Remarks at the Akbayan party-list group’s 16th anniversary program, held on January 30, 2014.
Thank you. I am honored by your invitation. At the same time, I must confess to an inconvenient concern: a journalist in a political assembly should be on the sidelines, not at the podium. So if you will allow me, I will rationalize my presence here today, in my capacity as a writer of columns and editorials, as an act of truth-telling. Incomplete, certainly; maybe even incoherent; but independent truth-telling.
It must be a time of mixed emotions for Akbayan. Your political base remains robust enough to regularly send representatives to Congress, major legislation that you support such as the Reproductive Health bill have become law, some of your leaders are serving in high government offices, and you have the President’s ear. But Risa’s second run for the Senate ended up just short again, and the prospect of a national consensus behind either party leader or political program looks less bright than a year ago.
But in fact, Akbayan did better in 2013 than it did in 2010; Risa [Hontiveros] gained over a million more votes than the first time, and her vote total in 2013 was twice that of Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna. But the rules of political arithmetic are unforgiving. Population growth, electoral cycles, and (not least) campaign funds are as much a determinant of success at the polls as candidate character or party platform.
Where does Akbayan go from here?
Last Saturday, I met with about a dozen highly engaged law school students to discuss opinion writing (mainly the writing of editorials) and online journalism. I used Inquirer editorials from the last two months as examples — it helped that the Supreme Court decision on the Neri case was then very much in the air; the examples proved doubly relevant. Herewith, some notes.
That (apart from the usual and full-time Op-Ed related responsibilities) is how I’ve been spending most of my time these days: writing speeches and preparing presentations, and then imposing my thoughts on captive audiences. (That explains why four of the last five posts, and seven of the last 10, were columns. My apologies.)
After hosting the 3rd Inquirer Briefing on November 27, three engagements came in quick succession: first the Rotary Club of Manila (the so-called "mother club" not only of the Philippines but of all Asia), then the Philippine College of Surgeons and then, just this morning, the First Business Education – Industry Summit, at the AIM.
If the 170 deans and educators who paid some serious loose change to attend the day-long summit (theme: "Developing the Global Filipino") remember only one thing from my 25 minutes behind the rostrum, I hope it’s the looming possibility of "SM Nation."
The parts in italics are the parts I skipped; I also omitted the first two (introductory) paragraphs.
The following remarks were read last Saturday, at the Annual Conference of the American Studies Association of the Philippines, held at the National Computer Center, in the Diliman, Quezon City campus of the University of the Philippines. (Because the conference was running late, and because I was acutely aware that I was mere “front act” to Among Ed Panlilio’s star turn, I skipped some portions of the speech.)
I will post Among Ed’s speech once I get my copy by email.
One of the best things about my job as a newspaper editor and opinion writer is the opportunity, several times a year, to talk shop with journalism or communication arts students or with professionals interested in the theory and practice of journalism.
I usually come prepared with a simple PowerPoint presentation or with notes written in my trusty (Korean-made) reporter’s notebook or on my Office-capable cellphone. When professor Bruce Banaag of De La Salle Lipa invited me to speak on “Ethics and News Reporting” at his school’s Annual Media Forum, however, it occured to me that reducing my thoughts to writing may be worth a try. (I have also been reading colleague Conrad de Quiros’s latest book, Tongues on Fire, a compilation of the speeches he had given over the years.)
At any rate, I went out and wrote something down. I’m glad I did, because the audience in Lipa (the three-hour forum took place yesterday) was rousing and most receptive. With the exception of the introduction (the portion in italics, which I largely skipped), what follows is the speech as I read it. What followed after the reading was gratifying: a steady stream of pertinent, probing questions. We had to cut if off after over an hour, and only because it was time to vacate the hall.