Jing Castañeda's column
Broad Cast is Jing Castañeda's new column on Philstar.com

In forming new dreams for the new year, mind the bigger picture

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda (Philstar.com) - January 4, 2021 - 12:11pm

Goodbye 2020, and good riddance. But now, the work of 2021 begins. We have to pivot and redefine ourselves—not just adjust to the so-called new normal, but to find a new purpose and a new dream.

It’s exciting, but scary too. That’s how I felt last July, when ABS-CBN shut down. It had been my home for more than 20 years. Every corner of that building had a memory; every program I was part of was made with friends and colleagues I respected.

So, I felt I wasn’t just letting go of a job, but a family and a big part of myself. It was like being caught in the middle of two emotional super typhoons: the global and social changes caused by the pandemic, and the personal changes to my career.

The eye of the storm

But the center of any typhoon is also the calmest. The Lord uses these life-changing events to speak to us. I found myself asking, “What am I called to do, as a journalist and as a mom, in a post-COVID world, where everyone is just as confused and overwhelmed as I feel right now?”

Inevitably, I thought about another time when I didn’t know what to do. It was 1999.  I was taking up broadcasting classes and working part-time for ABC News in New York. I had received offers to work there, but none of them felt right. Something was missing.

Then, ABS-CBN, through its senior vice president for news at that time, Atty. Dong Puno, invited me to join the network. That’s when it clicked: I wanted to serve my kababayans and create stories that would move people to act on important issues.

At first, I was thrilled by the fast pace and the opportunity to hone my craft. But of the many beats and thousands of stories I covered in the next 20 years, some resonated with me on a very deep and personal level. It was these stories that I remembered most. They made me realize: “This is my core. This reflects what matters to me, not just as journalist looking for a story, but a person looking for a dream.”

Dylan’s heart

I met Dylan when he was just 6 months old. He had a congenital heart problem, but surgery would’ve cost millions of pesos. I felt his mom’s anguish and desperation, and I saw Dylan’s will to live. Buto’t balat na siya, pero lumalaban pa rin.  Lumalaban yung kanyang mga magulang. With tons of prayers and the help of Bantay Bata 163 and its partners, he was able to get a free operation. Today, he is a happy and healthy 6-year-old.

The journey of 6-year old Dylan Corpuz is a story of faith, hope and courage.

I also remember other people I met through Salamat Dok’s medical missions: children with cleft lips who had quit school because of the bullying and ostracization, a farmer who nearly died because of foot sepsis, the tindera who thought she was pregnant but turned out to have a life-threatening tumor. Thanks to the generous donors, volunteer doctors, and compassionate production team, they all got a second chance at life.

In a poor country like ours, getting any disease is practically a death sentence. Pag wala kang perang panggamot, hihintayin mo na lang ang mamatay. But if these people are connected to people who can help them, or given information to prevent or manage their disease, you give them not just health but hope.

That’s something I want to continue doing, especially in new platforms like this column or social media.

Looking back, God really does work in mysterious ways. When I was a child, I actually was choosing between being a journalist or a doctor. But a medical course was expensive and took too long. So I chose to be a journalist. Now I realize that if you are really passionate about something, He will give you a chance to do it—maybe not in the way you expect, but with still as much impact and meaning.

So even if I couldn’t be a doctor, I can still help with someone’s healing.  And despite the shutdown of ABS-CBN, I could still be a communicator and help change lives.

Break the bubble

2020 was so full of sad news and complicated issues, that many people decided to just “shut out the negativity” and focus on the family and domestic joys instead. “I can’t do anything about the world, but I can make my home a happy place.”

But the reality is, our family will never live in a bubble. Government policies, economic upheavals and other social issues don’t just affect our daily lives. These also shape the future they inherit.

Think about it: we plan meals and read the labels of every product we use, so our children can have the best nutrition. Shouldn’t we be just as conscious of our choices as citizens? What we believe, who we support, and what we do and say all have a ripple effect.

In the article, Actually, Motherhood is Political,  Diana Spalding says that every aspect of parenting is affected by the larger world. The cost of healthcare, food and education; the career opportunities for working moms; crime rates and safety. If we aren’t aware and active, then we are leaving these decisions to other people.

As Spalding said, “I can't tell you what to care about, but I will beg you to care.” Our children's futures depend on you caring. To create any kind of change, we have to choose leaders who reflect our values and hold them to their promise. 

 One of the things I want to do in this column is to talk about social issues through the lens of a mother: how will these “big news” affect our daily lives and the future of our children? And more importantly, what can we do about it? I want to share concrete tips, actionable items, and practical ways to help find answers to real problems.

Strong families, strong country

You may be thinking, “I can’t do anything, because I’m just a mom.” But the opposite is true: you can do anything, because you’re a mom. You already have the most important job in the world.

Among the many achievements I have received in the last two decades, both as a journalist and as the former program director of Bantay Bata 163, nothing beats the achievement of being a mother.  And I’m not just talking about my daughters doing well in school. It’s seeing them grow up into wonderful people, which assures me that somehow my husband and I are doing something right.

You are the biggest influence on your children. You teach them values and core beliefs. You instil in them a love for others, their country and the environment. And even now, you are role-modeling how they should respond to a crisis like COVID-19. You are their hero—so what does a hero do?

Moms are changing the world, one child at a time. Imagine what kind of world we would have, if we raise a generation that loves others and their country. Imagine how many problems they could solve if they learn how to think critically, and use their skills for the greater good.

So the home environment will have a ripple effect on the community, the society and the world. That’s why I would also like to tackle parenting and family topics in my column. We want to be good parents, but sometimes we don’t know what to do—especially when it comes to our children’s emotional and mental well-being in The New Normal.

Serve with love in your heart

During one of our Bantay Bata anniversaries, I witnessed how Gina Lopez talked to house parents and social workers who took care of our children. She never treated them as employees, or her work as a job. She saw everyone as partners in her passion for change. For her, it didn’t matter what job title or position you had, as long as “you serve with love in your hearts.”

(above) Jing with husband Nonong Velasco and daughters Fiana, Fiona and Fae during the Taal Volcano Medical Mission of Salamat Dok.
(below) Jing with Bantay Bata 163 founder, the late Gina Lopez.

That is something we can carry with us as we enter 2021, and face new challenges and changes. No matter what happens this year, or who we become in the process, we can always act with love and compassion.

It will be an exciting journey for all of us, and I’m grateful I have a chance to be part of your journey through this column. I hope the information I give and the stories I share will not just entertain but empower you to make the best decisions for yourself and your family.  Let’s find answers and journey through life together bilang mga kasama sa buhay, mga KasamBuhay.  Here’s to a joyful and prosperous 2021!  


I’d love to hear from you! Share your stories and tips or suggest topics at jingcastaneda21@gmail.com. You can also follow my social media accounts:  Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

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