As Asia’s hottest newcomer to the television and Internet broadcasting realms, The iTravel Channel is already blazing a trail of success. But the reason behind its unique idea and products is due to one man with a vision – and an astonishing work ethic.
The iTravel Channel is Asia’s newest and most comprehensive online and TV travel and lifestyle channel. With its innovative and international standard of finished products – this sixteen-month old company already has a huge following and has worked with everyone from Hilton Pattaya, Sri Panwa Phuket, Black Mountain Hua Hin right through to Bangkok Hospital. Gaining worldwide recognition and access to 180,000 Facebook fans alone, this is a company to watch.
But behind the ‘lights, camera and action’ is the dedicated, humble and remarkably talented 29-year-old Creative Director and founder of the channel, Kirby Repollido. It has been hardship and passion that has driven this Philippine born and Bangkok based individual to the unprecedented success his new company has already found. But he is not stopping there.
The Man Behind the Magic
Born and educated on Cebu Island in the Philippines, Kirby Repollido always had a vision and wanted to share it. As the youngest of five children, Kirby’s mother raised them all as a single mother – constantly struggling just to make ends meet. As a child he vividly remembered his mother’s toil just to raise him and get him through school. But it was this tireless work principle from Maribel Repollido that drove Kirby to strive to accomplish his dreams.
At 12, he was hit with tragedy when he learnt his father, who had never met, passed away. Struck by loss he couldn’t understand Kirby just devoted himself to school and achieved well but felt something was missing. At 17 he discovered his place – theatre.
He auditioned for the best theatre group on Cebu, USJR Dramatics, and succeeded – something that would ignite his passion for performing and entertaining. “I just loved it, it was the best experience for me. I realized I loved entertaining people – it was so gratifying and instant. I knew that entertaining people was what I wanted to do with my life,” Kirby says. “It was my way to be anyone and do anything.”
This theatre group also served as a lifeline to continue his university studies. By landing a part in the group, he was granted a scholarship to study a degree in IT at the University of San Jose Recolletos – something impossible for the 17-year-old with his mother’s wages.
“The theatre group was my lifeline in so many ways. It opened up so many doors for me and for that I will always be grateful.” After two years in the group, he was awarded the coveted position of Director. Under the tutelage of legendary dramatics teacher Milagros Espina he learnt his working mantra that he still keeps till today: Practice makes permanent.
After obtaining is degree and his thirst for directing still burning, Kirby set off to travel the world. Visiting Europe and various parts of Asia, he ended up in the antipodean isles of New Zealand. This tiny country of just 3.5 million is famous for its cinematic contributions – namely the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. And by some twist of fate, while living in the capital, Auckland, Kirby’s flat mates happened to be movie editors on the acclaimed series of films. Watching them work, Kirby picked up fantastic editing skills, which he went onto practice by making his own travel videos for friends. These videos suddenly picked up such a following that people urged him to do more.
But only after six years of living in Thailand as a language instructor at the American University Alumni Language School in Pattaya did fate again intervene in his path. “Because of my videos I was doing for fun I was offered a job in Bangkok to do video production – my dream job! So I packed up my life and moved to Bangkok to pursue this. But suddenly the job disappeared and they said they no longer needed me. I already had my year lease here for a condo but within an instant no money and no job. Desperation made me go into freelance work for video production. I did anything I could just so I could pay rent and eat.”
This dedication paid off as his reputation grew for his extraordinary standard of work. He was soon invited to film at Bangkok’s well-known Bed Supperclub for an event. It was there that he met his future presenter, Icelandic/Thai beauty Angie Baldusdottir.
“As soon as I saw her I saw the vision for The iTravel Channel. She was beautiful, charismatic but also young, modern and fun. I wanted a TV channel to reflect the same.”
The pair, along with friends, started creating videos about Bangkok and travel. Everything from events to Thai spas to BTS travel tips – and the effect was like magic. Within weeks they had 1500 fans on Facebook and countless views of their videos on their website.
“I knew I was onto a good thing,” Kirby laughs. “From the very beginning, even though I had no budget I made sure the quality was impeccable. I filmed, directed and edited everything with my heart and soul and people could see that. They loved what we were doing.”
He can now laugh about having to eat street food noodles sitting on the kerb between shots and running down streets with his camera – because his hard work has paid off. In just sixteen months The iTravel Channel has weekly airtime on BangkokAir Channel, Lomprayah Channel and broadcasting through 24/7 in-house TV at 17 of Thailand’s five-star hotels including Dusit Thani and Hyatt. Its also airing on six leading international travel websites and can claim 180,000 Facebook fans. They additionally have the crème of Thailand’s corporates as clients including Hilton and Black Mountain Golf Resort – and their work is in huge demand.
“Its crazy. I pinch myself everyday because I’m living my dream. Everything has seemingly happened so quickly but I also realize I have been working my whole life towards this goal. I’m so proud and also very exited for what the future will bring for iTravel.”
Today the channel has five international presenters: Jinder from Canada, Erika from Brazil, Simon from Sweden, Daniel from America and of course Angie. iTravel is the most exclusive guide to the finest in holiday destinations, accommodation, nightlife, dining, health, fashion and more for Thailand and Asia. And along with the highest standard of content, their programs have unprecedented outreach in Thailand and beyond.
They also can claim a talented fulltime staff including Director of Photography, Andrei Goldobenko, Senior writer Natalie Scarr and social media strategist Jenisa Limpanilchart. Like their creative director Kirby, The iTravel Channel is one young company to watch. “iTravel is fun, modern, interactive and informative. We are different and our quality is unsurpassed – that is my promise. When I think of the future for iTravel I get so excited. Watch out world!”