After speaking to Angelica Yang, I know she’s got the qualities of an excellent journalist — she’s humble, hardworking, curious, and a creative problem-solver in the face of difficulties. With a deep interest for science, communication, and human stories, Angelica is only 21 but has produced an impressive body of work: over a hundred of her articles have appeared in leading publications in the Philippines, including Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rappler, GMA News Online, and The Appulse.

Yang has been writing for these national publications since she was eleven. Moved by injustices at a young age, Yang watched a BBC documentary on the Gaza-Palestine war and wrote a poem about it. Two weeks later, the poem found itself a home in the The Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Yang has been writing ever since.

Now, ten years later, Yang is an award-winning undergraduate in the journalism programme at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. In September, Yang won an award from the Philippine’s national Department of Science of Technology (DOST) institute. In the professional category, Yang placed third in the Outstanding Media Practitioner for S&T Reporting at the DOST Bantog: Science for the People Award.

Yang submitted five articles to the DOST Bantog Awards. One of them was the article that she published under her 2017 Climate Tracker Fellowship.
The article, published on GMA News, covered the toxic waste coming from the Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power Project. It also won her the UP-Science Journalism Award in February 2018.
“The [Climate Tracker] workshop taught me to make time for your sources and humanise them in your story. What’s important is to follow up with them—to go to them, to experience what they’re experiencing,” she said.
For different sources, Yang says journalists should use different strategies.
“You should always be polite, but also be firm—especially to powerful sources who might want to manipulate the story to reflect that their views are more important than the rest,” Yang stated as an example.
Yang says the trainings not only gave her new tools for reporting, but it also connected her to a larger supportive network of journalists.
“I keep in regular contact with them,” says Yang. In fact, it was another fellow in the programme that linked her to a complaint letter of the Malampaya project. This was the initial source that inspired the article.
Angelica recommends that young journalists not only follow their dream, but reach out to people who are doing work they admire.
“I didn’t know science journalism existed until I messaged TJ Dimacali on Linked in to be a freelance contributor,” she says, laughing. TJ Dimacali is GMA News Online’s Science and Technology Editor. In 2017, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Graduate Program in Science Writing.
In retrospect, Angelica says, it probably wasn’t very professional, but that kind of curiosity and willingness to reach out is exactly what helps young journalists.
“All you need is to take the first step and show people that you’re willing to be trained under them. If sometimes you’ll get rejected or things don’t move in the way you planned, just keep moving forward. What matters in the end is your happiness and satisfaction.”
Angelica now counts TJ as one of her mentors.
“He has been my mentor, he taught me the ropes, the ins and outs of how to become a science journalist in the Philippines. He always wants to help his writers grow by offering them opportunities,” Angelica says appreciatively of TJ.
Another journalist Angelica looks up to is Yvonne Chua, a professor at the UP College of Mass Communications who was part of a team of journalists who exposed former president Erap Estrada’s hidden wealth in 2001.
“She taught me that talent won’t cut it, but hard work will.”
So hard work it is.
As Angelica continues to grow and strengthen her skills as a science journalist, we at Climate Tracker are sure she will soon be able to mentor aspiring young journalists herself.
Lily Jamaludin

About Lily Jamaludin

Lily Jamaludin is a Malaysian writer and researcher. Previously, she helped design education opportunities for stateless youth in Borneo, and assisted in eviction-prevention initiatives in the Bronx. She’s excited to mobilise more young writers from developing countries to influence national debate around climate change.