Words by Nicole Andrea Simbulan of Eugenio Lopez Jr. Center for Media Arts Senior High School
Being a journalist in our country is already hard. Being a female journalist makes it much harder. In such a male-dominated field, there are lots of fearless women who have taken the challenge and proved that women should never be belittled. In commemoration of World Press Freedom Day, we celebrate these exceptional women and salute them with their courage, grit, and boldness.
Let’s take a look at some of these revolutionary women and take inspiration from them.
Letty Jimenez Magsanoc
Being the editor-in-chief of a newspaper — in Magsanoc’s case, the Philippine Daily Inquirer — for 24 years proved one thing: words are a powerful tool to revolutionize a nation. You probably know her by her role in ousting the Marcos Dictatorship; however, that isn’t the only thing she has done over the years. She has gone against presidents, politicians, and public figures in pursuit of the truth. Threats have been coming at her in every way, but that never stopped her.
Her fight for the truth and her passion for it led her to be considered an icon of democracy. TIME Magazine even called her an Asian hero. It’s no question why her name was included in the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani Wall of Remembrance in 2016.
Uncovering the truth and exposing the wrongdoings of the government was Chit Estrella’s forte, despite the dangers associated with this. She has been known for her revolutionary writings during the Marcos Era, as well as exposing the corruption of then-President Joseph Estrada.
Estrella, along with other colleagues, also pioneered some of the groups that keep the integrity in journalism alive, such as the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and Vera Files.
Lazaro is a true representation of elegance while fighting for the truth. She was the founding president of Probe Productions, Inc., the first investigative news platform on television. In 2003, her show, “The Probe Team,” examined the life of the then-PAGCOR chairman and was all set to air the episode. But GMA-7 Network, which they had a contract with, refused and eventually ended its contract with Probe Productions prematurely. That didn’t stop her, though!
Through her unending fight against media censorship, Lazaro persisted and is now considered a pillar of investigative journalism.
Malou Mangahas is dedicated to defending the public’s right to know the truth. She is the Executive Director of PCIJ and is currently the Vice President for Research and Content Development of GMA News and Public Affairs. As a former Manila Times editor-in-chief, her team received a libel case filed by then-president Joseph Estrada when they exposed the controversial multimillion power contract. She filed for resignation after the owners of the said paper yielded in political power and released a public apology.
Out of all the women on this list, Maria Ressa is probably the most controversial one during our time. In 2012, she co-founded the online news website Rappler and now serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Throughout her career, she received both recognition and criticism for her bold journalism. But she continues to persist through it all to fight against media oppression, setting aside the dangers and threats associated with it.
These women, along with tons of others like them, are an inspiration in fighting for press freedom. May we always be reminded that it doesn’t need to be the World Press Freedom Day to recognize the bravery of these Filipina journalists who have paved the way and transformed journalism in our country.
We have them and a lot more to thank for that.
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