Maria has been a journalist in Asia for more than 25 years, most of them as CNN’s bureau chief in Manila then Jakarta. She became CNN’s lead investigative reporter focusing on terrorism in Southeast Asia and wrote “Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia” (Free Press, 2003). The book was the first from the region documenting the growth of Jemaah Islamiyah and its links to Al-Qaeda.
Maria has worked for every major television network in the Philippines and was one of the founders of independent production company, Probe. In 2005, she took the helm of ABS-CBN News and Current affairs, for 6 years managing more than 1,000 journalists for the largest multi-platform news operation in the Philippines. Her work aimed to redefine journalism by combining traditional broadcast, new media and mobile phone technology for social change.
She taught courses in politics and media for her alma mater, Princeton University, as well as in broadcasting at the University of the Philippines. Her latest book, “From Bin Laden to Facebook,” is part of her work as the Author-in-Residence and Senior Fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research in Singapore. She was named the Southeast Asia Visiting Scholar at CORE Lab at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Despite documenting some of the worst disasters and uprisings in Southeast Asia, she believes in the goodness of human nature and in the transformative powers of media and technology.