As a journalist who covered the realities of politics, territorial disputes and armed conflict, Camille told the stories of innocent Filipinos caught in the crossfire. Now working as a communications officer in a male-dominated industry, Camille uses her voice to break gender stereotypes by advocating for women empowerment.
Briefly describe your area of expertise or advocacies. How long have you been doing these?
I had my baptism by fire as a journalist when I joined TV5 straight out of college. The news desk deployed me to wherever the action is– from buy bust operations, shooting incidents, to terrorist bombings and natural disasters. There were also times when I covered the action among prominent political figures inside the storied halls of government institutions.
I further refined my social and political awareness when I moved to CNN Philippines a few years later, where I covered the 2016 national elections and was given the opportunity to cover and make documentaries on the territorial dispute on Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea and the war in Marawi City– a coverage that paved the way for my profound understanding of the true state of the Filipino people – children, women and men – caught in the middle of the armed conflict.
After seven action-packed and life-changing years in the media industry, I decided to shift gears and move on to a new direction. I am now on my third year as communications officer for one of the country’s oldest and biggest trade unions where I spearhead communication strategies and organize projects intended to empower women and young transport workers.
Among your interests, which one has been your driving force?
God is the ultimate force that moves me. I believe that the places I’ve been to, the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had are all part of God’s master plan.
Aside from my faith, my advocacy on women empowerment has always been my driving force.
In every work I do, I’m always about championing women and challenging stereotypes. When I covered war & conflict and natural disasters, I was asked the question, “Bakit ikaw, eh babae ka?” one too many times.
But instead of losing heart, I kept my head up. I used the discrimination and all the criticisms thrown at me to fuel my willpower to get the job done and to inspire other women to break barriers and not let their gender hinder them from pursuing their passion.
When I covered the war, I told the stories of women and children in the evacuation centers – their struggles, fears and desolation; the innocence and spark of hope in their eyes; their strength and resilience amidst the roaring atrocities all around them.
But I also told the story of the women in the frontlines – the fierce and fearless lady soldiers who defended the lives of innocent civilians. I witnessed their courage and extraordinary abilities when I joined them in one of their rescue operations on the battlefield.
In my current position, my driving force remains strong and undaunted. Only this time around, apart from telling the story of women trying to shatter the glass ceiling in a historically male-dominated industry, I also get to plan and execute actual projects to empower them, make their voices heard and open up doors of opportunities for them to move their careers forward.
To what/who would you attribute your achievement/s?
I attribute my achievements to my faith, my family, the people who believed/believe in me and my passion to create small ripples of change to make a big impact to inspire people– especially women.
I am blessed to have been raised by my humble and hardworking parents, Melinda and Nicodemus Abadicio, in a household of faith. My mom, a Maryknoller herself (MC COL ‘86), taught me the value of selflessness, courage and grace, while my dad instilled in me the value of excellence, patience and persistence.
My parents nurtured our family and showered me and my six other siblings with love and compassion. They also taught us to worship God through our talents so we can bless and touch other people’s lives.
I am also grateful to have married a man who encourages me to be my best self and motivates me to pursue my passion while I navigate through our life together as husband and wife, and as parents to our most cherished son.
But aside from my family, I was able to pull through and follow my aspirations because of all the people who believed/believe in me and my abilities— my bosses and colleagues in TV5 and CNN Philippines when I was in the news, as well as my colleagues at AMOSUP, especially my boss, Dr. Conrado Oca, who is an exceptional and supportive leader who brings out the best in his people.
In what ways did your Maryknoll/Miriam education impact your life and profession?
While my parents molded my values as a person, Miriam shaped my principles as a woman.
Since I started working, I’ve taken MC’s motto, “Forming Women Leaders in Service” to heart. It just naturally stuck with me even after I graduated.
In everything that I do, I would always look for meaning – a purpose; an opportunity to lead, to serve and to make a difference. Perhaps it’s the reason why I always choose an occupation that involves public service and improving the lives of people.
Can you share some memorable experiences during your years in Maryknoll/Miriam College?
At the end of my first semester in college, I was so surprised to learn that I topped my batch and that MC would grant me a full tuition honor scholarship! It was such a blessing because around that time, my parents were also sending two other siblings to college.
As an honor scholar, there was so much pressure to maintain my grades to keep the scholarship. It was particularly challenging because I was juggling academics and my responsibilities as a student leader – I was President of the First Year Council and became VP and President of the Communication Society the succeeding years.
My social awareness was stirred through Miriam’s efforts to open our eyes on women’s issues. I will never forget the time we attended a forum in Malacañang on violence against women where I first learned about honor killings in the Middle East and the other plights of women in Asia.
My involvement as a student staff in the Asia Pacific NGO Summit showed me the great power women possess, especially when they work together in solidarity. My drive for social action was amplified even more when I joined various mass action, lobbying and outreach activities spearheaded MC’s advocacy centers, ESI, WAGI and CPE, as well as INSA and the council of leaders.
Somehow, I also ended up being cast in two major productions of the Miriam College Institute for the Arts, “Amihan” and “Tamala,” where I worked with the brilliant director, production team and talents of the Miriam Community.
I was not a perfect student and my whole college life was not without hardships and low points. But I never really realized how active and fruitful my student life was until I graduated in 2011 – Magna Cum Laude, with leadership and academic excellence awards.
Aside from the celebration of a new life chapter after college, my graduation was especially memorable because it was one of the most heartwarming moments in my life where I made my parents proud.
What career or life accomplishment makes you most proud?
My greatest life accomplishment is the family that my loving husband, Richard, and I are building together and I’m most proud of the fruit of our love – our adorable son, Rafa.
My family is everything to me. When I’m stripped off of everything I have, everything I’ve done and everything that I am, they are all I’ve got. My husband and my son are my pride and my home.
Careerwise, my latest achievement would be my recognition as one of the three winners of Global Maritime Forum’s Future Maritime Leaders 2020 where we bested over a hundred participants in 37 countries. I wrote a piece entitled, “S.E.A.F.A.R.E.R.” which was published by the Global Maritime Forum. I dedicate that triumph to all the seafarers–women and men. They are the world’s economic frontliners who brave the threat of COVID-19 just to ensure that the global supply chain is undisrupted.
I never won any award when I was a news reporter. But every story I have ever written and told that either had a powerful impact or changed the perspective or lives of the viewers for the better – that’s a good enough accomplishment for me.
What advice would you give our students who wish to pursue the same path?
One word: GRAD.
1. Good Attitude. I believe this is the most important value that you should always keep in mind. A positive attitude will take you far.
You should never compromise your values because at the end of the day, they are all that you have and they define who you are. Your values are your face to the world.
2. Resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly.
The outside world is riddled with trials, tribulations, challenges, heartaches, disappointments, frustrations and failures.
You need to be resilient to survive. Amidst all the circumstances and all the obstacles that come your way, keep your head up---
Just keep on keeping on. Be you. Do you.
3. Ability to adapt to change. Change is constant. Everything changes every day, every hour, every minute and every second. If you can't keep up, you will be left behind.
Your journey starts from learning who you are, your strengths, your passions, what makes you happy and what makes your heart beat. And then you set your goals- think about your dreams, the life you want to live, the heights you want to reach.
You should ALWAYS set your sights on these goals. FOCUS. But you should also be flexible. You should be able to adapt to the changes that life brings.
4. Drive to succeed. Success requires constantly exploring and discovering life– it is an endless quest for a sense of fulfillment.
Down the road, you will realize that with your small ripples of success, you actually get to move and inspire other people who also seek their life's meaning– their own success.
Ultimately, success is a science with a little sprinkle of fate and faith--- it requires your ability to realize the opportunity you have and to make an effective plan to seize it. Of course with guidance from God.
In one sentence, how would you describe a Maryknoll/Miriam graduate.
A Maryknoll/Miriam graduate is a strong-hearted and levelheaded woman who exudes grit and grace.