By Vergel O. Santos NOTE: The writer has himself adapted the following piece from a chapter (“A nation in denial”) in his book Chino and his times, a biography of Joaquin P. Roces. THE SPECTER of martial law is looming again. Rodrigo Duterte, a mere month into his presidency, mouthed the dreaded phrase in a fit […]
WITH AROUND 400,000 protesters descending on the Luneta – not to mention others turning out in fair numbers elsewhere around the country and some parts abroad – Monday felt, positively, like another day of great unburdening. The feeling was unmistakable in the brightened faces and strong voices in the crowds.
But “unburdening” connotes mere momentary relief, a feeling in which seemed lost the express high purpose of the undertaking – a vigorous prodding for sociopolitical reform.
Luneta, to be sure, wasn’t anything like its very mother, EDSA, that million-strong street vigil that cut down a dictator nearly a generation ago. Putting an end after all to 14 years of national constipation, EDSA may have brought relief worth savoring longer than a moment.
But not a moment longer, lest one be lost again in a state of denial and a false sense of health.
IN SPITE of the potentially big push they could give the effort against the perpetual plague of official corruption, whistleblowersdon’t find any encouragement where it matters. For all its vociferous avowals on corruption, not even the present government is impressed.
“POLITICAL MATURITY” is one of our great national hang-ups. We like wearing it for the same reason that a child given to fantasies of adulthood likes wearing Mom’s large, high-heeled shoes.
The whole psychology may have developed from the one event in our recent history in which we shone, as we haven’t shone before or since, as a people coming together for a national purpose. It was a flash of – if you like – nationhood, a momentary show of polity by a people who, in the spot-on phrase of the writer F. Sionil Jose, “became a state before [they] could become a nation.”
THANKS TO technology, press freedom is looking less and less like anything it’s been intended.
Indeed, press freedom has been hijacked, to the extent that it now belongs more to non-journalists than to the professionals in whose suitably trained hands it is meant to rest, so that its responsible exercise may be ensured somehow, and in whose recognition precisely (World) Press Freedom Day is observed today.
AT A lecture I gave recently to journalism students, the discussion, until now focused on the principles of news writing, was detoured by someone in the audience toward a grammatical subject – tense sequence. It is not a subject off too far, really. After all, news writing is storytelling, a narrative of a topical past, of something that has happened, or has been happening, until the moment of its telling, and, as such, set in a time that stretches across a distance from some point in the past, sometimes well back, up to the very moment that it is set down. That’s precisely the territory for tense sequence: the continuing past (a phrase used, by the way, by the late historian Renato Constantino as the title for an indispensable book that puts it to definitely far more profound use than in our case).
HERE ARE more excerpts from of the Q&A’s I’ve been having with students doing papers and theses on the news practice:
Q. How do you think libel is abused in the country?
A. It is used by news subjects actively, for harassment and intimidation, if not actually as a court case, as a sort of hanging sword of Damocles over journalists’ heads.
HERE AGAIN is one of those exchanges I find myself drawn to with students researching for academic papers and theses. This time it’s about my take as a newspaper publisher on corporate governance—that is, as I have defined it in answer to one of the questions here, “doing business with a sense of public interest and, therefore, altruism, not just for profit.”
The shift from paper to paperless newspaper pre-requires acquiring the technical skills for composing and packaging the newspaper on the screen and refashioning it to make it suitable as well for watching and listening.
A whole new culture, nay, a whole new world is risen, and it’s a world that has no use for paper.