Dear President Duterte,
We congratulate you on your overwhelming victory in the May 2016 polls. The Filipino people have spoken, and they chose change.
You sweeping victory is testament to how Filipinos, wherever we are in the world, thirst for a new leadership that is not corrupt and cacique. We want a new government that will depart from all the failures and empty promises of the so-called ‘tuwid na daan’. We want accountability for all the crimes committed by the Aquino government against the Filipino people.
For these elections, despite and against all odds, a record-breaking 407,000 overseas Filipino voters exercised their right to vote and fulfilled their duty to the nation. This big increase is proof of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs’) stake in the outcome of the May 2016 elections. It disproved all claims that there had been a growing apathy among our OFWs. We have once again proven how significant the OFW vote is.
We are one with the Filipino nation in hoping that your presidency will immediately address fundamental problems that beset the country – widespread unemployment, lowest wages, contractualization, landlessness, lack of basic social services, corruption, violations of human rights and national sovereignty – the root causes of forced migration.
We are one with all OFWs in hoping that your presidency will scrap the labor export policy that exploits our cheap labor and remittances but offers us nothing in return, especially in times of need. We will hold you to your promise to make OFWs your top-most priority in your labor agenda. We want new leaders who will be nurturing to OFWs and their families. We want a new government that will uphold and protect our rights and welfare.
We specifically call to your urgent attention the case of Mary Jane Veloso who remains on death row in Indonesia and others like her who have received no legal assistance from the previous administration; the immediate recall of notorious abusive and erring embassy officials, as well as accountability of high-level government officials responsible for the tanim-bala extortion scheme and other unresolved anomalies in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA); the urgent and full audit of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) funds and its immediate release to rightful OFW beneficiaries; the quick resolution of illegal recruitment and trafficking cases filed by countless OFW victims at the Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC); and, the scrapping of unnecessary fees that are viewed by our kababayans as nothing but ‘legalized kotong’, such as the abolition of the rubbish Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), among others.
We are very much open to hold a dialogue with you to further discuss urgent and fundamental OFW concerns, especially as the nation is set to commemorate Filipino Migrants’ Day on June 7.
We dream of a society where families will need not be broken by the need to survive. We wish to come home to a country where there are opportunities for everyone to live decent and humane lives.
Mr. President, these are the changes we want to see in your administration.
Chairperson, Migrante International
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.
Sheila Coronel, Director, Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, Columbia University:
By Mila Astorga-Garcia
TORONTO –The speaker herself, by virtue of her name and stature in journalism, was a sure crowd-drawer. So when the Philippine Press Club Ontario (PPCO) held its 4th public forum on journalism last Tuesday, May 18, at OISE’s 12th Floor Lounge, with her as the guest speaker, it was no surprise that a seriously interested audience easily filled the room during that weekday evening, eager to listen. Present in that university venue were not only faculty, students, and members of the media, but community leaders, community advocates, authors, literary writers, a Philippine government representative, and the head of the national ethnic press council.
Sheila S. Coronel, director, Toni Stabile Centre for Investigative Journalism, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, New York and newly appointed Dean for Academic Affairs for the same Graduate School of Journalism effective this July, captivated her admiring audience with her enlightening and interesting presentation, titled: “Watchdog Reporting in the 21st Century: The Philippines and Beyond”delivered in a relaxed, conversationally engaging and interactive style.
A co-founder and former Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Coronel talked about how journalism and investigative reporting have changed so much since the time she had worked in an underground newspaper during the latter part of the Marcos regime in the Philippines: when the mimeographed copies were “hand-made and hand-distributed” to inform people about what was happening, as newspapers, television and radio had been shut down. She compared that time to the present era of the Internet and social media, where one can now easily publish and disseminate news to inform and even mobilize people into action.
She cited the experience of other nations where the excesses of kings and dictators, and the profligate lifestyle of their wives, were exposed through collaborative and collective investigation using information shared online, using tools like Google maps and Google Earth.
She said in the Philippines, during the People Power uprising in 1986, stacks of documents turned out to be evidence of Marcos’s wealth hidden in Swiss banks, but it was an appointed commission that did the tracking of the information in a more exclusive way. In a more recent case in Kiev, where volunteers found 200 folders of documents of similar significance, they were able to upload them online, thus allowing for a more inclusive participation of all stakeholders in collaborative and collective investigation.
Coronel fascinated her audience with other interesting cases 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.
For example in Tunisia, an activist journalist was able to track the route of the shopping sprees of the country’s first lady, by noting the tail number of the presidential plane through its trips to Paris, Geneva and other cities, and sharing the information on Youtube.
In Burma, journalists were able to discover a secret palace of the dictator which was photographed and uploaded on Youtube, and even made more interesting with Burmese rap music in the background.
In Bahrain, the Google map showed the enormity of the King’s palace which occupied a massive chunk of land area, compared to the total size of the town.
Coronel also revealed that a lot of government records are now being made public, with over 100 countries now requiring officials to declare their assets. Coronel said that by merely using Intenet tools, one can have access to them, and analyze them and do one’s own investigation.
In this era of the Internet and digital information, journalists have acquired a “new freedom, new platform, new ways of presenting information and new ways of reaching out to audiences, new ways of getting audiences engaged, new sources of information, and new ways of crunching and analyzing” data and information, says Coronel. “This,” she says, “is the new media landscape for investigative journalism.”
“Following the asset trail has never been easier,” she says. One can easily keep track of Vladimir Putin’s expensive watches, which the Russian president has a penchant for, at which point she shows onscreen the $60,000 watch he was wearing on one occasion.
However, there is a downside to the use of technology for information, Coronel emphasizes. Mexican journalists have been murdered for their investigative efforts to track the drug trade. In the Philippines, Coronel specifically cited the case of her journalist friend and colleague, Marlene Esperat, who was shot pointblank by two men who walked into her house in 2004, after she exposed the corruption of officials in the Department of Agriculture in Mindanao.
Coronel also emphasized “the need for heightened awareness of how we are being tracked digitally.”
After Coronel’s presentation, several in the audience raised interesting questions.
A challenging question came from journalist Willie Jose about how journalists deal with the frustration of seeing that, despite all the investigative reporting that leads to the fall of corrupt leaders, these people still manage to come back, or some other corrupt leaders simply take over.
Coronel’s response: “We expose the crooks, then we get the more sophisticated crooks. Corruption is very resilient, creative… There is still the psychic thrill of exposing a crook. It is frustrating if your children will still be marching in the streets, but it’s better than being defeated.”
Coronel’s public forum was initiated by PPCO president Hermie Garcia, a long-time colleague of the speaker from journalist days in the Philippines. Officially sponsored by the PPCO, the forum was co-sponsored by Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies, Asian Institute, Munk School on Global Affairs; Arts, Culture & Media, University of Toronto, Scarborough; and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto.
The forum is the fourth of the series of speakers on journalism organized by the PPCO, according to its president, Hermie Garcia.
Since before the middle of last year, the present PPCO leadership started a series originally called Filipinos in the Mainstream Media in Canada, and the three events included:
Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke of People Power Media that filed broadcasts to Toronto mainstream media about grassroots issues in the city and also filed reports about the 2010 Philippine elections, the human rights situation and mining.
Kris Reyes, a writer, producer, a news anchor and veteran reporter of Global News Toronto who is now one of the hosts of The Morning Show. She talked about her journey from a new journalism graduate to one of the mainstays in the Canadian broadcast industry.
Marivel Taruc, a veteran broadcast journalist who is now the host of the show Our Toronto aired by CBC on Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings. She’s a reporter with CBC News and you see her on the daily CBC news broadcasts. Formerly, she was the business anchor for CBC News. At the PPCO forum, she talked about how she started as a struggling newbie reporter in Winnipeg and rose to become a familiar face on Canadian broadcast news industry.
In February, PPCO had as guest in a lunch reception, the 2013 Marshall McLuhan Fellow Eileen Mangubat, the publisher and editor of Cebu Daily News. She talked about journalism in the era of natural disasters and her 30 years of experience as a journalist in the Philippines.
Among the audience during the latest forum with Coronel were Philippine Consul General Junever Mahilum-West; Thomas S. Saras, President and CEO of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC); Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Lecturer and Program Director, Journalism, of the Art, Culure & Media, University of Toronto, Scarborough; Dr. Roland Sintos Coloma, Associate Chair, Department of Humanities, Social Science and Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto; and Terrence Fay, St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.
PHILIPPINE REPORTER MARKS 25TH YEAR
Reposted from The Origami
This March, The Philippine Reporter, a leading Filipino-Canadian newspaper in Toronto, is celebrating its 25th year of publication.
For its founders – the indefatigable husband-and-wife team Hermie and Mila Garcia – it represents a quarter of a century of hard work and persistence.
Along with other journalists, they had been detained as political prisoners during the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Mila was released in 1976 and Hermie in 1981, but the latter’s subversion case dating back to 1971 had not been dismissed in 1984.
“At that time, there were still military courts and the judges were generals, so the cards were stacked against us,” recalled Mr. Garcia. “What chance did one have?”
They were advised by their lawyers to leave. His parents and brothers and sisters were in Toronto, so they came with their young children in tow.
Even after Marcos was ousted from power in 1986, the situation remained volatile in the Philippines and so the Garcias stayed.
It was supposed to have been temporary, says Mr. Garcia. “I was thinking of my children and future grandchildren. They wouldn’t know how to speak Tagalog.” Not being able to go back right away remains one of his regrets in life.
His one consolation is that from its humble beginnings, The Philippine Reporter has earned the loyalty of Filipino-Canadians, and has made a mark in the city.
Their first issue was produced in a basement in Scarborough “using an Atari computer that didn’t have a hard drive,” recalled Ms. Garcia, in an article about the newspaper. Since then it has consistently won awards from the National Etnic Press and Media Council of Canada, for its editorial content and visual presentation.
Hermie Garcia, editor and publisher of The Philippine Reporter reflects on his newspaper’s life and legacy with The Origami’s Marites N. Sison. [Full disclosure: The Origami’s Beatrice S. Paez is a contributor to The Philippine Reporter.]
The newspaper at 25
We came to Canada in 1984, so the paper came five years after. Mila and I had three small kids; work was hard. Mila was able to get a clerical position at City Hall. I had part-time jobs.
We had applied to newspapers, magazines, publications we wanted to work in, but we never got hired. It was a very unstable market and you couldn’t practice your skills and profession. It’s still very much a reality now – you have doctors driving cabs. So Mila went into the bureaucracy. I did odd jobs: data entry, accounting… I bought a small car and I delivered the Toronto Star, Swiss Chalet chicken and pizza. It was hard, especially in winter. Sometimes I had to deliver in highrises. When I got back to the car I had a ticket. Lugi [a loss]. (Laughs)
The routes were also far, some houses had dogs and I was afraid of them. In highrise [buildings] I was afraid of being mugged in elevators.
I landed a clerical job at Metro Toronto. It paid well compared to odd jobs, but I had no satisfaction. I was used to being a journalist.
I saw other [ethnic] newspapers and they seemed to be flourishing. But we had no huge capital; we had to get a loan from the bank and use our own money.
We were losing money for a couple of years until we managed to break even and I became better at the advertising side of the business. It was hard because I wasn’t used to being a businessman. But I had to learn everything. I took a couple of courses in newspaper layout, accounting and statistics at Ryerson University. It still wasn’t easy, until the economy got better and the community grew. Big businesses started looking at the Filipino community as a target market for their products in the mid 1990s. That’s why the number of newspapers [in the Filipino community] also increased.
To quit or not to quit
We were incurring debt, every issue we lost money. But I decided to look at the long-term. I told myself that the community is growing, and mainstream businesses would see that it’s a big market for their products and services and inevitably they will advertise… Luckily the time came. I had talked to advertisers and I got a sense that they had the advertising budget for Filipinos, who are ever present around the city. They knew Filipinos who often taught them words in Tagalog.
Even South Asians and Eastern Europeans try to speak Tagalog – they have friends, officemates and relatives by affinity and would talk about their encounters with them everywhere.
The community was growing at that time, not just in terms of statistics, but their presence in the lives of others. I also looked at other newspapers and saw we were competing for the same ads and thought, “I have to get out of this box and shift to mainstream advertisers.”
Yes, we’ve paid our debts (laughs). In fact, we have no long-term debt. We pay cash for equipment.
From the very start, it’s been our standard to put out quality content. I talked to some publishers in the 1980s who said, “What readers want is garbage, so you give them garbage.”
I was shocked at how they viewed readers – they didn’t think they were intelligent. I wanted real journalism… We have permission [to reprint stories from several Philippine publications]. The stories have to be the latest… Now we can afford to assign stories to a few writers and pay them. But not just any writer – we had Kris Reyes [now an anchor at Global News TV’s The Morning Show], Dyan Ruiz and others with journalism degrees… We know they’re [writers] who won’t just use a press release; other newspapers don’t make a distinction just to fill up the space. But readers know that; they’re intelligent.
Community leaders and associations always see [the Reporter], it’s like an institution already. We also have an online presence…other newspapers have a tendency to rely on voices of government officials, the voices of people in power. What about the grassroots, which have no budget and contact with editors?
These are organizations fighting for the interests of the people. But when we print stories about massacres and land grabbing in the Philippines, some [Filipino] papers would say, “Why will you wash dirty linen in public?” It’s not dirty linen, it’s happening. But some [newspapers] are just in it for business.
We were involved in many advocacies, including the shooting by a police officer of [Filipino-Canadian youth] Jeffrey Reodica in May 2004… We could only report twice a month but our coverage was comprehensive. Every issue we had included developments. We talked to his family, lawyers, the police chief and we were there as pressures mounted for an inquest, the jury recommendations…
We’ve reported a lot on caregivers – if you look at our back issues, we were always in the midst of action. The provincial government was pressured to provide a 1-800 hotline for caregivers… We also cover community life and even celebrities.
Our older readers like the newspaper for the Philippine connection, but the younger ones read about issues here, which we cover.
Role of ethnic media
I don’t think print is out of the picture. We’re using a different printer and they’re expanding with the ethnic press. Maybe the readership of ethnic media is more in print than online.
I’ve been with National Ethnic Press Council for more than 10 years now and I’ve seen publications increase their pages…When you look at the dailies, the ethnic content is limited… Traditionally they don’t care about what goes on until there are big events like the Tamil mass actions, when there was a war against the Tamil Tigers…If you combine the circulation of all ethnic media, it’s bigger than the circulation of major newspapers. In other words, the readership is bigger but it’s just in different languages.
These are mostly non-English speakers – the Greeks, Italians, and Chinese… The audience is not necessarily older. Sometimes it takes time for a family to be detached from their home country.
I want to set up something that will allow The Reporter to continue, with me out of the picture. That’s my goal. I won’t forever be healthy and active, right?
I think I’ve done my part. [The Reporter] has had an influence on others as well, in terms of professionalism.
By Joseph Smooke
“It is better to die from bullets than from hunger,” said Jucy Salado, spokesperson for a small scale mining community outside Surigao City, Mindanao.
In the jungles and coastal communities of the Caraga Region in northeast Mindanao, indigenous people are risking their lives by organizing against corporations that are often protected by their own armed security forces, and the Philippine military. Farming and fishing have supported native tribes here for many generations, but over the past few decades corporations and the government have taken notice that they are literally living on a gold mine.
Some of the largest gold, nickel, copper and iron deposits in Asia have attracted corporations eager to extract these riches. The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 liberalized the government’s policies in response to recommendations by the World Bank to encourage foreign engineering and capital investment. The Act allows foreign corporations 100 percent ownership of the minerals, while only taxing the mined materials at a rate of two percent.
As a result, Mindanao is now the mining capital of the Philippines, but Caraga is still one of the country’s poorest regions. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer in April of this year, half of the region’s 2.4 million residents live in poverty.
Hearing the struggles of local and indigenous people
My visit to Caraga was as a member of an International Solidarity Mission (ISM) organized this summer by the International Conference for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP). Leading our small group of foreigners were members of the local NGO, Caraga Watch, including the Caraga Watch Youth, who translated the Cebuano and Tagaglog interviews.
My flight to Butuan City airport was followed by a four-hour drive to Lianga where we transferred our bags and ourselves on to wooden platforms strapped to the sides of a motorcycle. From there the road to Han-Ayan, a native Manobo village deep in the jungles of Surigao del Sur, has been so badly damaged by heavy trucks that motorcycles are the only vehicles still able to transport people and supplies. After two hours of gripping tightly to the boards to avoid getting bounced off, we arrived at the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), a school in the heart of the community.
For the next three days, we would visit communities, farmers, fisher-folk, small scale miners, and a Mayor as we traveled north to Surigao City. We witnessed firsthand the impacts of foreign-based companies that are destroying the environment and robbing local and native people of their livelihoods.
Threats from the Philippine military
Threats to the community aren’t just to their environment and livelihood. The Philippine military is terrorizing local and native people to make way for mining, logging, and agricultural corporations.
Josaphina Pagalan, a farmer in the Manobo community told the story of the military’s occupation of Han-Ayan and history of forced evacuations since the 1980’s. “The soldiers are the protectors of the foreign companies,” she said. This native Manobo community is in the midst of a forest valuable for making paper and plywood. And, mining companies want to gain access to the vast gold reserves they believe exist here.
Pagalan told us about how her community has been forced off their land at least four times by the Philippine military since she was a girl. She said the military “occupied the houses and the school. They ransacked ALCADEV, the school. These are the reasons we quickly evacuated. Of course, because we evacuated, our means of livelihood was also affected. We had to leave our farm and the corn behind. When we went back there was nothing left.”
We spoke with a young man there, Richie Enot who returned to his local community after travelling to Manila. When he returned, he didn’t know that the military had imposed a curfew disallowing working in the fields before 5am and after 5pm. He was out farming early in the morning to get enough done to have enough to sell. He told us that a soldier shot him in the stomach for violating the curfew. Enot survived, but now suffers from chronic pain and trauma.
“With every military operation, we are afraid,” said a Manobo chieftain, Datu Jalandoni Campos, Chairperson of an an indigenous organization, MAPASU. “We fear about which members will be beaten up next, who will be killed or missing, who we cannot find, and who we do not know whether they are dead or alive,” he said.
Local cooperative miners like the community represented by Salado are also being threatened by the military. “So, why do the soldiers not want us to work here and allow our lives to get better?” she said, “because they want large-scale mining companies to operate here. That’s what the soldiers want, probably because it’s what the government wants them to do.” Salado told us the military blasted their tunnels, burned down their houses, and destroyed their pipes.
Mining is their only source of income and proceeds are shared equally throughout the community which they have organized into a cooperative. These local miners don’t use chemicals, water diversion, open pits, or deforestation, unlike corporate mines, just simple tools like sieves and pans. But these small-scale miners are an impediment to corporate interests, which is why they believe they are being targeted by the Philippine military.
Corporate mining tearing down mountains
Corporate plantations aren’t the only destructive forces in Caraga. Large-scale corporate mining is tearing down mineral-rich mountains and sending them off to be processed elsewhere. “We have seen by our own eyes how our mineral ore, our nickel laterite, the red soil, are being carried and shipped to Japan to Australia to China,” said a participant on the ISM and an advocate for Mindanao, Sister Stella, in an interview.
We witnessed large-scale nickel mines including one that had displaced a native Mamanwa community. Shenzhou Nickel Mine has ripped open an entire coastal mountain and was dragging it onto boats to float the ore to China for processing from their private port, where the toxic run-off is flowing into the sea.
This has caused devastating levels of pollution and toxicity in the rivers, lakes, and ocean. Crops, fish and livestock are dying, mangrove forests cannot survive, and the local people who depend on this water are often forced to poison themselves.
“The mining is uphill, in the highlands, and the agricultural is below. So the siltation during the rainy days will flow down to the river and of course the irrigation dam will be affected,” said Arsenio Avila, a farmer and chairperson of the Farmers Cooperative and Irrigators Association who lives near a Philippine-owned nickel mine in Surigao del Sur, Marcventures.
Many people displaced from their livelihoods now work for mining corporations, but the work is typically seasonal, on contract, with low wages and without health benefits, despite the hazards.
Foreign-owned plantations and pesticide
Elsewhere in Caraga, encroaching on local staple crops like rice and corn are large tracts of single crops like bananas for companies such as American-based Dole and Japan-based Sumifru. These plantations rely on chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers polluting the air, soil and groundwater. Dole alone has over 13,000 hectares of banana plantations in the region, more acreage than the entire land area of Etobicoke.
Sister Stella has seen the damage to the environment and people because of the invasion by cash crops like Dole’s bananas. She passionately said in an interview, “Biodiversity–this is beauty, this is creation! All has the place, all has the life. All has the right to live. But with capitalism, with agribusiness plantations, only one has the right to live, and that is banana.”
Rogilio Montero, an organic rice farmer in Tago and chairperson of a peasant organization, talked to us about his community and farm, which is now surrounded by Dole’s banana trees. “After Dole came in, and surrounded the farms that were still planted with rice,” he said, “we observed an increase of pests in the surrounding areas, and the water became a threat because the drainage goes through the main river.” He continued, “So the peasants are increasingly worried that it can cause harm or sickness.”
Growing cash crops like bananas and oil palm trees means important food crops are being displaced by the foreign operations, and so are the farmers. These farmers also must contend with the Philippines’ hacienda system, which gives all the power to landowners.
Most farmers are tenants who till the land owned by mostly corporations and the entrenched Philippine aristocracy. Tenant farmers must borrow money for the supplies they need and struggle to earn enough to pay back the loan. Tenant farmers can’t survive without subsidies because the prices paid for their goods in local markets aren’t enough to cover their expenses. Multinationals on the other hand, are at a huge advantage. They’re well capitalized and they sell their cash crops in a global market. In contrast, when rice growers sell their harvest locally, the price they get is so low that they have to sell nearly all their rice to make their loan payments. This leaves farmers without enough food to feed their families.
Activists fighting back
While the situation in Caraga is dire, with agribusiness, mining, and logging destroying the environment and communities, local people are finding strength in organizing. In the jungles of Surigao del Sur, the Han-Ayan community’s solidarity against corporate intrusions is based around ALCADEV, which was founded by five native tribes in the Region. The school teaches farming, community development and what’s happening because of the corporations and military to both high-schoolers and adults.
One of the groups that established the school is MAPASU. The full Cebuano name translates into Persevere in the Struggle for the Next Generation. The school and MAPASU foster solidarity, which is why the residents believe the military keeps trying to shut the school down.
“Because MAPASU organization always struggles against mining companies, we are being subjected to recurring military operations,” Pagalan said. “They see MAPASU is strongly united and the people are developing capacity because of the project we have here, which were not given by the government, but by the efforts of the indigenous people setting up their own school,” she continued.
Thus far, Han-ayan has been successful in fending off mining corporations. “At the present time at the MAPASU organization, there are mining companies that try to enter, but because of the strong resistance of the people and strong unity of the people, they have not been able to enter,” Datu Jalandoni said.
TORONTO – The Philippine Press Club Ontario (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 prices; 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 taking for posterity. A special treat was the beautiful singing of Anna Rejante, who wowed the audience with her gorgeous voice as she sang Christmas carols and a Tagalog love song. The event was attended by Senator Tobias Enverga, Jr. and Rosemer Enverga.
After updates about Typhoon Haiyan were shared, Crystal Buffet’s Manager apparently touched by the stories, turned over a donation box the restaurant had placed on its reception hall, for PPCO to donate the money for disaster relief.
The event also capped a vibrant and envigorated PPCO year, as the organization actively took on a good balance of professional and social activities since the new leadership, led by PPCO president Hermie Garcia, was elected in March 2013.
Its first general activity was the brunch-get-together April 14 at Artisano Bakery attended by officers, members and applicants to the organization, where the forthcoming activities of the organization were discussed.
The organization’s first professional educational activity followed in the form of a forum June 7, with Eric Baculinao, Beijing Bureau Chief of NBC News, who spoke on the topic, “China and the Media in China.”
Baculinao was the chairman of the UP 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. Eric 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. He has also become a regular speaker on China in various academic and journalists’ circles in many countries.
This event was closely followed by PPCO’s first outdoor trip June 9 to a beautiful cottage in scenic Lake Scucog, Little Britain, Ontario, organized by treasurer Noel Perada,where officers and members, joined by family and friends, enjoyed a beautiful summer day of food, games, camaraderie, and two birthday celebrations. The event was made possible by the hospitality of the cottage owners, Ezekiel and Lyn Lucrida, who made their property spanning one hectare of idyllic green surroundings beside the lake available for PPCO’s first out of town trip.
A second fun trip was held July 28, this time to beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, hosted by former Lord Mayor Art Viola. There members enjoyed a picnic by the lake; wine tasting and shopping for good wine at the famous award-winning Josephs & Josephs vineyard; a visit to the Varadenik’s family fruit and vegetable farm where members had fun tasting fruits they themselves picked from the trees; a stroll through the town, a lot of sharing, fun and laughter.
On September 7, PPCO held a two-in-one event at the residence of new member Marissa Corpus: :a “Meet the Press” session with a Filipino delegation to the Toronto Int’l Film Festival, among them director Brillante Mendoza and producer Wilson Tieng; and the swearing-in ceremony with three of its new members, Paulina Corpuz, Marissa Corpus and Willlie Jose officiated by President Hermie Garcia. Other new members are Beatrice Pae and Ramon.
On October this year, PPCO started its series of speakers of successful journalists who have made it to mainstream broadcast media: First featured were Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke who have established the People Power Media, and who spoke on Covering the Philippines in Times of Crisis. Then followed Kris Reyes of Global TV who co-hosts The Morning Show; and then Marivel Taruc, CBC Senior Reporter and host of Our Toronto. These very well attended sessions have generated a lot of positive feedback from members and guests, especially young aspiring journalists who have learned from the experiences of these successful Filipino-Canadian role models in mainstream media. The series will continue in 2014, as a number of speakers have already confirmed their participation in this popular professional and educational series.
On Nov. 24, PPCO sponsored Ampatuan Massacre Memorial Day with a forum at OISE, Toronto, to honour colleagues who were murdered during the biggest massacre of journalists in world history, a day which is now known as the International Day to end Impunity. Organized by PPCO Secretary Jonathan Canchela, members and guests shared their thoughts on the significance of the day as well as offered suggestions as to how PPCO may help in the efforts of seek justice for the victims, which the organization took note for future action. Poetry and songs were performed by the Akdaan artists, and the event was capped with the solemn symbolic flower offering to honor the memory of the fallen colleagues.
For the first time, PPCO sponsored scholarships for three members of the organization to the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada’s (NEPMCC) Professional Development Conference and Training Seminars, Dec. 6-8, 2013 at Seneca College, where they completed a certificate course in journalism and business under the able tutelage of journalism professors from Ryerson University, Seneca College and University of Ohio. The three members are Jonathan Canchela, Paulina Corpuz, and Rollie Cabrera.
Overall, the activities were well attended by the active members who have enjoyed the newfound professionalism and pleasant camaraderie of an organization committed to raise the professional standards and uphold ethical principles of journalism, while enjoying wholesome fun among its members. More new members have joined the organization, all of them, practising media professionals who have said they have learned a lot from, and enjoyed PPCO’s 2013 activities. (M.A.G)
Photos: Noel Perada, MG
By Dyan Ruiz
Toronto’s budding community of Filipino-Canadian artists answered the call for desperately needed assistance in the wake of the devastation brought on by Typhoon Yolanda.
On the evening of Dec. 4 at the Great Hall on Queen St. W., Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture and Carlos Bulosan Theatre co-presented Project Lift, a fundraising event for typhoon relief efforts. The event featured delectable bites by young Filipino chefs, musical performances, and works by several artists’ which were up for raffle and auction. Everything including the venue was donated ensuring all proceeds went to the NGO, Global Medic.
“People wanted to get together and contribute something,” said Caroline Mangosing, Executive Director of Kapisanan. “We needed to answer the call.”
Kapisanan has been facilitating donations for typhoon victims since days after it struck on Nov. 8. With these weeks of donations and the event, Mangosing estimates they raised approximately $13,000, exceeding their goal.
A big hit for the nearly 200 in attendance were the offerings by newly opened resto Tocino Boys. This favorite Filipino breakfast meat was remixed with the tocino (sweet marinated and fried pork belly) served on pandesal (dinner rolls) with cole slaw and an added crunch of crumbled chicharron (fried pork rinds). Lamesa served up steaming cups of Arroz Caldo (rice porridge) served with chicken or vegetarian style topped with a mélange of traditional and innovative toppings such as fried garlic and wasabi peas.
Capping off the evening were musical acts kicked off by the ethereal keyboard, percussion and violin loops by singing sisters Casey and Jenny Mecija (of Ohbijou). They hit the emotional highlight of the night with their tearful call for a moment of silence for victims of Typhoon Yolanda, as it’s known in the Philippines.
They were followed by Abdominal and the Obliques, a band with a creative blend of hip-hop, pulsing acoustic bass and edgy country-style guitar (think Johnny Cash). Band leader Abdominal also entertained the crowd as the evening’s host.
Headliners Datu rallied the late night crowd with their original sound, mixing Kulintang drums (traditional Filipino brass gongs), hip hop beats, vocal chants and Tagalog rap of Haniely Pableo.
Special guest performer of the evening was Scratch from classic hip-hop band The Roots.
By Dyan Ruiz
The head of the Philippines Consulate in Toronto, Junever Mahilum-West, sat down with community leaders and The Philippine Reporter to respond to the government not “having its act together” when it comes to the relief efforts following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.
Toronto Consul-General Mahilum-West met with leaders of Filipino-Canadian advocacy organizations, Connie Sorio of iwWorkers and Chris Sorio of Migrante Canada, Jesson Reyes of Anakbayan, and Jonathan Canchela of the Migrante Partylist. The meeting occurred on the evening of Nov. 16 as the same groups hosted a vigil outside of the Consulate to mourn and honor the victims Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda.
The super typhoon was the strongest ever to hit landfall and barreled through the central Philippine islands on Nov. 8, leaving behind more than 11 million people impacted according to United Nations estimates. Thousands are dead or injured and millions are homeless.
The emergency relief efforts by the President Benigno Aquino II administration has been criticized heavily by international and local media, who are reporting from areas heavily hit, such as Tacloban City on the east coast of Leyte province. The criticisms echo those voiced by advocacy groups and the survivors themselves.
Mahilum-West told the Toronto group to “speak frankly” and they did.
“Our government doesn’t have its act together. It’s been six days after the disaster. The goods and relief are just trickling in. There are still a lot of dead bodies lying around, unidentified,” Connie Sorio said to the Consul-General. “People are being criminalized. They’re being called looters because they need water and food and so on, and they can’t wait for the official emergency relief to come because they’re hungry,” she continued.
In a one-on-one interview with The Philippine Reporter prior to the meeting, the Consul-General responded more specifically about why it is taking so long for the Aquino government to distribute aid, days after the typhoon hit.
“The first priority was needs assessment. We must consider the situation of the Philippines,” she said talking about the lack of resources available. She said the Philippines is still modernizing their army and lacks transport vehicles, like helicopters, for example.
“We also have to take into consideration the magnitude of the typhoon, which was the strongest so far experienced by the Philippines. We had disaster preparedness plans, but they were based on past parameters, past typhoons that visited the Philippines. I think this time, the strength of the typhoon, the magnitude of the typhoon was just too much. All of this planning and preparations proved to be insufficient,” she said. Mahilum-West also said the total shutdown of communication lines hampered relief efforts.
When asked why the Philippine government seemed to prioritize the cracking down of “looting,” that is, people who were taking the only food they could find, be it from other people’s houses and stores, she said “the government has to enforce peace and order first so that the relief operation could go on.” She noted that Aquino resisted declaring Martial Law in the impacted areas.
She said in the interview that relief efforts focused on Tacloban City because of the media presence there and “Our Secretary of the Interior and Local Government [Mar Roxas] has been surveying, going by helicopter, island hopping, to see the damage. So after the needs assessment had been done, we hear that now the relief operations are going smoothly.”
In the interview, the Consul-General said there would be transparency in the way the government allocates funds towards relief, and also encouraged people to donate to non-governmental organizations that have a history of providing emergency aid.
Later, Mahilum-West assured the group, “We will convey everything to Manila.” In conclusion to the meeting, in which the participants spoke English and Tagalog, the Consul-General said about the government’s relief efforts, “We encourage them to succeed now. We can analyze later.”
The Vice-Consul, Bolivar L. Bao, and the Labor Attaché for the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, Leonida V. Romulo, also attended the meeting.
Outside the Consulate, the group of about 20 who gathered for the vigil holding candles included Doctoral Candidate at York University, Conely de Leon, who wanted to stand in solidarity with the host organizations and “commemorate all those who have passed as a result of Typhoon Yolanda and all those who are still struggling and dealing with a lot of the structural conditions that have made living conditions there very difficult,” she said.
Other topics discussed at the meeting were concerns over the use of public funds– funds that could have been used for disaster relief and preparedness– but were instead siphoned into the Pork Barrel system. In fact, the group had originally planned the event to be a protest against Pork Barrel, which allows for local projects and funds to be given as part of unrelated bills under the “Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).” Politicians and businesspeople such as Janet Lim-Napoles stand accused of taking advantage of the system to line their own pockets. The event was changed in the wake of the typhoon, but the group delivered a petition opposing the PDAF.
Among the other issues raised by the group were permanent consular services in provinces with a growing Filipino-Canadian population, such as in Alberta and Saskatchewan, longer business hours for the Toronto Consulate, and more financial support for migrant workers.
Chris Sorio, Reyes and Canchela all conveyed that the number one message they wanted to give to the Consul-General was the speedy delivery of disaster relief operations. They talked about the relief efforts that Migrante Canada, in conjunction with their Philippine and international counterparts, are providing. In Canada, Sagip Migrante is raising funds through Migrante BC, a registered charity.
“As much as you may be seeing us as very critical of policies,” Connie Sorio said, “we also want to work with you in terms of improving more services towards our countrymen,” she told Mahilum-West.
The Consul-General said, “We’re open. If you want to come, let us know. We’ll have dialogues. We’ll have this continuing dialogue.”
CBC’s Marivel Taruc speaks on her 20 years in Journalism
(Text of the speech delivered on Nov. 16, 2013 in the second of the series”Filipinos in Canadian Mainstream Media” by Philippine Press Club of Ontario)
This is why journalists become journalists…to tell stories…good and bad…to bring attention to hopeless situations…this is what journalists have been doing every day for the last seven days…since the devastating typhoon Haiyan hit our home country – the Philippines.
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. Partly because of the media coverage of the devastation in the Philippines – millions of dollars in aid from around the world is being donated – and broader awareness of climate change is being raised. But most importantly…journalists are giving a voice to those who have none…
I’m supposed to be talking about the challenges and triumphs in my career in journalism. And there have been many of both. But all of it has been a blessing that I am grateful for.
When I think about the journey that led me to journalism – I think about how it was my parents who set me on that path. My dad, was a teacher in the Philippines – so education is revered in my family. My mom, made things beautiful – she hand made our clothes and did our hair perfectly. They, like so many Filipinos, wanted their children to grow up with opportunities. They left everything behind back home – so their daughters could have a chance at a better life. And even though they were very protective and very strict – they also managed to instil in me, a sense of unlimited possibility.
This is a building block of journalism. The belief that anything is possible.
Another blessing was coming to this country. So many immigrants choose Canada because Canada makes people feel welcome – no matter where you come from. And with hard work, you can achieve anything in this country.
Another key to journalism. Hard work.
I was raised on news. My parents watched newscasts every night. And as a little girl, I remember watching The National on CBC with my family – just like other families would watch dramas or comedies on tv. So from a young age…I was unknowingly charting my life course.
I did decide that I wanted to be a journalist very early on. I watched Connie Chung anchor the CBS Evening News – she was the first Asian to anchor a US network newscast. She was the closest thing to me – a Filipina – on TV. And I thought – if she can do it, so can I.
Knowing that I wanted to be a reporter, I geared my studies towards journalism. I attended Ryerson University and earned my journalism degree in 1993. A time when our profession was in a downturn. Our instructors told us, be prepared to work in small towns likely up north, or not to work in the business at all.
So I went back to Winnipeg. I thought, at least I know this city, it’s not huge like Toronto, so maybe I have a better chance of getting a job there.
Turns out, it was the exact right thing to do.
I knocked on the door of the executive producer of CBC Winnipeg. I told her, I know you probably aren’t hiring, all I want to do is hang out in the newsroom.
So they let me do that. I went every day. I attended the morning story meetings and suggested story ideas. I volunteered to make phone calls, and found people to interview. And when a reporter was working on a story connected to the Philippines – I volunteered to stay late to make phone calls to Manila because of the time difference.
And when I went back to Toronto to attend my graduation – I got the best call ever – it was CBC Winnipeg calling me – to offer me a job.
So once I got over the joy of landing a job at the best news organization in the country – I realized I better deliver. On my very first day on the job, I was sent out do a story about the weather. No on the job training, no shadowing a more seasoned reporter, it was sink or swim. So I choose to swim. That first story about cold weather in Winnipeg is probably the worst story I’ve ever done – because it was the very first story I did in my career.
And I know that hiring a young journalist, fresh out of university, raised some eyebrows in the newsroom. I was constantly aware that people may think I was just hired because I was a visible minority. It always motivated me to work harder – to show that I earned my position. What I’m grateful for is that the people who hired me saw a young, aspiring journalist who was dedicated to learning and showed some potential. They did take a chance hiring me – and I like to think that I didn’t let them down.
I spent five years covering everything there is to cover in a small city. From school boards, to city hall, to the legislature – CBC Winnipeg gave me all kinds of opportunities. And then in 1997 – one of the highlights of my career – Manitoba was hit with “The Flood of the Century”. Our newsroom probably worked for three weeks straight, no days off, constantly out in the field covering the rising flood waters in the area around Winnipeg even in the United States where the flood was coming from. I covered many communities that were hit by the disaster. And I learned many things about covering a natural disaster – being able to adapt to less than ideal conditions and still be able to tell the story you want to tell. But mostly I learned that people are genuinely kind and want to help their fellow humans.
Shortly after that, I left Winnipeg for Toronto. It was here that I expanded my skills to business and economics. It was during a time when business news was becoming mainstream. I realized it would be a great opportunity to grow as a journalist. I took the Canadian Securities Course – which was immensely useful in helping me understand the complex world of finance and economics. I spent the next few years as part of the CBC’s business reporting unit – and what a great time it was to be a business reporter. The dot-com boom went bust, the terror attacks on 9/11 triggered a global economic downturn and two of the big three auto companies went into bankruptcy.
After my stint in business news, I went back to local reporting. It’s one of the most challenging areas of journalism. Being a local news reporter now, means researching and making phone calls in a hurry, trying to find people to interview and locations to shoot. And bringing it all back to the news room in time to edit the story and often head right back out to be live on location during the newscast. All the while, tweeting, updating your story on the web and often doing reports for CBC Radio news throughout the day. It is hectic and filled with stress – and sometimes disappointing because you spend all day gathering the news – and you only have 2 minutes to tell the full story. But, most days, I love it. Because I get to meet people and go to parts of the city I normally wouldn’t have a chance to if it wasn’t for my job.
My newest endeavour is a weekend news magazine program called Our Toronto. We do longer features on issues and people that have made the news during the week. It’s a wonderful forum for being able to gain insight into different issues. And I look forward to profiling more stories about the wonderful community I am proud to be part of – the Filipino community.