ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, Philippines – Among the 5,000 campus journalists in this year’s National Schools Press Conference in Zamboanga del Sur, there were two Ilongga sisters who had worked their way up to the nationals for 5 straight years.
Kate Julianne Larroder, a Grade 7 student from University of the Philippines High School-Iloilo, is only 12 but it’s her fifth consecutive time competing in the NSPC.
With her is her elder sister and her teammate, Kaye Pauline, a Grade 9 student also of UPHS-Iloilo. At 15, she, too, is a seasoned campus journalist. It’s her fourth NSPC.
Even with limited resources, the sisters excelled in academics and bagged awards from competitions. They said they were lucky to have supportive parents and relatives who helped them financially. (READ: #NSPC2017: A thousand stories of hard work, hope, and excellence)
The Larroder sisters have been recipients of the region’s Most Outstanding Campus Journalist award. Kaye Pauline received the award for secondary level in 2014, while Kate Julianne was awarded for the elementary level in 2016.
Since 2013, the Larroder sisters have been representing Western Visayas at the annual campus journalism tilt. They obtained their elementary school education at the SPED Integrated School for Exceptional Children in Iloilo City, and then transferred to UPHS-Iloilo for secondary education.
Start ’em young
For the sisters, age does not matter. “I started at the age of 8 and the result of our performance was not that bad. In the next few years, I enhanced my skills; I won awards. I made my parents proud,” said Kate Julianne, the younger of the two.
Their NSPC journey together all started when their elementary school’s radio broadcasting team needed a replacement for the nationals. Kaye Pauline was part of the original competing group but Kate Julianne was not.
“Takot na takot ako noong time na ‘yon kasi wala akong experience. At saka hindi ako nag-RSPC. Diretso akong NSPC so wala talaga akong practice,” Kate Julianne said, reminiscing how hard it was for her then.
(I was really nervous that time because I did not have prior experience. And I was not part of the RSPC [Regional Schools Press Conference team]. I went straight to NSPC; I lacked training.)
“Tapos, bigla akong sinalang sa technical application. Hindi ako natuwa! Ano ba kasing alam ng 8 year-old sa technical application (Then, I was fielded to compete for technical application. It was not fun! What would an 8 year-old know of technical application)?” she added.
Things changed for Kate Julianne when she was tasked to compete in the infomercials. Although she liked the experience, their team did not win awards under the radio broadcasting category. Their team joined Tagis Talino instead, a quiz bee for journalism, where they won 2nd place.
“It was encouraging,” she said. “The award encouraged us to continue our journey in journalism and in the National Schools Press Conference.”
For Kaye Pauline, her first try was a learning experience. Prior to joining NSPC, she went to a journalism workshop in school where the Best Anchor would be the designated anchor for RSPC. Kaye Pauline, in Grade 5 then, won the award.
“Pagkatapos ng first namin sa NSPC, tinuloy namin ang newscasting. Doon, mas na-develop yung skills namin (After our first NSPC, we continued newscasting. Our skills were developed there),” she said.
After Kaye Pauline’s first NSPC, she joined ABS-CBN’s Inter-school Newscasting Competition in Iloilo. She was one of the 20 grand finalists under the Hiligaynon category and won second place. She eventually competed for regionals and placed second as well.
Last year, her younger sister also joined ABS-CBN’s newscasting competition under English and Hiligaynon categories. Kate Julianne bagged the awards for both categories – Champion for English and Second Place for Hiligaynon. She reached the regionals and placed second in both categories.
Practice makes perfect
For Kate Julienne, her ate (older sister) will always be her mentor. “Gaya-gaya ako sa kanya eh (I always copy her),” she said jokingly.
During training, they would always turn to each other no matter what. “Coach kami ng isa’t isa (We are each other’s coaches),” the younger of the two said. Despite being experienced NSPC delegates, they said that they still feel butterflies in their stomachs every time.
“Medyo kinakabahan po kasi di mawawala ‘yun eh. First time namin sumali sa TV broadcasting. So from radio to TV broad, mas grabe ‘yung preparations (We still feel nervous. It’s our first time joining TV broadcasting. So, from radio to TV broadcasting, preparations are more intense),” Kaye Pauline said.
“We practice every night. We rest at times but we always practice. We write, help in production, read aloud. Then record and edit videos,” Kate Julianne said in a mix of English and Filipino.
They said they don’t let get stressed and let pressure get the better of them. “If we get pressured, that could be one reason that will hinder us from winning because we might think about it all the time,” she added.
On top of that, having a good support system greatly helps, according to her. “Dahil sa support ng family, friends, coaches, teammates, parang hindi na rin kami nape-pressure (Because of our family’s, friends’, coaches’, teammates’ support, it’s like we don’t get pressured at all),” Kate Julianne said.
Behind the scenes
Daryl, the mother of the Larroder sisters, said she is blessed to have such talented daughters.
Daryl, who is being pregnant with her third child and had been diagnosed with Stage 2 Thyroid Cancer, still watches over her daughters tirelessly day in and day out. She had accompanied them in every competition they joined.
“Gusto ko kasi, bawat achievement at competition nandiyan ako, nawiwitness ko. Kasi hindi naman sa lahat ng time nandiyan tayo para sa kanila, so every moment dapat i-cherish ‘yun,” she said.
(What I want is to be there, to witness every achievement and competition. Because we will not be there all the time for them, so we should cherish every moment.)
The girls’ parents are unemployed. Their father stopped working to take care of them and their mother. Fortunately, an uncle who is a registered nurse based in the United States supports them financially.
Their situation has not stopped their parents from supporting their daughters in every challenge they face. In trying times, Daryl said that words of encouragement are important.
“Ini-encourage ko lang. Mino-motivate ko sila na ‘wag susuko sa challenges. Na ‘wag tumigil na challenge lang talaga ang lahat. May purpose kung bakit nangyayari ‘yung ganun,” Daryl said, recalling Kate’s first time to join the NSPC and when Kaye failed to join the conference in 2015.
(I just encourage them. I motivate them not to give up on any challenge. That everything is just a challenge. That there is a purpose behind why things happen.)
According to her, the key to a child’s success is supporting their passions.
“Ang pinaka-importante lang, kung alam niyong passion ng anak niyo, go for it. I-push niyo sila. Try to push them at tsaka support niyo talaga kung ano gusto nila,” she said. (What’s important is that, if you know what your child is passionate about, go for it. Push them. Try to push them and support them in what they want.)
“Guide them all the time. Have trust in them,” she said.
After the grueling 4-day national conference, weeks spent in training finally paid off. This year, Kate Julianne was awarded as the 2nd Best News Anchor. Their team was also recognized as the 2nd Best in Technical Application. (READ: FULL LIST: #NSPC2017 winners in the Secondary Division)
NSPC is the Olympics of campus journalism in the Philippines. It is held yearly by the Department of Education. Next year’s NSPC will be hosted by the Negros Island Region.
“I feel very happy that I reached NSPC for the fifth time already,” Kate Julianne said. Despite being in the nationals for many years, for her, it still feels different every time. “We always pray to God for the best to happen.” – Rappler.com
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