Taking an adventure and also giving back

GOING to new places outside the usual itinerary, learning from the locals’ stories, and giving back to the community are the focus of Cignal TV’s new “infotainment” travel show Woman in Action, hosted by Gretchen Ho.

Gretchen Ong Ho, a former collegiate volleyball athlete for the Ateneo Lady Eagles from 2008 to 2013, debuted as an anchor and sports program broadcaster in various ABS-CBN programs before joining TV5 in 2021.

The show began as an online platform which Ms. Ho launched during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. She then extended the platform to a television show. As host and producer of Woman in Action, Ms. Ho will explore remote places in the country, highlighting adventures and the unique stories and the situation of these communities.

The show’s main goal is to “show the heart of the Filipino story through travel and adventure,” Ms. Ho said during an online press conference on Sept. 23.

In Woman in Action, Ms. Ho showcases the outgoing side of herself. “It’s fun for me to share that side of me,” she said. As host and producer, she said that “there is a conscious effort to annotate, to narrate and really immerse” herself in the places and communities she visits.

Ms. Ho added that the show will also focus on “courageous” travel and not just limit it to resorts and hotels.

“We wanted to show a different side [about the destination]. We traveled through the different stories of people,” she said.

In the first episode, Ms. Ho travels to a community in La Union. As a kickoff to the program, Ms. Ho noted that their team wanted to show the tourism status as it is the province’s major industry.

“…We wanted it to start by asking the question ‘Paano ba bumabangon iyung ating mga kapatid na frontliners sa [tourism] industry?’ (How do our fellow tourism frontliners in the industry raise themselves up?),” she said, adding that the episode showcases more of the province than just its famous surfing spots.

During the pandemic, Ms. Ho also launched the “Donate a Bike Save a Job” campaign which ended up helping a thousand families, with more than 1,500 bicycles donated to frontliners and workers for easier transportation at a time when public transportation was scarce.

Ms. Ho and her team were able to donate 100 bikes to the community she visited in La Union.

The next episodes will include a sustainable public service component in every community the show visited. Ms. Ho is working with NGOs to bring their work to the public’s attention, and hopefully gain sponsors to help the communities.

“That’s one thing we want to teach in our episodes — every time you go to a place, you can actually leave a mark that will last,” she said.

Other places to be featured in the show include Bukidnon where Ms. Ho climbs Mount Dulang-Dulang — the second highest mountain in the Philippines; and Siargao where they will visit communities affected by Typhoon Odette which trashed the area in December last year. The show also features trips abroad, such as an episode in Singapore where they feature the Formula One race and stories about the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

One significant episode, Ms. Ho said, revolves around a trip to Rizal Province with 2020 Tokyo Olympics Gold medalistHidilyn Diaz-Naranjo and her coach and husband Julius Naranjo, where they visit a training camp for young athletes. Ms. Diaz has a seven-year-old niece who is an athlete training there.

“Their efforts there and what their lives are, is something to watch out for. I’m excited to tell that story,” Ms. Ho said.

For Ms. Ho, being a woman in action means “making things happen.”

“Marami akong ideas noon (I had many ideas before)…The only way that is going to come true is if I act on the vision,” she said. “I really did not want this to be exclusive to women… It’s really a call to action to anyone na if you want to pursue something… all you need to do is to take courage [and work] towards it.”

Woman in Action premieres on Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m., on One News via Cignal, available on CH. 8 SD and CH. 250 HD. The episodes will be replayed the following day at 8 p.m. on One PH, CH. 1, and will also be available on SatLite CH. 60 and on the Cignal Play app. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman