Fil Am Press should be vigilant says visiting columnist

CHICAGO (July 9)– The Filipino American community mass media have big shoes to fill and should not take their important roles for granted.

This was the response by visiting author and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrado S. De Quiros when asked by a guest, Anong Santos, publisher-editor of Pinoy Monthly, during the open forum if the Filipino American media can influence events in the Philippines.

De Quiros, a four-day-a-week columnist of one of the Philippines’ leading newspapers, said President Arroyo reads Philippine newspapers. But if she gets information and views from overseas Filipino publications and broadcast media, she will certainly listen.

After a follow-up question from club treasurer, Ting Joven, De Quiros said Fil Ams have a big voice, explaining that “if it is coming from abroad, they (the Philippine government) become very sensitive. If being echoed from abroad, it is going around the world. Just be vigilant in monitoring the wrong (deeds) and not letting things pass. That can be tremendous help to our country.”

De Quiros was guest of honor, speaker and inducting officer of the officers and new members of the National Press Club of the Philippines in the United States at the 10th anniversary celebration held last June 21 at Chateau Ritz, Niles, Illinois.

De Quiros was echoing the views of outgoing club President Yoly Tubalinal, co-publisher and co-editor of The Fil Am Weekly Megascene who said in her valedictory remarks that “opinions of Filipino American media practitioners really matter.”

In her inaugural address as club president, Lourdes M. Ceballos of Easimedia, a Chicago-based news agency, challenged the officers and new members to “empower (themselves) thru the media, which can be only be done when we have freedom to think, freedom of thought.

“Because if we no longer have freedom to think, we lose our freedom of expression. If we have no longer freedom to write, we will be dictated upon by people, who are more powerful than us in our thinking.”

Ceballos said that a news agency, like her Easimedia or this reporter’s Journal Group Link International or the Reuters or Associated Press, should be encouraged to grow to bridge the gap among newspapers, radio, television and Internet and other outlets as “we are not publishers but we are not just reporters.”

She said under her administration, she is launching a media communication and media community relations workshop that will educate and empower “those who are not yet writers and learn from each other. This can lead to the empowerment of both – the media and the community.”

She said if “we empower ourselves, the government will follow us.”

In brief remarks, Philippine Consul Orantes Castro, one of the two consuls on hand during the event, congratulated the newly inducted officers and members on behalf of Consul General Blesila C. Cabrera. Also present at the event was the newly promoted Consul Roberto T. Bernardo.

Castro paid tribute to the “noble tasks” of Filipino American newspapers and television programs, which have not tired of  gathering and disseminating information on government programs for the “awareness of the younger generation” and for performing “advocacy, entertainment, public service, Philippine cultural revivalism and renaissance in Chicago and the Midwest.”

For his part, Allen Rafalson, president of the Chicago Journalists Association, congratulated the newly inducted officers and members of the NPC Phil-USA even as he cheered that the Philippines has been displaced by Iraq as the number one country in the world where journalists are killed. He also invited club members and guests to attend his club’s 70th anniversary celebration on September 25 when his club will bestow the annual Daniel Pearl award on Chicagoan syndicated columnist and former foreign affairs correspondent Georgia Ann Gyer for courageous journalism. The awardee was among the first to interview Fidel Castro.

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