PILI, CAMARINES SUR, Philippines?The British Broadcasting Corporation?s Asian business news anchor Rico Hizon has blazed the trail for his countrymen in the international stage, proving that Filipinos are equal to, if not better than, other nationals who speak with British and American accents.
?Whenever I sit in front of the camera to deliver the Asian business news, I am proud to be a Filipino, and I [tell] myself I have to raise the Philippine flag,? Hizon said in an interview after his stint here last Feb. 6 as moderator of the Go Negosyo Caravan?an advocacy forum that offers entrepreneurship as a solution to poverty.
Hizon wants Filipinos working abroad to be called expatriates, which is how he describes himself as he has been working and staying in Singapore for the past 10 years.
He said he is proud to have a Filipino accent that distinguishes him from his colleagues, most of whom were educated or trained in English schools.
Hizon is the only Filipino working with the BBC World News. But because of his features, people often mistake him for a Japanese, Indonesian or Chinese born and bred in the USA.
?And my colleagues were surprised I graduated from a Philippine university,? he said.
Hizon quickly carved a name for himself in business news while he was with the GMA 7 network. He started working there after he completed business management and mass communications courses at the De La Salle University in 1988.
?I started as a production assistant,? Hizon recalled. ?I toiled for two years, serving coffee to the big names there. But my confidence level in reporting came from my GMA 7 experience.?
He said he was given a break at the network because nobody wanted to do business reporting. So he volunteered, even though some of his business reports were not aired.
That was in the 1990s.
Hizon said he covered the stock market together with Veronica Pedrosa, who used to report for the Sari Manok Channel (Pedrosa became a part-time reporter of the BBC, anchored a news program for the Cable News Network, and presently hosts a program at Al Jazeera).
He joined Business Today with Dong Puno, where he reported on the stock market. That, he said, honed his skills in reporting economic news.
Hizon counted Karen Davila, Cristina Pecson and Vicky Morales among his contemporaries in the national television broadcast industry before he landed a job abroad in an international news network.
He said the international break came when he was offered to apply for a regular position at CNBC, a news network specializing on stocks and financial market reports.
An executive of CNBC would regularly visit the Philippines on his way to Hong Kong, where he was establishing a station there to cover the Asia-Pacific region, he added.
Hizon said the CNBC executive from New York called him up, told him that he had seen his work and asked if he was willing to go to an interview in Hong Kong in April 1995.
He said he was amazed that he even got the job, considering the many talents from the United States who applied for the same position.
?Maybe CNBC was looking for an ?Asian brand? ... a person who has expertise on the Asian business and economic environment,? he said.
?I got the job in May 1995 [becoming] the only Asian anchor because my other colleagues or co-anchors were from the US or Europe with British or American accents,? he said. ?I was the only one with an Asian accent. I was floored.?
Hizon recounted how, at the time, he had to make a choice whether to stay with GMA 7?where he would eventually host an evening news program?or go abroad and make a name for himself in the international broadcast scene.
He joined CNBC and shuttled to Hong Kong before going to Singapore, where he eventually settled in 1998.
In 2002, he heard that the BBC was looking for someone to anchor its Asian Business Report. He left CNBC and went on board BBC World News, joining Pedrosa, who was working part-time at the broadcast firm.
After he got the job as anchor of the Asian Business Report, he asked some BBC executives why they chose him when all the anchors in the network, including Pedrosa, speak with a British accent.
The way he speaks, Hizon said, reveals his heritage.
He learned that the broadcast executives liked the clarity and style of his reporting, and they appreciated the way he conducted interviews.
Hizon still lives in Singapore with his wife and 4-year-old son.
He believes that Filipinos are at par with other First World nationals. And this spurs him to banner the Filipino talent, with his distinct accent, every time he goes on cam before 260 million viewers of BBC World News.