By Mila Astorga-Garcia
TORONTO–An envigorated and enlivened PPCO, enhanced by a dynamic program comprising a good balance of social events, community forums, professional development, and membership expansion, characterized the organization’s performance during the one year and two-month term under the 2013-2014 board of the directors.
Hermie Garcia, immediate past president of the Philippine Press Club of Ontario, reported on the following achievements during the organization’s Annual General Meeting last May 10, 2014. Through an informal narration of the year’s highlights, aided by a digital photo presentation, Garcia enumerated the following events:
The Philippine Press Club of Ontario held its first outdoor trip on June 9, 2013, in a beautiful cottage at scenic Lake Scucog, Little Britain, Ontario. Attended by PPCO officers and members and joined by family and friends, the summer trip was organized by Noel Perada. The trip allowed those in attendance a refreshing time to unwind from hectic news coverage and deadlines, to engage in fitness activities such as volley ball and table tennis, to bond and enjoy old and new friends, and to plan the organization’s forthcoming activities. The trip was hosted by generous cottage owners Ezekiel and Lyn Lucrida.
The PPCO took a trip to beautiful Niagara-on-the-lake to enjoy its beautiful scenery, taste its wine, visit a fruit farm, and do a walking tour of its vibrant main street of old style ice cream shops, boutiques, theatres, and restaurants. The trip was hosted by former NOTL Lord Mayor Art Viola, who generously spent precious time with the group throughout the tour. After the lakeside picnic, the group experienced a wine tasting session at Joseph’s Estate, learning how to drink wine properly and how ice wine is made, and many ended up purchasing at sale prices bottles of ice wine. At the family farm of Pavel and Hana Varadinek and Christopher Paul, members were toured around the orchard, and had the chance to taste ripe fruits they themselves picked from the branches, dig for fresh beets to purchase along with the fruits to take back home to Toronto. Some stayed until late for a leisurely walk around downtown to savor the charming ambience of the historic borough of Canada.
To cap an eventful year, PPCO held its 12th anniversary and holiday gathering Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 at the Crystal Buffet Ballroom. Attended by officers and members, family and friends, the event allowed for an intimate way for people to enjoy an evening of plentiful food; winning raffle prizes; listening to good music; meeting old and new friends, sharing interesting conversations, news stories and updates of relief efforts for Typhoon Haiyan disaster victims, and photo ops for posterity. Touched by the stories about the typhoon survivors, the restaurant owner turned over the restaurant’s donation box proceeds to be given in turn to a relief organization.
PPCO officers, members and applicants were among the150 participants in the three-day 2013 Professional Development Conference and Training Seminars in Journalism, held Dec. 6-8, 2013 at Seneca College, Markham Campus. The conference and seminars were organized by the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC), an organization of over 600 member media organizations from all over Canada, representing various cultural backgrounds, in collaboration with Seneca College.
Various journalism and journalism-related courses were included in the curriculum, conducted by top journalism practitioners and academicians from Ryerson University, Seneca College, and the University of Ohio. Among the topics covered were editorial and journalistic authenticity, accountability and transparency; the law of defamation; professional writing, interview skills and best practices; the fundamentals of news reporting; the art of effective business networking; the importance of social media in the business of journalism; and leveraging cultural diversity into effective business strategy and opportunity.
Community Forums focused on Journalism:
The PPCO conducted a speakers series on varied journalism topics, with distinguished professional media practitioners as speakers.
First was Eric Baculinao, Beijing Bureau Chief of NBC News, who spoke about “China and the Media in China” at the PPCO-sponsored forum June 7, 2013 at St. Luke’s United Church in Toronto. His talk focused on the state of the Chinese government and economy, as well as China’s global ambitions to overtake the U.S. as the reigning superpower. He also touched on the Philippine Chinese controversy over disputed islands and territorial waters, saying this could be peacefully negotiated between the two countries, if both parties agree to this process.
Baculinao was the Chairman of the University of the Philippines Student Council and a law student when he, together with other student leaders, went to China for a two-week visit in 1971. Due to the political turmoil in the Philippines, and to avoid arrest by the Marcos military, his group postponed their return. His stay turned into a long exile until Marcos’s overthrow in 1986. He has lived in China with his family for more than four decades. He turned into a full-time journalist and now has served as NBC Beijing Bureau Chief for more than two decades, winning an Emmy award for television coverage of the Tiananmen massacre of 1989.
PPCO organized the forum with Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke, Oct. 12 at the OISE, University of Toronto, who talked about reporting together on the human rights situation in the Philippines. Members of the ethnic press and others from the Filipino-Canadian community listened intently as they discussed the human rights abuses they witnessed first hand, and the challenges they faced while reporting about them in Manila and rural parts of the Philippines. They reported on a range of issues including the increasing presence of the U.S. military in Asia, the impacts of large scale mining and corporate plantations in northeast Mindanao, and the massive people’s rally against the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). Ruiz took her masters in broadcast journalism at Ryerson University, and writes for The Philippine Reporter, while Smooke is a photo journalist/writer who has published here and in the United States. Together they have established the people.power.media based in San Francisco, California.
PPCO presented a forum with Kris Reyes, reporter and current host of Global TV’s The Morning Show. Reyes spoke about having the courage to takes risks – and in her case, making “big moves” beyond her comfort zone– and being confident in one’s skills as essential, if one is to succeed in her field. The event, called “Behind the Lens with Kris Reyes” held at the OISE building on Bloor Street West, was attended by ethnic press journalists, publishers and other community members. Reyes’s presentation focused on the three big moves in her life that enabled her to reach the level of success she has attained as a host of the Global TV’s “The Morning Show.” She also talked about personalities she had interviewed, also risk-takers, who had inspired her. She fielded questions from the audience after the forum.
At the time Marivel Taruc, CBC news anchor and reporter, was scheduled to speak as the next PPCO forum guest, Typhoon Haiyan had just wrought havoc across the southern Philippines. When PPCO held the Typhoon Haiyan press conference on November 16 at the OISE Nexus Lounge, University of Toronto, where invited Filipino members appealed to the public and informed them of the upcoming events and fundraising activities in their communities, Taruc was gracious enough to allow the impromptu press conference to take place before her talk. “Sometimes the stories are hard to hear. But it’s vitally important that they’re told. This is when I am most proud to be a journalist – when our stories make a difference,” Taruc even empathized with the press conference speakers and audience.
Taruc told about her journey as a broadcast journalist, encouraged by parents who believed in her. She also told of the importance of studying her area of work very well, as when she enrolled in courses related to her specialization then, business news, so as to be able to deliver the news with confidence. Taruc, as an anchor, tackles all kinds of subjects, from culture to socio-political issues.
The PPCO hosted a lunch-meeting with Eileen Mangubat, 2013 Marshall Mcluhan Fellow, at Casa Manila restaurant on Feb. 28, 2014. Before PPCO members and community guests, including the Philippine Consul General Junever Mahilum-West, Mangubat spoke briefly about her topic “Journalism in time of Haiyan: The evolving role of the community press in covering natural disasters.” Mangubat, in her talk, discussed not only how news is covered during times of disaster, but also the challenges faced by the local press as both disaster victims and at the same time bearer of news.
PPCO held a forum with Sheila Coronel, Director, Toni Stabile Centre for Investigative Journalism, Columbia University, on March 18, at OISE’s 12th Floor Nexus Lounge, on the topic, “Watchdog Reporting in the 21st Century: The Philippines and Beyond.” The newly appointed Dean for Academic Affairs of the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, a post she will assume this July, impressed her audience – faculty, students, and members of the media, community leaders, community advocates, authors, literary writers, a Philippine government representative, and the head of the national ethnic press council—with her talk, aided with a video presentation about investigative journalism in a digital world. Coronel fascinated her audience with interesting stories of how activist journalists, volunteers, and citizen reporters did their share of unearthing what otherwise would have remained private secrets, using various tools, from Google Earth, Youtube and others.
PPCO held a forum with Zuraida Alman, CTV news anchor and reporter, where she talked about her experiences as an all-around field reporter and anchor for one of Toronto’s biggest TV networks, and what helped her succeed in mainstream broadcasting. She credited her volunteer experience, her willingness to take on any assignment as a new learning experience, and her “uniqueness” and pride in being a Filipina. She added that believing in oneself, including in one’s abilities and talents, and perseverance all contribute to help anyone to succeed in one’s career in Canada.
Remembering the Ampatuan Massacre:
The PPCO observed the Ampatuan Massacre Memorial Day, Nov. 23, at OISE, attended by members and community. A presentation was made by PPCO Secretary Jonathan Canchela, recalling the events of that infamous massacre where the biggest number of journalists were killed at one location at the same time. The audience shared their thoughts on the importance of commemorating the day to seek justice and end impunity. Guest artists read poems and sang protest songs. The audience offered flowers in memory of the victims.
During the past year, the PPCO gained new members, journalist practitioners who were attracted to the organization’s activities. Altogether PPCO has eight new members, four honorary members, and three new applicants. The new members are: Paulina Corpuz, Marissa Corpus, Rachelle Cruz, Willie Jose, Ramon Lansangan, Jeff Rustia, Beatrice Paez and Veronica Silva.
The honorary members are Kris Reyes, Global News Toronto, host of The Morning Show; Marivel Taruc, CBC news anchor and reporter, host of Our Toronto; Sheila Coronel, Director, Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, incoming Dean of Academic Affairs, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University; Zuraidah Alman, CTV news anchor and reporter.