Mav Gonzales: From kiddie show host to multimedia journalist

As a kid, Mav Gonzales wanted to become a hotel owner or dog walker.

Mav Gonzales: From kiddie show host to multimedia journalist
GMA Integrated News senior news correspondent and 'i-Witness' host Mav Gonzales

As a kid, Mav Gonzales wanted to become a hotel owner or dog walker. She never dreamed that one day she would become a broadcast journalist, even when she became the host of a Philippine children's educational show.

"I was a host of 'Chikiting Patrol' on GMA 7 when I was 8. We had a family friend affiliated with it and she asked my parents if I could audition. I was just playing around and actually didn't realize what a rare experience that was till I was older. I met celebrities including NBA star Grant Hill. I traveled extensively on weekends. It was a great childhood," Gonzales told Digital Life Asia.

Write, not wrong

Gonzales is a senior news correspondent at GMA Integrated News.

"I cover the Senate and sports, although I do cover everything else in between if the situation calls for it," she said.

Asked what she does during her free time, she replied: "I barely get free time so I'm either napping, watching movies, or playing mobile games. Lately I've been obsessed with 'The Voice' blind auditions."

Gonzales also recently joined the network's long-running documentary program "i-Witness" as a host.

"Mav Gonzales just produced her first documentary for i-Witness titled 'Swipe Right, Swipe Wrong,' where she looked at how online dating can introduce singles looking for love to scammers instead.

"It's exciting and also a bit intimidating to be part of a long-running and award-winning legacy show," she said.

It may be hard to believe now, but Gonzales said that she had no plans of becoming a journalist.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do up until I graduated from college, but I had a degree in Communications major in journalism. Writing always came easy and was fun for me, but I had no idea I'd be writing for TV," she said.

It was when she interned at the Philippine office of Yahoo! Southeast Asia that I first met Gonzales. She was part of the team producing Yahoo's College Hoops microsite covering the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) college basketball tournament.

"I grew up surrounded by sports so covering the UAAP for Yahoo! Southeast Asia was definitely my most memorable experience. Also the dorm raids and features we did on the athletes. It was my first time dabbling in multimedia. Back then, vlogs like the ones we did were fairly new. It was a great way to show the personal side of the athletes we only see on court," she said.

GMA is the way

How did Gonzales join GMA Network?

"I had been writing for GMA News Online even before I officially graduated from college. I did the sports features and news. I remember our then editor-in-chief Howie Severino asked the editor handling sports why I was getting the Azkals stories (the Azkals were at their peak back then). The editor Sir Odie was just like, 'Well she gets the stories!' I think it’s a blessing kung gaano kakapal ang mukha ko (how thick-skinned I am). It helps me get close to the subjects no matter how unreachable they may seem to be.

"A year after, I was covering a kiddie football game when a parent approached me and asked if I would be interested in covering sports for TV. That parent turned out to be the executive producer for '24 Oras', GMA’s flagship newscast. I auditioned and the rest is history," she said.

Asked what her most memorable experience as a journalist is so far, Gonzales replied: "It would probably be the Taal Volcano eruption in 2020. It was supposed to be a chill weekend at work when I got the call to rush to Tagaytay because Taal was emitting smoke. GMA was the first TV station to break the story in the Philippines. We had no clothes and were covered by soot by the end of the night. We could not find any hotel because everyone was being evacuated. It was chaos the entire night and our lives were definitely in danger, but the experience of being in the middle of that is indescribable. During the following days I was covering the evacuation, continuous volcanic activity, and aftermath of the phreatic eruption."

Journalism in the internet age

Visiting Busuanga in the Philippine province of Palawan

As someone who experienced the development of multimedia journalism before she even left college, Gonzales knows first-hand how technology has made an tremendous impact on journalism. It has transformed journalism by dramatically changing the way news is delivered and consumed.

"The news was about accuracy and depth back when it was just on traditional media. But now a lot of people get their news from social media. You have to have accuracy, depth, and speed. You have to be the first to post a story online. You have to tweet photos and videos as events are happening. It's amazing how you get real-time updates on developing stories. It's helped with disaster response, sports fandom, stock trading, etc. But journalists now have to make sure we don't sacrifice quality, accuracy, and fairness just to be the first to break a story," she said.

Gonzales also uses social media for crowdsourcing and sharing news stories.

"I literally post on my social media accounts when I'm in need of case studies to interview. But this happens very rarely. I prefer the old school referral because there are a lot of posers on the internet. If there's a big breaking story, I post that online. If there are public advisories that need to be disseminated, I also use my social media for that.

Striking a pose in front of the Parthenon in Athens

"I try to mix my posts between work and personal. If you see my Instagram and YouTube, a lot of it is just me goofing around with family and friends. I feel like people already see my serious side on the news so no need to plaster that all over my social media as well," she said.

In fact, Gonzales has a YouTube channel where she posts her vlogs.

When did she start vlogging?

"I honestly don't remember haha! My sister and I love taking videos during our travels just to keep the memories. I edit them to show our family and one day I decided to upload one on YouTube. I also post random snippets of my personal life. To be honest, I do this for myself. It's the millennial version of a photo album," she said.

What message would Gonzales like to share with aspiring journalists?

"The life of a journalist is tiring and thankless. But it's also one filled with adventures that you can only experience in this job. Know your values before you enter the industry and stick to them. Learn how to eat and put on makeup on the go. Prepare your loved ones because you most probably won't see them on special occasions and holidays. Keep a go bag because you can get deployed anytime anywhere. It's a tough job but if you feel like this is where God is leading you to, you will find that there is nothing more rewarding than helping make the world a better place one story at a time," she said.

It may not have started out that way, but we're glad it ended up being a love story between Gonzales and journalism. The world is a better place because of this.