Passion is this powerhouse woman’s secret to overcoming life’s hurdles, as well as her family, her rock and her core.
alpás. [adjective] unconfined; free (from captivity)
Armie Jarin-Bennett, known to most as just Armie but to me as Tita Armie, is a powerhouse of a woman.
I can think of no better person to begin this series with. Alpas Filipinas is about women in my life who have overcome great challenges, and who have freed themselves from the social structures that seek to keep women living according to a particular set of rules and expectations.
The very dictionary definition and English translation of alpás represents everything I think young people, and young women in particular, should keep in mind as we navigate an increasingly complex and turbulent modern society. My column is typically one that features my own thoughts and life advice. I wanted to change that, because the fact of the matter is that I’ve learned much of what I know today because of the great mentors and inspiring female figures who surround me.
One thing that runs true with all the women who inspire me, whom I’ve chosen to be a part of this series, is that they have all surmounted—and continue to surmount—incredible challenge. Strength does not come from an easy life. I’ve learned that where one can find great strength, no matter how beautiful and effortless it might look on the outside, when there is hardship.
Growing up with female leaders like Tita Armie around me, I have definitely taken one lesson to heart: Rejection is often a stepping stone to something that is ultimately better for who you are, and where you are going.
TRUE STORY Armie won an Emmy for her coverage of the Egypt Revolution, and was nominated for her coverage of Typhoon Haiyan
Armie describes herself as a journalist, first and foremost. She began her career when she joined CNN International in 1996. In 2016, Armie moved back to the Philippines from the US to establish the country’s very own franchise of Cable News Network. Since then, CNN has gone on to establish itself as one of the main news providers in the country.
If there is one thing I know about Armie, it’s that her passion precedes her, and it is a big part of why she is able to do all that she does. It also gets her through the toughest challenges. Her success story is a powerful, direct challenge to the narrative that women who are professionally successful have troubled personal lives. In fact, she sees her family as her rock, “the one thing that keeps me sane and inspires me. They are at the very core of my being,” she says.
How would you describe yourself?
I look for stories, and tell good stories that have an impact on people and can change their lives. That’s what I’ve been doing at CNN international and now at CNN Philippines.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about everything that I do. I believe that when you do something big or small you need to be passionate about it…so that it can be the best it can possibly be…a small project like making dinner, or a big one like a vice presidential debate, which we did, or the women’s summit that we host every year. I do need to catch myself and remind myself to relax, enjoy the moment, and that it’s okay. When you’re too passionate about something it can be overwhelming not only for yourself but for the people around you. It’s a constant conversation I have with myself.
REPORTER’S LIFE Armie with American television journalist Anderson Cooper
What have your biggest challenges been, personally and/or career wise, and how have you overcome them?
My life is about my personal and professional life. My personal life has always been steady, the one thing I can keep going back to to remind myself that all is good. My challenge is always work. I’m the type of person that never gets anything on the first try. When I look back, like applying for a job in television, I was rejected two times here in the Philippines before getting to my first job at CNN international. When I don’t get what I want, when I fail, I realize things are not falling apart, things are falling into place. When I do end up getting [what I want] I realize: I wasn’t ready then, it wasn’t meant for me, and something else was waiting out there for me. That is the story of my life. Whenever I am up against major challenge, I need to constantly remind myself, or turn to my husband, who is also my best friend, or my parents, who are my role models, to remind me that we’ve been down this road before and that things will work out in the end.
‘…when I fail, I realize things are not falling apart, things are falling into place.’
What are you proudest of, and how did you get there?
I am proud of my family, that we are together and inspire each other, especially, for example, my husband. We left Atlanta to move to Hong Kong because he wanted me to shine. He saw an opportunity for me. I am proud of that partnership. It’s about what is good for the family. It’s not perfect but, at the end of the day, it is that family unit that I truly believe in and am so proud of. It helps me do what I need to do.
FAMILY TIES Armie with her husband, news director John Bennett, and their two children, Chloe and Henry
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self, and to other young people pursuing their dreams?
I would tell young Armie to be patient. Things happen for a reason. Don’t overthink things. I think our younger selves can’t wait to work, to be free, to have what they want in life. But we can take baby steps to get where we want to be… I do miss being young, and not having so many responsibilities. Be careful what you wish for! The next thing you know, you have far more responsibilities than you can handle. Enjoy the moment.
What is something you’ll never forget?
This particular moment in our life is something I’ll never forget. There are so many things happening now that I’ve never heard of before… I think anyone who is old enough to understand what is going on will never forget this moment.