A Correspondent’s Daybreak

John Emerson Dona
3 min readMay 4, 2021
Photo from: https://www.facebook.com/micaella.ilao

A journalist's life starts before the crack of dawn. They face challenges before sunlight just to provide news for the community or the public. This was the childhood dream of Ms. Micaella Ilao. It all started from mimicking Disney voice-overs and the love for public speaking, which led her to the most outstanding achievement of her life, becoming a prominent journalist. She was a significant reporter at ABS-CBN Baguio for years, until the franchise was shut down last year, along with the occurrence of the global pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic changed the lifestyle of people on a macro scale. Since being a reporter demands the need for travel and interaction, her job became more challenging. Data gathering was obstructed by travel restrictions and other Covid-19 safety protocols. Journalists like her had to adapt to new ways of journalism. But then, the ABS-CBN was forced off-air after 13 hearings at the Senate. It was formally shut down on July 10, 2020. Ms. Ilao was one of the 11,000 ABS-CBN employees who experienced loss due to the incident.

“Sobrang lungkot — devastated… ” sentiments expressed by Ms. Ilao as she recalls the event from last year. “ … yun talaga ang pinakamalungkot na nangyari, tapos gabi-gabi umiiyak ako- ‘ano kayang gagawin ko?’ ‘pano kaya yung family ko?’ Pero sabi ko, ‘everything happens for a reason.’”

Before she became a prominent reporter, she was not the ideal person to be one. She failed some of her major subjects when she was in college. She has a quiet and self-conscious personality causing interpersonal communication issues. Received negative feedback when she was sloppy in hosting a morning show, but this did not break her instead, she used it as an advantage. “After non, umiyak ako, na-frustrate ako pero ginawa ko yun as a source of my strength. Para ayusin ko pa pagbutihin ko pa” Ms. Ilao said.

Photo from: https://www.facebook.com/micaella.ilao

But as her world stopped, realizations began to come up to her.

“… malaki talaga ang impact ng pandemic, pero thankful ako kasi I have family, I have god; doon ako nagkaroon ng realization na I had to focus on myself, kasi dati puro ako work. Nakalimutan ko na kumain ng maayos, nakalimutan ko ng alagaan ang sarili ko, nakalimutan ko ng mag focus sa family ko,” she said.

She found a new job as a home-based virtual assistant while maintaining her work as a correspondent for ABS-CBN at the same time. For a short period, she also worked as an anchor at the Regional News Group (RNG), a media company in Baguio City established by Mr. Dhobie Deguzman, a former employee of ABS-CBN and an influence to Ms. Ilao.

“Nabibilib ako kay sir Dhobie ,kasi sa kanya ako actually natuto na maging concerned sa community or sa public.”

Slowly, Ms. Ilao managed to find light in her world filled with gray skies.

“Mas happy naman na ako ngayon, kasi at least mas nakapag pahinga ako, nakakapag isip kung ano ang mga pwede ko pang gawin sa life ko in the future. I’m still putting the puzzle pieces together,” she said.

A reporter’s life may start before dawn but it doesn’t stop at daybreak. Ms. Ilao still wants to dedicate her time to be better despite her existing achievements and challenges she is facing. Perhaps, she still wants to study and impart her knowledge and experiences to other people, especially to aspiring communication professionals. Ms. Ilao believes in the importance of time and education with an emphasis on risk-taking.

“ Go out with your friends, learn a lot, take this opportunity, kasi you can never turn back the time. Use your time wisely and take risks. Gusto mo ba na tumanda na, ‘Wow, ginawa ko pala yun!?’ imbes na, ‘Sana ginawa ko yun.
Kung kaya niyo, gusto niyo, gawin niyo as long as wala kayong tinatapakan na tao.’”



John Emerson Dona

Visual storyteller supporting local artists, films, and small communities.