Sunday, April 22, 2012

PPI: Brother's keeper

Maria Bundoc-Ocampo could no longer remember how many times she cried and considered stopping the publication of Punla, a weekly newspaper she established in Bulacan in 1984.

She was short on budget and staff, and was then raising a young family with her husband Obet.

But Bundoc-Ocampo went on. Her salary then, as Filipino editor of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) and later, of a daily tabloid, was halved between her family and her ‘professional opium’ called newspapering.

Today, Punla is one of the 70 strong member-newspapers of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), the national association of newspapers — many of which started or are still operating on a shoestring budget.

The Institute was established in 1964 by publishers of the biggest newspapers in the country who refused to be known as an “old boys club,” by addressing industry concerns.

The imposition of Martial Law in 1972 rendered the Institute moribund until July 3, 1986 when the reconstituted Board of Governors met for the first time. The following year the PPI was incorporated under Philippine laws.

In the years that followed the Institute’s membership, training programs and advocacies have remarkably expanded. While major Manila-based newspapers like The Philippine Star, Manila Standard Today, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Journal, Malaya Business Insight, and BusinessWorld were represented in the Board, regional trustees representing smaller newspapers in province were also elected.

To some, the composition of the Institute’s Board appears to be another illustration of ‘imperial Manila’. But said big Manila-based newspapers are actually helping the smaller newspapers based in provinces, knowing that success of community journalists is their success as well.

In the words of the late PPI Executive Director and Mabuhay publisher Jose L. Pavia, the idea of big newspapers helping community newspapers through provision of cash prizes during the annual Civic Journalism Community Press Awards is an incarnation of the biblical words “brother’s keeper”.

Indeed, the Institute continues to serve as brother’s keeper, not only through the annual awards that recognize excellence in journalism, but by conducting educational training programs aimed at improving skills of journalists of its member-publications and through advocacies that seek to protect rights and freedoms of journalists.

“I wished we joined PPI when I was first invited by Alice (Villadolid) in 1997. I missed a lot of training,” said Bundoc-Ocampo whose newspaper Punla became a member of the Institute in 2010.

As publisher of one of the newest member-publications of the Institute, Bundoc-Ocampo cited the sincerity of its members to help others.

“They are really sincere in the sense that they share new ways in improving the quality of publication and its business aspect,” she said.

The same is true with Punto Central Luzon, a member-newspaper based in Pampanga which joined the Institute in 2008, and became a finalist in the annual awards the following year.

“The people behind PPI are the ones that mentored us,” Joselito Aguilar, editor-in-chief of Punto said. He considered Jose L. Pavia, the Institute’s former executive director, and late publisher and editor-in-chief of Mabuhay based in Bulacan, as one of his biggest inspirations in the business.

As participant to seminars and workshops conducted by the Institute since 2004, Aguilar said that the Institute inculcated in him and other journalists that newspapers also serve as a catalysts for community action.

As matter of fact, Punto got the distinction as one of the contemporary newspapers in Pampanga that challenged the powers-that-be.

Aguilar challenged the leadership of Oscar Rodriguez, the city mayor of San Fernando, Pampanga after he was proclaimed “World Class Mayor” by the Institute of Solidarity in Asia (ISA) for his performance-based governance system.

Last year, when other newspapers in Pampanga bannered on their front pages that there was no open dumpsite in the city, Punto went out of its way by photographing the same headline in front of the city’s open dumpsite. The same photograph landed on the front page of Punto the next day, to the consternation of the mayor.

But Aguilar and Punto did not stop there. They carried on and realized that by speaking the truth, they would earn the respect and become more credible to their readers.

Citing lessons he learned from media programs he attended, Aguilar said, “PPI makes it a point that newspapers should perform the role of watchdogs and not to sleep with people they watch.”

For its part, Pavia’s Mabuhay has been serving as a catalyst and forum for community action in Bulacan.

Last year, Mabuhay exposed an open dump just behind the Bulacan Medical Center in Malolos City which has been the subject of complaints of hundreds of Bulacan State University (BSU) students for over three years as its stench and smoke permeated their nearby classrooms, thus hindering their classes.

Since Mabuhay solicited comments from the new provincial administration on how it intended to rehabilitate the open dump, before the story and photograph of said dumpsite were published by Mabuhay, the government had already started rehabilitating it and contacting licensed medical wastes hauler and processor.

In the final days of January, Mabuhay also went out of its way and started documenting unrepaired light stations on the coast of Bulacan fronting the Manila Bay. By first week of February, a story package with photographs of the light stations was published, which again alerted the provincial government.

On July 13, the Regional Development Council (RDC) of Central Luzon approved a resolution for the rehabilitation and construction of additional light stations on the coast of Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan.

While Mabuhay became instrumental for the impending eventual repair and construction of additional light stations, it gave credit to the social media activism of residents of the coastal villages of Bulacan.

Like other member newspapers, Mabuhay also gives credit to the series of training programs conducted by the Institute through the years as they not only improved skills of journalists, but encouraged excellence in the professional and ethical practice of journalism through the annual Civic Journalism Community Press Awards supported by the major Manila-based member-newspapers and The Coca-Cola Export Corporation (TCCEC).

The same was echoed by Dalmacio Grafil, publisher-owner of three Visayas-based newspapers namely, Leyte Samar Daily Express, Samar Weekly Express, and Eastern Samar Bulletin, which are all members of the Institute.

“It really encourages us to pursue excellence in the practice of journalism,” Grafil said in a telephone interview, referring to the annual awards.

As owner of three different newspapers, he said that he has no regrets in joining the Institute, saying it helped them a lot.

For her part, Elnora Cueto of the Lucena Herald said, they decided to be part of the Institute due to its long standing reputation of excellence and credibility.

She also cited the Institute’s training programs and annual National Press Forum that allow professional dialogue among member-newspapers.

In Mindanao, Fr. Jonathan Domingo, OMI, chief executive officer of Mindanao Cross, a 63-year old newspaper published by the Catholic Church, said in a telephone interview that issues addressed by the Institute continue to evolve.

He said that while its training program on civic journalism was successful, the Institute must also consider expanding it to peace journalism, a special concern in Mindanao.

And as technology continues to grow, younger journalists of PPI member-publications in Luzon started advocating the utilization of the new media or the internet including the social networking sites as means of disseminating news and information.

The Institute showed receptiveness to it as its Luzon group included it in its training program for students from northern Luzon and during the two previous annual National Press Forums.

Indeed, the Institute is celebrating its 48th founding year and 25th year since its reactivation in 1987. But it doesn’t mean it is old.

Truth is, the Institute is young. It sort of just entered its adulthood, but it has accomplished more than its age, which prepared it to the challenges of the times.

With the Institute’s achievements in almost five decades, and openness to face further challenges, its members will continue the legacy of their founding fathers by being a ‘brother’s keeper’ in the next 25 years.(Dino Balabo)

Xang-Li Football fest kicks off at Magalang today, FUTBulakenyo to defend title

MALOLOS CITY—At least 20 football teams, including six from Bulacan will compete for the annual Xang-Li Football Festival today (Sunday).

The one-day competition will be held at the Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) campus in Magalang, Pampanga.

Emmanuel Robles, coach of defending champion FUTBulakenyos said they split their team into two.

The same is true for this city’s Agila Ladies Club, the defending champion in the ladies open.

Bulacan Sunday United, another football club in Bulacan is also planning two join with two teams.

Other teams will come from the provinces of Zambales, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac, the known football capital in Central Luzon.

Robles explained that unlike the regular football game with 11 players each from competing teams, Xang-Li Football Festival only require seven players from each competing team to play the game but they can register a maximum of 12 players.

Playing is also reduced to 15 straight minutes every half during the elimination round and 10 for the semi-finals and final games.

“This is another step for the continuing popularization of football in Central Luzon,” said Robles who noted that Philippine Azkals greatly contributed in the increasing popularity of the game in the country that remains addicted to basketball.

He said the Philippine Azkals has rejuvenated local players specially those who played college football under the Bulacan State University (BulSU).

“Our former players came back and are playing again,” said Robles who also coach the BulSU football team that ruled the State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA) in Central Luzon in the last four years.

This developed, John Bayarong of the Amihan Football Club based in Subic Bay announced that the first season of the Central Luzon Football League (CLFL) will start on May 13.

Bayarong said that the CLFL is a third division amateur football league, just behind the United Football League (UFL) and Philippine Azkals, the national team.
Initially, five teams from Zambales, Bulacan, Pampanga and Tarlac will play in the first season of the CLFL.

This includes the FUTBulakenyos, Tarlac Football School, Pampanga Football Club, Bayarong’s Amihan Football Club, and the all-Korean Subic Football Club.  

Search for best biodiversity and climate change reporting is on

The hot issue of biodiversity and climate change will receive a much-needed public awareness boost when the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Agency for International Cooperation) or GIZ, and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) launch the special award on “Best in Biodiversity and Climate Change Reporting” at the 16th National Press Forum on April 24 at Traders Hotel Manila. The launch of the special award will be announced at the press forum by Rolando Inciong, head of ACB’s Communication and Public Affairs.

“The relationship between biodiversity and climate change cannot be translated into a gut issue that the man on the street will understand without the help of media, especially the newspapers. GIZ and ACB recognize media’s significant role as a partner in demystifying biodiversity and promoting the link between biodiversity and climate change and highlighting their importance to humans,” Dr. Berthold Seibert, Project Manager of the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project, said.

In recognition of media’s key role in generating a greater awareness of biodiversity, ACB and GIZ will partner with the PPI for the special award, which will be part of the 2012-2013 Civic Journalism Community Press Awards. Hosted by PPI and The Coca-Cola Export Corporation, the awards is an annual event that aims to recognize community papers excelling in the field of civic journalism. There are six existing categories: Best in Business and Economic Reporting, Best in Science and Environmental Reporting, Best in Photojournalism, Best Editorial Page, Best Edited Paper, and Best in Culture and Arts Reporting.

For the past two years, ACB has been supporting the awards by serving as judge in the Best in Science and Environmental Reporting category. For 2012-2013, ACB and GIZ, through the Biodiversity and Climate Change Project, will launch a special awards category: Best in Biodiversity and Climate Change Reporting.

“By opening this special category, ACB, GIZ and PPI will recognize the efforts of community journalists who have taken the initiative to educate more people about biodiversity and climate change,” Mr. Rodrigo U. Fuentes, executive director of ACB, said.

By partnering with PPI on the awards, ACB and GIZ seek to “form a cadre of journalists who will become active partners in promoting the link between biodiversity and climate change through their reportage. Communicating biodiversity and climate change is a daunting task. While successes have been achieved on some fronts, a lot of communication gaps still need to be filled. This award is a step toward bridging those gaps,” Director Fuentes explained.

P-Noy to open national forum of Phl Press Institute

By Dino Balabo,

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – President Aquino will open the 16th National Press Forum of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) at Traders Hotel Manila next week.

This is the first time that the President will serve as keynote speaker of the PPI. He will deliver a message on the “protection and preservation of press freedom and democracy.”

This year, PPI is celebrating its 48th founding anniversary and 25th year since its reactivation in 1987.

An annual gathering of owners, publishers and editors from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao representing 72 publications, the PPI National Press Forum tackles issues concerning the industry that affect the professional and ethical practice of journalism.

This year’s conference theme “Media Accountability and Public Engagement” will serve as opportunity for the media to assess itself since the restoration of democracy over 25 years ago.

Some of the issues that will be discussed include the “Asian Media Barometer: The Philippine Study,” media self-regulation, and the safety and welfare of journalists.

Held since 2009, the annual National Press Forum is supported by leading daily newspapers based in Metro Manila, namely, The Philippine STAR, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Malaya, Manila Standard Today, BusinessWorld, and the Journal Group of publications.

Aquino will join Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who will serve as keynote speaker on April 24 at the Community Press Awards, a yearly event that honors the best in civic journalism.

PPI was established in 1964 by publishers of the biggest newspapers in the country to address industry concerns.

The imposition of martial law in 1972 rendered the Institute moribund until July 3, 1986 when the reconstituted Board of Governors met for the first time. The following year the PPI was incorporated.

In the years that followed, the institute’s membership, training programs and advocacies expanded.

Major Manila-based national newspapers were represented in the board, while smaller newspapers served as regional trustees.