"It seems the Philippines was better off before Magellan came. There were 100 tribes and there were 100 rulers. Today, we have 24 million families, 100 tribes and 100 years of Rotary, we have been ruled by just five families."
The Rotary Club of Manila gave me yesterday the coveted “Journalist of the Year” award on its 100th year. RCM is Asia’s first and oldest Rotary Club and the oldest fraternity of service in the region. I am a columnist of The Manila Standard, editor-publisher of the weekly BizNewsAsia newsmagazine, editor-publisher of biznewsasia.com online, and host of the weekly business-oriented BizNewsTv. So I am multimedia.
Here are excerpts from my brief remarks:
On behalf of the centennial journalism awardees, I would like to thank the Rotary Club of Manila for, and this is a cliché, this awesome award and honor.
On behalf of the awardees, let me congratulate the Rotary Club of Manila for its 100 years of service to country and people.
I guess as the centennial Journalist of the Year awardee, I believe this kind of award will not come again – until after another 100 years.
It is thus with great pleasure and pride, and of course, happiness, that I receive this award.
I have been a journalist for almost 50 years. During that time, I have received quite a few awards:
TOYM in International Journalism in 1985, right after People Power. The TOYM 1985-86 was a very good batch. Two became senators—Miriam Santiago and Greg Honasan; one became speaker, Prospero Nograles; one became governor, Daniel Lacson; one became a scientist, William Padolina; one became a broadcaster, Dong Puno; and one became a tycoon, Del Lazaro. I have remained a journalist.
I was also Outstanding Manilan in 1989; and cited as one the 100 Best Alumni of the UST College of Arts and Letters (and Philets) in the last 100 Years. Arts and Letters of UST was where Jose Rizal studied, by the way. The University of Santo Tomas itself gave me its Most Outstanding Thomasian Award, in the field of arts and letters.
There were also foreign grants but I could not entertain them because I would have had to be away, from my family and from my job and that meant loss of income. In 2002, I took the grant of the University of Stockholm for a Global Journalism course, and that was because I was already self-employed, as publisher of BizNewsAsia.
I managed only three semesters of MBA at Ateneo because my employer then, The Times Journal, where I was the business editor, told me to stop because I couldn’t leave the office until after 7 p.m. and my MBA class started at 6 p.m.
This Rotary of Manila Journalist of the Year award has a special meaning and import to me.
Since joining the print media in 1970, first in the Manila Chronicle, then Manila Times, then Times Journal, I have always dreamed to being recognized by RCM as a Journalist of the Year.
The dream inspired me a lot, especially when my boss, Alfio Locsin, the business editor of the Manila Times, was made Journalist of the Year by Rotary—for writing a business story on peso devaluation and Ferdinand Marcos.
I have been a business journalist for most of my 50 years in journalism.
I did not do PR, I did not join the government (although there were Cabinet offers), and I have not engaged in any other business. I have known no other profession or enterprise except journalism. I love the search for truth, freedom, justice and excellence and I enjoy immensely writing about it. Without truth, there can be no true freedom. Without freedom, there can be no true justice. Without truth, freedom and justice, there can be no meaningful and profound excellence of mind and work.
Remember, this country has been ruled by only 100 families in the last 100 years. For more than 50 years before Duterte became president, this archipelago of 7,300 islands and 100 tribes was ruled by only four families—Marcos/Ramos for 26 years; Macapagal-Arroyo for 13 years and six months; Cojuangco-Aquino for 12 years and four months.
If you add the Duterte family, the Philippines would have been ruled by only five families—for 57 years. Perhaps longer, if a Duterte succeeds the Duterte.
How many families are there in the Philippines?
You know, a family has on average 4.5 members. We are 107 million today. Divide 107 million by 4.5. Almost 24 million families – ruled in the last 55 years by only five families. How come among 24 million families, there are only five families deemed good enough or blessed by God, to rule us?
It seems the Philippines was better off before Magellan came. There were 100 tribes and there were 100 rulers.
Today, we have 24 million families, 100 tribes and 100 years of Rotary, we have been ruled by just five families.
In a sense, the Rotary Club of Manila does it better. There are 33 awardees—for the best in journalism in the past one year. It could only mean that excellence in journalism is more egalitarian, inclusive, and has great diversity.
Truth, freedom, justice, and excellence are the very essence of journalism. Truth, freedom, justice, and excellence are also the very essence of democracy, the very essence of governance, and the very essence of a stable society.
The Rotary Club of Manila, at 100 years, is the oldest fraternity service club in Asia. Congratulations. My wish to my fellow outstanding journalists in print, radio and television, let us put ourselves in continuing service—for truth, justice, freedom, and excellence. For the good of our profession, for the good of our country and people.