Meeting Ma’am Ada

An interview with Ada Marie Sibayan-Bédard

Meeting Ada Marie Sibayan-Bédard was like a breath of fresh air. Her upbeat personality made us listen to her more attentively and communicate naturally. She’s a passionate storyteller who has grown tremendously through her experiences.

Currently, Ada is the Senior Digital Specialist of Fednav Ltd., a dry bulk shipping company that is the largest of its kind in Canada. They have over 120 vessels that travel around international waters. She also worked in the media industry as a multi-platform journalist for ABS-CBN Baguio.

Before she landed her current position, she was once a fresh high school graduate with no clear career path. After weighing her options, she opted for a general course — BA Communications, at Saint Louis University. Today, she describes that choosing this course was one of the best decisions she’s made for her future. On the other hand, when asked if what she learned in school was enough to prepare her for her career, she stated that no one could really say that what you learn in school is enough to live in the real world. She said that “It’s like a bubble; yes, you do get to go out from time to time, but that’s just the tip of your little finger — only grains of reality. In the end, it was not enough.” When she started working, she learned how to hone the craft of the field with patience and effort. She didn’t go by the books; instead she honed her knowledge and skills learned by embracing the field.

Through experience, she was able to learn the most. She did her internship with Sky Cable during the last two years of college. She was offered a job during her internship, but she prioritized her studies and finishing her college thesis. She decided that she will contact them after graduation to see if there will be a job opening. However, there was no availability when she came back to inquire. Nonetheless, that seemed to be a blessing in disguise. The employees of Sky Cable recommended her to apply for ABS-CBN Baguio.

In between checking for job openings in April and May of 2011 and going back home to stay with her grandparents, she finally found an opportunity at ABS-CBN in October of the same year. She grew fond of the idea of becoming a segment producer/writer because of her passion for writing. However, she didn’t know the entirety of what she was in for.

She and her friend applied together, and the screening process started with writing and localizing a national news story. She enjoyed that part of the process but she panicked when she was asked to deliver a news story on camera. But she didn’t have much choice, she did what was asked and her audition ended up being the longest in ABS-CBN Baguio.

Much to her surprise, she received a call back. This time, she was called to observe the news department. The screening process ended, and
she was offered the job. She started writing feature stories while learning how to be confident when talking to the camera, she thanked the great help
of her cameraman. A year and a half later, she was transferred to the graveyard shift, to cover police reports and other hard news stories at night which was obviously challenging — her work literally started after sundown. She was later assigned to the afternoon shift to cover
press conferences and different variety of topics. Then she was
moved to the morning shift and was a senior reporter. She learned
the ropes and got the hang of it.

She was inspired and encouraged by her colleagues, and to see
them do well at what they do reassured her that she chose the right path. Her former executive producer, Dhobie de Guzman, was a good mentor. She also commended Jessica Soho for her good character and excellence in what she does.

Reminiscing her days in ABS-CBN led to our discussion of the franchise’s shutdown and how devastated she was when she heard about it. The people she worked with were like family. Most people in the industry have been there almost all their lives, and it was unfair for them to lose their jobs. However, she believes that their voices and stories will continue to be heard and will remain in people’s hearts.

There were hardships she had to overcome. But because she loved what she was doing, she knew how to handle these difficulties and toxic relationships.

Among the hardships she encountered, receiving threats and a lawsuit was the toughest. She was scared for her life and her family’s. Although she wasn’t prepared mentally and psychologically, she has learned since then. She told us that there are people who will be mad at you even if you’re doing the right thing. However, you shouldn’t hold on to mean words from such bashers. On the other hand, she loves to receive critique that helps her personal growth and career.

She also said that stress exists no matter what industry you’re in, and we each deal with it in our own way. She dealt with it through a support system — her family and friends. Her grandparents were always there for her. In her free time, she would stay with them in the province. She was also selective with her friends and stuck with those who were real with her.

When she was anxious, she would step back and reflected on what she was feeling. By keeping track of her feelings, she found out what were the triggers and learned what she can do when faced with them. She stressed that human beings are a roller coaster of emotions, feelings, and moods and that is normal and we can’t control how we feel, but we can control and manage how to react to these feelings.

Since she grew up with her grandparents, she had a distant relationship with her mom, an OFW in Montreal, Canada. Her mom went to Canada and opted for citizenship. While Ada was in high school, her mom started processing her papers as a resident. When she moved to Montreal in 2015, she faced a different set of challenges.

She and her mom started to build their relationship and that wasn’t done overnight, she also needed to adjust to the western culture and lifestyle. Back in the Philippines, the places and people were familiar to her, like the back of her hand. In Montreal, she had to learn on her own.

When she applied at Fednav Ltd., they matched her skills set to her job title. “This is what we do, now what are your skills?” — that is how the job interview went. She started as an Administrative Assistant for the Human Resources department, then she was promoted as coordinator of the Communications department. When she felt adjusted to her new world, she started making Montreal her new home. At some point, the company needed someone to handle their social media accounts, videos, and take care of their digital assets; this opportunity opened the door to her current job. She’s been in the company for almost four years now, and her challenge now is to find new strategies and improve on how to do her job even better.





Art by Hephzibah Cirene L. Ely



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