THE right mix of journalism and public relations gave this award-winning Thomasian an edge over the veterans of the industry.

Having established his own PR company at the age of 21, Chris Cahilig still had other plans for his future. He wanted to try his hand at news reporting, but his friends told him otherwise.

“All throughout my college life, people would tell me, ‘Chris alam mo, pang-PR ka. ‘Yung personality mo, ‘yung demeanor and everything you view speaks so much about PR,’” the former Varsitarian managing editor said.

Chris made many attempts to crawl his way into the PR industry, but was rejected by his peers. They even made a joke that his name would only be recognized as an associate if he was to join their agency.

“It was so mean and I was really hurt,” he said.

But Chris took that moment as an eye-opener for him to go and pursue his dreams. His agency, Chris Cahilig Consultancy, is now one of the prominent PR firms catering to large companies such as Nestlé Philippines, Avida Land, and Mang Inasal.

“A career in public relations is a calling. There’s so much personality and talent needed in this industry,” he said.

From journalism to PR

After college, Chris got a job as a reporter for the Manila Times. But his stint as a journalist did not last long.

“I was a hard-hitting reporter. But no one wanted me. I thought I was talented. But then I came to realize that talent is not that important,” he said.

His skills in journalism paved the way for Chris to break into the PR field. Unfortunately, he was fired in one of his big breaks in 2002, while working with Araneta Group as a consultant for the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant, because of someone from the entertainment industry.

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“And it was when I realized that I cannot just be anyone who does his job well. I had to have a strong personality,” he recalled.

With the help of his former professor, Chris was able to build his own agency. Robert Roque, the associate editor of Tempo, financed the company before Chris went on to build his own, now known as Insight Publicity Corporation. He used his connections as a former journalist for its endorsement.

Chris admitted that even if he was a ball of personality, he had a weakness for public speaking.

“When I started, I can’t even speak straight English. It was terrible,” he said.

But his short stint as a professor honed his speaking skills for the better.

“Being a PR person, you have to mold yourself into a certain character. Everything in me—the way I talk, my intonation, my facial expressions, everything is actually very conscious.”

Glamorous but difficult

Chris said he enjoys all the perks that come when companies knock on his doors for help, but the work is not all about glamor.

“PR is not just about writing. It is so multi-faceted and takes so many steps. You create a new story about the truth. Secondly, you look into facts and the mindset of the public, especially the target market, and create a beautiful story about that,” he said.

At 35, Chris’ biggest break yet was his work with the Nestlé Philippines brands, particularly Nescafé and Bear Brand, because it was when he made a huge impact with the public.

With the skills he acquired in journalism, he was able to study the workings of the industry that he had long hoped to be a part of but was never given the proper chance.

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“The way I look at things is very different from other people. So I used that sense to passionately observe the market and eventually copy what other people do—modify them, innovate, and eventually become the more important names in the industry,” the UST alumnus said.

Chris also became an advocate for Original Pinoy Music when he became the talent manager of new Filipino singers such as Myrus Ramirez and the band 1:43.

His advocacy for OPM began when he created the first of the “Tunog Natin” concert series to promote a property of the Avida Land Company in 2010.

“It was memorable for me. It was the first time I incorporated music in a campaign,” he said.

From concerts, he also began the “Mang-Aawit” music video campaigns of fast food restaurant Mang Inasal where he helped new artists find their way to the industry.

Besides his PR career, Chris built his own talent agency called “Chris Cahilig Talents” where he used his expertise as a PR consultant to promote Filipino music.

“Each time I had a client that has a lot of resources, I see it as an opportunity to create change and to innovate and create something fabulous,” the talent manager said.

He attributed his success to the University because everything he knows and has done up to this point, he owes from the education that he has received here.

“Being in UST is something that will lift you up. UST has done so many good things to me. I will never be who I am without the help of our dear alma mater.” Catalina Ricci S. Madarang and Alfredo N. Mendoza V

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