If you mildly followed the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) tournaments back in 2008 to 2013, then the name Gretchen Ho should sound familiar. Ho used to play for the Ateneo Lady Eagles as a middle blocker, and she used to be part of the famed “Fab Five” team that led Ateneo to its first-ever back-to-back UAAP finals appearances. Now, she is a successful News Anchor and TV Host who is always ready to jump into the heat as a woman-in-action.
In college, Ho took Management Engineering in Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) because coming from a Chinoy family, that is what was already expected of her.
“Coming from a Chinese family, sanay kami na, “Okay, magco-corporate ako.” I’ll go [to a] multinational company. M.E. [Management Engineering] is the course for Chinese, diba?” Ho says in an interview with Bianca Gonzalez-Intal. (Coming from a Chinese family, we were used to the thinking, “Okay, I’ll work in corporate.” I’ll go to a multinational company. M.E. is the course for the Chinese people, right?)
Unexpectedly, Ho was encouraged by her parents to take a different career path from her degree. Her parents talked to her about how the corporate world would always welcome her with open arms, while opportunities in the media industry disappear quickly. At first, Ho was hesitant because she admitted to having snooty notions in her head about show business or the media industry in general.
“It was a whole new world for me getting into media… and seeing people like you— other hosts, other celebrities, producers, anchors, journalists— and it was, you know, very colorful discovering a whole new world [from] being an athlete… para akong namulat sa mundo.”
On going out of her comfort zone to push herself further
Ho was invited to cover the Tokyo Olympics held last year. While this is a huge milestone for her career, Ho admits that the pandemic posed a lot of challenges for her.
“Hindi ko akalain na mapupunta ako sa Tokyo Olympics in a pandemic, tapos kami lang yung nandoon.” (I did not expect that I will be sent out [to report the] Tokyo Olympics in a pandemic, and we [hosts and staff] were the only ones there.)
Aside from the pandemic restrictions, Ho had trouble having little real experience in covering certain games. However, it was a good thing that she was already doing her own homework by doing reports and making analyses on the SEA and NBA games.
She also said that the reporter must be fully read to cover the game from all sides— for both online and television. Ho was thankful that she really pushed herself by doing extra work that she never knew would give her a leg up in her coverage of the Tokyo Olympics.
“Salamat dahil dinaanan ko yung mga challenges na yun. Kasi, hindi ako magiging as prepared kung hindi ako dumaan dun.” (I’m thankful because I went through those challenges. Because [if I didn’t,] I wouldn’t be as prepared.)
On finding her career path in the media industry
Doing what you love as a job is no easy feat, and Ho agrees with this. She admits that choosing the cut-throat media industry was a tougher decision than simply following the career path that her college degree offered.
“I think mas mahirap pa nga yung pinuntahan kong lugar kasi walang mold, walang naka-set. Mas madali kasing sumunod— pero yung ikaw yung gagawa nung daan? Medyo mas mahirap yata yun.” (I think choosing this path is harder since there’s no “mold,” there’s nothing set. It is easier to just follow [what is ahead of you], but for you to actually create that road? That is slightly harder to do.)
Like any other adult, Ho also had a hard time figuring out what exactly that she wanted to pursue in her career. At first, Ho tried her hand as a host. She shifted to doing news and pinch hitting in Studio 23. Then, she also started doing entertainment events. At one point, she knew in her heart that she was going to end up doing news stories because of her love for public service.
“When I was young, (…) I always envisioned myself to go support an NGO or work with an NGO. My vision is to go around the Philippines— help people [and] immerse. That’s what I’m passionate for. And I think [doing that kind of work is] very news[-like].”
Ho also admits that while a lot of risk-taking was involved in finding out what she truly wanted to do, she knew right from the start that she loved being able to do something or being part of what was happening, and only being part of the news media would allow her to do that.
As a final piece of advice, Ho tells people how we end up as is entirely up to how we make it— and that we are the ones writing our own story.
“You are free to make your own path and who you want to be. You don’t necessarily need to follow a certain path. Because people [will] always ask you, “Who do you wanna be like?” Pag tinatanong ako nun, it’s not just one person. It’s a lot of people I admire. Eventually, [you will realize that] you are in charge of who you’re gonna become.”