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 chose to raise 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 wonderful husband Jon.

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) and eating. I will never say no to a good donut, unless I’m already full of donuts. I spent more than a decade working as a make-up artist to help pay off school (and of course, to be creative) so those who know me know it’s common to find me playing with cosmetics. (Yes, I am one of those folks who owns dozens of lipsticks, but only uses about three colours.)

How did you get to where you are today?

I was a journalist and (mostly) a news anchor for five years, although I’d argue not so much a practicing one since I started working in a sort-of supervisory role in Metro Vancouver’s major market radio scene pretty quickly.

When I graduated high school I initially wanted to be a social studies teacher, ended up taking archaeology as an elective, fell in love with that and decided I wanted to be a coroner. When I didn’t do so well in the osteology section of my forensic anthropology requirements, I decided to try cultural anthropology instead. This went well; I completed an ethnographic visual essay on contradictions in public spaces: people wanting to make use of spots like parks or city plazas, but yet refusing to take responsibility for them. My project revolved around the 2011 Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver.

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

I had to really work my ass off in that program (it was a really, really hard program!) and got a job as a freelance journalist about six months in; I was working not long after the Mount Polley tailings disaster happened and I managed to break a story on food scarcity. The news director then hired me five months after that. I worked my way up; I was a reporter, then an overnight news anchor, then a movie critic, and eventually made it to the morning desk and became the assignment editor. It was a lot of work, but I did alright because I was fairly organized. Not long after I became the assignment editor in 2015, I graduated from BCIT with distinction.

People come up with 10-year plans — myself included. My ten-year goal was to eventually work for one of two non-profits, and the BC SPCA was my first choice. When I saw they had an opening for a communications officer position, I jumped at the chance to apply. 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, man!). 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 a lot of the same 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!