About Ria

Here are some of the frequently asked questions I get.

Where are you from?

I was born in Newmarket, Ontario. I spent the first five years of my life moving around a lot between Canada and the U.S. as my father finished up his final years in the military before retirement. My parents divorced when I was eight; my mom raised me in Burnaby. We also spent time on our family farm in the central part of the Philippines. I currently live in New Westminster, B.C. with my awesome husband Jon.

Much of my dad’s side is from Newfoundland and Labrador; ethnically they are Irish-British-French. My mom is from the Philippines but she also has Taiwanese and Spanish ancestry going back at least five generations. To keep it simple, I identify as Filipino-Canadian or Filipino-Irish-Canadian.

Fun fact: English was technically not my first language so I was put into ESL courses from the ages of five to seven.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m REALLY into bullet journaling; I love being creative and crafty. I also enjoy reading (especially sci-fi and comics), writing, photography, playing video games, shopping at mom-and-pop places (I love shopping on Granville Island in Vancouver, and also at night markets in New Westminster and North Vancouver) thrifting, and eating. I spent more than a decade working as a make-up artist to help pay for school (and of course, to be creative) so those who know me know it’s common to find me still playing with cosmetics.

I’m also learning how to knit…which has been interesting. I didn’t get my mother’s crocheting genes, so it’s a work-in-progress.

How did you get to where you are today?

I’ve been in journalism for about five years, though I’d argue not so much a practicing journalist as I’ve ended up strictly anchoring, which can make it tricky to file on a day-to-day basis.

In high school I wanted to be a social studies teacher, ended up taking archaeology as an elective in university, fell in love with that and decided I wanted to be a coroner. I decided to try cultural anthropology when I realized I was horrible at forensics. If there is one recommendation I’d make to anyone looking at a career in journalism, it’s to take a few classes on cultural anthropology. It really helped with my interviewing skills and made me a quick transcriber!

By the end of my time at Simon Fraser University, I thought I wanted to be a social worker or writer of some sort. I applied to the Broadcasting and Online Journalism program at BCIT in 2013, and was the last person accepted for the year.

I got a job as a freelance journalist six months in at CKNW; I was working not long after the Mount Polley tailings disaster happened and I managed to break a story on food scarcity involving a First Nation. The news director hired me after that. I went from being a reporter, to an overnight news anchor, then a movie critic, and eventually made it to the morning desk and became the assignment editor and split anchor duties on two shows: The Jon McComb Show and The Simi Sara Show. In 2015, I graduated from BCIT with distinction.

My ten-year goal was to eventually work for one of two non-profits, and the BC SPCA was my first choice. When they had an opening for a communications officer, I jumped at the chance. By June of 2018, I had my foot in the door, but left in December of 2018 to return to radio. (It was just calling my name!)

Working for the BC SPCA was one of the most enriching experiences in my life! This position has allowed me to work with dogs, cats, rabbits and even horses…and of course, some amazing people!

For example, I got to put together this video about pet-friendly housing, starring puppies. You can also take a look at the corresponding article I wrote. 

How did you meet your husband?

I met Jon through BCIT’s journalism program. I love my husband very, very much and don’t remember what life was like before him. He makes me laugh and has helped me with so many of my projects. We have similar interests but aren’t afraid to be our own people. We love to travel together, whether that’s driving up to see family in the Interior, or hopping a plane to Hawaii for a few days.

Any life advice?

Couple of things: don’t plan too far ahead. Things change a LOT and you never know what you’re going to be doing even a year from now. Also, don’t be afraid to “fail.” The worst thing you can do to yourself is not try something new because you think you’re going to suck at it. I had to re-learn video shooting and editing when I started working at my new job. Sure, some of my first projects weren’t great, but you get better as you go!