Learning never stops for these Kapamilya journalists

Arianne Merez and Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2017 03:32 PM | Updated as of Aug 19 2017 04:16 PM

MANILA - Learning is a continuing process.

And for ABS-CBN journalists Carolyn Bonquin and Chiara Zambrano, receiving a prestigious Chevening scholarship from the British government is a new opportunity for them to develop their craft.

Bonquin is heading to Birkbeck, University of London to study investigative journalism while Zambrano will go to Royal Holloway, University of London to study documentary by practice.

Though pursuing different subjects of studies, both Bonquin and Zambrano hope to use the lessons they will acquire to hone ways of storytelling.


Journalism was supposed to only be a stepping stone for 27-year-old Bonquin's college dream of teaching in her alma mater, the University of the Philippines.

But after more than 7 years of breaking news and pursuing in-depth stories, Bonquin reveals that she no longer sees herself doing anything else.

"After a couple of months lang nung nagsimula ako sa trabaho ng pagiging journalist, di ko na makita yung sarili ko na gumagawa ng ibang bagay maliban sa paghahanap ng balita at pagsusulat ng stories," she said.

ABS-CBN News Carolyn Bonquin. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Bonquin's Twitter page

"Ngayon, even if journalism is not my dream, right now, siya yung nasa puso ko. I never expected na ganito ako ka-in love sa trabaho ko," she added.

Bonquin was offered an opportunity to be a segment producer in ABS-CBN Baguio right after graduation, and she gave herself 5 years to learn the ropes. 

From a cub reporter, Bonquin went on to pursue stories that helped shape the Philippine political scene as well as some that tugged at people's heartstrings.

Bonquin recalled one particular story that left her emotional. 

Christmas was only days away then, but a man sat outside the doors of a convent, holding his lifeless child.

"Namatay yung anak niya kasi wala silang pampagamot. Namatay siya because of dehydration. Andun lang siya sa labas, nanghihingi siya ng pampalibing," recalled Bonquin.

"It broke my heart," she added.

As she flies to UK next month, Bonquin hopes to return to Manila equipped with skills to produce high-quality investigative reports.


Even as a young girl, Zambrano always knew that she wanted to tell stories. The only question back then was how.

"I've always wanted to write. I've always wanted to tell stories but growing up I didn't know what that meant. I didn't know what a journalist was at the time," she said.

Zambrano recalled how she thought she wanted to become a marine biologist after getting hooked to National Geographic shows.

"I thought I wanted to become a marine biologist thinking it was the science [that I liked] but it turns out it was the stories that were coming out," she said.

She later on pursued a Communications degree and a Masters in Journalism degree at the Ateneo De Manila Unviersity.

ABS-CBN News Chiara Zambrano. Photo courtesy of Chiara Zambrano's Twitter page

Since 2004,  Zambrano has been with ABS-CBN News, producing documentaries and in-depth reports such as ""Spratlys: Mga Isla ng Kalayaan" and her most recent one yet, "Di Ka Pasisiil," a documentary on the ongoing siege in Marawi.

At 34, Zambrano has built a portfolio from her days as a documentary producer and now as a reporter covering war and conflict--a topic that she has always been passionate about.

"Hindi ka pwedeng pumunta at umuwi mula sa giyera na normal ka pa rin or pareho ka pa rin," she said.

"When you come back, you tell your stories endlessly to a lot of people...until your feelings become stories," she added.

As she pursues further studies on documentary making in London, Zambrano hopes to come back to tell stories using a different light.

"We get to do what hardly anyone gets to do. We have the power to learn things that anyone can learn from," she said.

And for young journalists aspiring to make a mark in the industry as well, Bonquin and Zambrano have these to say:

“Remember why you write. Kapag kasi alam mo kung bakit ka nagsusulat, kung para kanino ka nagsusulat, yun ang magiging guide mo, na lalakas yung loob mo," Bonquin said.

"Have [your] heart in the right place. It's not about you and the sooner you realize that, the faster you'll become a better journalist," Zambrano said.