Newspaper as a Reflection of Community

Community Opinion & Analysis Jun 13, 2014 at 4:53 pm


(Welcome remarks of Mila Astorga-Garcia, co-publisher and managing editor of The Philippine Reporter on the newspaper’s 25th Anniversary Celebration on May 31, 2014 at Rembrandt Banquet Hall, Scarborough, Ontario.)

Thank you for being here tonight. Hermie and I and The Philippine Reporter staff and our families are honored by your presence. As we gather here, there are about a dozen more events happening in our community tonight. We all wish them success, just as much as we already feel blessed with success just by having you here tonight.

I can see old and new friends, family members, media colleagues (Filipino, from other cultural community or ethnic media, and mainstream), our advertisers, public officials, representatives of mainstream institutions – from universities, the library, social justice advocates for immigrants, overseas foreign workers, live-in-caregivers, former colleagues at The City of Toronto’s social development office, community leaders and advocates, and representatives of various organizations.

The Philippine Reporter story is just like any immigrant story: one of struggle, hard work, persistence, a desire to make it in our new home, to be welcomed and accepted as an equal, with an eagerness to share our talents and skills, education, experience, culture, and our humanity.

It is a story fraught with hardships at the start, mainly economic, especially during the times of the recession when all other businesses were struggling to survive.

But beyond economic survival, Hermie and I wanted to practice journalism as we have always believed and practiced it almost all our lives, since 1969, 45 years ago this month to be exact – when we first started our newspaper and journalism careers.

We believe a newspaper should be independent and fair, and it should contain news that matter to the community – to the people. We also believe that a paper can take a stand for social justice, through its editorials and news coverage, and it should always listen to what its readers, advertisers, and the community are saying. Media vary in its content, interests, editorial and even businesspolicy, but we have firmly stuck to what we believe is journalism with ethics and integrity.

We had humble beginnings, starting from producing our paper in a Scarborough basement, and sometimes in the kitchen, using a computer without a hard drive but only floppy disks, and making do with the paste-up production. Now, having been able to use advanced desktop publishing, we are now producing our paper with the latest hardware and software, both for its print and online editions. We have expanded our circulation. Government and academic institutions have started to recognize us. Most especially we can see our community giving us stronger support and encouraging us to continue on in what we do.

Such as when the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulated daily newspaper, recently published a story about The Philippine Reporter’s humble beginnings and its 25 years of successful publishing history; and when the University of Toronto Libraries’ Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Canada’s largest repository of rare books and manuscripts, honored our donation of the 25-year collection of printed copies of The Philippine Reporter, to be archived and made accessible to everyone.

Hermie and I would like to emphasize that whatever successes we have achieved, we owe it to the Filipino community – not only to its increasing numbers, its increased visibility, but also its ability to stand up and fight for social justice when we experience discrimination and racism in various forms, when our youth are unjustifiably killed by police, when our caregivers and overseas foreign workers are exploited and abused, when journalists are killed and human rights are trampled, when there is a need to join hands to help the Philippines during times of natural disasters, when there is a need to stand up against policies that work against the Filipino people and all humanity in general. The community is also now more visible in terms of its various achievements in the arts, culture, education and research.

We believe our paper is merely a reflection of what our community is all about, in its strength and significance, in our resilience against all odds. So that tonight, as we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we also want to say congratulations to you, for our struggles and successes as a newspaper are just as much yours as it is ours.