos. Wala ’to lahat kung hindi naawa ang Diyos sa akin,” she declares.
Behind the Glamour
In an industry that is not for the easygoing and faint of heart, Tina juggles her time with firm discipline and commitment. While the world is still sleeping, she rolls out of her bed at three thirty in the morning, fixes her self up real quick, and leaves her house at four for she has to be at the station by five. She does her field reports until eight and goes back to the station for her live and taped segments till six in the afternoon. As Manila traffic can be a real nightmare during the rush hours, she chooses to stay until the congestion eases off. If she’s lucky she gets home by nine and hits the sack at ten. Yes, being a broadcast journalist is undoubtedly glamorous. And it’s hard.
“I’ve learned how to manage my time. I’ve learned to discipline my self more. If you don’t have that kind of discipline, mapapagod ka physically and mentally,” she says.
Tina, however, admits to having low self-esteem. “Hindi ako confident unless may mag-affirm sa’kin that I’m doing good.” She is thankful to be surrounded by well-meaning people who continue to support and motivate her. But she will be forever grateful to Mr. Peter Musngi (the man behind the golden voice of ABS-CBN) who first saw and believed in Tina’s promising potentials.
Still and all, there are moments when she’s beset by self-doubt and confusion. “Minsan iniisip ko, ‘kaya ko ba talaga to? Is this really for me?’” And in her prayers, God never fails to offer her comfort and reassurance. “Mabilis pong rumisponde si Lord. Mas mabilis pa sa reporter si Lord sa pagbibigay ng sagot,” she smiles.
With the media enterprise being so demanding a taskmaster, does Tina still find time to kick up her heels and enjoy? “I have my own hashtag, #LibotTina,” she exclaims. She continues to support the advocacy of Choose Philippines—a brainchild project of veteran journalist Charie Villa that pushes local tourism. But more than the Instragrammable spots in the country, she is more interested on the stories and the practices of the locals. While this sounds like work for some, Tina finds this travel project a breather.
She also spearheads a campaign called Project: TOY (To Our Youth). “Ang napansin ko po kasi noong tumama ang Yolanda, we called on for adult volunteers. Bakit hindi po natin i-tap ang mga bata? Kasi gusto nilang ibahagi ang pagmamahal na ’yon but we’re not giving them the right venue for it,” she explains. For the first run of the project, students from St. Scholastica’s Academy in Marikina made greeting cards and wrapped gifts for the kid survivors of typhoon Yolanda. Strangely enough, fun for Tina means doing public service.
With a flourishing career and productive spare moments, Tina is definitely living her dreams. But is there a thing that she has always wanted but still doesn’t have? A heavy silence falls between us, and then she finally blurts out, “True love!” Her answer is imbued with kilig . . . but with a cloud of sadness hovering over it. Tina confesses that she’s just gotten out of a bad breakup, which left a crater in her heart. (As to the hows and whys of the split, our editor-in-chief opts to exclude them, for fear that the magazine would slip into the pit of showbiz gossip.) Though Tina is an alpha newswoman, she remains to be a vulnerable and fragile girl in the face of love’s twists and turns. Being a public figure, after all, does not protect one from heartbreak. Nevertheless, she keeps her faith that someday the man of her dreams—a God-fearing, goal-oriented (no, this has nothing to do with being rich), and family-focused gentleman—would come along. She prays that they would be both prepared for a long-term and a lifelong commitment.
As to her career, Tina aspires to probe bigger stories that would ignite change in the society. “If that change is toward the betterment of other people, especially of the less fortunate, mas okay, mas nakakataba ng puso” she maintains.
Without a doubt, Tina is one of the rising powerful players in the industry, yet she firmly keeps her feet on the ground. Whether the tape’s rolling or not, she would be forever a simple woman. So don’t be surprised when this beauty queen–turned–news anchor rides the train or jeepney, feasts on isaw and fish ball, takes wacky groupies with her field crew or selfies with Grab and Uber drivers, because she’s just being herself.