Persona

Inside Korina’s halfway home

My personal life stories are seen all over the house

Korina Sanchez-Roxas in her living room, before a Cesar Legazpi mural (Photo by T. San Juan)

INTRODUCTION. It was before eight in the morning in a hotel in Zurich. I was in the elevator on my way down to the ground floor for breakfast, when the door opened and right before me was Korina Sanchez-Roxas, about to step onto my lift. She was camera-ready—already made-up, her hair a glamorous tumble of waves—and was rushing to a coverage. This, when I and the rest of the media team had barely reconnected to the world from our sleep.

Korina Sanchez-Roxas designed and decorated her penthouse herself—a calming mix of muted tones with pops of teal blue and orange, and the artworks she chose. (Photo by T. San Juan)

This was in early winter in Switzerland, around 2011, when I, Korina, Joanne Rae Ramirez were in a media group invited to watch Mamma Mia! and interview its cast who would be performing in its Manila leg. Korina was maximizing the trip to do other stories in Zurich for her magazine show—she actually didn’t have to be chasing stories, but she was, and so early in the morning.

That elevator encounter stuck in my head because it was such a graphic proof of her drive and passion for the job. She was going the extra mile yet again.

That has been the Korina way in journalism and in life—always going the extra mile. It is beyond competitive because it’s as if her benchmark is not the media industry where she’s been one of the movers for the past decades; her benchmark is obviously herself—how she can work and achieve beyond her limits.

Today, during the pandemic, it is so in character that she launched her magazine show Rated Korina last October on TV 5, which puts her in pursuit of stories even in far-flung areas. Her premier episode brought her to a man who talks to his doll or another man who covered himself in tattoo. As she says repeatedly, if there’s a story to be told, she will tell it.

That noon in early October we stepped into her “woman cave,” as she calls it, for the lunch she was hosting for friends to celebrate her birthday and ours. The Korina “cave” is the penthouse of a residential condominium that gives a bird’s eye view of the skyline and the last coveted carpets of greenery in the metropolis. The panoramic glass window wrapped around the penthouse lets in the blue sky—its calming vista enhanced by the muted neutrals of the penthouse’s interiors.

Korina designed it herself, each corner and object in it reflective of her style and preferences. It’s an airy, stylish and classy digs—that must be giving her sanctuary in this pandemic. The open layout, with the furniture and home accents in clusters, lets one’s mind breathe. The eyes are drawn to Korina’s personal choices of paintings, which we find good and valuable—Joya, Rodel Tapaya, Cesar Legazpi, among others, indeed a highly informed mix of significant Filipino artists whom Korina has been collecting since the start of her career.

A long console bears portraits of her loved ones—her parents and husband Mar.

Stepping out during this pandemic is a brave thing to do. That afternoon, we did just that to be with friends—manager (more like nurturer) of the Filipino talent Jojie Dingcong, who helped organize the lunch, foremost interior designer Jonathan Matti, investment banker who’s a keen observer of lifestyle Andrew Gan, seasoned home retailer Karen Santos, noted eye doctor Glenn Carandang (cataract surgeon, macular degeneration specialist). We were all eager to see Korina’s penthouse and to know what she’s been up to. (Oh, as bonus, she showed me what dumbbells to use for my biceps and triceps.)—Thelma S. San Juan

Korina ready for our lunch (Photo by Jojie Dingcong)

 

Korina with good friend Jojie Dingcong before her corner of personal memories (Photo by T. San Juan)

Here it is, in her own words:

What’s the challenge of raising Rated Korina to another level, coming from Rated K?

They say, why fix it if it ain’t broke? But then, anything and everything can stand improvement. So there are things about the show that will level up while its core equity will always be the same, that core equity being that we tell the stories best and the stories become big news even from small lives.

As line producer now of Rated Korina I tend to be more hands-on again. I’ve always been the executive producer of the shows I host or anchor. But I had become busier and more distracted the past 10 years because of other activities. But now, I’m finding myself returning to what I know I do pretty well, and that’s to be immersed in the stories so that I tell the stories better.

I collaborate much more closely now with each team in each story: from the shooters to the writers to the editors. I think you’ll see this in the first two episodes that have aired, that I’ve been traveling to far-flung areas just to be immersed.

Part of Korina’s living room with Rodel Tapaya painting, being videoed by her good friend Jojie Dingcong (Video by T. San Juan)

The challenge? My stamina and energy. I’m doing work I used to do when I was in my 30s. Well, I’m not that young anymore. Hahaha… That’s why part of the challenge is keeping myself healthy and fit.

MIXING MOTHERHOOD WITH PASSIONATE JOURNALISM

I was always the one in class most likely to have the most children. Yes, all my friends know how I love children. But then the journalism came early into my life and took over.

Now, in my 50s, I’m a mother to twins! It has been glorious. I was anxious in the beginning thinking it meant double trouble. It is actually double happiness. Pilar can now say “I love you Mama” and Pepe calls me from afar “Mammaaaaaaa!” Melts my heart.

I never stopped believing it would happen for me too.

But being an older mom, I realize how my joy is always coupled with pragmatism. After all I’ve seen and been through and survived from, plus all the experiences as a journalist, I tend to be not too doting and clingy. I’d like my children to be tough and resourceful. And—just overall good human beings.

Now that I’m neck-deep in work again, And amid Covid19 pandemic, I’ve had to quarantine myself for weeks away from my children every time I go out. It’s been difficult this way. But I believe it will get better and I’ll find the balance, so I’m there with and for my children as it matters.

We tell the stories best and the stories become big news even from small lives

WOMAN-CAVE

I’ve always had a halfway home here in the south of the metro. I explained to my husband that I sort of need a ME SPACE and an outlet for everything I want to look —- for me. Well, that’s also saying that our Cubao residence is a constant tug between what works for me, for Mar and now—- two little dynamos Pepe en Pilar.

Our home is in constant disarray now. My halfway home is my woman-cave. I entertain a lot here, I do work here. And in this pandemic I’ve found myself half living here. While the Cubao home is a burst of color as Mar likes it, this home is muted into hues of taupe and brown and white. Accents are teal blue and blood orange. All my small art collection is here as Cubao is filled with the art of my mom-in-law.

Chandelier which Korina got on her trip to Germany is a visual point of her dining table. (Photo by T. San Juan)

I like this space serene and orderly. No clutter. But not minimalist. My personal life stories are seen all over the house. Photos of my parents in their prime, mine and Mar’s when we were toddlers in shots foreboding of what we would be—Mar a serious thinker while I’m really an alembong performer…. my trophies and photos from broadcasting….art from countries I’ve visited, like from Africa, this beautiful but curious tree carving that’s actually a pygmy-made ladder used for climbing a treehouse. Oh I love things like that with a story to tell. Much of the furniture here I designed myself as well.

So there’s a lot to converse about here really. This place is… ME.

KEEPING FRIENDS

I usually keep friends who want to keep me. Hahaha! I guess anyone would want friends who like them, right? I don’t look at stature or gender or righteousness.

Many of my friends are flawed, and admit it —- like me. I also try to keep my oldest friends from my youth, from School even if I’m so much of an absentee from their lives. They accept me for who I am—from whence. And it doesn’t matter to them what you have.

To the oldest friends, it’s really who you are.


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