Fight ‘fake news’ through ‘relevant literature,’ critics say in 10th Paz Latorena lectures

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Journalist Inday Espina-Varona reminds Thomasians that upholding truth is everyone's responsibility during the 10th Paz Latorena Memorial Lecture last April 17. Photo by Miah Terenz Provido/The Varsitarian

CRITICS said “relevant literature” could be a powerful force in the battle against “fake news,” during the 10th Paz Latorena Memorial Lectures last April 17 at the Tanghalang Teresita Quirino.

Rolando Tolentino, director of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Creative Writing, took a swipe on writers who do not deal with important sociopolitical issues in their works.

“Mismong area ng literature, hindi nagsusulat ang mga dapat magsulat. Major writers and new writers should come up with the story of the times,” Tolentino said during the forum, which had the theme “Saysay ng Panitikan sa Panahon ng Fake News at Tokhang.”

Tolentino, former dean of the UP College of Mass Communication, highlighted literature’s unique way of presenting the truth.

“Literature is a creative response to reality. It becomes a manifesto of the times,” he said.

Tolentino encouraged students to stand against the attempts by purveyors of fake news to “pluralize” truths.

“Ang panglaban sa fake news ay katotohanan. Paano makakamit ito? Makibaka para sa katotohanan—yung singularity of truth,” he said.

Salvacion “Inday” Espina-Varona, veteran journalist and columnist, emphasized students’ role in disseminating correct information, especially on social media.

“Realize, it is not enough to condemn lies. Real way to battle lies is to become truth-tellers. And to become truth-tellers, you need to live fully,” Espina-Varona said.

Upholding truth is everyone’s responsibility and should not only be in the hands of writers and journalists, she told Thomasians.

Varona, contributing editor of ABS-CBN News, criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war which has led to thousands of cases of extrajudicial killings.

The lectures are named in honor of the late Thomasian fictionist, for her significant contributions to Philippine literature.

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