Philippine Journalism’s Raison d’etre

The Rotary Club of Manila’s Journalism Awards has a long history, almost half of the 104 years of the organization’s existence.

The Rotary Club’s welcome song opened the program.

The project started in 1966 and later was adopted as RCM’s approach to observing National Press Week. However, RCM stopped giving out the awards in 1972. It was relaunched in 1986.

Three years ago, under the late President Bobby Joseph with Dean Amado Valdez as committee chairman, the RCM Journalism Awards was renamed Pro Patria Journalism Awards, intended to be RCM’s way of celebrating Philippine Independence Day.

“[RCM Journalism Awards] was conceived when we realized that the club did not have an event to celebrate the country’s Independence Day. The truth is that members of the club had been honoring or attending commemorations of other countries’ Independence Days like the 4th of July, Chinese Independence Day, Republic of Taiwan’s Independence Day even Germany’s Octoberfest. But none was dedicated to the Philippine Independence Day,” Valdez said.

Pro Patria was followed in 2022 under President Chito Zaldarriaga and this year under President Hermie Esguerra. Bobby Joseph passed in 2022 at the age of 79 after battling cancer and surviving Covid-19.

“This year’s edition highlights journalism as a tool for development, one that emphasizes the positive aspect of national life so people will be proud of his/her country, a feeling that encourages them to contribute to their well-being, the sum of which energizes the country a millionfold. Constructive criticism is encouraged but must be based on the informed judgment that builds national self-esteem, trust in the system to expel or reject leaders in the public and public sector,” Valdez told Daily Tribune.

‘Icons’ in the same room. At the 2023 Pro Patria Journalism Awards by the Rotary Club of Manila, distinguished members of the ‘first Rotary Club in Asia’ (front row) immortalized the special day with the year’s awardees from tri-media, standing on stage with RCM president Hermie Esguerra (second from left, back row) and Journalism Awards Committee Chairman Dean Amado Valdez (rightmost).

Pro Patria Journalism Awards has recognized Daily Tribune as Newspaper of the Year with Manila Broadcasting Company’s DZRH as Talk Show of the Year for Executive Session and GMA-7’s Integrated News receiving the TV News Reporting Award. The ceremonies were held on 15 June at the New World Hotel.

“Each year’s criteria capture the spirit of the time or the year, in particular, the zeitgeist that directs the nation’s will and consciousness to progress and the will to be part of nation-building,” he said.

Valdez considers this year’s edition a success, not ostentatious yet with solemnity.

Tri-media winners. RCM’s Esguerra and Valdez flank the year’s Journalism awardees – (from left) Daily Tribune’s Willie Fernandez, GMA Integrated News, Regional TV and Synergy head and GMA Network senior vice president Oliver Amoroso, and DZRH Station Manager Deo Macalma.

“It was hard to pick a winner because there are so many talented journalists. We tried to see who’s relevant in journalism in the past year, the ones who created the most positive news reporting because we wanted people to look at the country’s potential during our 125th celebration of Independence. It’s not about the people but the philosophy of delivering the news,” he said.

Such characteristics he found in Daily Tribune and the other conferees.

Goodwill and inspiring talk reigned at the awards event.

“Daily Tribune has been consistent. There is the sense of collective effort on the part of the paper to report the news as they see it, emphasizing the positive side as well,” he said.

This year’s Pro Patria Journalism Awards, he adds, highlights integrated news reporting, where the idea of a newspaper is not beholden to vested interests, and therefore fearless and impartial — the raison d’etre of Philippine journalism.

Valdez added that the recognition should serve merely as a tool for everyone to have “a clear vision of progress, peace, stability, and economic comfort.”