Get to know the teen anchors of CNN Philippines Junior

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On weekend mornings starting on Sept. 1, viewers can catch a junior edition of CNN Philippines' "Newsroom," which will be anchored by six teens under the guidance of CNN Philippines' anchors and correspondents. Photo by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — CNN Philippines Junior is a new programming block on CNN Philippines that’s geared towards a new generation of viewers who are growing up in an era of boundless information. At a time when the news can become overwhelming, especially for younger ones who are just beginning to understand how the world works, CNN Philippines Junior might be able to connect with teens in a way that isn’t intimidating. That’s because the show will be anchored by teenagers themselves.

The new two and a half hour block will air on weekend mornings on CNN Philippines, and will feature a junior edition of the award-winning show “Newsroom,” which will be anchored by six teens under the guidance of CNN Philippines’ anchors and correspondents. The junior anchors will be tackling local and international news stories, as well as the latest in sports, entertainment, technology, and weather.

Junior anchors Dana Villano, Emman Rivera, Gabby Sandejas, Isaac Dantes, Janella Renner, and Nate Lopez are all up to the task of delivering a show that will be entertaining, relatable, informative, and fun.

Viewers can also look forward to a lineup of animated series and a new show called “KidDo,” which features mommy blogger Nikki Garcia, and KidDO kabarkada, Miggy Lomarda, who will let viewers meet people and explore places, travel through Philippine history, explore creative possibilities, and be encouraged to take action.

CNN Philippines Life recently sat down with the junior anchors to get to know them, talk about why they decided to join the show, and why they think it’s important for kids like them to stay informed.

Photo by JL JAVIER

Dana Villano

Sixteen-year-old Dana is an avid reader, writer, public speaker, and all-around communicator who hopes to become a humanitarian lawyer for the UN one day. Headstrong and self-assured, Dana says that being on CNN Philippines Junior is an opportunity to work on the skills she needs to reach her goals. “I want to see the extents of what I can do. I want to push my limits and I want to challenge myself in every way possible.”

“But I don't just want to work on myself,” she adds. “While I'm working on myself, I want to know how I can use what I have to help people.” Dana hopes to be able to use the show as a platform to do good. “I think it's amazing that there's an avenue like this where we enable the youth to actually speak and have a voice and impart meaningful things for a change.”

On why kids should tune in to the show, Dana answers: “The cliché is that information is power. But it is true because you can't expect people to make the right decisions if they don't know what they're doing.”

Photo by JL JAVIER

Emman Rivera

Emman loves performing. The 16-year-old is a singer and songwriter who just recently discovered a talent for putting together original compositions on her laptop. She also has a knack for writing, which she’s been honing since elementary school by joining regional school competitions. Though she says she stopped joining school journalism conferences to try her hand at other things, she says that auditioning for CNN Philippines Junior reignited an interest in journalism and newsmaking.

Emman says friends know her as a very opinionated person, and hopes that her stint as a junior anchor will help her become “more in depth” about her opinions. “It's easy to give out opinions like, ‘Oh, I'll post that,’ or say, ‘Oh, I agree,’ when you hear other opinions … but it's really hard to know all the facts and … to base your own opinion on really strong grounds,” she says.

On the importance of staying informed, Emman says: “This country isn't gonna get better if you aren't gonna do something about it. And you can't do something about it if you're not informed about what's happening.”

Photo by JL JAVIER

Gabby Sandejas

The fast-talking Gabby is shy at first, but she proves to be quite articulate when she finds her footing. The 16-year-old is still in the process of figuring out what she wants to do in the future, but she is eager to learn and try new things. She plays tennis for the school’s varsity team and is excited about joining the school paper this year. She also says getting into education is one of her dreams.

When it comes to working in a newsroom, she says she’s finding it enjoyable. “You get to see a side of the news that you never usually see at all,” says Gabby. “It's interesting, learning how everything is and how it works, and how you have to present yourself in front of the camera because you're communicating.”

When asked why people should tune into the show, Gabby says, “It’s a fun, light kind of news but you’re still getting informed, you’re still getting what you need to know.” She says that even kids need to stay informed in order to become productive members of society when they grow up.

“We need to be able to create discourse within ourselves because we're the ones who are gonna take over 10 years down the road,” she says. “You need to learn how things work and you need to know how you feel about certain things in order for you to progress as a person and as a nation.”

Photo by JL JAVIER

Isaac Dantes

Isaac is the youngest of the bunch at only 13 years old. Much like Emman, Isaac is keen on performing and is passionate about music. His eyes light up as he talks about the long list of musical instruments he can play, from the keyboard, the guitar, the drums, and the ukulele. Isaac can sing as well, and he attributes his love for music to his parents — his father can also play an array of instruments and his mother is a musical director in their church.

Though Isaac’s ultimate dream is to put his talents to use and become a musical director, he is excited about being one of the junior anchors on CNN Philippines Junior and also envisions becoming a CNN news anchor as his “side job” one day.

What does Isaac love the most about the job? Getting to bond with all his co-hosts, whom he has gotten close to over the past few months.

When asked why kids should tune into CNN Philippines Junior, Isaac says that “this show is going to be a big creative kids’ show ... This is not the typical CNN newsroom … This is a kid's show. This is something that kids should watch, and this would be understandable for kids.”

Photo by JL JAVIER

Janella Renner

Fifteen-year-old Janella is also musically-inclined, much like her co-hosts, and has a knack for a host of other creative endeavors. In the future, she says she’d like to continue doing something creative, such as go into writing or fashion design. Janella is confident and relaxed, owing to her experience as a model and a debater.

Though she didn’t have much of an interest in journalism before auditioning for the show, Janella says CNN Philippines Junior is a “good movement for teens to start getting invested in journalism, reporting, and the news.”

Photo by JL JAVIER

Nate Lopez

Nate is initially reserved, but quickly comes out of his shell when he is joined by his co-anchors. The 14-year-old says that he hopes the show will help him improve how he talks to and in front of people.

Nate is most interested in science and swimming, and also says that he found himself considering journalism when a school activity had him and his classmates think about what jobs they’d want to explore in the future. Nate believes that journalism is important especially during big events and disasters. “What happens if this big disaster happens and no one knows about it?” he asks. “How can people help? How will people be able to be prepared?”

As to why people should stay tuned to CNN Philippines Junior, Nate says, “It's a new take on how news should be presented. And it's also to encourage kids to know what's happening around them and to act on it.”


Catch the premiere of the CNN Philippines Junior programming block on Sept. 1 at 7 a.m. The junior edition of "Newsroom" will start at 8 a.m.