In a photo spread shot at Pintô Art Museum, the veteran journalist and Avignon Clinic ambassador shares how she picked herself up from the woes of last year and looks after herself through it all.
There’s a positive energy radiating from Ces Drilon as she talks about what’s been keeping her busy lately.
She goes live on Kumu via her show Bawal Ma-Stress Drilon and regularly uploads videos on her Youtube channel, Ces and the City. She is also gearing up for an upcoming public service radio show called Basta Promdi, Lodi! She does all these while fulfilling her duties as president of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS), and as an owner of Vagabond Farms.
That’s on top of an impressive career in broadcast journalism at ABS-CBN spanning 30 years, where she has taken on every role imaginable: field reporter for the Philippine Senate, and later, the business beat; co-host of Usapang Business; presenter for news and current affairs programs, Pipol and The Correspondents; news anchor for Bandila and TV Patrol; executive editor of ANC’s digital lifestyle site, ANCx; and one of the heads of the network’s Lifestyle Ecosystem Group.
A challenging year
But even Drilon could not be spared from the challenges of the pandemic. Just like everyone, the last year has been particularly difficult in both her professional and personal life.
When the pandemic hit, not only was she fearful of a then-unknown viral disease causing an outbreak, she was also one of the many employees ABS-CBN had to let go when its franchise renewal was denied.
“The difficulty was finding a purpose,” she tells Lifestyle Asia. “I lost not just the income, but also my purpose. I had to ask myself, ‘What will I do now?’”
She also found it tough having been part of the network for such a long time—since 1989, to be exact. Even when she officially retired in 2015, she says she “never really went away,” continuing her stint as an anchor while serving as a consultant. Having to tell people that they would be let go did not make things any easier for her, too.
As a mother, Drilon was also worried sick for her son, who had a bout with psoriatic arthritis, which affects the joints. She describes the case to be so severe that “he couldn’t walk.”
“Dealing with this ailment has been challenging and the fact that it’s dangerous to go out,” she says. “There were even times when I’m wondering if I got [coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19)]. I was so afraid that I would check my oximeter and have myself tested for the virus.”
As the other half of a longtime relationship, Drilon says the pandemic has also forced her to “reflect and really examine my life.” For the first time, she has candidly revealed that she and her partner of 13 years have parted ways.
“The universe was telling me something during this pandemic—that to move forward, you have to let go,” she says. “It was painful but I had to listen.”
On why it ended, Drilon bares her honest thoughts and feelings. “I think in the relationship, we were no longer nurturing each other,” she explains. “I’m talking about both parties, not just him. Emotional attachment sometimes no longer serves the direction you’re taking, too. I had to let go.”
Picking herself back up
Despite the challenging year, however, Drilon remains positive.
“I am still an optimist,” she says. “I’m still very positive that I’ll be able to pursue what I want, even without him beside me.”
By pursuing what she wants, Drilon means seeing opportunities in setbacks—and seizing it. “My schedule has become lighter,” she says. “I told myself, ‘This is the time when I can focus.’”
Twice a week, she is on KUMU: she hosts Bawal Ma-Stress Drilon on Mondays, and Don’t Stress, Trust Tita Ces, an e-commerce show selling Stress Drilon, Peculiar Eyewear, and Vagabond Farms merchandise, on Wednesdays. It’s something that she never expected to do but was glad to have done so, anyway.
“I was a bit apprehensive because I’m used to mass media and all of a sudden, here I am live streaming. I thought people would probably degrade it,” she says. “But my fears were groundless because it’s been so rewarding. It got me to sharpen my conversation skills, enabling me to draw out the Gen Z and millennials, as well as their aspirations and their dreams. Otherwise, I would’ve just been talking to the usual or only a certain segment of society.”
Drilon also appreciates live streaming as a new experience, as opposed to what she is used to in traditional broadcast media.
“I laugh so hard when I’m there because conversations are more intimate and more relaxed,” she adds. “There’s no commercial gap to think about. It’s more freewheeling. If on TV, you have to get to the point right away because your time is limited.”
Not to mention, KUMU has also let her experience having a merchandise line featuring shirts and mugs developed and sold based on the show.
Doing her part
In the early days of the pandemic, Drilon was able to lend a helping hand for healthcare workers, too, via TOWNS.
“We were gathering spare masks for frontliners at a time when people were hoarding them,” she shares. “I, together with my driver, volunteered as runners, picking up donations, both monetary and in-kind, from donors to those who need it.”
After a triennial search for outstanding women in their respective fields, she was later elected as president of the group.
Today, they are busy with projects for the social good. Bagong Botante, for instance, is a voters mobilization program to get the young voters to register.
“We’re calling it future-proofing democracy,” she explains. “We want to build a new generation of voters who will realize that they have the power to participate, to choose their leaders, and to chart the course of the nation.”
Climate change is also on the list of priorities. TOWNS has tied up with National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines (NAST), the country’s highest recognition and advisory body on science and technology, to host four webinars on the effects of climate change on health, agriculture, and nutrition security.
By the end of it, the group hopes to have a debate among the national candidates of Halalan 2022. They also hope to adopt a coastal community and make it a model on how to adapt to the climate crisis.
Healing and self-care
Drilon has been able to devote as much time as she wants into Vagabond Farms, her dream organic farm come true and the brand creating and offering all-natural products. She now uses the produce from her farm including malunggay and madre de cacao in pursuing her other passion—soapmaking.
“I got into a soap making class first, which led me on to infuse plants from the farm into soaps, like the bestselling Dymka, a malunggay-enriched variant especially made for dogs,” she shares. “Now I’m slowly trying to build a self-care line using the healing qualities and powers of endemic plants.”
So far, her brand—for which she is involved from the making, packaging, to fulfilling orders— already offers herb-infused, plant-based ethyl alcohol, a cocoa butter-infused soap, a bug spray, an insect repellent oil, among others.
“Had the pandemic not happened, I would have always set all of this aside,” she says. “I would have only done it in my free time, and I would not have experienced the reward, the fulfilment, and the joy that I got from creating things.”
The full story on Ces Drilon may be found in the July 2021 issue of Lifestyle Asia.