In the realm of Philippine travel journalism, Susan Calo-Medina is an institution, so to speak.
Long before the influx of travel programs and channels, travel magazines, and those countless travel websites and blogs like this one, she was one of those pioneering spirits who went out of her way to visit almost every point in the Philippines and show to us the rich sights and sounds the country has to offer. And for a generation or so of Filipinos who grew up watching her on Travel Time or on Tipong Pinoy with Wency Cornejo, Susan served as a gateway for us to discover and be inspired by the country’s beauty and diversity for the first time.
Perhaps it would not be a stretch to say that in a way, she helped pave way for the growth of the Philippine travel journalism that we see today. Directly or indirectly, her efforts led to the rise of Philippine travel-related media, especially in magazines and sites. The fact that you are reading this piece on this site is an indirect influence of what she started on television almost 30 years or so ago.
Other than being in the media, she worked as well in the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, having been part of the agency’s communication committee. Just goes to show that her passion for the country is not just limited to the TV screens but also extended to helping out the government promote especially the culture and the arts, despite the negative perception the government has been getting.
And it is rare to find someone with such zeal for the country as her.
Unfortunately, I do not have much of a Susan Calo-Medina story to tell from memory. Admittedly, I only got to watch her show a few times as a kid and I could not remember anymore those episodes I watched. What I remember though was that the visuals of those sights got me hooked. I think I was not much paying attention to the spoken words as I paid attention more to what I saw.
In retrospect, I would like to believe that the memory of those visuals have been a subliminal influence on me. Before I knew it, I grew up to be this restless soul who is eager to see what is out there the country has to offer, albeit having more limited resources.
I got to see her a few times whenever I visit the Salcedo Saturday Market at Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village. Turns out her family has a stall there that sells ensaymada, which I sadly have not tried yet. Also, I learned she was an active member of the Barangay Bel-Air community which helped organize the weekend market there. Unfortunately, I was shy to approach her and have at least a photo of her. And sadly, I would not have that chance anymore.
From what I’ve gathered, her death came so suddenly as she was busy putting up plans for the rest of the year. She may be 73 years old but her vigor and zest for life was as strong as ever; death was treacherous to choose someone like her to take away at a moment many were caught off-guard.
But that is what life is and there’s nothing we can do about it. The best we can do though is to remember her invaluable contributions to our country and carry on what she has stared in promoting Philippine tourism, culture, and the arts.
The Urban Roamer dedicates this entry to Ms. Susan Calo-Medina, whose spirit will live on in many forms of media that support her advocacy in promoting our country and the rich character it has to offer.
As she would say in her programs, “Huwag maging dayuhan sa sariling bayan.” (Do not be a stranger in your own land)