Keynote Speech College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines - Southern Tagalog Chapter 19th Regional Student Press Convention September 25, 2010

To my fellow Guilders, First, let me greet the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, Southern Tagalog Chapter for its 19th Regional Student Press Convention. Isang mainit na pagbati sa inyong patuloy na pagsasabuhay ng tradisyon ng mapagpalayang pamamahayag sa loob at labas ng inyong paaralan! Whenever I am invited by CEGP to participate in its events, I always find myself strolling down memory lane, savoring the images in my mind of my own days as a young Guilder. Dito po ako sa Guild namulat sa mga katotohanan ng lipunang Pilipino, na-organisa sa progresibong kilusan, at kumilos ng para sa bayan. Dito rin po ako natutong magmahal ng buong puso. To be standing in your presence today is a revitalizing experience. Seeing the faces of the new brood of agents of social transformation, armed with the mighty pen and a talent committed to genuine change never fails to give me an overwhelming feeling of optimism. Indeed, the campus press must continue to uphold its historic role as one of the pillars of progressive media - to keep the student body informed on matters that concern the common good and to be instrumental in compelling young and old alike to act accordingly not be mere passive recipients of news and information. 1

This is especially important now that the nobility of the journalistic profession and the mass media has been compromised by corporate interests. Today, the mainstream mass media have become peddlers of anti-democratic biases, reinforcing backward mindsets that imprison and desensitize the people’s minds to accept the system that oppresses and exploits them. Media has gradually become an ideological state apparatus conditioning the minds of the people to develop a callous attitude toward violence, cruelty, abuses, injustice, and intolerance. Mass media tries to rob the public of common sense, coercing them into conformity. We are made to be mere consumers of commercial and political goods. Through mass media, the commodification of social relations has become almost biological. Given this condition, the most vital issues in society are crying out to be reflected, reported and resolved in both journalistic and literary works. For this, there can be no richer source of material than the struggles of the toiling masses. There can be no greater task than to take part in that struggle. There is no such thing as freedom of the press in the abstract. Writing is a political act. Journalism is a political vocation. After all, education, art, culture are never detached from politics. There is no such thing as “art for art’s sake.” No conscious expression is devoid of ideological content. It aims to effect results and it proceeds from a particular political standpoint. A journalist for the people uses that which brings about truth and the people’s liberation from ignorance, exploitation and oppression. You, as campus journalists, are challenged to uphold your obligation to the truth no matter what. A journalist’s integrity sells for so little these days, but it is all we really have. A people’s journalist may fail. He can be persecuted. He can be killed and forgotten but his noble ideas will live on. Ideas are bulletproof. An idea can still


change the world. We have witnessed first hand the power of ideas. We have seen people kill in the name of them; and die defending them. According to the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF - Reporters without Borders), the Philippines was the second most deadly place for journalists after war-torn Iraq in 2003 and 2005. Last year, seven journalists were shot in mafia-style killings. Since January 2001, there have been almost a thousand cases of extrajudicial killings, including the murders of activists, human rights defenders and journalists since Arroyo became the president and implemented her counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya. Political terrorism, brutality, intimidation, impunity, and outright human rights abuses are the tools to silence the voices of those who expose government atrocities and of those who oppose the anti-people, anti-national policies of those in power. Campus press repression is but a microcosm of the bigger picture of political gagging - an active measure of preventing people from broadening their freedom of expression. Let us recall the glorious traditions of Kalayaan and La Independencia, which were the genuine instruments of the national democratic movement of their time - the legacy of Rizal, Lopez Jaena, Del Pilar, Jacinto, Luna and their contemporaries. Militant and progressive journalism did not end during their era. In the 1960s Sen. Claro M. Recto first expressed the need for a second propaganda movement as part of an intensive and widespread anti-foreign domination campaign. Many heeded this call, seasoned and young journalists alike. During martial law, when the establishment media was controlled by the dictatorship, the campus press served as the boy who shouted, “the emperor has no clothes.” Many Guilders eventually joined the mosquito or alternative press and afer the dictatorship helped make the Philippine press one of the freest in Asia. 3

At magpasahanggang ngayon, nanatili ang mga katulad ninyong propagandista sa ating panahon na nangangahas na tumaliwas sa alon ng nakasanayan at handang tumalikod sa seguridad ng kung ano ang pamilyar at kumikita. The progressive campus press is an incredible medium to positively influence society especially in the context of a democratic mass movement advancing the people’s interests. You can help break down old habits and old attitudes that entrap the students and the masses deeper within the system of exploitation. Today, almost limitless forms of mass media are at our disposalfrom broadcasting, print media, films, to mobile phones and internet media like blogs, message boards, podcasts, and video sharing- all waiting to be maximized in advocating the people’s cause. The popularization of progressive thinking through the publication and broadcast of national democratic views help enormously in arming the masses politically, arousing their consciousness toward liberating themselves and the nation from the political forces that impede our growth as a society and restrict our economic, scientific and technological progress. Sa kongreso, ang ating mga kinatawan ng progresibong party lists ay nanatiling nagtatanggol sa karapatan ng mamamayan sa pagpapahayag, at pagkuha ng impormasyon sa pamamagitan ng pagsusulong ng mga panukalang batas nagtataguyod ng mga karapatang ito. We have filed the Freedom of Information Act otherwise known as An Act to Ensure Public Access to Official Records, Documents and Any Other Information of Public Concern; The Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Act of 2010, and the House Bill 1009 or the Act Decriminalizing Libel. While we engage in legislative efforts to promote human rights, we equally persevere in protecting them. These laws and house resolutions similarly


became instrumental in exposing the alarming level of human rights atrocities committed by a government that is driven by a culture of impunity. The glaring facts and figures revealed disturbing patterns manifesting government policies of systematic political repression and state persecution against the progressive sectors of the society. Sa iba’t-ibang larangan ng pakikibaka para sa katotohanan, nanatili tayong tapat sa ating prinsipyong itaguyod ang interes ng nakararami. At hindi lamang sapat na ipaabot sa taumbayan ang mga katotohanang ito, bagkos, tungkulin din natin bilang mga progresibong manunulat na likhain ang kamulatang magpapalaya at magpapakilos sa sambayanan. Ito ang hamong tinanganan ng ating mga bayani, mga aktibista, peryodista, at mga martir na gumamit ng pluma upang isulong ang kalayaan at demokrasya. Ito rin ang hamong nakaatang sa ating mga makabagong propagandista. Ipagpatuloy natin ang paggawa ng mga letra’t sulating aantig sa ating mga kaeskwela at kababayan na aakay sila sa landas ng paglilingkod at tunay na panlipunang pagbabago. Muli, isang pagbati sa inyong ika labingsyam na Student Press Convention! Mabuhay ang mga Guilders, at maraming salamat!


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