By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Former President, 1957-58
UP Journalism Club, University of the Philippines
December 4, 2004
I am happy to join the current officers and members and all fellow alumni in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the UP Journalism Club, in holding the Grand Alumni Homecoming and in honoring the memory of Dean Armando Malay who was the faculty adviser of the club from the very beginning and for a long time. Let this message be the way of my being with you on this festive occasion.
Since its founding, the UP Journalism Club has enrolled as members thousands of students of journalism and mass communications. These have become professionals in the mass media, the teaching of journalism, public relations, advertising and related fields. Others have gone into entirely different fields.
But in whichever field we are, we the alumni have drawn certain benefits in a lasting way from our college course in journalism and from the extracurricular activities of the club. The benefits include the scientific spirit of investigating matters carefully, reporting the facts accurately and drawing the truth from the facts, the ethical imperative of telling the facts and the truth, as we honestly see them, and of course the skills of effective writing and using the various mass media.
The UP Journalism Club has become a venerable institution. At the same time, it is still a brilliant, vital and ever developing organization. It continues to serve as a vehicle of the UP students of journalism for discussing the basic problems of the Filipino people and the burning issues of the day, relating the curricular training with the social realities and extending critical thinking to creative mass action.
Many alumni of the UP Journalism Club have excelled in demonstrating intellectual and moral courage in honestly telling the facts and the truth and in joining the people’s struggle for justice and freedom in the face of the worst acts and threats of the most formidable adversary. In this regard, let us recall the outstanding example of Dean Armando Malay who was in the forefront of mass protest actions to denounce and cause the overthrow of the US-propped Marcos fascist dictatorship.
He lived and acted out the principles he espoused as a journalist and teacher of journalism. Thus, he was highly respected by his students. I consider him as one of the teachers that had the most influence on me while I was maturing intellectually as a patriotic and progressive individual, critical of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system and studying how to revive and resume the unfinished revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation and democracy.
The oppressors and exploiters of the people have their own way not only because they control the economic wherewithal of society and the coercive apparatuses of the state but also the means of information and education with which to hold captive the minds of the oppressed and exploited. In this connection, it is instructive for journalists and other people to study how the imperial Bush regime and the puppet Macapagal-Arroyo puppet regime have used the mass media to keep themselves in power in their respective countries.
They engage in outright mendacity, disinformation, news management and spin doctoring. They have used the big mass media to sow fear with the objective of rationalizing further oppression and exploitation and whipping up state terrorism, wars of aggression and military intervention under the pretext of the “war on terrorism”.
In the Philippines today, the biggest electronic and print media follow the line of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime on all major issues. The publishers, editors, columnists and many top-rung reporters are known to have either stopped or lessened their criticism of the regime and ignore the statements and protest actions of patriotic and progressive forces.
The military, police and private plantation guards commit massacres against the working people. But the media reports and comments in the pro-Arroyo and pro-military press make the victims appear as the culprits by media reports and comments, as in the case of the Hacienda Luisita massacre. Also, the worst of local reactionary politicians and the military and police kill at will the journalists who are independent of them and expose and condemn their corruption and other crimes.
It is of great importance for the people to have their own means of information and education in addition to the other means for achieving national and social liberation. We who are interested in the people’s struggle for liberation and who have the knowledge and skills for disseminating information can play an important role and can make significant contributions.to the advancement of that struggle.
It is possible for the people to use traditional and the latest high-tech means of communications. The full array of the revolutionary party, the mass organizations, organs of political power and various types of alliances is itself an effective means of information and education that can counter and defeat the big media. These entities have also their distinctive systems of information and communications.
The big anti-people politicians and their collaborating big media moguls and big advertisers are not invincible. In recent Philippine historical experience, the accumulated power and media monopoly of Marcos could not prevent his downfall in 1986. Neither could the power of the presidential office and control over a substantial part of the mass media prevent the overthrow of Estrada in 2001. Those in power can be overthrown as soon as the broad masses become a gigantic force determined to overthrow them.
No matter how powerful are the oppressors and exploiters and how big the mass media in their hands, the broad masses of the people can overthrow them. They can do so when they are aroused and mobilized by the revolutionary party, the mass organizations, the organs of democratic power and various types of alliances.
Time and again, in the history of the world, revolutionary journalists have issued publications that serve as the spark for the igniting the combustible social situation in which the broad masses of the people rise up in arms to overthrow their oppressors and exploiters and change the ruling system.
In the final analysis, the crisis of the unjust system, the outcry of the people for revolutionary change, the rise of the revolutionary forces and the victorious revolutionary struggles resonate, amplify the revolutionary press and render ineffective all the lies and intrigues churned out by the propaganda mills of the imperialists and the local reactionaries.
So long as they continue to be oppressed and exploited, the Filipino people will continue to struggle and aspire for a new Philippines that is truly independent, democratic, just, prosperous and peaceful. They will overcome all the violence and deception unleashed by their oppressors and exploiters.