By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City — The Philippine community here is gleeful to have a Filipina heading the gala of the 43rd International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton on November 23, Monday. Ms. Charo Santos-Concio, president, CEO and CCO of ABS-CBN, one of the biggest television networks in the Philippines, is in town and guesting in various events here prior to the Emmy’s gala where she is host and chairperson.
The Emmy Awards will present awards for 10 categories in TV programming and performance. Over 1000 international media and entertainment executives convene here each year for the International Emmy® Awards Gala. This year, Santos-Concio was chosen to organize the event.
At the luncheon tendered for her by fellow Mindorenos of the United Mindoro International Inc., Santos-Concio was her regal and soft-spoken self who took time exalting Filipinos in diaspora for “expanding the stage to do great deeds.” In her speech before 200 guests, she shared memories of her hometown – fresh air, healthy and fresh fruits, and a happy family. She likewise reminisced a career that begun with her being a great fan. “I would brave the long lines to watch the entertainment show called Stop Look and Listen. Do you remember that show? Are we of the same age here?,” she jokingly invoked the audience.
Santos-Concio is best remembered for her TV series Maala-ala Mo Kaya? (Will You Ever Remember?), which is now on its 24th year. It portrays real life stories of Filipinos and intentionally puts forward positive values on hope, courage, and kindness.
In her younger years, Santos-Concio was a beauty queen, garnering the crown as Miss Baron Travel in the mid-1970s. She started as production assistant to the popular family TV series John and Marsha which starred the luminous actors Dolphy and Nida Blanca. In 1978, her career as an actress reached its peak when she won the best actress award at the Asian Film Festival in Mike de Leon’s Itim (Black).
But rather than pursuing what would have been an even brighter career as an actor, Santos-Concio became a media executive along the journey. She started as consultant and then director for programs in 1989 for ABS-CBN, where she now sits as president.
Ambassador Mario de Leon Jr., the consul-general for New York, said Santos-Concio is one of those Filipino women who broke the proverbial glass ceiling (or bamboo ceiling, if you may as Filipinos) with her achievements.
Juliet Payabyab, president of the UMI said, “She will always be the pinakamagandang babae sa balat ng Mindoro (the loveliest woman in the Mindoro) and the snow white in their class”. Payabyab comes from the village of Ilaya in Calapan town in Oriental Mindoro – the same village and school where Santos-Concio grew up in, along with her five siblings.
Santos-Concio presented before the Mindorenos her projects for Oriental Mindoro – an eco-tourism water conservation and agricultural project in Ariguy and Victoria.
She encouraged the audience to support her environmental and local economy programs. She also solicited for stories that she may feature in her TV show. “I am so ready to listen for your stories which we may feature in Maalaala.”
Juliet Payabyab immediately volunteered to have her story on TV, with either actors Piolo Pascual, who will be a presenter at the Emmy’s, or Brad Pitt as leading man. The audience roared in laughter and so did Santos-Concio.