‘The Philippines' Most Awarded Broadcast Journalist' is still a Kapuso: Jessica Soho continues mission of storytelling and helping others
In the span of almost four decades, Soho has blazed a trail in broadcast journalism. She helped give the Philippines its first-ever George Foster Peabody award in 1999 and soon earned another Peabody win in 2014.
She became the first Filipino to be nominated and to have won in the New York Festivals (NYF) TV & Film Awards. She holds the distinction of having won all the medal categories at the NYF. ‘Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’ took home the Gold World Medal earlier this year – the show’s third World Medal after winning Bronze Medals in 2019 and 2022. Her other former programs 'State of the Nation with Jessica Soho' and 'Brigada' have also brought home Silver and Bronze Medals in previous NYF Awards.
Before she was elevated to the Hall of Fame, Soho was the “Most Trusted TV Host for News and Current Affairs” by the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands Awards for 13 consecutive years. She was also the first UP College of Mass Communication alumna to receive the Gawad Plaridel Award for Journalism.
Yet through all these accolades, Soho, who is a self-confessed “promdi” or “a small town girl, who made good,” remains grounded and focused on her goal: to serve the public and do good.
GMA Network Chairman and CEO Atty. Felipe L. Gozon underscored the value of Jessica to the Network.
“Jessica Soho is not only ‘The Philippines' most awarded broadcast journalist,' she is also one of GMA Network’s most-prized gems. Bilang isa sa mga itinuturing na mukha ng GMA Network, naging matibay na institusyon si Jessica ng GMA News, at isa siya sa mga nirerespetong haligi ng award-winning team ng GMA Public Affairs,” says Atty. Gozon.
“Ang kanyang programang ‘Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’ ay patuloy na number 1 sa viewers at humahakot ng karangalan sa loob at labas ng bansa. Kaya hindi kataka-taka, na mula noon, hanggang ngayon, isa pa rin siya sa mga tinitingalang broadcast journalist sa Pilipinas. Kaya naman, ako at ang buong GMA Network ay nagagalak na nananatili siyang Kapuso,” he adds.
Soho’s heart is full of gratitude as she remains a loyal Kapuso.
“Thank you very much. Walang hanggang pasasalamat,” she says to the Network that has been her home for almost four decades. “GMA has been my home for the past 38 years and counting. Kung walang GMA, walang Jessica Soho. Ganun lang iyun kasimple,” she says.
Present during Soho’s contract renewal were GMA President and COO Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr., Executive Vice President and CFO Felipe S. Yalong; and First Vice President of Public Affairs Nessa Valdellon.
Joining them were Public Affairs’ Senior Assistant Vice President Clyde Mercado; Asst. Vice President Angelie Atienza; Asst. Vice President Lee Joseph Castel; and Asst. Vice President for Systems and Budget Riza Laurente. Also present was Asst. Vice President for Corporate Communications Jojo Aquio.
Soho is one of the main driving forces behind GMA Network’s News and Public Affairs. From her ideas, some of the country’s most iconic public affairs shows were born. Among these were ‘Brigada Siete,’ ‘Emergency,’ and ‘I-Witness.’
Her passion to tell stories to all walks of life extends to creating new concepts for television – some of which became hit TV series.
“I think God blessed me with an overactive mind, kaya dapat lang i-share even my craziest of thoughts,” she says. Soho was behind the idea of the hit adventure series ‘Lolong.’
It’s not a surprise that people around Soho find inspiration from her – especially her colleagues. “I promise to continue sharing my ideas and pitching storylines and program concepts as well as mentoring our production staff. My colleagues will bear me out on this – hindi ako madamot.”
From this generosity also comes Soho’s determination to pay it forward and share her talents and ideas to more people.
“So I’m looking forward to keep on generating story concepts and sharing these with our producers and storytellers, in whatever formats or genres.”
Her show, ‘Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho,’ is still the Filipinos’ favorite Sunday viewing habit on TV.
“One of my biggest blessings in life is KMJS. I will always be grateful to this program and to the best, Team KMJS!!! Renewing my talent contract with KMJS means more stories to share, inspire, help, give hope, and change lives. Iyung mga naikukuwento naming mga kababayan natin na nangangailangan ng tulong, nabibiyayaan nang sobra-sobra pagkatapos naming ikuwento ang kanilang mga buhay,” she says.
KMJS is proof, too, that the good still prevails over bad and there will always be people willing to extend a helping hand.
“There truly are more good people in the world. A special shoutout to our OFWs who watch KMJS online and readily give donations to our kababayans in need. Tunay ngang busilak ang puso ng Pinoy.”
“I would like to think that another opportunity to go on hosting KMJS is continuing my life’s mission of storytelling and helping others,” adds Soho.
PAYING IT FORWARD
Soho takes a step further to reach more audiences beyond television. She is set to lead “The GMA Public Affairs Talk” as it goes around the Philippines soon.
The first leg was called “The New York Festival Medalists & The National Artist GMA Public Affairs Talk on Storytelling and Producing,” where Soho shared to GMA staff and employees her extensive experience in reporting and broadcasting spanning almost four decades. GMA Public Affairs is planning a road show version of this, which will be open to students and young professionals.
Soho also wants to remind the young and future journalists of what journalism is all about.
“Two things I’ve always been consistent about every time I am asked for advice to young journalists: Keep on reading and that it’s never about us,” she says.
“The first one is self-explanatory so let me expound on the second one. We are not the story. I get the need for selfies and the influencing and promoting on our social media accounts but when chasing after stories and reporting or producing those, the “old school” rules should never be compromised. Because those are values and what journalism is all about: accuracy, fairness, responsibility.”
“It’s a continuing quest to be trusted or to be worthy of trust,” she adds. “Earn your stripes. Show up for work even on bad days. Especially on bad days. Because there’s a public to be served and to borrow a line from colleague and fellow Kapuso journalist Malou Mangahas — 'Journalism is a far bigger cause than anyone of us,” she ends.