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Mar 27th
Home Columns Op-Ed Page PREROGATIVE: A Gift to the Community
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Columns - Op-Ed Page
Tuesday, 30 October 2007 02:36

The News UpFront (TOP STORY) as of Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Rendering service to the community need not involve money. To a group of impotent whiners in the Filipino community who have been previously exposed for their wrongdoings, however, business ventures that don't make money are justification to ask government authorities to "exterminate" the person doing such service. That's what I found out.


A Gift to the Community

Silver and gold I have none; but such as I have give I thee. - New Testament


Ten years, three newspapers and an unqualified devotion to a writing cause don't seem enough of an investment to fully rouse the socially-conscious Filipino community in San Diego from its eternal sleep.

Save for a few with an open mind and a deep understanding of its dynamics, many members of this community still prefer to live in semi darkness by having a flickering candle than turning on the unfaltering light.

That's how it is, in a manner of speaking. I've chosen the candle as the metaphor to demonstrate the limits of illumination versus the light bulb whose glow brightens up every nook and corner of our minds.

The Filipino community here is still in the candle age of understanding. I mean no offense there. The technological advances of our time seem to have passed us, or if it didn't, we refuse to consider that it would bring so much knowledge and open new vistas of inclusion and tolerance.

I had three newspapers, and a pioneering men's magazine is on hold, in pursuit of my vision of the American dream. The love for freedom and tolerance for dissent are reflected in all of them.

While everybody chases the rainbow to bring in wealth and prosperity, I chose instead to unshut the veil of apathy and indifference, hoping I would open eyes and minds and a new understanding.

That started in 1997 soon after I realized that my own community was more inclined to look at things with dark eyeglasses than without. They'd rather shroud their sight with fancy little covers than look straight at the truth of what their naked eyes tell them.

I founded the broadsheet monthly Diario Veritas (literally the Truth Newspaper) purposely to expose the many imperfections besetting the Filipino body politic. Then it was The District Times for the mainstream community. After that, it's the present-day Philippine Village Voice, the tabloid-sized monthly which entered its fifth year in August this year.

My grumbling critics proclaimed that these "publications are either defunct or not making money". That's a correct assessment. In fact, the statement carries the truth more than everything they claimed I did.

But the way they articulated it in a recent letter asking government authorities "to exterminate" me sounds like it's one big unforgivable sin if I don't rake in the money from my business undertakings.

The American way of entrepreneurship coupled with a sense of adventure, of hacking it out on one's own despite the odds and the almost insurmountable adversities, is taken for granted, dismissed and negated because I failed to generate money. And they make sure I feel it is my fault.

Their incomprehensible minds can't think of a reason loftier and stronger than money. They can't believe in a noble vision and a willingness to serve the community without expectation of reward. That's how clumsy they are.

What they wrongly thought was a failure -- my failure -- was not exactly accurate. Money isn't a precise measure of success. There are other factors worth considering.

I may not have made money, actually I didn't, I don't and I'm not complaining either, but I am proud to say that I brought out the knowledge, awareness and courage that empower the community against the shameless practice of our role-players in foisting themselves and their corrupt ways on us.

That alone was a gigantic stride for my own advocacy, a priceless legacy in my practice of community journalism in San Diego. It is my gift to the community that likes and hates me at the same time.

What amount of money could match that? The fact that a restless few -- my detractors mostly -- is rising up to demand my expulsion from the United States is a clear indication that I have touched them one way or another.

I'm not going to stop them nor even be bothered by it; they're entitled to express themselves in the same way that I am, we all are. It is their undoing that they unmask themselves and betray an unfamiliarity with mainstream reporting. Reading me is quite edifying for them, though I am not sure they would honestly grant me that.

The bottomline is that they are in fear that I would not be stopped in my unrelenting search for transparency and truth in the conduct of community affairs. My demand for accountability has been continuously evaded. Still, with the blank wall upon me, I have not slackened.

It's a rude awakening for them that I could be so stubborn and annoying. A true journalist stays true to his calling and that's exactly what I'm doing to the detriment of the wrong-doers.

For me, it's just too bad that I become the target of their ire. And the irony lies there.

Instead of helping me uncover the hoaxes and deceptions they had a hand in perpetrating, they turn it on me. Isn't it wonderful to know that my constant hammering is finally being felt?

The profit motive -- money, only to the extent that the venture would pay for itself -- is a secondary reason in going into publishing. The chief consideration has always been to reach out to the community with the best and most accurate information that I could get to help them make sound decisions.

I'm into my fourteenth year in San Diego still happily a journalist, and seeing through the ebb and flow of the community, I can say nothing much has changed.

Our people are still held captive by prejudices, by regionalism that constrains, by barriotic interests and by blind loyalty to friends who exploit us for personal gain. We are in denial of so many things, like the fact that our organizations are infested with human-looking rats, huge monkeys that see, hear and speak nothing; snakes and what have you.

My antagonists demand from the government "to exterminate" (that's their exact words) me when in fact, they are the ones that needed to be exterminated without mercy. But they need to do it to cover up their own incapacities and blunders.

At the outset, my newspapers were never designed to be a fountain of wealth. Rather, I foresee them to be the wellspring of knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

I knew very well that if I were to engage in investigative journalism and take an adversarial position on community issues, I would encounter all kinds of problems and that includes being the recipient of vicious attacks.

The truth can not be supplanted by falsehoods, regardless of how convincing they look. That's what keeps me going.

PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
BREAKING NEWS - Commentary
Issue No. 84 / News Without Fear or Favor /

. . . . . A community service of San Diego's Philippine Village Voice ( or at 619.265.0611) for the information and better understanding of the public. . . . . .

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 02:42

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