by Don Tagala, ABS-CBN News
“I am the daughter of immigrants from the Philippines. My other is Batanguena, my father is from Davao — and the one thing I know about Batangenas, is that they apparently not to be messed with at all.”
Fil-Am journalist Elaine Quijano came shining through as moderator of the only vice presidential debate in 2016, which was aired on CBS.
Quijano has made her mark as the first Asian-American woman, a Filipina, to moderate a national debate between vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence last November, during the general elections.
“Decades from now, maybe I’ll think about it and tell my grandkids, your lola used to be a moderator,” Quijano says. “Right now we’re very busy keeping track of Washington — but I felt very humbled, very privileged to be a part of that.”
Quijano also made her acting debut, playing a news anchor in the hit TV series ‘Madam Secretary’ in 2016.
Today, the CBS news anchor and correspondent continues to cover President Donald Trump’s first one hundred days in office.
While it has been a challenge for the media to cover the Trump presidency, Quijano says the role of journalists and the media has not really changed.
“For me the job is the same, you tell what happened, you present the facts as you understand them,” Quijano shared. “There’s a lot of news being made every day, but that’s not necessarily all that different than any other presidents in the first 100 days.”
Quijano says that her family, especially her mother, is her source of strength, inspiration and motivation.
At the age of 26, her mother got a degree in accounting that allowed her to immigrate to the US.
“That decision by her changed the course of my life, it changed the course of my family’s life, because of this stubborn Batangena dream… she did not allow her to see herself as limited, and this is something that I think about a lot.”
Just like many immigrant Filipino families in the US, she was expected to pursue a career in medicine, law or engineering.
But after attempting to become an engineer at the University of Illinois — on a whim, she switched to a broadcast journalism course instead.
The rest is history, as they say.
“As the daughter of immigrants, of Filipino immigrants, I feel tremendously humbled by their sacrifice and their hard work, and their willingness to try something completely different and foreign — for the promise of what this country have to offer,” Quijano says.
Quijano says her family’s story is a story of the immigrant spirit — even without knowing what lies ahead in an adopted country, their belief that America is a place for opportunity.
Hard work, dedication and persistence all brought Quijano to where she is now.
She is an award-winning Fil-Am broadcast journalist, who broke a glass ceiling during the 2016 presidential election.