Write Here And Now: A Conversation With Irish Dizon
What do Baste Duterte, Mocha Uson, Leni Robredo and Colleen Garcia have in common? Not much, at first glance. However, at one time or another, you must have read one of their compelling interviews published in our local broadsheets and glossies. For these incredible insights, we have only writer Irish Dizon to thank.
“You would never expect me to be a writer,” says Irish Dizon. Since she started her foray into publishing for Cosmopolitan Philippines back in 2010, she has gained quite the following. As a lifestyle writer, Irish has written for several publications such as Philippine Star Supreme, Candy, Preview, and Cosmopolitan, among many others.
Although Irish Dizon never really saw herself as a writer at first, she admitted that she was an avid reader. Growing up, she enjoyed the Sweet Valley and Goosebumps series as well as Sidney Sheldon’s works. She loved how Sidney Sheldon’s novels featured strong female characters, and that made a huge impact on her.
Before becoming a writer and editor, Irish first honed her passion for storytelling through theater. When she did theater growing up, her mother did not like it, so a part of her looked for another channel to show her love and passion for stories. After she had graduated, she worked in various industries, such as government and IT.
Eventually, she saw a posting about an internship program for Cosmopolitan Philippines. She tried out for the internship with the initial goal of winning a trip to New York. Irish didn’t get the internship; however, the magazine eventually hired her as an editorial assistant. This experience marked the beginning of her career in the publishing industry. She has since become an established writer and editor. She has written profiles on personalities such as James Reid, Nadine Lustre, Jaclyn Jose, Bea Alonzo, Gerald Anderson, and many more.
Making magic with a heartthrob
When asked about her most memorable interviews, Irish has five personalities in mind. At the top of the list is James Reid. When she first met the heartthrob, she initially had a hard time writing a story about him. Eventually, when they did a shoot in Alviera at Porac, Pampanga, James warmed up to her. He asked her to continue the interview at his house. She describes it as a “magic moment,” wherein she was able to see James at his most comfortable.
Similar to her experience with James, Irish Dizon recounts her interview with Vice President Leni Robredo as one of the most memorable interviews she has ever done. After her interview with Robredo, the incumbent VP invited her to visit their home.
Although Irish has written about a variety of personalities with diverse followings, she holds a soft spot for a certain group of people. “I like writing about people that people hate,” she said, as she includes Coleen Garcia and Mocha Uson to her list of most memorable interviews. Both Mocha and Coleen are polarizing public figures and her experience with these personalities made her see a different side to them.
Meanwhile, she describes her interview with Baste Duterte as a surprise. “Grabe ‘yun! Kasi ‘yun, wala talaga akong interview,” Irish said, as she narrates the whole experience of interviewing Baste.
It was a Monday, and Jobe [Baste’s close friend] texted Irish that Baste was free at four o’clock in the afternoon. At that time, Baste was in Davao, while Irish was in Manila. Throughout their correspondence, Jobe was cryptic towards the opportunity. All she knew was that Baste was free in Davao at 4:00 p.m. and that no other clues were given away.
She first told her editor about the opportunity to interview Baste. After expressing her desire to write a story about the Presidential Son, she was eventually given the go-signal to fly to Davao and interview Baste. When it came time to interview Baste, Baste was so shocked to see her and was taken by surprise that an interview was actually happening. Baste didn’t entertain her at first, but eventually, he warmed up to her and told her this: “I don’t want to talk about my life, but you can try.”
Irish Dizon eventually took Baste’s advice, and Baste discussed details about his life to her. In his profile for Philippine Star’s Supreme section, Baste, who is known to be quite private, opened up about fatherhood. He divulged his feelings towards being known as a “national heartthrob.” And of course, what his life is like as the son of the most powerful man in the country.
Among all these interviews, Irish pointed out two very important insights towards writing. First, is having an awareness that people are not black-and-white, and that it is important to balance the good and bad traits of others. She also mentioned how important it is to believe in your story and trying to make it happen even if it’s not always successful.
On Team Real
Irish has a regular column on Philippine Star Supreme and writes for other publications. She also worked on James Reid and Nadine Lustre’s book as its editor-in-chief. Called Team Real, this book chronicles James Reid and Nadine Lustre’s lives beyond the spotlight. They bare their souls and freely talk about their views on life, finance, personal style, and beauty, among many others.
Ever since the book’s release last June, the book has become a certified best-seller, topping National Bookstore’s best-seller list for July 2016. According to Irish Dizon, the experience of making a book is very different from writing an article. Making a book requires a team of at least six people.
Consequently, it also requires a certain amount of time to produce one as well, with a timeframe of six months for other celebrity books. When it was time to create Team Real, Irish and Merlito (Pabatao) were given one month to put everything together.
“I did the job of four people, Merlito (the art director of Team Real), the job of two,” Irish recounted. Given JaDine’s busy schedule and the timeframe to complete Team Real, the stress that Irish and Merlito had to go through was immense.
What surprised Irish the most during the creation of Team Real was how she and Merlito were able to pull everything off. This is despite the circumstances that they endured while making the book. From that experience, she was able to prove that doing things out of love and genuine passion can pay off, even if the work required to accomplish a goal or a project can be crushing at times.
On dream interviews
With so many incredible personalities on her list, who else would Irish love to interview? First, is President Rodrigo Duterte. She reiterates her love for interviewing people who are hated or misunderstood by the public. The current president fits the bill.
Another person that she includes on her list of dream interviews is Pepe Diokno, her editor at Philippine Star Supreme. She describes him as “one of the most interesting people I know.” Finally, she mentions Jessica Zafra, her favorite writer, and hero. Growing up, Irish Dizon collected all of Jessica Zafra’s Twisted series, and her works helped Irish to be the writer that she is today.
Advice for aspiring writers
Irish even gives useful advice for those who dream to write for a living. “Dapat hindi ka mayabang. Number one [yun].” According to Irish, it takes humility and openness to grow as a writer. As a writer, you need to be open to criticism and editing. Even if criticism can be hurtful sometimes, it is necessary for improvement.
The second piece of advice that Irish has for aspiring writers is to be true to your own voice. Good writing is very subjective. There will be people who will believe and champion your work. At the same time, some people will tell you that your writing is terrible.
Irish also believes in giving your all to every job, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Of course, she also believes one must have a genuine love for the craft.
Irish Dizon’s passion for storytelling transcends the pages of a glossy magazine or a newspaper broadsheet. Her words inspire people to see others in a different light, empathize with their struggles, and empower them. When you strike up a conversation with her, you can feel her passion right away. She is frank, yet she does everything from a place of love. Her passion will take her places, and it will inspire many people to live their truths by sharing their stories.