Maria Ressa

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Maria A. Ressa is an award-winning Filipino journalist and the outgoing head of the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs department.


Early life and education

Maria Ressa was born in October 1963 in the Philippines and lived in Manila as a young girl. When she was nine, her family moved to Toms River, New Jersey, where she attended public schools. In 1982, Ressa graduated from Toms River High School North. She had been active in student government, the school's orchestra, theater, and basketball.

She went to Princeton University, studying biology and English, and graduated in 1986. Upon graduation, Ressa returned to Manila on a Fulbright scholarship to study theater, but soon turned to journalism.


Ressa helped start "The Probe Team" with Che Che Lazaro. Ressa was hired by CNN in 1987, continued her work with Probe, and began managing Manila nightclub acts. In 1995, CNN relocated the bureau to Jakarta, and Ressa lived there for about 10 years before returning to Manila.

Ressa was the Jakarta bureau chief of CNN International. At CNN, Ressa was lead reporter in East Timor, Indonesia and the Philippines, and was lead investigative reporter for Asia's terror networks on the global war on terror. She is also the writer of the book Seeds of Terror, containing her blow-by-blow account of the hideouts of Al-Qaeda.

Resignation from ABS-CBN

Ressa announced her resignation as head of the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs department last 11 October 2010 after serving the network for six years. She said that she will not renew her existing contract with ABS-CBN, which will expire on 3 January 2011. She will go on terminal leave from the network starting on November 15 after having six months of accumulated leaves.

In her resignation letter, she reminded her colleagues in the network to "value and protect your editorial independence." "I wish you clarity of thought, stamina, and courage to fight for what is right and avoid the compromise of mediocrity," she added.

Regina "Ging" Reyes, currently the North America bureau chief of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, is set to replace Ressa.

Awards and distinctions

  • National Headliner Award for Investigative Journalism (2002)
  • SAIS-Novartis International Journalism Award (2000)
  • Asian Television Awards (1999)
  • Ferris Professorship of Journalism at Princeton University (2001)
  • Sexiest Woman Alive in the Philippines by the Esquire magazine (2010)


  • Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda's Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia. The Free Press, 2003. ISBN-10: 0743251334 ISBN-13: 978-0743251334