Tina Monzon Palma

Movers, Makers, Shakers
JJ. Calero

Posted on May 31, 2012

Today when the average man is barraged with hundred of slogans and commercials a day, it gets to a point that one becomes blasé. Little wonder! There are times though when a slogan comes to life and become real and makes an impact! I have been exposed to the ABS-CBN’s Kapamilya slogan for the longest time, but all of a sudden it came to life when I attended Angelo Castro, Jr.’s wake. It was Kapamilya in action!

When I first heard Tina Monzon-Palma mentioned the death of her co-anchor, Angelo Castro, Jr. (ACJ), I immediately discerned her sincere sadness as she made the announcement. She in fact broke into tears and could hardly continue talking. But being the professional that she is, she carried on, despite the evident sadness written all over her face.

What further impressed me was her on the spot "yes" response when June Keithley, Angelo’s wife, offered a precise day that ABS-CBN could schedule a final tribute to ACJ. While it is true that Gabby Lopez and Charo Santos-Concio were away (it was Holy Thursday when ACJ passed away) Tina committed to help in the preparation of the event. I am certain she would have thrown the same commitment even if Gabby and or Charo were in town and assigned somebody else to spearhead ACJ’s final visit to ABS-CBN.

In my experience with ABS-CBN executives, I can say without a doubt that a genuine family spirit is second nature to them. And like an involved family member herself, Tina readily took on the responsibility to assist in implementing what needs to be done to honor the commitment she made to June.

The wake at ABS-CBN turned out to be a gathering of family, friends, and colleagues giving tribute to fellow professional. No matter how each of the speakers tried to describe ACJ, they always ended up calling him a real pro.

Noli de Castro and Corina Sanchez did a "Magandang Gabi Bayan"-like presentation calling and asking questions to the many individual who had worked with ACJ over his more than 25 years at ABS-CBN. They didn’t have to prod them much. Once into the subject of ACJ they kept on talking.

Ging Reyes who now heads the ABS-CBN news and current affairs division remembered ACJ as a perfectionist and a mentor. She recalled her days when she was first hired by ACJ for a non-paying announcers’ job in radio for dzRJ.

Both Charo Santos-Concio and Gabby Lopez described him as "one of the rocks upon which ABS-CBN news and current affairs was built". Not many realize that he was partly responsible in putting together "Magandang Gabi Bayan," when Freddy Garcia first created it.

June Keithley, ACJ’s wife who herself is suffering from cancer, showed what a professional she was when she despite her tremendous loss was able to still take on the microphone and express her gratitude for the Kapamilya’s even, saying "it was heartwarming to have ABS-CBN honor her husband with such an emotionally-charged tribute."

The beauty of the whole gathering was the spontaneity demonstrated by one and all, which moved me to write this column and do a bit of research to get to know Tina whom I have known from my days in advertising, a little more.

Now I know that Tina Monzon-Palma joined ABS-CBN 15 years ago to assist Gina Lopez (another Lopez with a very strong social soul), when Gabby reorganized ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc (AFI) in 1998. She is also part of the International Social Service Board of Trustees and one of the directors of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

The German Nuns, of St. Scholastica, who are known for instilling in their students’ souls the "Love Thy Neighbor" doctrine, brought up Tina. She got into broadcasting as a radio announcer and got her break on TV when the then National Media Production Center (NMPC) during martial law took her in. Even when she was just a reporter, Monzon-Palma was already active in several socio-civic organizations such as the Quezon City chapter of the Philippine Red Cross and the Citizens Traffic Action.

Tina was one of the first anchors in Philippine television, but a rebel at heart that she is, she would use her broadcast platform to naughtily express her disagreement with what she is broadcasting by either "coughing or giving slight smiles" at the camera. That did not endear her to the then "Marshall Law Marcos Regime."

In 1976, she was hired by GMA-7 as one of the station’s first female news anchors. She was responsible for training Jessica Soho. She eventually got promoted to be the head of GMA’s News Department. Her social soul manifested itself once again when at the wake of the EDSA Revolution she established the Public Affairs Department in early 1987.

In 1992, however, Tina left GMA-7 for ABC 5 (now TV5), to serve as its chief operating officer. She then left again for ABS-CBN in 1998, and is now known for the work she does in AFI, which she joined in 1998 after organizing the Southeast Asian Foundation for Children and Television (now Anak TV, Inc.) with AFI Managing Director Gina Lopez. Tina went on to lead AFI’s Bantay Bata 163 as program director, as well as head the Sagip Kapamilya relief operations. She is also widely known for her work with the Philippine chapter of the International Social Service, Inc. and the CMFR.

When Loren Legarda decided to run for the Senate she was asked to co-anchor the "World Tonight" at ABS-CBN with Angelo Castro. That’s where she really got to know the man thoroughly. Fifteen years after all is a long time for a news broadcast partnership. So the emotions she displayed when finding out from June the loss of her co-newscaster, and friend was like the loss of a member of her family.

Tina has won many awards for her work in media. To name two: the Ka Doroy Broadcaster of the Year by the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas in 2002, primarily for her work at the radio station in dzMM. She has also been given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the academe-based Gawad TANGLAW in 2008. In 2010 Monzon-Palma was awarded the 4th Hildegard Award by her alma mater, St. Scholastica’s College. She had been previously recognized as one of the 100 Outstanding Scholasticians by the St. Scholastica’s Alumnae Foundation, Inc.

As I get to know more and more people in the Kapamilya network, it made me think that when one is recruited to join ABS-CBN he or she has to score high in both IQ and EQ -- a happy balance of rationality and emotionality!

Don Inying Lopez, Gabby’s grandfather always made it a point to run the business as an extended family. That accounts why you have today individuals who are well over their retirement age who still go to work daily in a Lopez company, not because they have to but because they want to and feel they can still contribute to the business. Genny Lopez or "Kapitan" as he was fondly called followed in the footsteps of his father. So it’s not at all surprising that Gabby does the same.

All I can say I hope that more companies put as much EQ in their hiring as ABS-CBN, it’s great to see individuals adhering to their corporate slogan the way they are.