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Home Sections Literature and Fourth Estate Asian-American Journalists’ Association Honors MabuhayRadio.com Columnist
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Sections - Literature and Fourth Estate
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Thursday, 05 November 2009 09:56


T he San Diego, California, chapter of the Asian-American Journalists’ Association has honored veteran Filipino-American journalist and editor Romeo P. Marquez as “Member of the Month.” Mr. Marquez has been writing articles for this website and maintains a column, http://www.mabuhayradio.com/columns/san-diego-happenings.html

 

Mr. Marquez has received many citations and awards as a professional journalist. He received the “Media Breakfast Club-Dean Reyes Award for Journalistic Excellence and Literary Distinction” that was given in Los Angeles, California, on Nov. 30, 2001.

 

To view the article and the photo of Mr. Marquez, please click on this link: http://www.aajasandiego.org/?p=1628.

 

Member of the Month: Romeo Marquez

AAJA San Diego is featuring a member of the chapter and the work they do. This is the seventh profile.

Romeo Marquez is the founder of Philippine Village Voice, a community newspaper that acts as a watchdog for the San Diego Filipino community. As an investigative reporter, Marquez exposes the scandals and frauds of politicians, community leaders and government officials when no one wanted to.

Marquez explains why he decided to start up Village Voice. “None of the Filipino papers in San Diego wanted to write about the so-called “dirty linen” stories and I thought it’s one area that I would excel in,” he said. “So I specialized in investigative reporting and concentrated on writing stories one heard only in whispers.”

A veteran Filipino journalist, Marquez was involved in the journalism industry since he was young. His father was a pressman in the Philippines at Manila Chronicle, where Marquez first worked as an unsalaried news correspondent for the metro news section. He trained in Germany for the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) as a foreign correspondent for eleven years. Then, he was sent back to Manila where he set up a DPA bureau, becoming the first chief correspondent and manager.

Afterwards, he decided to move to San Diego for family and worked with local media. He put up his first broadsheet paper, Diario Veritas, and then his tabloid-sized Village Voice.

As an owner of his own publication, Marquez commented on the economic conditions, “It worries me, yes, but only to the extent that the economic situation is making a big dent on one’s financial health. Journalism now is practiced in many forms. The secret to survival is in diversifying one’s expertise.”

Marquez got involved in AAJA through Lee Ann Kim, the founder of AAJA’s San Diego chapter, who he met through a local news coverage event. Marquez participated in one of the AAJA conventions and the San Diego Asian Film Festival a few years ago.

Marquez talked about how AAJA has helped his career in journalism. “It was a wonderful experience to know and work with colleagues. I got to know some better than just knowing their names and their media affiliations.”

“AAJA is a good point of contact. It helps a lot in professionalizing the industry. Being a member makes one feel confident, knowing you’re with one of the smartest, very knowledgeable, circles of men and women of tremendous talent. I also feel a sense of affinity.”

M arquez answered some questions about his career via email:

How did you get started in journalism?
I have been exposed early on in newspaper publishing because my father worked as a pressman at the old Manila Chronicle in the
Philippines. From work he would bring home at least four copies of the day’s paper. I took to reading, as did my siblings, for sheer availability of reading materials. My interest in the written word was stoked so when I went to college I studied journalism. On my third year, my father told me he had asked the Chronicle’s metro news editor to try me if I could pass the exam as a non-salaried news correspondent. I did pass it in less than the time allocated. From that moment on I was hired and paid for every story I wrote.

What do you enjoy most about it?
The reward of the writing is in the reading. Yes, when people react to my articles any which way, I feel a sense of accomplishment. But before the writing process. it’s the news coverage, the exposure to news sources and the effort to get the news fresh — those are the challenges that I enjoy the most.

Tell us about your roles and responsibilities at your previous and current positions. How were they like?
Before I engaged in community journalism in
San Diego, I was a foreign correspondent with one of the major world-wide news agencies, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Here the interaction was at the highest level and my focus was on gathering, reporting and interpreting the news for the global community.

At DPA headquarters in Hamburg, it was all hard work. But it was fun as well. I worked at the English desk and met a lot of established journalists whose names I knew only previously from reading the papers. I got to befriend some, especially those working at the German, Arabic and Spanish desks.

That was much different from my present work in where I am the publisher, editor, reporter, photographer, graphics artist, advertising solicitor, circulation person all rolled into one. Essentially the work is the same . . . and more. At the community level, everything is nuanced, more personal, more sensitive. Most times, as in my situation where I take an adversarial position on issues, a story gives rise to personal animosities.

What do you like about it?
I like the part where my news sources come to me and tell me, some for background and some for publication, stories that otherwise would never see print. I do investigative journalism and those instances help me a lot.

What’s your least favorite part?

My least favorite is when people are overly solicitous. I also don’t like being threatened physically, intimidated and slapped with lawsuits.

What experiences in the journalism field have been most valuable to you and why?
My baptism of fire. I remember the first time I covered a bloodbath in the early 70s. Bombs had exploded at a political rally in downtown
Manila and members of the opposition party were nearly wiped out. Death and destruction were everywhere. I was nauseous the whole time. The gory sight rendered me sleepless for weeks but life went on, work went on, my editors continued to hammer me for stories, which, of course, I delivered on time.

The whole episode provided me with valuable lessons in life, in writing and survival. News coverage took precedence over personal grief. The people at large must know what was happening and the reporter at the scene was the only conduit to get that information.

Loving your career and living it — that event must have been the ultimate test for me. I didn’t realize until much later that I do love journalism and live it. Now, despite the many risks and the interminable threats, I’m still engaged in exposing the crooks and unraveling the scandals in my community.

Do you have any work you’re especially proud of?
Well, I’m especially proud of having busted the Filipino councilman, a lawyer, of the City of National City here in San Diego County. (His name is Fred R. Soto. I don’t know if you need to mention that). He was bilking huge sums of monies from clients he did not serve and was faking documents filed with Immigration. The Filipino community had supported him in his run for public office and in fact, he was being groomed as the first would-be mayor of National City. Initially, people did not believe my story, saying it was a negative in the category of “dirty linen” that did not need to be brought up. Whatever they said against me, I continued writing my stories.

He quit lawyering (under pain of prosecution by the State Bar of California) and also resigned his elective office months after I published a series of investigative articles detailing his criminal activities. (If I can say this as an aside: The San Diego Union-Tribune won a major award for its investigative stories about Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham who resigned his congressional office and is now in jail. My story about Fred Soto was practically the same, except that it’s on the local level).

I have also exposed some money scandals in our community, the most current of which is the disappearance of $27,000 from the umbrella Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO). Then there are also stories about the questionable and highly suspicious transactions of NaFFAA (National Federation of Filipino American Associations).

M abuhayRadio Editor’s Notes: To view Mr. Marquez’s exposés on the NaFFAA, please click on this hyperlink: http://www.mabuhayradio.com/sections/naffaagate.html

Click here for an article, focusing on Marquez’s work at Philippine Village voice.

Click here 

http://www.mabuhayradio.com/columns/san-diego-happenings.html

for a list of articles Marquez has written for the www.MabuhayRadio.com.

 



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Last Updated on Thursday, 05 November 2009 10:01
 

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