Abigail Querubin-Aquino, head of ABS-CBN Regional since July 2013, was among a select group of employees retained by ABS-CBN Corporation when it bought Molave Broadcasting in 1995.Atty.
Taking up biology as her pre-law degree, Querubin-Aquino juggled work as part-time FM deejay in Molave Broadcasting, fulltime researcher for the German Agency for Technical Cooperation or GTZ, and part-time faculty in two universities where she taught sciences such as biology, parative anatomy, entomology, zoology, medical Latin and the like. These were professions she had planned to dedicate herself to ever since she was a young lass. She eventually gave up research and teaching to pursue law studies to serve those who cannot afford legal services, but kept her first love (broadcasting) at Molave Broadcasting in Dagupan City.
By the time of the purchase, Querubin-Aquino had just passed the bar and was Molave Broadcasting’s station manager. Although ABS-CBN was not obliged to take in any of the existing employees, she was assigned initially to head Marketing and Legal. In 1997, she again became station manager of Dagupan and in 1998, she was tasked to also head ABSCBN Baguio.
By the year 2003, she was cluster head of Northern Luzon, in charge of at the time five other regional stations, in addition to Dagupan and Baguio. By 2004, Southern Luzon was added to her assignments. And in 2005, she became head for the Visayas cluster. In 2007, she was assigned back to the Luzon cluster where her expertise was again needed. With every move, the lawyer has had to face different challenging situations and was successful in making a great turnaround together with the team.
She says: “Media is very influential, such that if people are not rooted, they will tend to abuse the power they have. They will be caught in a culture of superiority and haughtiness.”
Being a lawyer has turned out to be an advantage as she is able to institute processes, innovate, support, develop, instill and promote company values, competencies and good governance “so that we can earn the trust of the people we serve. People will always know if we are sincere or not.”
Despite the many challenges of 32 years in the broadcast industry, Querubin-Aquino has always enjoyed her work immensely.
“My first priority is to get to know each and every member of the team so I can manage by culture and help them hone their skills. I know I am assigned to a task because help is needed so the team can perform at their best. If I have to let go of some people, it is because they refuse to work with the team and embrace the very fact that we work to serve and not to be served.”
Today, ABS-CBN Regional is 1,368-strong, spread across 33 stations. In the last quarter of 2013 when she was newly appointed to head the division, she was welcomed by the Zamboanga siege that required 24/7 monitoring, and “making sure that the team was safe as they continued to do their service to the Zamboanga kapamilya”; the Bohol earthquake; and then super typhoon Yolanda, when the entire regional team without letup brought relief goods to the typhoon-stricken areas of Leyte, Samar, Northern Cebu, Kalibo, Roxas, Northern Iloilo, Northern Bacolod and Northern Palawan.
Signaling hope to victims
The team simultaneously conducted news coverage and rescue efforts relentlessly, and made sure that ABS-CBN went back on air immediately in whatever way possible.
“Going back on air was vital to signal hope to everyone who thought the world had ended. And it did not end there, livelihood came next to ensure that the victims attain sustainable recovery and growth, because we wanted for all the victims to be proud of themselves in coming out of the greatest devastation, and for them not to feel indebted,” says Querubin-Aquino.
The youngest child of a Protestant missionary, she grew up longing to be of service to people, just like her mother who traveled over mountains to minister to the poor, teaching the gospel and helping people find their way to Christ.
“I realized that God was preparing me then for the bigger task at ABS-CBN, where we bring service to the public, not just through news and information, but also through social work especially during calamities. Here, we practice true public service, which is giving yourself to somebody without thinking of comfort, convenience or repayment. We’re very lucky because we are given the chance to help people. CSR (corporate social responsibility) is embedded in everything that we do. So I can really say that you don’t need to be a politician to serve the people,” she says.
Her message to LopezLink readers: “Put people first. Make them the focal point of what you do. If your team is okay, everything else will follow. You can best serve the people outside by serving the people inside. You can surmount anything with a good team. But you have to build it (the team). Remind them that everything their hands find to do should be done with all their heart, mind and soul just as the Word of God says, and to never forget to put family and God as their core. Dedicate yourself to whatever it is that your team needs to accomplish, so they can see that you are walking your talk. We as leaders have to set a good example. Never stop studying. Think of ways you can improve each and every day so we can contribute to the improvement of society, and this will push you to excellence.”