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  • Anna Oposa

Podcast Picks


I started listening to podcasts because Metro Manila traffic was driving me crazy. I usually listen to music or sing songs from Disney movies/Broadway musicals in the car (the only time I flex my vocal cords nowadays), but the hours and hours spent in a vehicle was making me antsy. I needed to feel productive, even during my idle time. I downloaded a few podcasts recommended by Chely, Lynn[1], and my kuya. I began with the usual suspects: Freakonomics, TED Radio Hour, and Stuff You Missed in History Class, and How I Built This. I soon discovered the world wide web of podcasts. ANG DAMI PALA. Nakakaloka! There's a podcast for everything.

Here are my current favorites -- may pang business, beauty, science, at self-help.

How I Built This is a show about "innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built." This is what got me hooked on podcasts. The host, Guy Raz, has a really calming voice and asks intelligent, well-researched, and sometimes difficult questions, but does it so... kindly. It's entertaining to learn the history and evolution of companies we think we're familiar with, like TRX, WholeFoods, Zumba, and Patagonia. I always end an episode inspired by the grit, resilience, and creativity of the interviewees, Favorite episodes: Sara Blakely of Spanx, Emily Weiss of Glossier (DREAM COME TRUE), Maureen and Tony Wheeler of Lonely Planet, and Kendra Scott of Kendra Scott . I was disappointed/bored with Chip Wilson of Lululemon (huhu sayang, maybe I'll try to listen to it again), Steve Case of AOL, Sandy Lerner or Cisco/Urban Decay, and Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines.

Science vs. "takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between." I learned about it from Poch (of Sip/Loop.). We were having a discussion about the plastic-steel straw debate and he said, "You should listen to this podcast where they interviewed the girl who uploaded the video of the turtle with the straw." (Yes, that video.) I downloaded that episode plus a few others with topics that intrigued me: essential oils (para sa mga oilbolaryo diyan), the seven-minute workout, and veganism. Now I'm obsessed! I've been going through all the episodes. Each one begins with a background on the topic (from online dating to climate change to forensic science to abortion) and the questions they seek to answer. Then they go through studies from peer-reviewed journals and interview different scientists and experts. It's ridiculously put-together, with a script that makes science conversational, original music and SFX that make any topic more fun, and over 100 references per episode. I feel so smart after each episode, tapos may baon na akong opinion and citations for any dinner table topic, from birth control to gun control.

Fat Mascara is co-hosted by two beauty editors who are "plugged in to the industry's latest news and share their inside access along with candid stories of their beauty adventures, from celebrity interviews and freaky new facials to miracle products and epic beauty fails." It was on multiple listicles when I googled "best beauty podcasts". The show starts with a discussion on trends, news, and/or commentaries on special events (e.g., the Oscars, Royal Wedding), then they interview someone (but not just anyone!) from the industry. It end with #RaiseAWand, where they talk about their favorite product of the week. I've been recommending this to every beauty junkie I know. Listening to Jess and Jen is just like being in a table with my girlfriends, gushing or critiquing beauty products/services (but we're definitely the more jologs version). Favorite episodes: Charlotte Tilbury, Bobbi Brown, Jo Malone (coincidence that they're all eponyms!). The episodes with John Demsey, the executive group president of Estée Lauder, and Paula of Paula's Choice were painful to listen to.

Dear Sugars is an offshoot of the advice column Dear Sugar and the book Tiny Beautiful Things, a book I've read so many times that it's dilapidated. It's co-hosted by the OG Sugars, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond. It "fields all your questions — no matter how deep or dark — and offers radical empathy in return." In other words, ito ang podcast para sa may mga pinagdadaanan. It feels like a cool, non-judgy tito and tita giving advice and encouragement to go through life and all its shit and giggles. They have a theme per episode, like "The Family We Carry" (with Elizabeth Gilbert), "The Price Of Our Dreams," and "The Power Of No" (with Oprah). Unfortunately, the podcast ended in September 2018 but we have four years worth of podcasts to listen and re-listen to. Plus of course the book, Tiny Beautiful Things.

Runners-up: Hidden Brain, A Way with Words, The Nerdist

In queue: Serial (Season 1 lang daw maganda), other Gimlet Media shows

Any recommendations? Let me know!

[1] Lynn, Chely, Bianca, and I once co-hosted a podcast called Coffee Break from 2013 to 2014. Parang naglalaro lang kami. Our ep with Atom Araullo and dealing with a quarter-life crisis can be viewed here. I wish we still had it, so we could have an excuse to meet up regularly and discuss our thoughts on current events. If Coffee Break were still alive, it would probably be a mix of Dear Sugars, Fat Mascara, and How I Built This!