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“Watching the watchdog”

Journalists and media practitioners normally do their work in exposing anomalies, prying into secrets, commenting on misconducts and mistakes, criticizing— doing the role of “watchdogs”.  A few days ago, they   looked at themselves, instead of looking at others.

The Philippine Press Institute (PPI) gathered under one roof all the member publishers and editors of newspapers from all over the country under the conference theme “Watching the Watchdog”. Interesting sessions. The speakers minced no words in telling it all.  It’s all about journalists looking themselves in the mirror to see how they do their jobs.  And how they go about at times committing what they criticize others about.

It’s not all that bad by the way. While we have our own pitfalls and shortcomings too and while we are quick in acting as self-anointed “watchdogs” for the public, we ourselves have to watch ourselves whether we behave accordingly or not. A case of self-examination or self-criticism. It’s good to do a reality check from time to time.

By the way, the assembly chose me as new PPI head.   A big job ahead. But it’s DEJA VU for me.

Going back to memory lane, it was early in September 1972 when I left the Mindanao Times as Editor for a new job in Manila. I was 3rd year in law school at Ateneo de Davao then.  The venerable CHINO ROCES of the Manila Times and head of PPI gave me an offer I could not refuse. So I moved to Manila, even decided to forego of my law studies in the meantime. I was to assume by October 1st as   Deputy to PPI Executive Director, the late EDDIE SANCHEZ. At that time, PPI with the Press Foundation of Asia was at the Magsaysay Bldg. along Roxas Blvd. with his “eminence” JOHNNY MERCADO holding sway. As part of my preparations,    I went the rounds of the Manila news circle with CHINO herding me along.  On my 3rd week of orientation, I was shocked when I woke up one morning and heard that  all the news personalities I had met and talked with over the past days  were all arrested and rounded up by the military — including CHINO ROCES! Martial Law  was declared.  Fearing arrest too, I took the first plane out to Davao, went back to law school,  returned to my Times desk. And  eventually  became a lawyer (thanks to martial law). I missed my chance of working  at PPI.

After waiting for 40 YEARS,  now I’ve  finally made it back  at PPI, this time as President and Chair.  Picking up from where the likes of CHINO ROCES,RAUL LOCSIN, JUN DEJARESCO, NILO CLAUDIO, ISAGANI YAMBOT,  JAKE MACASAET   and others left off. It’s   an honor one  can hardly refuse!

CHEFS FOR CHARITY —— The dinner for a cause project arranged by top French chefs in CLAUDE’S, led by CLAUDE LE NIENDRE , turned over to the NANDING BOYS AND GAWAD KALINGA the net proceeds of P49,500.00 to help fund to help the roofless classrooms in typhoon-hit Davao Oriental. Even the tips for the waiters and staff in the amount of over P8,000.00 were added to the kitty box.

Archbishop Emeritus  Nanding Capalla turned over the proceeds to Gawad Kalinga over dinner a few days ago. Thanks to Tess Le Niendre and her group for making this happen.

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