“If you never ask, the answer will always be no.”
For CHiNOY TV’s Second Webinar, we’ve invited a new set of panelists to share their experiences with taking the road less traveled.
When the panelists heard the event title, “Making Our Choice on the Road Less Traveled?” They were intrigued. The first thing that came to their mind is pursuing the career path they’ve always desired. But when this panelist read the title, the first thing that came to his mind was, “Uy, Robert Frost!”
Stan Sy, a proud Chinoy podcaster who broke into the local radio industry and went on to become a huge success there and in the Philippine podcast industries, has a lot to share.
But first, let’s get to know him a little better and see where it all began. Stan Sy’s first podcast, “The Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast,” premiered in 2014. Aside from being a well-known podcaster, he also works as an event host, a voice talent, and a commercial voiceover artist. He also works for a TV station, ETC, as their continuity announcer.
Truly, Stan is one of the people who chose the road less traveled. But, he is quick to point out,
“I think there are several reasons why a path in media/broadcasting is considered a ‘road less traveled’ for us Tsinoys…
First off, being on stage, in front of the camera, or behind a microphone means that you’ll be the center of attention. It means that what you do/say will be seen/heard by many. And whether our elders are conscious/aware of it or not, it runs counter to this idea of “harmony” that they were raised to believe was correct. ‘Less talk, less mistakes.’ or ‘Don’t go seeking attention para hindi magkagulo; or ‘Don’t say anything that could start an issue.’
That’s because the real subtext here is ‘Don’t do/say anything that will make our family lose face.’ That’s the core value our elders ultimately want to uphold. Of course, Tsinoy families are not the best at communicating, so I doubt there were a lot of open, honest conversations about this sa mga Tsinoy families.
Second, pursuing a career in media/broadcasting has always been volatile. It takes a while before you can really establish yourself in the industry and secure a steady and stable income. The generation of my parents was raised by the generation of Chinese immigrants, who focused on making sure that their families survived. The earlier generations will tell you that they worked themselves to the bone so that our generation could live comfortably. So why make it hard for yourself and pick a career that could be unstable?
The approach comes off abrasively, doesn’t it? But it’s ultimately rooted in love and the desire to protect the younger generation from hardships. That said, it takes a while to understand all of that because, again, Tsinoys are not the best at communicating—especially when it gets emotionally tense. That’s why it seems like the older generations discourage the younger ones from pursuing this career path.”
But it doesn’t mean that there haven’t been any successful Tsinoys who have made a career out of using their voice—quite the contrary! We just don’t hear enough of them because of several factors:
- Our elders don’t fully understand these industries so they won’t be able to talk about it as well as you’d want them to.
- Some successful Tsinoys in the media have had to use Filipino-sounding surnames to either blend in because of how uncommon they were in that space in that time. Or they probably used purchased surnames because of their family’s history of immigrating to the Philippines.
- And finally, for the longest time, Tsinoys have not been represented as much in the media because we’ve been relegated to stereotypes like “anak-mayaman” or “kidnapping victim” or “puro business lang ang alam” or “may accent ‘yan“.
Stan cannot pinpoint exactly when he started to make a living with his voice. He was initially unsure if he could make a legitimate career out of being in the media. There have been Tsinoys who have pursued this career before Stan, but it’s still not a stereotypically Tsinoy career path.
There’s an unspoken expectation that “a good Tsinoy son” should be a businessman, a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer—it’s usually those four careers.
Stan never saw himself in that mold. “I’ve always enjoyed telling stories, and when I realized that I could make a career out of it, I decided to bet on myself and see how far I could go.” Stan has been fortunate to have met mentors and friends who have pushed him in the right direction and helped him get opportunities to advance his career. “My parents—specifically my dad—have also been very supportive of my career and the moves I’ve made to get to this point.”
With the benefit of hindsight, Stan has seen his career span broadcasting, hosting, podcasting, and voice-over work and realize that this is his business. Without realizing it, he has become a businessman of his own by developing his skills in media and monetizing them. “ And if that’s not legitimate enough for you, Uncle, I’ve got the government papers and the official receipts to prove it.”
Stan’s parting words for those who are unsure about which career path to take or what to do with their lives, especially in a pandemic. “Consider your financial situation, especially if you have to support your family. If you can afford to bet on yourself, then go ahead. But if you need immediate returns and are expecting them, too, the odds might be stacked against you.”
And to those who also choose the road less traveled, Stan would like to say, “May the odds be ever in your favor. Trust the process. It’s the journey, not the destination, that matters. Patience is a virtue.” On a more serious note, “ When you feel like your career has hit a roadblock, take a moment to look back at everything you’ve accomplished since you started. You’ll be surprised at what you’ve managed to do.”