Sat. Jan 29th, 2022

By Ado Paglinawan

First of Two Parts: Delivered before th the Association of Philippine China Understanding under the theme “The Role of Media in the Promotion of Amity between Peoples”.

I stated writing profusely when I was 12 years old, contributing poems and essays to The Little Bedan when I was Grade Five. Two years after I became its Associate Editor, graduating basically from mere writing to

This continued to high school when I eventually became Managing Editor of Cub Recorder of San Beda where I was lucky to have been mentored by Eric Giron of the Manila Times, who was our adviser.

Across the street where I lived in Mandaluyong was Jose Quiambao, congressional reporter of The Daily Mirror and his wife Jo David who was tourism editor of the same newspaper. They encouraged me to show them my writings, and helped me edit them.

Word processing was non-existent during those days. I made my articles using our family’s Underwood typewriter and submitted my final drafts to my adviser who would polish my works.

The articles would be submitted to a printing press, that will re-type these using a Linotype machine, reducing these into rows of words converted into lead galleys. The rows of galleys will be applied with ink on the font size, a paper put on top of it passed through a rubber roll to make galley proofs.

Etaoin Shrdlu and The New York Times were still using the Linotype machine in the late 1970s.

We cut these galley proofs, and lay them out on a bigger paper to a page size.

These page layouts will be assembled by a composer into a page of lead rows and columns, placed under a letterpress to make the final prints. The process can take a week at least for you to finally have your newspaper.

Today, you have MS Word for word processing, MS Publisher for lay-outing and your own HP printer to come out with your pages. When you have all your articles ready good for eight pages, you can have your small newspaper also called a newsletter, in about an hour or so.

For bigger sizes you can adapt to a more appropriate publishing software and printer. Multiplication of copies is also now available through Xerox machines or bigger photocopiers.

I also became the Managing Editor of our college Newspaper, The Bedan. In 1967 my sophomore year, I was elected secretary-general of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and in 1968 its president.

It was in 1967 that I attended the first campus press seminar conducted by the Publishers Association of the Philippines or PAPI, headed by Johnny Mercado and Vic Tirol.

After the event I submitted a proposal calling for continuing studies for campus editors, as a joint venture of PAPI and CEGP. Most of us were are good writers but not schooled in the rudiments of formal journalism.

PAPI was composed of the mainstream press, and on its top the big ones: The Manila Times of Chino Roces, The Philippines Herald by the Elizaldes, the Manila Chronicle of the Lopezes, The Manila Bulletin of Hans Menzi, to name a few.  The leading magazine was the Philippines Free Press led by the Locsins, and the afternoon dailies were The Daily Mirror and The Evening News.

It was from the pillars of these institutions that I honed my journalism. We had more than 30 seminars and events all over the country, in a period of two years, echoed in the provinces by PAPI’s members in collaboration with my regional vice-presidents.

Our speakers were in the likes of Jose Luna Castro, Teodoro Valencia, Max Soliven, Nestor Mata, Neil Cruz, Joe Burgos, Eric Giron, Jun Icban, Teddy Benigno, Rod Reyes. From the academe we had Armando Malay, for legal Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, and for art and graphics Larry Alcala and Nonoy Marcelo.                

This caught the attention of President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos who included in his program encouraging people participation in government affairs, the studentry and the youth included.

In 1969, Executive Secretary Rafael Salas asked me if I could bring my editors to Malacanang all expenses charged to his office, for a symposium involving key cabinet members, culminating in the first open press conference with President Marcos, I filled the Heroes Hall with 180 from all over the country given a three week-notice.

I shared this because I think education and capability-building is basic to any persisting aberration in society. The more incompetent a profession, the more it is likely to eaten up by corruption. Most campus writers are not trained due to the dearth of journalism subjects and majors.

Maybe AFCU and the Filipino Chambers of Commerce and Industry can invest in from basic journalism and ethical writing courses as early as high school onto continuing studies for media professionals.

Facts on the grounds change

I am most sensitive to this because it was shortly after my days in the College Editors Guild that facts on the grounds started to shake. It was only a matter of time that the Kabataang Makabayan took over the organization. Jose Maria Sison also ordered his National Democratic Front to massively infiltrate the country’s mainstream media.

It was martial law that first attempted to bring radical changes to the media landscape because Marcos believed that the oligarchs had loaded the dice against the government. On the other hand, publishers like Chino Roces turned into activism thinking the president was limiting press freedom.

Retaining only the Manila Bulletin owned by Menzi his friend, he allowed the Philippine Daily Express and the Times Journal to become the major newspapers. He retained RBS Channel 7 under Bob Stewart but close down ABCBN’s Channel 2 and converted its Channel 4 (PTV) into a government station.  The Manila Times and its  Channel 5, DZMT and DZWS were also closed and Channel 9 and 13 assigned to the Benedictos as RPN and IBC respectively.

But 14 years under this basic format under Marcos authoritarianism was relatively docile when compared to the pendulum swing to the other extreme after he was removed from power in 1986.

For the past thirty-five years, we have virtually been inside a theatre of information designed by three major media giants – The Philippines Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star and up until its franchise was not renewed ABS-CBN.

The Philippines Daily Inquirer was founded on December 1985 by publisher Founded by Eugenia Apóstol, columnist Max Solivén, together with Betty Go-Belmonte (wife of House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte) during the last days of the regime of the Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, becoming one of the first private newspapers to be established under the Marcos regime. The broadsheet morphed from the weekly Philippines Inquirer and Mr&Mrs Special Edition tabloid format that Apostol began right after the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983.

In June 1986, President Corazon C. Aquino returned to ABS-CBN most of its radio and TV stations on a gradual and scheduled basis, with the notable exception of TV Channel Four which remained the government’s TV channel. On Sept. 16, 1986, ABS-CBN resumed daily broadcasts for both TV and radio.

In July 1986, questions about finances and a divergence of priorities caused a rift among the founders of Philippines Daily Inquirer that led Belmonte, Soliven, and Art Borjal’s split from the Inquirer to establish The Philippine Star.

In March 2014, the newspaper was acquired by MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., a media conglomerate subsidized by the PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund, after the company purchased a majority stake in Philstar Daily, Inc., a company of Manny Pangilinan and the Salim Group.

In January 2012, Johnny-come-lately Rappler joined the cartel, founded as an online news organization by journalists Maria Ressa, Glenda Gloria, Chay Hofileña and Beth Frondoso, morphing out of left-leaning Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (1989) and Newsbreak (2001).

Together these four have become the most brazen violators of the principles of journalism in the country, the most frequent purveyor of fake news in the Philippines.

But the one who acts with impunity and disregard for laws and ethics, is Rappler.

In 2015, Rappler Holdings Corp., parent company of Rappler Inc., reported that two foreign companies — North Base Media and Omidyar Network — had invested in its company in the form of Philippine depositary receipts or PDRs.

North Base Media is an investment company founded by journalists led by Marcus Brauchli, who headed the newsrooms of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Omidyar Network is an investment company created by entrepreneur and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay.

Curiously, Omidyar claimed responsibility for the regime change black operations that fomented the Orange Revolution in Ukraine deposing its pro-Russian president.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that Rappler — through its Philippine depositary receipts — had circumvented foreign ownership restrictions under the Constitution first because instead of going public, it issued their PDRs to select investors — particularly, Omidyar Network, the offshore fund set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Secondly, the Omidyar PDRs have a unique provision that requires the news outlet to hold a “prior good faith discussion” with Omidyar and secure the approval of two-thirds of PDR holders on all matters that will “alter, modify or otherwise change the company articles of incorporation or by-laws.” This scheme grants Omidyar “influence over corporate policy, actions and structure.”

The law requires 100% Filipino ownership of media in the Philippines.

Two other media organizations that issued PDRs were not investigated by the SEC. “The Rappler case is unique. The PDRs of ABS-CBN and GMA are different from Rappler,” SEC Chair Teresita Herbosa who also said they were issued to the public in good faith.

In a television show abroad, Maria Ressa herself admitted that Omidyar’s support for Rappler was not only $1 million but $4.5 million. Running a losing proposition, the beleaguered organization again recently acquired a loan from a Soros Company in the vicinity of another $600,000.

(To be continued)

Leave a Reply