1. Tell us about your career – what are you doing now, what is it like and what do you enjoy the most about it?

I am a journalist with CGTN (China Global Television Network), the international news channel of China Central Television, based in Beijing. As the current affairs programme editor, I manage an award-winning magazine and documentary show that focuses on Asia. The job includes selecting and pitching stories for the weekly programme, helping our correspondents improve their pieces and engaging with audiences on social media. From time to time, I also report stories within China for the channel’s television and online platforms.

I enjoy working both behind and in front of the camera. As an editor, I get to exercise editorial judgment and hone my leadership and decision-making skills. As a China reporter, I have the unique opportunity of telling the story of the world’s second largest economy from an insider’s point of view. Among the recent stories I did were the launch of China’s first cargo spacecraft and the decline of its coal industry as it takes on a leadership role in fighting climate change. 

2. Why did you choose the UK as a study destination?

The global outlook and multicultural character of universities in the UK, particularly in London, appealed to me the most. In my international journalism MA cohort, I had classmates and professors from dozens of countries. Studying there allowed me to learn about and appreciate different cultures and more importantly, helped me develop an international perspective, which enriched my journalism. It also widened my network globally: some of my classmates now work for large international news organisations.

Studying journalism in London also meant learning right at the heart of a global media centre and being mentored by some of the best in the field. My university’s tutors and guest lecturers included journalists from the BBC, Reuters, the Financial Times and The Economist, among others.

And it wasn’t just about my studies. Outside the classroom, I enjoyed life in the UK — its walkable streets, efficient public transport system, historical landmarks, parks and museums, libraries and of course, the pubs.

3. How did your studies help to shape the work you’re making now?

Working for an international news organisation requires a passion for international affairs and a global perspective — qualities I gained and enhanced during my studies in the UK. It’s important in my current role as editor of a programme that features stories from different countries. My UK education developed my nose for stories of international significance and trained me to look for the global 'angle' to issues and events, besides improving my multimedia reporting skills. 

It also made me comfortable working with people from any country or culture. It’s particularly helpful now that I am the only foreigner in my team and my job includes coordinating with our correspondents in different parts of the world. 

4. What does it mean being part of the prestigious Chevening Alumni?

It means being part of a network of achievers, movers and shakers and leaders. I feel honoured to be among a group of people who have made and continue to make a mark in their fields. 

It also means being able to find friends anywhere in the world. One of my first friends in Beijing was a colleague who happened to be a Chevening alumna. I would also meet Chevening alumni in networking events.

5. What’s the number one lesson you learned as an international student that you still carry with you today? 

It’s that being away from our country can help us become better citizens and contribute to national development. 

When I was 17, I wrote a prize-winning essay vowing that I would never leave the Philippines. Studying abroad, however, changed my perspective. I realised that the world is so much bigger than where I came from, and that there’s a lot to learn from other parts of the world and other cultures.

When I returned to the Philippines after my master’s, I made good use of my new skills to cover international stories for a Filipino audience. I was assigned to cover the 2014 protests in Hong Kong and the case of foreigners, including a Filipino, on Indonesia’s death row in 2015. In both cases, I worked as I was trained to do in London: as reporter, cameraman and video editor rolled into one. 

Still, I felt that wasn’t enough, so I left my job in the Philippines and worked abroad. I believe having international experience would help me become a better journalist when I return home one day.

6. What are some of your greatest moments as a journalist?

One of them was covering the UN climate talks in Poland just a few days after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013. I was just in my second month as a student in London then. I had to apply for press credentials at the last minute and travel to Warsaw alone. For almost a week, I was a one-man team delivering stories to my network in the Philippines on a global event that had a deep relevance for my countrymen back home. 

More than a year before that, I covered the first ever impeachment trial of a Supreme Court chief justice in the Philippines. The trial ran for 44 days and I had to deliver live reports every night for the primetime newscast. The day after the trial ended, one of our presenters congratulated me for a job well done — on air.

7. If you were to take us to one place in the UK, where would it be?

It would be to the streets of central London, the squares and cafés and pubs and tube stations where you’ll see people from all walks of life and from different parts of the world. Just being in London will make you feel how global the city truly is.

8. What are your ambitions for the future?

I hope to become a foreign correspondent for a major international news organisation. I want to cover East and Southeast Asia, and travel around the region to tell the most important stories of the day.

9. What’s your number one tip to survive a journalism course?

It helps to have some working experience before taking up a postgraduate course in journalism. I believe I excelled in the programme because I was a journalist for almost five years before studying for my master’s. My professional experience allowed me to focus on skills improvement and advancement, as I did not have to start from scratch. 

10. What advice would you give to Filipinos who aspire to study in the UK?

Do research about the universities and programmes you intend to apply to ahead of time — months, or even years, in advance. Spend time familiarising yourself with the schools’ requirements and what specific departments look for in candidates.

Practice your writing. All schools require an admission essay and it’s one of the most important requirements (if not the most important one). Be ready to write about your personal and professional experiences, and how they relate to your goals. Having even a few years of work or volunteer experience will certainly be an advantage, because you’d have something to talk about. You should also go beyond personal reasons and consider the social impact of your goals. How can your studies and future career benefit society?

Some programmes also require a research proposal, including a literature review and a detailed methodology. You would need to think about your topic before applying and read as much about it as you can in order to come up with an excellent plan.