What’s with the 25th year milestone?
By Hermie Garcia
Here are my notes on the Powerpoint presentation of some the major stories we covered in the past 25 years of The Philippine Reporter. Short of writing and reading a speech. I read these and elaborated a bit extemporaneously. Then with the visual presentation, I just made quick remarks on the images and the related stories.
1. It’s our body of work, the 25-year collection of printed copies, counting about 600 issues of newspaper, published consistently twice a month. This is the work of dedicated journalists, part-time and full time staff, those who helped get the ads to support the business and the newspaper. Those who delivered the bundles over those years, those who kept the house in order in the office, the accountants, the advertisers who supported us in two and a half decades or less. 600 issues times average of 40 pages each, is 24,000 pages produced over 25 years. It’s truly a body of work.
2. The fruits of our labors are now being archived in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library of the University of Toronto Libraries. The only other publication being archived there is the weekly NOW magazine. What an excellent company, the vibrant and very successful entertainment and political magazine of Toronto. Ours is the first and so far only ethnic publication archived in that library.
3. We have maintained an editorial policy that is social justice-oriented. We reported the injustices perpetrated against our caregivers, our youth, our professionals, our temporary foreign workers (the OFWs), and we also reported on the victims of injustices in our home country, the extrajudicial killings, the killings of journalists and human rights defenders and the aggravating poverty and hunger amidst reports of glowing economic growth. For us, the most relevant economic figures are always those that affect the overwhelming majority of our people. Recently, an SWS survey revealed that 9 out of the 10 Filipinos experienced difficulties in meeting their daily needs, in paying for their basic necessities. This amidst the 7 percent or so of economic growth.
4. Our paper is more stable now, editorially and financially. We have a stable of full time and part-time writers and reporters, competent and energetic ones, who can write professionally on varied topics. We don’t have long-term debt as we used to have in the initial very difficult years. We have expanded our circulation in other major cities of Canada and will expand some more in the near future.
5. We have established a name, in the community, in the ethnic communities and in the mainstream society. We are not known only as a serious, no-nonsense paper but one with a strong social justice orientation and non-compromising stance on major issues as immigration, human rights, national sovereignty in the home country, and fair and equal treatment of immigrant workers and professionals and temporary foreign workers.
6. We will use this newfound influence, newfound power, to further serve the community, the marginalized and the overwhelming majority in Canadian society and in the home country. You will see more of our engaging stories, and as they say as the role of the real journalists, to make the comfortable uncomfortable by shedding light on the dark corners in order to bring out the truth. But this we will do to serve the majority and build a better society, not to destroy people’s reputations, not to malign the character of people, not to attack on the personal level, not to destroy personal enemies or business competitors. We are for journalism for the people, journalism for social justice. And there lies the big difference between us and those who attack us and want to bring us down.
These few, bereft of both ethics and professional competence, and in fact spinning stories to demonize their perceived enemies, are trying very hard to portray their vicious vilification campaigns as a crusade against the bad guys in the community. If they are serving the community’s interests with their sensational journalism and offensive language, why have they created enemies from many sectors of the same community? If they are serving right the community, why isn’t the community rallying in hordes to their so-called crusade? Why are they not covering the important issues that affect the lives of the greater majority in the community and instead are nitpicking on unproven allegations leveled against personal enemies and business competitors? And worst of all, they are actively working, as they have sworn to in their semi-private emails and personal conversations, to destroy their objects of hate, be they perceived enemies or business competitors.
But let me not get carried away. Let me start with the interesting presentation of images that tell the story of our community and ourselves in the context of the larger Canadian society that we have chosen to be a part of.
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Since this is the week of festivities and ceremonies marking the 116th June 12 Independence Day of the Philippine Republic declared in Kawit, Cavite in 1898 by Emilio Aguinaldo, we are featuring three perceptive articles on Rizal and Bonifacio and the issue of whether June 12 is the correct date to celebrate the nation’s independence.
Manuel F. Almario, author of one of the articles, is a highly respected journalist in the Philippines in the league of Nick Joaquin and Amando Doronila. He gives a fresh perspective and questions the long-standing debate of whether it is Rizal or Bonifacio who deserves to be the national hero. He says we have fallen into the trap of the colonialists or imperialists and their strategy of divide and rule.
The article on June 12 questions the real intentions for independence of the leaders of the Aguinaldo faction and offers the Cry of Pugadlawin as the genuine declaration of a people wanting to be free and willing to offer their lives to achieve that goal.
In the current situation, the EDCA and increasing military presence of foreign troops in the country nullify any semblance of sovereignty, as some opinion pieces in this issue articulately show.