By Ricky Lo
To start off, what young people today don’t know is that, once upon a time before she became a senator (and almost a vice president), Loren Legarda was what celebrity-crazy fans today call Commercial Queen, in-demand for endorsements during her younger days in the same way that the likes of Anne Curtis, Kris Aquino and company are today.
As she takes her oath of office on her third (and final) term as senator next week (June 30), a Loren Legarda “retrospective” is in order.
She has been in the public eye for more than 40 years yet she remains very relevant in our lives.
Sen. Loren — also a trendsetter for indigenous fabrics, a single mother, an environmental advocate and a United Nations ambassador — believes that her honesty, transparency, sincerity and strong passion to pursue her advocacies have allowed her to reinvent her public image many times over.
At the tender age of 15, she was introduced to her first commercial project for Close-up. A year later in 1976, it was followed by a print advertisement for Pond’s.
While she was topping her classes in college at the University of the Philippines, she did other endorsements including Blue Clinic, Kodak, Lagerlite and Shell.
In succeeding years, she also did commercials for top brands Swift hotdogs, Ariel, Hapee toothpaste and National Bookstore. Loren was only 18 when she first appeared on television as one of the hosts of the program Who Knows What.
It was followed by another hosting stint in 1981 for GMA 7’s What’s Up with Orly Mercado, her professor in Mass Communications who saw her talent and potential for television broadcasting. Orly gave her first break on television.
It was also in 1981 when Loren joined Discorama with the Apo Hiking Society on GMA 7 as a DJ and appeared as anchor of Newswatch Late Night Edition on RPN 9 with Pat Lazaro.
Two years later, she became the anchor of Newswatch Primetime Edition. From then on, Loren’s career in television was destined to soar, especially because of her hard work, passion and love for her job.
She even appeared on US Television via KSCI Channel 18 in Los Angeles as host and producer of Manila Envelope, a pioneering TV magazine for the Filipino community in the West Coast.
Loren also hosted other shows such as Business Talks on PTV 4 and Street Pulse on RPN 9, but it was in 1986 when ABS-CBN gave her biggest break as a newscaster when the Lopezes chose her to anchor the station’s highly-regarded and multi-awarded evening news program The World Tonight with Angelo Castro Jr. She also hosted PEP Talk, one of the most awarded television magazine programs, for which she received a Catholic Mass Media Hall of Fame award from the Archdiocese of Manila in 1989.
In 1990, Loren was given yet another big break as anchor of The Inside Story, an award-winning investigative program, which brought Loren to the hinterlands and to the most remote areas of the archipelago for stories on environmental issues and other exposé.
Her deep concern for the environment eventually led her to produce Earthlink in 1996, an environmental documentary which featured Palawan, Cordillera, Tawi-Tawi and Batanes.