Judy Rosario A. Dino or "Chary" for short, tells us about finding love, peace, and God in Mountain Climbing, a hobby she never thought she'd fall in love it at the age of 58, and experiencing fulfillment in her advocacy work as a video producer and part-time teacher.
What do you do for a living and what are the things that make you feel more alive?
I am an advocative video producer since 1997. I founded my company Imagic Productions. We tell stories in videos for NGOs, people’s organizations, government agencies and international NGOs and humanitarian organizations. These stories of Filipinos represent hope from an oftentimes challenging situation and we tell them as it is, no frills, just the truth and the inspiring lessons learned and of course, the advocates who have worked hard to create the change. I write and direct them, although many times, we also involve experts to contribute in writing and directing our the projects. My main role is to develop the concept notes for these videos, discuss and coordinate with clients from beginning to end of the project, make sure the script is balanced, truthful and well-written with a heart. I am part of the filming team as the director. I do not edit these videos but I guide the editor and review each of the drafts meticulously until it has been approved.
For 27 years or so starting in 1987 (with gaps in certain years) up to the pandemic, I was a part time teacher in broadcast, film and communication subjects at St. Paul University Quezon City. For about 2 or 3 years, I also taught at the DLSU Manila. That was in the early 90s. I also give media and production trainings to the government and international organizations who want to understand more about the intricacies of media, how to relate more effectively and productively with them instead of seeing them only as mere adversaries.
I would say that being a Broadcast Communication major in college may not have brought me into the realm of the broadcast networks but it allowed me to learn the valuable aspects of production and communication that I am able to use in creating video productions for the silent voices in our society whose messages are very important to further bring development in our country.
What makes me alive? I love to travel and lately, to travel and climb mountains. I never liked climbing and I always wonder why people go for it when it’s too difficult for the mind and body, it is tiring and just exasperating. In 2015, after my mother passed away, some twists of fate brought me to Sagada and I saw the most beautiful sight ever, a sea of clouds by the roadside at 5am en route to Baguio City. I thought I was in heaven, like our bus fell off the cliff and I was entering this paradise. But it wasn’t so. I was on earth and I told myself, if God can make something so immensely beautiful here, I wonder how much, much more in heaven. From that time on, I had slowly been attracted to mountains. It still is difficult to love climbing, to be honest about it, because of the nature of the climb and the unforgiving trails that we go through, but there is love. I feel the passion and the grit to get to the summit, no matter what. There is God up there and He seems closer to me when I am nearer the skies. The mountains keep me so alive and I want to be able to keep climbing until I am old and grey.
I also feel so alive when I do service to people who have been marginalized, discriminated and deprived of rights and resources. I belong to a sorority in college and we have an alumni association that brings four folds of service- to the sorority and fraternity, to the students and faculty, to the community and to the nation. I lead some of our services and I am so happy when I am able to involve our members to contribute, both their time and resources, so that others may live better than they did before.
How old are you?
I am 58 years old.
I am most known for:
I am most known for being a strict (but compassionate, I hope) teacher. Nowadays, I am known for my love of mountains and climbing at the age of 50 plus.
I am most proud of:
I am most proud of my relationship with my family especially my sisters. When my mother was alive, we were best of friends and I wake up each morning for her. My father died early, I was only 27. We are a very close family and that is certainly what I am very proud of.
What do you think is the biggest challenge, and the best thing, about being your age?
The challenge that I face now at my age is feeling complacent, being too relaxed. I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but I don’t like the fire inside me to go away. The work that I do is a dream job for me. It is exactly what I want to do in my life but I seem to have reached the pinnacle, or so it seems for me. I still love doing what I do, I worked so hard to be able to get myself here and I cannot imagine doing anything else but there are times when I am beginning to search anew. What else can I do for the world? That is a challenge now- to bring out a new spirit from within. To find the next phase of my mission.
Oh, the best thing about being 58 is the depth of experience, the tenacity of spirit to face pain and to spring back to life after the pain, the feeling of not having to prove myself to anyone, knowing how to fully love oneself because I know myself so well enough. And having so many true friends from the different parts of my life…that is priceless at 58. When people trust me for who I am— my family, my friends and even the people I work with and work for, that is also one of my greatest achievements, knowing that you journeyed the best possible way that you can.
How have you grown wiser in the past two years?
Yes I hope I have grown wiser especially during the pandemic years. I also got to understand myself more, how I cope with fear, with the unknown. Just like almost all people, the past two years taught us that God’s grace is sufficient and that we only need little to survive and be happy. One thing I learned is that nature’s wrath is so big and even bigger than man’s. We often forget that we are powerless in the face of a natural calamity and catastrophe, such as the Covid pandemic.
What are the best pieces of life advice you have ever received?
Here are some of the best pieces of life advice that I have either received, learned from experience or borrowed from someone else’s experience:
It is better to be kind than right.
Humility at all times.
A cake, no matter how thin you slice it, has always two sides.
Every decision that you make will always have long term consequences. Be ready for these consequences.
The greatest wealth one can have is that which money cannot buy- peace of mind, love, respect and joy
The walls have ears. ;-) Seriously, we all know that when you say something there is a big chance that it will spread. You are no longer in control, that message takes on a life of its own.
One of my favorite advice that I read somewhere- happiness is like a butterfly, if you chase it, it will elude you. But if you just let it be, it will sit quietly on your shoulders and stay with you.
I learned from my Mom- don’t speak too loud, don’t call anyone after 9pm (oops, sometimes I do) and pray to the Sacred Heart in times of desperation
Who are the women you look up to and how have they helped shape your life?
I look up to my mother, Herminia A. Dino, and even when she is not here anymore, I always look at her life, her strengths and challenges, her love for family and all the things that she may have given up for us. I am also inspired by her way of thinking, her love for people and how generously she can give of herself to others and yes…I admire her sense of humor.
My sisters, I have 4 of them, have all inspired and helped shaped my life. We do not come from a rich background but from hard work and determination they have become successful in their own fields. I have a big age gap with my siblings. My eldest sister is 16 years older than me. The others are 14, 12 and 10 years older. So I saw them as I was growing up. More than inspiring me to study hard and reach out for my goals, what inspires me the most is that I see my sisters taking care of my Mommy and Papang. I felt so much love growing up and that has shaped my life to be selfless and caring for others.
I believe that the foundation of one’s being comes from the family. I am still single and I never felt alone because my sisters, nieces, nephews and even grandchildren are always around me. Even when I am alone, I feel brave and excited to just travel and do what I want because I know they are always there waiting for me to come home.
It is a blessing. And truly, answering this questionnaire has allowed me to reflect inwardly on what is important in my life. Thank you for this opportunity.
What is one thing you most often advise your female mentees about work or life?
I always advise my students to "follow your road, or you’ll never know, never know" of course, I didn’t make that up, it is a line from a Pauline Wilson song when she was with Seawind…and I love that simple message. We always plan for our lives and yet when we are so controlled by these plans, we miss out on the natural course of life- the surprises, twists and turns that life has in store. It is obvious that I am really not a planner but I often tell myself, I am so fortunate that my life turned out the way I really would have wanted it to be. Fortunate and blessed is one main factor but another one is that my heart and soul know clearly what I want and without me even planning, that is the road that I take. I follow the doors and windows that open up before me and make choices that truly reflect what my heart feels. My mind tells me what is right and wrong but my heart tells me what will bring great joy when I make my decision.
I tell my mentees not to feel desperate when they seem not to find their direction because surely there is one, and that will be unraveled by the road they are in now. I liken this to a climb up a mountain. Knowing there is a summit and wanting to reach that is more than enough. The road will reveal itself. The trails of your life are sometimes not yet formed but they become clear as you walk through it. What is important is that you have a dream, you have a goal. The rest of life follows. Have a good heart and do good at all times, then you will see that all that you ever want is already there. I always tell the young not to worry if they seem far from the dreams that they have. With hard work and perseverance, it will be there. Surely, it will be there, like the summit, waiting for them to reach.