For most women, the act of juggling a thriving career abroad and being a hands-on-mom can be both tough and grueling. It entails an ample amount of effort, commitment and diligence that take years to hone. The experience of being a mom and a career woman can sometimes be frustrating and complicated but the rewards are often fulfilling.
The Filipino Expat recently caught up with Rose Eclarinal, the senior news correspondent and media consultant at ABS-CBN Europe to share her amazing journey as a mother, scholar and a journalist empowering the lives of Filipino women living and working abroad.
The humble beginnings
Eclarinal started out her journalism career right after finishing her mass communication degree at the University of the Philippines in 1996. She joined the Sarimanok News Network currently known as the ABSCBN News Channel (ANC) as a trainee. But her experience working with one of the Philippine’s premier networks was not always as smooth and remarkable as she hoped for.
During that time, she was tasked to produce mid-day and evening broadcasts. Her rigid schedule that started from seven in the morning and ended at 10 in the evening, including the arduous daily travel from her place to work, caused her to quit her job in just six months. She then worked as a marketing specialist for another company. But in her first week, she already knew it was not the right job for her. After a short stint with the job, she reunited with ABS-CBN.
In her eight-year stretch with ABS-CBN, she managed to work with Senator Loren Legarda, who hosted the Inside Story. When Legarda ran for the elections, the management decided to create another program entitled The Correspondents. Eclarinal was part of the team that pioneered this kind of program where reporters tell and write their own stories/experiences.
Improving her craft
Despite the often “unforgiving” demands of her job and her critical role as a member of ABS-CBN’s News and Current Affairs team, she managed to squeeze in two diploma courses abroad. In 2001, she earned a diploma in international broadcast journalism at the University of Wales, Cardiff in the United Kingdom under the Chevening Scholarships and Thomson Foundation. In 2005, she finished an international course in broadcast journalism television/Internet at the Radio Netherlands Training Center.
Eclarinal admits that apart from improving her craft, applying for scholarships abroad is one way of coping up with the challenging demands of her job.
“I was very keen on applying courses abroad to study journalism because I wanted a break from what I do on a daily basis. Also, since I work with some of the best people in the industry, I want to be like them. I want to be exceptionally good. So for me, what I do is really important,” she explains.
These diploma courses eventually paved the way for her to earn a spot in another scholarship under the Erasmus Mundus Program where she finished a master’s degree in global journalism specializing in war and conflict. Erasmus Mundus is a programme designed to improve the quality of higher education through scholarships between Europe and the rest of the world.
Dreams and realities
The credentials and reputation that Eclarinal has built as a journalist and European scholar over the years opened a window of opportunity to work in the U.K. She kept her contact with Danny Buenafe, the bureau chief of ABS-CBN Europe and Middle East after completing her master’s degree. During that time, there was no available post yet. But since the Bureau did not want to lose her because it needed an extra person to train and guide news correspondents, she was immediately hired.
Eclarinal believes that one of her major achievements being with ABS-CBN Europe is that she was able to put a structure in the Bureau. Six years later, she still continues to enhance her craft, maintain her credibility at the top level, dearly value professionalism and look for stories that have significant impact on the lives of Filipinos working abroad.
“The reason why I’m in Europe, as a journalist, is because of what I’ve done early in my career. I was pursuing the stories that I want and I was delivering well. Now it’s another dimension of my career as a journalist because I’m not in the newsroom set-up anymore. I’m in the bureau set -up so it’s a different challenge,” she shares.
Eclarinal adds that her main thrust is to make sure that the Bureau is working and the correspondents are delivering well. Eclarinal considers her current work as a dream job, but still hopes to produce documentaries in an investigative magazine format.
Apart from aiming to produce high-caliber documentaries in Europe, her wish list also includes interviewing personalities such as US President Barrack Obama, BBC’s war correspondent Kate Adie, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and journalist/film maker John Pilger.
First time mom
Eclarinal takes pride in saying that she is a hands-on mom to her 16-month-old daughter Julia.
“Julia came unexpectedly. I didn’t ask for her. She’s a gift. She came at the time when I was ready. Now I grasp it fully that no matter what you have achieved in life, the sense of fulfillment of having your own child is something incomparable,” she muses.
One of the major challenges for Eclarinal and her husband is to raise their daughter in a multi-cultural setting. They want to expose Julia to an international environment considering that she is a mix of Filipino, Jamaican and Italian descent.
For her, the journey towards motherhood is a sociological and educational experience.
“Being a mother abroad is an eye-opener as well as empowering,” she says.
Eclarinal adds she draws inspiration and even learn from Western women who manage to raise their children well despite their busy schedules, juggling their professional pursuits and personal life.
When asked about her parenting style? She shares, “At an early age you teach your child how to be independent. You have to strike a balance between making her feel that she’s well-looked after and making her understand that she can also do things on her own.”