Giselle Töngi lands plum TV gig in LA
LOS ANGELES—Giselle “G” Töngi, who landed the plum “Kababayan Today” host-producer gig, talked to us about her plans for America’s first and only talk show for and about the Filipino-American community. G took over from Jannelle So-Perkins, who created and launched “Kababayan Today” eight years ago and recently left the popular show to pursue other career goals.
The show, renamed “Kababayan Today with G Töngi,” began airing this week on KSCI-TV LA18 (weekdays) in LA, KIKU-TV in Hawaii and worldwide at www.LA18.tv
/KababayanToday. With this new gig, the actress, writer and producer and her family moved back to LA after two and half years in the Philippines.
A graduate of UCLA with a Communications degree and double minor in Film and Theater, G said her desire to tell Fil-Am stories drove her to apply for the job.
Excerpts from our recent interview:
What made you want to become the next host of “Kababayan Today”?
My good friend, Belinda Panelo sent me the notice about the opportunity, followed by writer Prosy de la Cruz. They both insisted that they believed I was perfect for the position.
Since graduating from college almost three years ago, I have been producing media content [with] a bicultural flavor. I grew up in America and the Philippines. My desire to tell stories of Filipino-Americans like myself drove me to apply for this position.
How tough was it for your family to decide to move back to LA?
It was not a tough decision to [make]. LA has been my home for the past decade. I started my family and raised my children there. I never have to think twice about any opportunity to come back to LA.
Besides, the job also requires me to travel to Manila and Hawaii several times each year.
Who are your dream guests? Will you have regular segments?
I have no dream guests because… I will treat [every story] with equal importance. I just launched a #GlobalPilipino segment, with Filipino correspondents from all over the world. By showcasing different perspectives, the viewers will get to see different issues that affect our culture as a whole.
What are your memories of being a frequent guest in the show?
The most memorable is when my daughter was still a baby and I had her in my arms while being interviewed by Jannelle So-Perkins.
In your years being exposed to Fil-Ams, what are their tics and quirks that you find interesting?
Any way you look at it, the Filipino culture is vibrant and colorful. I do participate in a lot of community events because I believe in the importance of community and supporting our own. Filipinos have always been warm, friendly and hospitable.
However, wearing our hearts on our sleeves makes us culturally sensitive; there’s a tendency to take ourselves too seriously. I intend to bring fun and lighthearted conversations to “Kababayan.”
How do you plan to juggle your time as host-producer and your other pursuits as an actress, filmmaker, mother and wife?
The job description has changed significantly so it’s not as time-consuming as it seems. I enjoy talking to people, so that part comes naturally.
Producing depends heavily on time management and planning. I foresee that the job will get easier in the long run. My family continues to be my most ardent supporters. My children are a little older now and more independent. I truly believe that the job came at an unexpected time but at a time in my life where I know I have a lot to contribute.
I am searching for material that will celebrate my Fil-Am culture and help me create what I see is lacking in the broadcasting world. [And] because I am essentially my own target audience, I am confident I will be able to manage my goals for the show.
Disappointments happen in every form but I choose to stay positive. It’s only been a couple of weeks. So far, the guests are thrilled to welcome me. I also manage stress with daily yoga practice, which helps keep me centered and grateful.
What’s the best thing about being back in LA?
I love that in LA, the sunshine lights up my whole being. Trips to the beach, the grocery or the local farmers markets are filled with memorable moments with my family. Life is carefree and simple.
(E-mail the columnist at [email protected]. Follow him at https://twitter.com/nepalesruben)