By Caesar Vallejos
Eagle News Service
From the entry positions of news writer and field reporter, Rowena dela Fuente-Deimoy rose from the ranks to become the first woman President of Eagle Broadcasting Corporation (EBC).
“My forte is field work and I have also experienced being a production assistant (PA),” Dela Fuente-Deimoy recalled.
A PA’s task, in television work, could be as menial as holding an idiot board on the TV set to making coffee for the show’s host.
Despite being a familiar face at EBC as radio and TV host, what defined Dela Fuente-Deimoy as a broadcast journalist since 1991 was her assignment at the Malacanang Palace. Many journalists consider access to Malacañang as a prime beat.
Weng, as she is fondly called, had covered six Philippine presidents as member of the Malacanang Press Corps (MPC) – from the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino to the present President Rodrigo Duterte, whom she covered briefly.
“I had the honor of covering them all,” she said. “It was a privilege to have been given the chance to do that.”
Covering Cory Aquino
In 1991, when the late President Cory Aquino was in the last two years of her stint as President, Dela Fuente, then an EBC reporter, covered the first woman president of the country.
Weng was still a student then of Journalism at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines when she started observing Cory’s round-table forum with reporters in Malacanang.
During her time to cover, “we (would) submit the questions to the Press Secretary or spokesperson in the morning and wait for Cory’s responses in the afternoon.”
She noted how Malacanang reporters would rely on “ambush” interviews of government officials who will attend cabinet meetings.
“Nabubuhay noon ang mga reporters sa ambush interview,” Weng said. During that time, Malacanang grounds were open to reporters who wait for events and Cabinet meetings to take place.
“Even if he is a military man, former President Fidel Valdez Ramos or FVR treated reporters in Malacanang like he was their father or grandfather,” Weng said.
Malacanang reporters covering FVR then often described him as a “workaholic.”
“Three to 4 times a week, nasa probinsiya. Kauuwi mo pa lang galing probinsiya, nasa airport ka na ulet dahil bibiyahe na naman kayo,” Weng recalled.
The government would provide Fokker planes but reporters had to draw lots as the space was limited. Sometimes, FVR would invite reporters to the presidential plane or chopper and Weng was privileged to have been invited in some occasions.
“Sabi nila (referring to her colleagues at the MPC), kapag daw nagtatanong ako kay FVR para daw akong nagtatanong sa lolo ko, kaya si FVR, mabait ang sagot niya sa apo niya,” Weng said with a laugh.
In the first 100 days of Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada as president, normally the honeymoon period with the press, he invited the Malacanang Press Corps over dinner.
Weng recalled how Estrada loved Tagalog love songs, especially Celeste Legaspi’s “Ikaw Lamang ang Aking Iibigin” which she had the occasion to sing in one of the dinners.
She recalled that she approached Erap and extended the microphone to the president to sing a few lines and he obliged.
“Nagulat ang mga photographers, sabi nila ulit, ulit, isa pa, isa pa” Weng said as they know it was a missed photo opportunity for them.
So Weng re-approached the President who stood up and at that point, she earned the distinction as the first reporter and the very first person who had a duet with Estrada while he was still in office.
Since FVR, Weng had already earned the moniker as the presidential duet partner among her colleagues.
It was after the duet with Estrada that the then-Trade and Industry Secretary Titoy Pardo approached Weng to acknowledge how this gave light moments to the dinner hosted by the President for the Palace reporters.
But it was not only that which Weng remembers of that encounter with Pardo. “Inalok niya ako kung gusto ko sa GMA7,” Weng recalled. Sheepishly, Weng said, “hindi po, okay lang po ako.” It could have been a great endorsement from a very respectable and distinguished government official but unknowingly, God has already made plans for her.
Weng noted Erap’s charisma with the masses. He was mobbed wherever he went. “Kaya ang PSG, naging mahigpit,” she noted.
She also observed how Malacanang employees “loved” Erap that when he left the Palace in 2001 when the so-called People Power 2 sought his ouster, they wept.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s time
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ruled the country for nine years. Weng was not able to cover the full nine years of GMA as there were years when she was assigned to the Senate and Defense beats, giving her a wider perspective on national issues.
During Arroyo’s time, NET 25 launched Convergence, the longest running IT show in the country. Being an economist, GMA has a soft spot for information and communications technology and was credited for the boom of BPOs in the Philippines.
Because of EBC’s IT show, most of Weng’s questions are accommodated during GMA’s press conferences.
“Kaya pag ako na ang nagtatanong, sabi ng ibang reporters, ‘matutulog muna kami’.” GMA responds with kilometric replies to questions that she liked.
PNoy and Duterte
Weng also covered the six years of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, also called PNoy, in Malacanang. He carried the campaign promise, “Tuwid na Daan.”
Aside from the RH Bill, another issue that the Pnoy administration is known for is winning the arbitration case over the South China Sea at the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal.
Weng also covered President Rodrigo Duterte during his early months in office, before she was promoted to station manager for NET 25.
This was also the time she lost her father. She lost her mother years earlier.
The rest was history.
Plans for EBC
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of EBC.
“As we celebrate its golden year, we want Eagle to hurdle challenges so that it can soar higher,” the EBC President said.
“The global presence of Eagle is already felt with its correspondents abroad. We are already registered in Washington DC and we are working on the registration of other bureaus,” she added.
According to Deimoy, the bureaus have been established but they must operate as they were envisioned to be, and that is to provide news services as content providers.
In the local front, while other networks seem to promote illicit relationships and other subjects on immorality, the new president of EBC said that it will maintain preserving values-oriented and family-centered programs.
“In 2017, we gathered the most significant number of TV shows certified by Anak TV as child-friendly programs, “ she announced.
The Gawad Filipino Award also recognized EBC as the Most Trusted TV network. “We must live to that expectation, continue instilling good values to our audiences,” she stressed.
At the helm
At the turn-over ceremony announcing Deimoy to be at the helm of EBC, she admitted, “I did not expect this trust. I hope that this will inspire us all – that from a very humble beginning, one can develop and advance and be a better person.
“We need a lot of resources for Eagle to fly higher but these may not be acquired easily and immediately. But if we help each other, support one another, stay together, God will see our pure hearts and there is no reason why He will not grant us the victory.”
“Like in a company or a nation, the President is the father or the mother of the nation. Being at the helm of EBC right now, it is my obligation and duty to serve employees and take them as part of me.”
At the EBC network, she has had stints as news gathering head, senior correspondent, news desk staff, news presenter (Mata ng Agila); program host (Liwanagin Natin with Ka Totoy Talastas, Homepage , NET25 Weekend Report and Liwanagin Natin Reports).
At DZEC 1062kHz, Weng served as radio anchor (Guest Who’s Talking and 1062 Eagle Patrol) and field reporter.
At DZEM – Christian Broadcasting Service, Weng assumed the following positions: acting news director; news anchor (DZEM Weekend News); executive producer (Kaalamang Musmos); field reporter and newswriter.