Moms and Dads

Lia Cruz: How She’s Breaking Glass Ceilings

Modern Parenting talks to Lia Cruz about life in media, motherhood, and the podcast What Glass Ceiling?

People would remember Lia Cruz as a former courtside reporter for Ateneo. Now married with two daughters, Lia continues to be active as the host of the podcast What Glass Ceiling? where she talks to different women about their lives and how they’ve achieved to be the person that they are today. Modern Parenting talked to Lia Cruz about motherhood, her broadcasting career, and telling women’s stories.

Lia Cruz
Photo by Stevie del Rosario

Life in media

Lia shared that she always wanted to be in the media. All her life, her dream was to be a writer and even a novelist. “When I was in high school and college, I started writing for magazines and I actually thought I was going to pursue that path and I just wanted to write,” she shared.

The direction changed when she got the chance to audition for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) when they were looking for reporters. “I auditioned for the UAAP thinking it would be chalking it up to experience. I just really wanted to try. And I knew I could do it because I had a theater and performing arts background.”

Her experience as a courtside reporter opened various opportunities. She did hosting gigs, writing, and voice-over jobs. She also anchored for the news such as Aksyon Tonite on TV5 and was part of the sports anchors who covered the SEA Games in 2019. Other coverages include the Olympics, FIBA World Cup, the Southeast Asian Games, the AFF, and AFC Cups. She did weather updates, too.

Lia highlighted the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain and the 2016 World Olympics in Rio as her favorites. The 2016 Olympics was special because she got to see Hidilyn Diaz win the silver medal.

“To get silver [medal] was unexpected. We were shocked,” referring to the moment. “When we were at the venue watching her, we were like, ‘Oh my god, bronze na, bronze na. And my co-reporter from TV5 was like, ‘Makaka-silver pa siya.’ Naka-silver nga.”

Work highlights

In addition, she considers working with Sports Center Philippines, where she anchored in partnership with ESPN, and her weather anchoring, which led her to work with the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations on the issue of Climate Change as some of the highlights of her career. The work led her to be one of the co-founders of Climate Without Borders.

Since taking time off from broadcasting to concentrate on her family and podcasting, Lia mentioned that the landscape has changed. “I think there is a greater shift to digital media and creating your own content. The landscape here in the Philippines has been in total upheaval. With the closure of ABS-CBN, everything is quite up in the air. Everything is not how it used to be.”

Just like all women working in media, Lia Cruz said it’s never been easy. “It’s difficult for women because we’re subject to a lot of criticism and double standards and misogyny. So there are all these different things that you have to deal with as a woman in media that men don’t have to deal with.”

Introducing What Glass Ceiling?

In between her busy life as a mom, wife, and homemaker, Lia has been busy hosting What Glass Ceiling, a podcast that shares stories of women achieving their dreams. According to Lia, she and her friend Steph were throwing ideas until they thought of the word glass ceiling.

“Glass ceiling, I think most of us are familiar with that term. The term is usually a barrier for women, a term used for the minority,” she explained. “Our whole point with What Glass Ceiling is there are already many glass ceilings every day and women overcome them. It may be as small as trying to get all the household chores fixed within the day—as small as that. Or it can be large like a CEO of a huge company. As women, it’s just second nature to overcome them.”

The challenges women go through are also how they weave the stories of their guests. Lia said she and her partner were fortunate to release the podcast at a time when there was not much podcast content locally for women for the format they were eyeing—like intimate one-on-one discussions.

“What differentiates the show from other podcasts is in terms of format, we’re really like sit down one-on-one. It’s not done like a radio show—it’s a format that would carry overall also on TV, which is visual if there is a visual aspect,” she said.

“It’s not a free willing discussion like I let the guest speak. Because it’s really about the guest,” she added.

In its three seasons, Lia said that the different episodes they made appealed to many people regardless of who is the guest. “We’ve been surprised how random it appeals to people. I think it’s similar to what they go through. People have reached out in random episodes like this has got me through because I’m going through this.”

Lia Cruz and family
Photo by Stevie del Rosario

Lia Cruz the mom

On top of doing her podcast, Lia is a busy mom and wife to her husband Stevie del Rosario, and their two kids. Unlike the first time she gave birth, Lia shared that her second birth in August was challenging. “During the pregnancy, physically it was harder the second time and I had low blood sugar. I was on bed rest twice. It was harder physically but emotionally, I was more prepared.”

She added that while it was challenging, she was able to recover quickly. Welcoming the second child logistically was quite an experience but she found herself a bit calmer because she already knew what to do.

The word juggling is now on the list for Lia and Stevie but they welcome it. “If we thought that we were tired the first time around, mas pagod kami ngayon,” she joked.

“The first time when we had our kid, there was a sense of disbelief in giving birth to a child because you’re in awe. This time around it’s a feeling like adding another piece to the puzzle. It’s a fuzzier feeling because there is no panic and there is no confusion at least for us. I think we were calmer and able to enjoy more and bask in the whole experience more.”

Like any parent, Lia has concerns for her two daughters. But it doesn’t mean she will forever tie them to her. “I’ve never seen females as fragile. Maybe it was the way I was shaped by my own perspectives.”

“I want them to be aware of these limitations but I don’t want them to be treated as fragile. I don’t want to keep them in a glass box.”

When it comes to values, Lia said that it’s important for her and Stevie for their daughters to be grateful, believe in themselves that they can do everything, and have simplicity.

Lia Cruz
Photo by Stevie del Rosario

Wishes for women

As someone who has seen the challenges women go through in sports, Lia hopes more support will be given in the future. “Support is not just in terms of sponsorship or financial support but also in terms of emotional support or throwing your support behind the sport.”

As for What Glass Ceiling, Lia’s guest wish list includes Margarita Fores, Nobel Peace Prize winner and journalist Maria Ressa, and actress and host Kris Aquino. She and her partner are also discussing the direction of the show.

The balancing act may not be seen by many but Lia Cruz knows how to do it. After all, she is breaking the glass ceiling by telling stories and enjoying the life of being a mom and wife.

Check out more inspiring stories of women:

Why Miss Universe 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel is Proud of Her Filipino Roots

Lia Andrea Ramos of Glamourbox: Beauty is Power and Self-Discovery

Life in Tokyo: Isabel Cang on Raising a Toddler in Japan

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