Media Abuse

JOURNALIST TELLS the truth.  Powers-that-be get furious.  Powers-that-be hire assassins.  Journalist is murdered.  Public outrage follows.

One hopes, dear karikna, that the sequence is always as simple when a member of the media falls, but, sadly, there are complications.

One is tempted to say that media is to be blamed, too, for making the Philippines one of the top three most dangerous countries for journalists in the world (along with Iraq and Somalia), and Ilocos Norte a killing field for members of the Fourth Estate.  Corruption, impropriety, and unprofessional behavior cloud the practice of journalism here and in other parts.

Ergo, the death of a journalist is not always an attack against the truth.  It could also be a screaming statement against lies, spins, and half-truths, which are even more dangerous than lies.  A media worker wields tremendous power, which, if used irresponsibly, could backfire, and with fatal results.

There is no justifying though the ruthless killings of journalists which, from 1986, now number 137, 104 of which transpired under the Arroyo regime.  Not even the shadiest journalist deserves to be at the mercy of an assassin.  We have very strong libel laws to punish a malicious blabbermouth, and to redeem the dignity of an aggravated fellow.  In a supposedly civilized, democratic society such as ours, there is just no room for motorcycle-riding, gun-firing cowards.

The rampage should stop even as the truth must always be pursued.  This is not always easy because the world hates those who speak of inconvenient truths.  Socrates, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Jose Rizal, media men and women who did their craft with untainted integrity, and other martyrs of freedom and democracy know this very well.  However, when a journalist goes overboard, commits abuses, and gets killed because of it, it is not heroism, it is self-destruction. Continue reading “Media Abuse”

Thank you, Ramos Family

THE ILOCOS TIMES turns half a century plus two years in the service of the Ilocano, and it is fitting that we thank the family behind the institution.

While this paper is a family business, I don’t think its continuous operation is driven by profit.  Community newspapers are not known as big earners.  Truth to tell, many local newspapers in different provinces have folded up into oblivion on account of financial woes.  In Ilocos Norte alone, a couple of weeklies have come and gone, and only The Ilocos Times remains legitimate and strong.

Members of the Ramos Family, I’m sure, make sacrifices to let this paper thrive.  I assume there are issues when advertisements do not suffice to cover the cost of printing, even as the paper is sold at only seven pesos a copy, one of the cheapest in the Milky Way galaxy. Continue reading “Thank you, Ramos Family”

Brilliant Agca, ‘Stupid’ Quezon

BY ALL YARDSTICKS, Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili is a brilliant man.

Prior to his joining University of Hawaii, he held tenured appointment at the University of the Philippines Diliman.  He is a creative writer and social researcher who has reaped coveted awards.  Above all, he is a well-meaning iconoclast.

Last July, Dr. Agcaoili was one of the presenters in the first Mother Language Education (MLE) forum in Ilocos.  On that same occasion, the Nakem Conferences also launched Sukimat: Researches on Ilokano and Amianan Studies, a publication he co-edited with two MMSU professors.

I am quite a big fan of the man known by many as “Agca”.  In fact, after the MLE forum, I requested him to autograph my copy of Dangadang, his award-winning novel.  My admiration for the man’s writing prowess is matched by my adulation for his ideas.  His courage and candor are awe-inspiring.

The other week, however, Agca shocked me with his Letter to the Editor published in The Ilocos Times.  Continue reading “Brilliant Agca, ‘Stupid’ Quezon”

Preparing the thumb for the stains of politics

One of the letters I received was from William S. of California USA.  His letter merits attention, because he suggests I write about something he finds important.

Part of his letter reads:

“I am one of your avid readers in the Ilocos Times Online.  Based in the west coast USA, I make sure I read your column on a daily basis during my free time at work. It is a matter of principle that we really need to give you due recognition for providing enlightening information on the various social issues in the provincial and national levels. The issues you tackle span the judicial system, social economic system, political system and educational system. I admire some of your articles when it bites the “status quo” of those people in power, whether in elective or appointive positions, who are holding and discharging their duties for their own and circle-of-friends’ benefits. I also came to believe that the Ilocos Region seems to be the “Wild-Wild-North” of the entire archipelago since it is all the same since I left to this date. The conflict resolution in the political arena undermines the rule of law.

“The reason for this email is to suggest that we educate the local voters for the upcoming 2010 local and national elections. I was wondering if you could mention in your column how to value their votes for the right candidates in the upcoming election. There has to be a way to gauge budding political figures versus those who would like to perpetuate the political family dynasty. The electorate has to realize that there is always an alternative, a fresh start and new faces to select from instead of the “traditional.” There is always a political process to use if we elect the person who does not meet the people’s expectation. We also need to address those folks in the rural areas to stay home during election day if they are not aware of the issues affecting them and if they do not know the political agenda of the candidates. We need to emphasize to the rural folks and others that a few cans of sardines and a couple kilograms of rice should not subvert the voice of the people during elections.”

Continue reading “Preparing the thumb for the stains of politics”

T.Y.

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FOLLOWING last week’s column, a good number of readers wrote your karikna to greet “Happy First Anniversary,” and to express their appreciation for this space.  Most of these well-wishers come from the silent majority of our readers, who suddenly decided to make their presence felt.  I was overwhelmed, not only because of their number, but more because of their generous words.

It’s really heartwarming when people you don’t know suddenly come forward to say “thank you” for things you never realized you have done.  I expect to have helped readers form their stands on issues, but I was surprised when Filipinos abroad consider my articles an antidote to homesickness, or when young people say the column has inspired them to pursue their meaningful passions in life, such as the case of Vincent, who shares that reading one of my articles moved him to take up a course in the arts, his true love, although his folks and peers pressure him into taking up nursing.

For his part, Jun-b, our Editor in Chief, sent me a text message that read, “Happy anniv to your good column, more power!  I think we should celebrate it one of these days when you’re free, my treat.”

I was touched by the message, and here’s why.  In the last fifty five weeks, our weekly exchanges would be:

“Have you sent your Riknakem already?”

“I will send later”

“Ok.”

“I have sent already. Thanks.”

“Ok.”

So, thank you, dear readers, for helping me usher this column into its second year and beyond.  It’s a sunny Friday morning as I write this, and Jun-b texted me three hours ago, “Have you sent your article already?”

Back to normal then.  Back to work, karikna.

Happy 1st anniv, karikna!

AROUND this time last year, you and I gave birth to this humble column.

While I was not exactly new to writing—having previously published my works in newspapers, books, and websites—the thrill of composing an article on a weekly basis was unparalleled.

Among all the columns written by local journalists, Riknakem has appeared most frequently and most consistently in The Ilocos Times. In the past one year, I failed to pass my weekly article but once.

I still wonder how I do it. Teaching, we all know, is a very demanding job. In addition, I also work at the media office of MMSU, carry out research projects, and serve other publications either as writer or consultant.

Of course, it is not without sacrifices. There have been many times of whole nights spent out of bed, and vacations spent in front of the computer. Having this column also meant less time for my bicycling, which I used to do during my free time.

There are times when I am tempted to miss a column, but my friend Ianree Raquel always reminds me of my responsibility to readers, and I oblige.

But, no, I am not complaining. I have never looked at writing as a burden. Continue reading “Happy 1st anniv, karikna!”

Cory’s gift and Steve’s burden

ICON. HERO. SAINT. Every possible tribute has been paid to Corazon Aquino, now touted, and rightfully so, as the most loved Filipino of all time.

Still, allow me to give mine. After all, I have always been a Cory fan long before today, when it has become fashionable to be one. Dennis Estacio, my grade school seatmate at the old Divine Word College of Laoag, would attest to this. To the consternation of our teachers whose lectures we occasionally disrupted, albeit unintentionally, Dennis and I, then only in Grade 1, often had impassioned debates on politics. As with almost all Ilocanos, Dennis was maka-Marcos. I was maka-Cory.

In 1986, I accompanied my dad to the voting booth, and bent his hand into voting for Cory. That was the second best thing to voting for her, which I could not do yet because I was just seven. The teachers did not mind that I accompanied my dad. To them, I was just a child. Continue reading “Cory’s gift and Steve’s burden”