Documenting the hopes, struggles, achievements of Filipinos in Canada

Community News & Features Sep 13, 2019 at 3:57 pm
Marites Sison

Marites Sison

By Marites N. Sison

I first met Mila and Hermie during a book launch in Manila back in 2002.  They were so warm and friendly that when we moved to Toronto a year later, they were among the first people I contacted.

They were very helpful and offered me a writing platform as I searched for full-time employment. The same thing happened when my daughter graduated from university over a decade ago,  and needed work experience— she, too, wrote for The Philippine Reporter.

I found out later that we were not an exception. Experienced, as well as up-and-coming Filipino-Canadian journalists have written for The Philippine Reporter.

I think one of Mila and Hermie’s unwritten criteria for becoming a Philippine Reporter contributor is that your heart needs to be in the right place — meaning that you love journalism not only because it is vital to democracy, but because it can give voice to the voiceless and marginalized. Throughout its history, The Philippine Reporter has documented all aspects of Filipino life in Canada — the struggles, the achievements, and the hopes of many who come here in search of a better life. The Philippine Reporter has also challenged Filipinos here to aim higher, to push for better representation and commitment from their governments — both here and in the Philippines.

In creating the newspaper, Mila and Hermie have shown us a great example of what we can be. I remember Hermie telling me that he and Mila started publishing The Philippine Reporter because no one would hire them as journalists with overseas experience. Things are a bit better now, especially in broadcast and digital media, where you see racialized journalists, although they still remain a minority. Racialized journalists continue to be underrepresented in newsrooms in Canada, and this is not only disappointing, but also concerning.  Toronto has a diverse population and these need to be reflected in newsrooms, otherwise their perspectives and voices cannot be fully represented,  especially on matters that affect their lives.

One of Hermie’s first jobs upon arriving in Toronto was delivering the Toronto Star — one can just imagine how he must have felt, he was already an accomplished journalist in the Philippines when he arrived in Toronto, and here he was delivering a newspaper. But he did it in order to provide for his family. He and Mila later published The Philippine Reporter because they knew that Filipinos in Canada needed to have a forum to air their concerns and opinions, and to share their knowledge and perspectives.

Establishing The Philippine Reporter wasn’t a walk in the park — Mila and Hermie went through a lot of struggles to get to where they are now. Despite their success, they haven’t stopped. They haven’t stopped because they love journalism,  they love working together, and they know that they are needed.  We thank them not only for their vision, but for their commitment to service. On their 50th wedding anniversary and the 30th founding anniversary of The Philippine Reporter, we wish them more happy memories and blessings.

See more photos: Philippine Reporter marks 30th year; Garcia couple’s golden anniversary Pictorial by Rene Sevilla