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Brian Poe Llamanzares wants to make a difference

At the wake of Fernando Poe, Jr., his grandfather, in 2004, young Brian Poe Llamanzares gazed at the face of the actor who once had political ambitions. He was touched by the legions of people from all walks of life, who queued to pay their last respects to FPJ, whom he fondly called “Papa Ronnie.”

 “That changed everything. I realized that I would dedicate my life to changing this country for the better,” he says. “I hope that one day, I would get to touch other people’s lives and return the loved they once showed to my lolo.”

Brian,23, is the eldest of three children of Senator Grace Poe and Neil Llamanzares,  former Chief Information Officer in San Miguel. His two sisters, Hanna 17, and Nika, 11, are students at Assumption San Lorenzo.   

The media have played up on his showbiz pedigree. Brian looked up to FPJ for his compassion. To him, FPJ embodied the qualities of a good leader --compassion and giving up self-interest for the benefit of others.  He recalls the words of wisdom from FPJ whom he quotes as saying, “You’re success is  nothing, if you don’t contribute to the society.”  His grandmother Susan Roces imparted the virtue of humility. 

While pursuing a degree in political science at Ateneo, Brian was active in student organizations, discussing issues on students’ rights and getting them interested in national issues such as the HIV awareness, Freedom of Information Bill and Reproductive Health Bill. 

He was a consistent dean’s lister, captain of the debate team and was the Philippine delegate  to the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations. With his good looks, he endorsed products and appeared in glossy magazines. 

A turning point came when he was awarded Ateneo de Manila University Junior Term Abroad Fordham Scholarship Program  in New York where he took up campaign and electoral politics and radio and TV news writing.  It was his first time to live independently and fend for himself. Moreover, he missed the Philippines and hoped that he could apply his learnings when he came home.

Armed with his training and experience from the States,  Brian served as his mother’s campaign coordinator when Grace Poe made her senatorial bid. The happiest moment of his life was to witness his mother being proclaimed as Senator. He was, naturally, a pioneer in her staff. 

Another turning point came when he decided to leave his mother’s office and pursue a career as an investigative journalist at CNN Philippines.  Brian had to get accustomed to writing the news instead of being written about. In his youth, he would face the cameras, speaking out on such issues as the prohibition of Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona. Now he has to be the one to gather the news and interview sources. 

 “Switching over to the other side was a challenge. There were no shortcuts. I started by writing sample scripts and worked my way up until I was eventually given a beat to cover and a crew of my own. Being a CNN investigative reporter helps me to understand the plight of the OFWs, to be connected to grassroots to be able to help. One time in Tondo, I was assigned to do a documentary story  on a community devoid of electricity. When it was aired on CNN, the local government took notice and installed electricity,” he says.

Ten years from now, Brian will still follow his destiny making a difference in the world.  He hopes to pursue higher studies and work in an NGO.

(He has taken a leave from CNN Philippines to help his mother’s campaign for presidency in 2016. –Editor)

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