Being Catholic and a journalist

The author: 'I did not want to be a nun, I wanted to be a journalist'

The author: ‘I did not want to be a nun, I wanted to be a journalist’

By Veronica Velarde-Pulumbarit

Not too long ago, my husband Riz and I missed the daily Mass for the first time in about 16 years.

On vacation in a village where there was only one Mass a day, we waited for the priest to show up but we were told he was very sick to officiate. Riz and I rushed to the nearest church where we ran into a priest who graciously heard our confession and gave us Holy Communion.

The next day, finally able to attend Mass again, I shed tears as I was overwhelmed with joy.

Let me provide a little bit of context here: I am a Catholic and a journalist. It’s been the skeptic’s view that the newsroom is hardly the place for people labeled as “religious.”

The media may be a breeding ground for all types of beliefs and opinions but being perceived as religious can sometimes make you a laughingstock. You either choose to openly defend your church or hunker down and ignore the unwanted comments.

While Riz and I attend Mass daily and go to confession every week, I do not really see myself as a “religious” person.

Catholics are only required to be present at Mass every Sunday and certain Holy Days of Obligation but there is a certain yearning in us to participate at Mass and receive Christ in Holy Communion every day. We feel empty, lost, and incomplete until we have been to church.

A friend teasingly called us “saints” for striving to go to Mass daily despite typhoons and other calamities. “Para naman kayong santo. Siguro hindi kayo nag-aaway,” he said.

Actually, Riz and I, who have been married almost 20 years, do argue. We’re only human. We rarely fight but when we do, we remember what a priest has said: Admit your mistakes humbly, seek forgiveness, and return to God immediately.

Before last week’s incident, the last time Riz and I failed to attend Mass was when I had a stroke at age 28. My first thought was, “How could I go to Mass?” In about a week, I was already attending Mass, aided by Riz and my mom even though I had to use a cane and a wheelchair to move around.

My health struggles began much earlier. At age 2, I fell from the second floor of our house down to the first due to the negligence of my ‘yaya.’ I could have died but suffered only minor bruises and a back injury.

I am now 44 years old but the pain from a slipped disc caused by that unfortunate accident has been with me every day. Sometimes, I find it difficult to walk most times, I’m doing great and can even spend hours at the gym.

Early in our marriage, I suffered a miscarriage. A childless couple, Riz and I sometimes wish we had seen our child grow but we are content knowing that our child went straight to heaven.

With husband Riz, a freelance photographer and writer

With husband Riz, a freelance photographer and writer

Despite my health challenges, I continue to lead an active life, working as an editor while helping in various church projects, especially the centuries-old Apostleship of Prayer, the pope’s international prayer brigade.

When asked if I was “born religious,” I reply philosophically that people are products of both nature and nurture. By nature, or genetics, I tell them my great great-grandfather, Padre Isabelo Velarde, was a Spanish friar, just like those cassocked characters in Dr. Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere.” ‘Lolo,’ who was assigned in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, sired a son with a wealthy Spanish-Filipina woman. By nurture, I tell people about my prayerful mother who also tries to attend Mass daily.

I’ve also been asked if I ever entertained thoughts of becoming a nun. I never did. I really wanted to become a journalist and got myself a journalism degree from UP Diliman.

My husband and I are both media persons. It’s actually not easy to be a Catholic in the newsroom because some media people like to make fun of the bishops and Catholic priests in general. This was especially true when the Reproductive Health bill was being debated in Congress.

Although we were offended by some of our colleagues’ remarks, we did our best to remain silent, as our confessor urged us to be patient and understanding.

We never tried to impose our beliefs on others. We have family members who are Born-Again Christians and atheists. My best friend is a Protestant. I love all of them.

As a Catholic, I never questioned God when I experience difficulties in life. I never felt bitter when confronted with trials. In fact, I am always cheerful. I have received so much grace and blessings that I just feel so happy inside. I feel loved by my husband, family and friends, and most especially by God, whom I also love very much.

Veronica Velarde-Pulumbarit is a senior correspondent at GMA News Online in Manila. She is married to Rizalino Antonio Pulumbarit, a freelance photographer and a contributor to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

In the newsroom: A challenge to be a proud Catholic especially during the RH bill debate in Congress

In the newsroom: A challenge to be a proud, practicing Catholic especially during the RH bill debate in Congress


  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    Indeed, a wonderful story of faith!

  2. Lumen wrote:

    God bless her for her faith.

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