For the past 22 years, Karen Davila has been appearing on our television screens and broadcasting on radio, delivering the day’s news or hosting one of her television shows. Her career has been expansive and impressive: After graduating Mass Communications from UP Diliman, she went on to pursue a career in journalism and media — although she told us that wasn’t originally in the plans. Had it not been for an insightful teacher, she may have ended up in the fashion world!
Karen’s day is busier than others: she anchors three live programs daily and produces a weekly magazine program, all which she hosts as well. Plus, she tries to make it in time for dinner with her two young sons. She shares her passion for politics with her husband, DJ Sta Ana — who is the new manager of ABC Channel 5 — but “we don’t talk about the news.”
She has led quite an inspiring career, one marked by hard work and dedication. Karen has garnered numerous awards, including the much-coveted The Outstanding Women in the Nations Service (TOWNS) Award for Broadcasting and The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award.
Her work has been recognized globally. Her documentary on children in jail was awarded the UNICEF Child Rights Award, while her story on the danger on the Marinduque Mine Spill won a CNN World Report Bronze Medal. Her documentary on children and drugs was awarded a Silver Medal by the New York TV & Film Festival.
Karen was also chosen as a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum and has moderated several international forums for the WEF and the ASEAN.
How does she manage with the same 24 hours we all have? Let’s try to get to know more about her.
Tell us a bit about Karen Davila.
I anchor and host three live programs daily: Headstart on ANC (8 to 9 AM), DZMM Pasada Sais Trenta on radio (4:30 PM), and Bandila, ABSCBN’s late night newscast. Before, in 2004 to 2010, I was anchoring for TVPatrol, and hosting and writing for The Correspondents, ABSCBN’s award-winning documentary program.
I also host and produce a once-a-week magazine program called My Puhunan. It features ordinary Filipinos who have succeeded through small businesses.
Can you give us a peek into your daily life?
My days are very long and busy. I wake up at 6:30 every morning to prepare for Headstart and I see my kids off to school, I then do the show, go out on field for interviews after or duties, and then by 4:30 PM, I am back in the studio for my radio show.
By 5:30 PM, I have to beat EDSA traffic to make it home for dinner. I am usually in traffic for 45 mins to an hour, to which I come home very tired, but I’ve committed to seeing and spending dinner with my children. I put them to bed, then I nap a little.
At 9:45 to 10 PM, I go back to ABSCBN for Bandila. It starts quite late now, like 1120pm, so I am home by 1230am, see my husband, immediately try and fall asleep and wake up early again the next day.
I lack sleep generally, so I try and catch up with naps, but it’s not enough. I believe I have lasted this long because I genuinely feel grateful to be doing what I am doing, and I am absolutely passionate about my job.
Did you always want to pursue a career in media and journalism?
When I was much younger I wanted to be a fashion designer. I loved Donna Karan in the ’80s and ’90s and started reading Vogue when I was in high school. However, I was always a skilled writer and I was the editor of our school paper. It was a college professor who told me in UP I should try newscasting on TV because I spoke quite clearly. What can I say? God knew better!
So much of life today is about being in the public eye, particularly because of social media. How has this affected the way you work?
Media is highly dependent and made faster now because of social media. Being in the public eye [via social media] — Twitter, Instagram and Facebook — have made us more accessible to the public, which is absolutely great. It has allowed us to control our own content as well. I am not much of a techie but I have to admit, I am an Instagram addict, hehe.
You don’t shy away from asking the hard questions. Why is this important to you?
When I am interviewing a public official, I remember they are accountable to the people. It is not about their personal lives as much as if they are performing their duties well. I ask the hard questions but make sure I am never rude. Empathy and kindness are human traits we all must have whoever we are interviewing, but they mustn’t be used as weaknesses.
These days, it’s been noticed that women get asked a different set of questions than men, mostly about fashion and motherhood, and men get to skip all those. What do you think about it?
I’m an empowered woman, but not a hardcore feminist; let’s ask men about fatherhood then. I don’t like men who are so heavily into fashion anyway.
What are the causes important to you and how are you involved in advocating for them?
When I started with World Vision in the early 2000s, it wasn’t a household name and I was their first public celebrity on a billboard; look at them now. It’s an amazing cause because for a small amount of money, now P600-700 a month, you can send a child to school and have direct reporting on exactly how the child is.
With Habitat for Humanity, I am so proud that the country has seen what an amazing organization it is, and it has built the most number of homes in disaster-stricken areas. I want to go global and I am finding what resonates with my heart and spirit.
What’s the biggest misconception about you?
The biggest misconception about me is that I’m mataray? Not at all; I’m very approachable and easy to talk to.
Do you believe in balance? How do you carve time for yourself and your loved ones?
Balance is very difficult for me simply because of my long work hours. What I do is commit 200% at that very moment I am with my children or at work. I give my absolute all — my kids feel I am always present because I am engaged when I am with them. I am extremely affectionate — I kiss, hug, and say I love you so much.
You’re married to a newsman – are the news and the industry active parts of your life?
DJ and I don’t talk about the news. I know it’s funny; we avoid it. But we love talking about politics. I love traveling, art, music, movies, books, people. DJ is the strong silent type, but very kind and understanding.
Parenting is not easy and you’ve had a few challenges others don’t. What’s it been like being a mother to your boys?
David is 14 and Lucas is 8. David was diagnosed as being in the Autism Spectrum when he was 3 and we were devastated. I thought it was the end of the world. Being a journalist, I committed to finding other ways to treat him and thats when we discovered the GFCF Diet and Biomedical Treatment from Defeat Autism Now doctors abroad. He’s been under this treatment for 11 years and its beens such a great journey. David is high functioning, like a regular boy, he has truly blossomed. He’s in a regular school but with the support he needs. He’s a great artist and so kind and loving.
Lucas, on the other hand, is a livewire and is a mini-me. He is extremely talkative and funny.
I’m not strict at all, but I have rules at home, I get very angry when I kids are rude. I talk to them most of the time but I will admit, I’ve spanked them when they were much younger. I believe in open and close communication, but I do not believe in giving them everything they want. As much as it is important for kids to love and adore you, they must also fear you.
When things are not quite going right in your day, how are you able to snap out a find a happy thought in it?
Wow, I nap. Listen to Spotify. Fast music. Anything that makes me feel happy.
What do you do to recharge? How do you take care of yourself?
I’m not big on the salon or vanity stuff. I just moisturize every night. I exercise and I know I should do more. I get a massage, that’s my ultimate indulgence. I am very low maintenance.
You’ve had so many successes and accomplishments in life already. Is there a big goal that you’re pursuing right now?
I am midlife. I’m 45. For some weird reason, I feel I look younger now than I did before. I would like to experience new things. We’ll see.
We believe that there’s a “Spoiled Mummy” in each of us. What do you think makes you, Karen Davila, a Spoiled Mummy?
Oh, believe me, dear… I could be MORE spoiled. Hahaha! I need it!!!!