Protest beyond screens

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THE SUCCESS of protesters in Hong Kong in forcing their leadership to stop passing a controversial extradition bill that could be used by Communist Beijing against its dissenters and critics in the special administrative region should instruct Filipinos that they—we—are not at all powerless against China.

Simultaneous with its attempt to clamp down on dissent and democracy in the Hong Kong administrative system, China is trampling on Philippine sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, even if the international tribunal has already ruled in favor of the Philippines.

China continues to disregard international law, acting irresponsibly and aggressively on its vastly smaller neighbors.

Other than territorial bullying, China has also penetrated Philippine infrastructure and information and communication technologies, largely through the special treatment provided Beijing and its Communist bosses by its satrap in Manila—President Duterte.

Now, Duterte has said he has allowed China to fish at Recto reef, in effect justifying China’s intrusions there and the sinking of a Philippine fishing vessel by the Chinese.

What agreements have Duterte entered into with totalitarian China?

Hong Kong has vigorously demonstrated dissent over one suspicious extradition bill. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, several suspicious agreements have been undertaken with China and yet, not one united protest has happened.

Although Hong Kong has more bandwidth, they do not protest via social media. They do not resort to slacktivism but bravely and convincingly flood the streets. On the other hand, it is unimaginable to see Filipinos flooding the streets to protest against China’s encroachment in our seas.

Whether this shows if we are apathetic, satisfied with the status quo or clueless of what is happening, China is penetrating Philippine territory and we only have used social media to rant about it while electing public officials to further these anti-Philippines and anti-democratic endeavors.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Manny Mogato once said that “Journalism is at its purest in the campuses.” Perhaps this is because most aspiring journalists have entered UST with well-driven and untainted passion for writing and truth. However, such passion is not enough to live out the essence of journalism on campus. These passions must be molded by a publication well-governed by the discipline and ethics of journalism.

As one of those aspiring campus journalists, the Varsitarian, the 91-year-old official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas, has fit the perfect combination of translating my passion for writing through the discipline of journalism.

Entering the ‘V’ has exposed me to rigorous training—from contacting credible resource persons, to finding the right angle, organizing coherent paragraphs, leg working to different parts of the country.

My articles have been sent back and forth by my editors who carefully pointed out my mistakes. All these have taught me the importance of careful information gathering, fact-checking and synthesizing to produce a well-balanced article.

These experiences taught me the gravity of the responsibility of a journalist, especially in a social-media-savvy country – that what we write become people’s basis for their views, beliefs, , actions or even the truth – so we better be careful.

My seniors have constantly reminded me that “the Varsitarian will not be the Varsitarian without the Witness (Religion) section.” They have stressed that it is the only campus paper with a religion section in it. I have absorbed the wisdom of these statements while transcribing countless church homilies or pronouncements by the church hierarchy and writing articles about the Church and the issues facing her.

Being a Witness writer taught me of the importance of what we write about and that the doctrines of our faith are timeless especially in current Philippines social milieu. 

In a country where extrajudicial killings have become the norm, Catholic journalism is relevant than ever to bring back the morals and values of the dignity of everyone’s life.

But my experience and training as a Witness writer have made me realize that Catholicism and journalism may have credibility issues, but history testifies that these two have remained steadfast in exposing what is true about society and the world.

On my second publication year, the struggle for fighting for the truth, bringing back morals and raising the discourse through campus journalism became more difficult. This was side by side with becoming an associate editor. Given a certain degree of responsibility and power, I learned that I must be more than willing to rise to the challenge.

As St. Thomas Aquinas has said, “It is better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.” As for me, I have always sought to share and apply what I learned through writing, more specifically, through campus journalism.

Being a political science student in the Varsitarian has felt like I was taking a double-degree. But I would not have it any other way.

However, I couldn’t have learned and applied the tenets of journalism if it were not for the Varsitarian’s publication advisers Joselito Zulueta and Felipe Salvosa II, who have meticulously guided us from writing to leading the publication.

I couldn’t have survived my editorship if weren’t for my fellow Editorial Board members, Deips and Klimier, who have treated me with patience, compassion, and professionalism.

I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Xiely, Jewel, Gelo, Harvey, Espy, Camille and Celine for helping me balance everything with social life, and for pushing me especially when I felt like giving up.

Thank you to my parents who have patiently supported me in my decision to joining the Varsitarian and for giving me everything I need in order to grow and mature. 

I am eternally grateful to God giving me the chance to pursue and promote Veritas in Caritate via campus journalism, via the Varsitarian.

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