PPCO = Principled Press for Camaraderie and Openness

Notebook Mar 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm

BY HERMIE GARCIA

Following is an article I wrote for my campaign for the presidency of the Philippine Press Club of Ontario which held its special elections last March 3. For the readers to have a glimpse on the goings-on in the association, I am reprinting it here. Having won the election, my mandate is to serve for the next one year and two months to continue the term of the resigned president.

(Incidentally, The Philippine Reporter marks its 24th anniversary of publishing. It was in March 10, 1989 when the first issue of our paper was published. It’s been a long arduous years of struggle, challenges, accomplishments and fun. Next year we’ll celebrate our 25th year.)

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The PPCO has been derailed from performing its role in the community in the past

months primarily because of the resignation of its elected president and vice president.
As a result, there has been a temporary vacuum of leadership.  The PPCO board, in deciding to call for special elections to fill the two leading positions, has taken a bold step in the right direction.

To say that PPCO has lost its status as a “stable and respected organization” is stretching it too far. This media organizations has built its prestige, credibility and image through its more than ten years of involvement in issues as local and provincial elections (it has sponsored events featuring candidates for the Toronto City Council and Ontario Parliament, specifically those with Filipino background); killing of journalists in the Philippines (it has organized events to remember the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre in 2009, 2011 and 2012 ); and raising the standard of journalism by conducting seminars on writing and libel, and sponsoring talks by winners of the Marshall McLuhan Journalism Awards from the Philippines for many years.

These are only a few of what PPCO has done and they cannot be disregarded or discounted just because of a temporary absence of an elected leadership and the tendency of a few to derisively tag it as a “social club”.

I believe the current raging controversy in our community that has also injected itself into the PPCO must be squarely addressed. And if elected, I commit to contribute significantly, with the support of the general membership and the PPCO Board, in finding a just and fair solution to this conflict. It is easy to say that we should “set aside differences, egos and personal agendas” but the degree of intensity that the conflict has reached indicates this approach is unrealistic. It ignores the seriousness of the fundamental issues raised by either side, namely, press freedom and accountability of community leaders and public officials on the one hand, and media bullying and responsible and ethical journalism on the other hand.

As President of PPCO, I will lead the Board in consulting the general membership, the former members and the former presidents and officers to determine their real sentiments on this conflict to enable the executive and the Board officers to help find a solution. We will attempt to engage both sides of the conflict in this effort. And we will seek the help of other community leaders and sectors.

Our leadership welcomes everyone in the Philippine media community in Ontario to join or to rejoin the PPCO and help further build our organization so it can better serve our community and the Canadian society as a whole. Any positive contribution will help.

I bring to the PPCO presidency a wealth of experience from my four terms (8 years) as PPCO Board Director and briefly as Vice President. I won these four consecutive terms in general elections and I’m thankful to the members for their trust in me. I wish to seek again your support and serve again, this time as your President. I have seen PPCO grow and meet seemingly insurmountable challenges and I have also witnessed it organize events that engaged the community and made our every member proud to be part of PPCO.

I also bring my long years of experience as a journalist in the Negros, Manila and Philippine national media since after my student years in the University of the Philippines. I was a community newspaper editor in Dumaguete, a senior writer for a national weekly magazine in Manila, a desk editor and editorial writer for two Philippine daily newspapers before I came to Canada. I have been publisher and editor of The Philippine Reporter, a twice-a-month Filipino-Canadian newspaper published in Toronto since 1989 that is now marking its 24th year of publication.  Modesty aside, our paper was awarded four times for “Best Editorial and Design” from 2003 to 2009 by the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, a national association of about 600 ethnic publications and broadcast and digital media organizations in Canada.

But for all this serious background, I also believe that we as colleagues in PPCO and in the Philippine media community in Canada should develop healthy and positive relations with one another. Some of us may have full-time former and current positions in media and others have part-time or peripheral backgrounds and current involvement in media work. Regardless of our situations, we should accord respect and not hold others in contempt just because they did not or do not have our professional background and current status. Let us have genuine camaraderie within PPCO and with non-PPCO members.

Allow me to take liberties with the PPCO acronym to emphasize my intentions of leadership in the event that you entrust me with the presidency of our association:

PPCO = Principled Press for Camaraderie and Openness

Principled in the tenets of true journalism of exercising press freedom and seeking the truth, and being objective, unbiased, fair and fearless.
Press community includes full-time, part-time, peripheral and student participation in media.

Camaraderie for healthy, positive relations among colleagues in the media community. We should have regular fellowship gatherings and social events.

Openness to include friends and even former “foes” and “adversarial” individuals as long as they are willing to contribute positively and help us build PPCO and the non-PPCO media to better serve our Filipino community and Canadian society. We should also have an open attitude to non-media sectors.

Late in 2011, during the PPCO 10th anniversary gala, I wrote a piece for our souvenir program titled “After Ten Years: Great Initiatives to Undertake”  These are big initiatives and the one year and two months remaining in the current term of the PPCO presidency until the next general elections in May 2014 may not be enough to achieve them. But these will serve as guidelines to our programs of activities for that period. (Here’s the link to the article: http://www.philippinereporter.com/index.php?s=After+Ten+Years%3A+Great+Initiatives+to+Undertake)

Here’s the summary of the 6 point Great Initiatives to Undertake:

1. Help raise the standards of journalism in the community.

2. Assist young and aspiring journalists, be they students or graduates, to enter and succeed in the mainstream media.

3.  Encourage and urge the community media to cover the more important issues that affect the community’s unique interests in Canada.

4. Encourage and help the editors and opinion writers, broadcasters and online writers to take editorial stands on these important issues and be a voice in advancing the interests of the community.

5. Facilitate strong links between our media people with other sectors of the ethnic media.

6. Help develop an independent stance on the part of many of our journalists in relation to government officials, whether Philippine or Canadian, and business and interest groups.

Mabuhay ang PPCO!