[COLUMN] Speakers exhort newly-formed Fil-Am press club to foster hopes to the Fil-Am community

Pictured are the officers and board members of the Philippine Global Media Group being inducted by Los Angeles Consul General Edgar B. Badajos (extreme left). From left to right: Val G. Abelgas, Manny Ilagan, Dan E. Niño,Bobby Crisostomo, Lydia V. Solis, Rick Gavino, Ruben Nepales, Meh Guevarra, Joe Cobilla, Marc Pijuan, Julian Oriel, and Abner Galino. Several of the officers not shown in photo were in the Philippines during the day of the induction. Photo by Noel Ty

Norwalk, CA – Despite the short preparation, the inaugural induction and gala night of newly-formed Philippine Global Media Group was fruitfully carried out at the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton on Feb. 10 in this city, 20 miles southeast from Los Angeles.

Filipino-American community influencers, business leaders, elected officials and journalists from both Southern California and the Philippines rubbed elbows on a chilly night.

The evening was also a forum where Consul  General Edgar B. Badajos bade goodbye and delivered an insightful, erudite and profound speech before an appreciate A-Lister crowd of 130 attendees. The top diplomat in Los Angeles  will be reassigned to another post in April.

Among the luminaries who graced the event were Artesia former mayor and current Councilmember Melissa Ramoso, Carson Councilmember Arleen Rojas, West Covina Councilmember Ollie D. Cantos, VII, former Cerritos two-time Mayor Mark Pulido, Los Angeles Assembly candidate Jessica M. Caloza, former National Press Club of the Philippines and Philippine News Today editor-in-chief, Alfred G. Gabot, and Johhny Itliong, son of the late labor leader icon Larry Itliong.

Congen Badajos said, “I congratulate the founders of this group for their vision and initiative to create a platform that brings together some of the best minds in the media industry. I applaud the first batch of officers of PGMG for taking on the challenge of leading this group. You are off to a good start because your officers and members include seasoned journalists, veteran media practitioners who are also community leaders who have the expertise, experience and passion to deliver quality and relevant news  to the public.”

The veteran diplomat who sheepishly joked that he was reminded of Proctor and Gamble because of PGMG’s acronym, said, “I don’t know the work plan of PGMG or what are its specific objectives, but I hope that one of them is to stop or prevent the spread of fake news as well as reports that are inaccurate and in some cases outright unethical.”

“These types of news and reports,” he elaborated “pose a serious threat to our community, and even more to your profession because they can mislead, manipulate and polarize the audience, erode trusts in institutions, and undermine democracy.”

The consul general who is also a writer in his own right, believe that one way of combatting fake news is to evaluate the credibility of news sources. “Credibility is the quality of being trustworthy, reliable and authoritative. It is based on factors such as reputation, expertise and transparency of the source.”

He exhorted that journalists themselves have a big role to play in this endeavor. He emphasized,  “They should not only  uphold the highest standards of quality, integrity and accountability in their own work, but also help their audience to apply those standards to other news sources. They should not only verify their sources, fact-check their stories, correct their errors and disclose any conflict of interest but also enhancing their own credibility and relevance. They can demonstrate that they are not just purveyors of information, but also guide the public.”

“You are not just creating a media group, you are creating a community. You are not just providing news, you are providing hope, you are not just reporting facts, you are telling stories.”

The Abra lawyer turned diplomat concluded his speech by quoting Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. “In America, the president reigns for four years but journalism governs forever and ever.” As an afterthought, in a somber tone, he said, “Friends I won’t say goodbye for now, but till we meet again.”

The newly-installed PGMG president Val Abelgas in his acceptance speech said, “It is with humility and pride that I accept the mantle of leadership of this media group. It aspires to contribute in its own way to the hopes of Filipinos here in our adopted land, more particularly here in Southern California, to achieve the political and economic empowerment our community richly deserves. To be able to do that, we felt that we, as journalists, need to bind together and set goals on how we can help the Filipino community become an even more relevant and important part of American society.”

The first PGMG president lamented the rising costs and dwindling revenues caused by the advent of internet. Community newspapers, particularly those catering to the Filipino market, are ailing. Filipino newspapers that continue to survive are forced to reduce the number of pages and copies, while many are forced to either shut down or stop printing and stay digital, just like Philippine Post.”

He continued, “But the bigger problem is that almost all the Filipino newspapers that stay in print had to sub-contract editorial functions to the Philippine-based journalists, who do not have a grasp of what’s really happening in the community nor feel of the pulse of Filipinos here in the U.S. We totally understand that publishers have to cut down costs. But as longtime journalists, we at the PGMG feel that we have to do something to reverse the trend.”

“We also noticed that many of the Filipino journalists have either retired or have passed away, just leaving just a few trained and experienced journalists to chronicle the Filipino community’s challenges and successes in this adopted land. Even some Filipino organizations have died natural deaths because the aging members failed to inspire their young generation to embrace the history and culture of the home country, the Philippines, so that they could continue to lead their parents’ Filipino organizations.”

“That’s where PGMG hopes to help. We plan to imbibe, through our publications and writings, the love for the Philippines, help the young generation understand and appreciate the rich history and heritage of the Homeland, so that they can take the mantle of leadership of our community from their parents and grandparents.”

“We also plan to find and train young Filipinos who will take over from us in the doming years. Let me also  call for the Filipino community, particularly its business leaders, to please support all Filipino newspapers in your respective communities.”

T.J. Manotoc, the ABS-CBN North America News Bureau Chief who was the inspirational speaker decried AI (Artificial Intelligence)-powered algorithm on its bad influence on social media that lead to misinformation and manipulation.”

He said, “We have to remind ourselves of our role and responsibility as journalists: our passion to inform, educate, inspire and foster hope.”

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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