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Profile: Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler
Maria Ressa, co-founder and CEO of the Philippines-based success story Rappler, is changing Southeast Asia’s media industry for a digital age

Journalism in the Philippines is often seen as a dismal pursuit. Following a short ‘Golden Age’ that followed the country’s independence, the profession as a bulwark of democracy ceased to exist under the Ferdinand Marcos regime, which imposed martial law and heavy censorship.

Even today, many Filipino journalists are subsumed and consumed by a pervasive sense of irrelevance under social media’s shadow. They are often poorly paid and there are constant murmurs of corruption among their ranks. Since 1992, 77 Filipino journalists have been killed for various reasons.

But then, there is Rappler and Maria Ressa. Launched in the beginning of 2012, Rappler – a portmanteau of the words ‘rap’ and ‘ripple’ –  is a social news website independently financed by four groups of investors, including Ressa.

Petite and engaging, with a silken speaking voice, smoothed to newsreader perfection, she has more than 25 years of journalism under her belt, and today serves as Rappler’s president, CEO and executive editor. According to Ressa, now three years into business, it is changing the face of Filipino journalism.

“The idea was, I felt like people in power, either people or companies, here in the Philippines, in particular, were born into it. Oligarchic families who have power, economically and politically,” she says, emerging from a conference room at the rappler.com office – a modest affair with a splendid view of nearby high rises – in Ortigas, metro Manila.

“I always felt there was a zeitgeist we could tap into. There’s a need for transparency, accountability and consistency,” she adds. “We have no vested interests. We made a point of not being backed by any major power interest.”

Yet to understand the roots of Rappler, it is necessary to understand Ressa herself.

Shortly after martial law was declared in the Philippines in 1972, Ressa’s family migrated to the US. Like so many Filipinos who have reinvented themselves on foreign soil, Ressa flourished in her adopted country, graduating from Princeton university, ready for a bright future. But this future was not to take place in America.

“In 1986 I came home [to the Philippines] in search of my roots,” she says. This is how she fell into journalism. “I had a one-year Fulbright scholarship. It was an exciting, glorious time. I wrote a play, my thesis for an independent major. I came in for political theatre. But political theatre here was very agit-prop and very personalistic. It didn’t satisfy me.”

Disappointed by the theatre crowd, TV beckoned to the young Ressa. She became an investigative reporter, a researcher, foreign correspondent, and ultimately the senior vice-president of a major TV station.

Between 1987 and 1995 she was CNN’s bureau chief in Manila, before moving to Jakarta for CNN between 1995 and 2005. In 2005, she took the helm of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, for six years determining strategic direction and managing more than 1,000 journalists for the largest multi-platform news operation in the Philippines.

“My job then was to make it more efficient and streamline its operations. I got an industrial engineer to shadow my key people for a month,” she recalls.

As a seasoned war correspondent, Ressa is also known for her writings about terrorism. Her books include Seeds of Terror (2003) and From Bin Laden to Facebook (2011), the latter written in a small Singapore flat. Both books discuss the spread of violent extremism in Southeast Asia.

But 2011 was the crucial year when Ressa pivoted away from network TV to focus on developing Rappler.

“In that year many of my colleagues at ABS-CBN resigned. I told them, let’s try something different. Create something new that’s right for our time,” Ressa says.

Helping her out were veteran journalists Glenda M. Gloria and Marites Vitug, two uncompromising trailblazers in no-nonsense reporting.

“Our advantage is we’re old enough to understand the old world and young enough to see the possibilities of the new one,” she says. “When I was in CNN our little team of four people were prototyping. We were always the one to test anything new for CNN. Then when I went to ABS I pushed social media.”

“It took me six months [in ABS-CBN] to push for reporters to us Twitter. It’s very hard for a large media organisation to move fast; the very thing that made it successful is holding it back,” she added.

Once the decision to start a new news organisation was made, Ressa and her team moved quickly.

“The principle was it’s faster to run your own organisation. You’re not part of a huge thing with so many vested interests. We were like-minded. We decided we were going to hire the smartest 20-something digital natives we could find,” she recalls. “We created it in about six months.”

Today, Rappler’s headquarters is neither a cubicle-farm nor a stuffy studio-cum-office. Its staffers and interns attired in business casual are crowded in even rows, typing away at glowing MacBooks. They’re all young, millenials between 20 and 23, and that is how Ressa likes it. Plasma screens adorn the walls streaming news and basketball. Ressa and Gloria have their own shared office, minimalist and uncluttered, occupied by three staffers fretting over deadlines.

“We don’t have hierarchy,” Ressa says about the office culture. “It’s such a flat organization. Everyone sees what everyone is doing.”

In Rappler, the women also outnumber the men. It is a haven for female journalists whose coverage runs a fine-tooth comb across a fractured and colourful nation. To be fair, the heavy presence of women in a news organisation is not extraordinary. A salient feature of modern journalism in the Philippines is the female writers, reporters, broadcasters, producers, and executives who are shaping and reshaping the  profession.

One of the country’s leading newspapers, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, was founded by Eugenia Apostol and Betty Go-Belmonte, both pioneering journalists and publishers. Go-Belmonte would then launch another newspaper, the Philippine Star. Ressa’s former employer, TV network ABS-CBN, is led by CEO Charo Santos-Concio, a soap actress.

Ressa herself owes a debt of gratitude to Cheche Lazaro, whose Probe series established investigative TV documentaries as a viable genre. Newly transplanted from the US in the 1980s, Ressa lived in the Lazaro household for two years before finding a place of her own in Manila.

A little more than a year after it launched, Rappler finalised its management, which currently includes chairman Manny Ayala, an old colleague from Ressa’s days in production and filmmaking. Ressa herself is president, CEO, and executive editor. Gloria is the vice-president and managing editor. Below them is an intricate assemblage of staffers.

Rappler’s mystique stems from Ressa being amazed by what Twitter was doing to the staid newstream during the naughties. It was addictive, mystifying, tearing at her bookish laser focus. She wondered aloud about how it affected a person’s neural circuitry.

“What I noticed was that the more I engaged on the Internet, the less I engaged in my own thoughts,” she says. “When your Blackberry buzzes or your Twitter tweets, it pulls your mind from whatever it’s doing. It also gives you a chemical buzz from dopamine, which apparently is highly addictive. We’ve become dopamine junkies!”

According to Ressa, the advent of social media has dramatically changed the news industry.

“Today, breaking news will come from someone in a neighbourhood or in the streets. The traditional news people will come in afterwards,” she says. “The other day the LRT [transport system] stopped. The passengers had to go down and walk [and] there wasn’t a journalist among them. Or the collapse of the ceiling in Cebu in the Ayala cinema… The breaking news now is from the people who live there. Then the journalists come in and provide context it for it and tease it into a larger story.”

Another factor that immediately separated Rappler from its competitors was its pioneering use of a ‘mood meter,’ a basic but effective feature on all online articles that gauges the reader’s feelings toward content.

“So many studies show that 80% of the decisions people make in their lives are based on what they feel, on their emotions,” Ressa says. “It’s true in real life. The internet only magnifies it.”

Apparently, the same dynamics behind attracting share-worthy content is a sweet deal for advertisers, and this is Rappler’s secret weapon.

Ressa pulls out her laptop, a weathered MacBook, and reveals reach-social.com, or Reach for short. It is also run by Ressa and her Rappler colleagues.

Reach provides an interactive map for tracking social media influencers and their connections in real-time. “We’re using the same technology that was used to map the Arab Spring and then translate it in a way that can be used for digital marketing,” Ressa explains. “This is how we monetise.”

Ressa credits the treasurer and marketing head Carla Yap-Sy Su for overseeing Rappler’s bottom line. And yes, there is a bottom line. Corporate advertisers can pay for sponsored posts and banners. But with Reach, Rappler can go farther without selling out to ‘the Man’ and his vested interests.

“I think we have the business model that this entire news industry is looking for,” she admits. “For traditional media the growth curve is linear. Right now in the US, it’s declining. But if you combine traditional media with tech, the growth curve is phenomenal,” he adds. “We’re growing by multiples of a hundred – compared to the double digit growth on TV.”

Rappler is primed for a new market, Indonesia, with a mix of English and Bahasa content. It’s a development that recalls Ressa’s former life as a correspondent in Jakarta for several years.

“That’s why travelling and physically moving house every now and then is essential,” Ressa once reflected on her website in 2011. “Too often, as we get older, we stop really looking, stop really listening, stop living in the moment.”

Move.PH is pleased to invite the media, students, teachers and civil society organizations in Baguio and Cordillera to attend the chat session “Social Media for the Environment” to be held in UP Baguio on September 28. 

RSVP: Facebook Event (Indicate you’re “attending”)

Telephone numbers:
UPB College of Social Science (CSS): (074) 442-2427

UPB College of Arts and Communication (CAC): (074) 444-8393 

Like Move.PH on facebook!

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Fiasco in Basilan

Sharing something from Maria A. Ressa, which details the events which led to the massacre of 19 soldiers in Basilan. Ressa is an Author-in-Residence & Senior Fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research, RSIS

In the first two hours, the report said the troops “were in control of the situation” until reinforcements from “the MILF ATS, MNLF community and ASG stronghold” arrived on motorcycles.

It deteriorated rapidly from that point on because of several fatal mistakes:

1. The operations were “planned unilaterally” by Lt. Col. Leo Pena, commander of the 4th Special Forces Batallion.  According to another classified document, there was “little coordination” with the 13th & 19th Special Forces Commands as well as the students of Scuba Class Nr 42. The planning also bypassed the area commander, a serious breach of protocol. This is important because it meant troops who may have helped in the battle were unprepared. Sources say Pena is a bright, ambitious young officer.

2. This is the first time many of these soldiers fought in Basilan, most of whom had no combat experience. It was positioned as a training exercise for the students of Scuba Class Nr 42. This is also the first time the 4th Special Forces Batallion fought as a territorial unit.

This partly explains why the troops underestimated their enemy. They were unaware of two common practices Basilan veterans would have anticipated. The first is “Pasa Bilis” – the area’s quick information dissemination. As soldiers move, members of the community sympathetic to the Abu Sayyaf and the MILF text their location and other information. The second is known as “Pintakasi” – when civilians join the fight against a common enemy - the military.  One intelligence source said, “this is our version of Black Hawk Down.

3. After “more than 8 hours of continuous fighting,” 4 of the 6 officers were killed. Most of the remaining soldiers were young and inexperienced, with the rank of Private First Class (PFC).

4. The 9th Field Artillery Battalion “responded late and failed to hit the target” while air support “arrived almost six hours late.”

5. The soldiers had no help. No reinforcements arrived. During the planning, members of the 13th Special Forces Command asked for more troops, but it was denied “because of the nature of the operation that is Special Reconnaissance Direct Action (SRDA) Exercise through water infiltration.”

The classified report concluded that “SRDA type of operation is not suitable” for Basilan’s terrain and enemy conditions, and that “the exercises should have been done in a controlled situation.”

This is the 6th battle between the military and the Abu Sayyaf/MILF in Al-Barka since January 2011.

The report concludes “there is strong indication that Al-Barka residents are peripheral members of the rebels, as seen from the quick reinforcements of rebel support at the encounter sites.”

So who is to blame?

Read more…

To read more, click on the links above.

The facts contained and presented here are also the same facts that I have been getting from Mindanao-based journalists. And the journos from the Land of Promise have been posting bits and pieces of these facts on the Facebook accounts, blogs and public forums.

The problem though is not that journalists from Mindanao have failed to share what they know, it’s just that people from the Capital and nearby areas refuse to read, much more understand, what really happened.

To quote Ressa again on the same article: “the calls for war come ‘from those who do not have a full awareness of all the factors at play.’”

Think!

PNoy and the Power Distance Index

Great read by the unkabogable Maria Ressa:

According to multiple sources from the ground to the top of our security hierarchy, this was NOT a credible threat, but the attitude seemed to be to let the President have his way. After all, he’s the President. One source said, “Pabayaan mo na siya, Maria. Eh, siya naman ang Presidente.”

More here

The Power Distance Index in the Philippines is probably why I find life as a fresh (well, it’s been 10 months) graduate difficult (at times). It’s probably also why my father freaks out whenever I disagree with his views/decisions. 

“Don’t talk back to me!”

Bah, humbug. 

Journalists In Asia Unite!

This weekend is the New Now Next (N3) conference put on by AAJA Asia, a chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association. (Above, L to R: AP Tokyo Bureau Chief Ken Moritsugu, New York Times Chinese Edition Editor-in-Chief Ching Ching Ni,  Institutional Investor’s Asia Bureau Chief Allen Cheng and Reuters’ Seoul Bureau Chief Tony Munroe, talking about what diversity means among Asians.)

I’ve been involved with AAJA since I joined as a 10th grader in Texas. AAJA is an organization formed to help journalists in their careers, but it has actually made a big difference in my life. It’s through AAJA that I met my best friend, and he later introduced me to my husband. Thanks, AAJA.

Anyway. So this afternoon I joined VOA’s Southeast Asia Bureau Chief Steve Herman and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa (seen tweeting behind me there) to talk about how we think about social media strategy. It was awesome to learn from these folks and hear what they had to say. I hope there’s video from the session, since there were lots of cameras that appeared to be recording. But in the meantime I shared my slides, though sadly the animated gifs don’t work in the shared version.

Unfortunately I missed a lot of panels I really wanted to see; one on state-controlled media that’s so noticeable in this neck of the world, another on women leadership and the late afternoon panel on K-pop!

It’s so great to listen how these journalists are thinking of KPOP and K-wave in S.#Korea. #n3con pic.twitter.com/gSs26XFCIz

— Jaehwan Cho 조재환 (@hohocho)

May 23, 2015

Meeting Maria Ressa and 3 Other Great Takeaways from the Social Good Summit

I attended the Social Good Summit yesterday, and it was totally fabbo. So worth skipping my usual Saturday afternoon of pure sloth. And I’m not saying this just because Maria Ressa used some of my drawings as visual aids in her presentations.

 

Yeah I tried to act cool when that happened.. you know, all “Oh hey, my drawings are up there and Maria Ressa’s talking about my blog… happens all the time..” but inside I was DOING CARTWHEELS!

Kind of like when I finally met her after the Summit and she said she liked my blog:

Yeah, right, whatevs with the graceful and slightly sheepish “Thanks.” This was my actual response inside my head…

Because Maria is AWESOME! So intelligent and and inspiring, and just bouncing with pep and positivity. (They should seriously consider naming an energy drink after her, I swear.)

But okay, enough of that.. because like I said, there was so much more to the Summit than my cartwheels and fan-girling.

I’m sure that much will be written by others about all the great points discussed by the excellent speakers at the Social Good Summit. I can’t possibly write (much less DRAW) them all, so I’ll stick to the three that really stayed with me. 

1. Say NO to cyber-bullying. - Chris Lao

I was really inspired by Chris Lao, who became one of the Philippines’ most famous victims of cyber-bullying because of an unfortunate incident involving his car and a flood last year. I nearly cried when he talked about his (& other victims’) experiences.

I honestly don’t think we realize how much damage we can actually do to a person’s spirit every time we jump on the internet-mob bandwagon and start letting loose on the latest target (whether we think he deserves it or not). It’s terrible. 

What really struck me about Chris was that as much as he suffered, he didn’t let the cyber-bullies kill HIS spirit.

Since then, he’s had a baby, passed the bar exams and has starred in a bank commercial, reenacting scenes from that infamous viral video. Chris is a living example of the good and bad that can come out of social media – he’s used the Internet to turn the tables on his misfortune and is now the poster boy of one of his advocacies, the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill.  - Rappler

Bravo, Chris. I love that dude. Even if when we had a chat, he insisted on calling me “Ma'am.”

And not in an “I call every woman ‘Ma'am’” type of way. It seemed like more of a “You’re pretty old so I’m being respectful, MA'AM”… Like I was MIDDLE-AGED or something…

But he’s cool. So I forgive him. And wholeheartedly join his stance against cyber-bullying because IT SUCKS and we should quit it. 

2. Bashers keep the balance. Be nice. - Bianca Gonzalez

SuperBianca is super. She really is. She shared 10 different Twitter to-do’s - all of which were really positive, full of sensitivity and sense - but I was most struck by her attitude toward her bashers. 

She doesn’t block them, and when she can, she responds with kindness – because she thinks they keep her grounded and real. And you know what? It works. She’s one of the nicest, most down-to-earth celebs I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. (We met in the bathroom, btw.)

It wasn’t awkward AT ALL. 

3. Turn the tables on adversity, and rise above. - Tim Yap

Okay fine, those weren’t his exact words. Here’s what he actually said, which was cooler.

I think Tim Yap - who shared his own experiences with bullies and bashers - wrapped the first two takeaways up pretty nicely (albeit in a bag of poo). What he said (and maybe how he said it) really resonated with me, and it’s something I’d like to keep with me as I continue my journey on this crazy cyber-superhighway we all love so much.

Bad stuff happens – in life, and on social media. Turn it into good. 

And that, for me, is what the Social Good Summit was all about.

Thanks to all the speakers, and to the wonderful people at Rappler and Tweetup Manila for making it happen. You all rock. :)

Knowing better but doing worse

As much as I want to post the entire speech delivered by Maria Ressa in January last year entitled How Good People Turn Evil to a certain multinational company, I decided to just go with several excerpts where she strongly pinpointed the topic - as truncating her lengthy but substantially interesting speech would be a misdeed.

  1. Corruption is endemic. It infiltrates so many aspects of our lives. Influence-peddling is the name of the game. Conflicts of interest are all over the place. I found many Filipino organizations have a difficult time even defining what conflict of interest means. It’s too easy to rationalize particularly when it means more money or influence.
    Sometimes doing the wrong thing seems to be the only way to get ahead. I’ve heard so many Filipinos say that – particularly the street-savvy operators who are trying to get you to do the wrong thing!
  2. You have to find the courage to say no. You have to do what’s right – not just for your company, but for yourself. You have to find and set this line – a line you promise yourself you will never cross – because crossing that line means you’re turning from good to evil. It’s that simple. And you must make it that simple.
  3. Corrupt people don’t think they’re corrupt. Just like evil people don’t think they’re evil. Because getting there starts with one small step across a line.
    Once you take that first step and cross over, the succeeding steps become easier, and before you know it, you’re not just corrupt but are now corrupting others. This, for me, is like a reverse tipping point. You know the book by Malcolm Gladwell? The subtitle to the Tipping Point is How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. The idea is that it’s the little steps that begin the change that simmers beneath the surface until the system hits critical mass, the boiling point.
    When did we become endemically corrupt as a nation? The point when enough people took enough small steps to make it that way.
    We have to change it. How do we do that? By understanding how we got there. It starts with each person making a choice. Draw the line in the sand. Do not cross it.
    The most dangerous decision is that first one – when you move from being perfectly clean and idealistic … to being tempted … to wanting it… and then accepting it. Don’t do it. Once you do, it’s a slippery slope. Define that line and DO NOT CROSS it.
  4. There are some simple truths. The more you say no, the easier it becomes. The more you do the right thing, the harder it is to do the wrong thing. It’s a tipping point approach to building your identity.
  5. How do I define evil? I like the definition from a book I’d encourage everyone to read: THE LUCIFER EFFECT: HOW GOOD PEOPLE TURN EVIL by Philip Zimbardo. He did the famous Stanford Prison Experiment – when he took a group of ordinary students and put them in a mock prison, randomly assigning some as guards, others as prisoners. In less than a week, he had to stop the study when the `guards’ became increasingly sadistic and the `prisoners’ pathological. He analyzes these findings in the context of what American soldiers did in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons.
    It shows how situations – culture if you will – can make good people do bad things because they conform, comply, obey or are seduced by the circumstances. They join the group. They justify. They rationalize.
    These findings helped explain many things about Philippine society to me – endemic corruption and election violence, particularly heinous crimes like the Maguindanao massacre.
  6. Zimbardo gives evil a psychologically based definition: “Evil consists in intentionally behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy innocent others – or using one’s authority and systemic power to encourage or permit others to do so on your behalf.”

    He said evil is “knowing better but doing worse.

For full article, read here.

Rappler's Reader Request - & a Slight Case of Stage Fright

I got a surprising reader request recently…from Maria Ressa! :)

Needless to say I was extremely pleased…

…and her kind words about my blog led to another of my Maria-Ressa-induced mental cartwheels.

I honestly have no idea why I keep imagining myself doing cartwheels. I’d probably break an arm - or two - if I tried it in real life. 

So anyway, we’re sorting out the details, and I’m going to start blogging for Rappler twice a month to begin with. Yay!

I immediately sat down and started to list ideas for my blog posts… Woohoo! Let’s do this! …but after a couple of hours of brainstorming, I still had an empty list.

Oh good grief.

It was like the writer’s version of stage fright.

Horrors. 

Seriously. Until now… I got nothin’. 

I think the reason for this is that the whole time that I was trying to think of Rappler blog ideas, there was this separate soundtrack going on in my mind…

Woooo….Chi-nieee… Hey, Chinieeee…. Are you sure you want to do this? It’s a bigger audiencemore haters will find youuuumore people will click ANNOYED on that damn mood meter… 

And I recognized that voice. It belonged to my old nemesis - FEAR.

The concerns that my nemesis brought up were totally silly, of course. But they affected me just the same… Hence the stage fright. (I think. It’s also possible I just need nicotine. Whatever.)

The thing is, every awesome thing I’ve ever done in my life has always been accompanied by a confusing combo of excitement and fear. 

This one? Best decision EVER, btw. 

So I’m kind of used to it. And I WILL eventually get a couple of ideas for the Rappler blog, so I’m not too worried. But fear SUCKS just the same.

I think the trick to living a full and fulfilling life is to focus on the excitement and just face the fear head on. Don’t let it get in the way of going on to do something great. 

So whatever it is you might be wavering on right now - just GO FOR IT.  Let go of the thoughts of the things that can go wrong, and just let yourself fly.

And I’ll do the same. :)

Have a fearless day, folks!

youtube

In the Heights creator Lin Manuel Miranda talks to Rappler’s Maria Ressa on creating the Tony Award-winning show, the inspiration behind it, and his excitement about catching the Manila staging via theater production outfit Atlantis Productions.

This is Part One of the the video. You may also read Maria Ressa’s article on it on RAPPLER.COM

In the Heights runs from March 16-25, 2012 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza, Makati. For tickets, call Atlantis Productions at 892-7078 or 840-1187

MY ULTIMATE IDOL

Maria Ressa

Maria A. Ressa is a Filipino journalist, and author of Seeds of Terror, a book published by Free Press that contains blow-by-blow account of the hideouts of Al-Qaeda in Asia.

She served as the head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Department from 2004-2010. Before joining ABS-CBN, Ms. Ressa worked for Cable News Network (CNN) for nearly two decades, serving as Manila Bureau Chief from 1988–1995 and as Jakarta Bureau Chief from 1995-2005. She traveled extensively and reported from her base in Southeast Asia as well asIndiaPakistanChinaSouth KoreaJapanAustralia and the United States. As CNN’s lead investigative reporter in Asia, she specialized in investigating terrorist networks.Videotapes of her coverage of terrorism were found in what experts believe to be Osama bin Laden’s private videotape collection in Afghanistan.

Ms. Ressa graduated from Princeton University. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to the Philippines in 1986, where she attended graduate school at the University of the Philippines. Among the awards she has received are the Overseas Press Club Award for Best Documentary, the National Headliner Award for Investigative Journalism, an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, the Asian Television Awards, TOWNS – Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service and TOYM. Ms Ressa taught broadcasting principles at the University of the Philippines, and at Princeton University, she designed and taught a course on Politics and the Press in Southeast Asia.

In an open letter dated October 11, 2010, Ressa noted that she will not renew her six-year contract with the said network, saying that “It’s time for me (her) to move on." [3] She is now an author-in-residence at The International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of Nanyang Technological University‘s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. Ressa and ICPVTR aims to come up with a book "on the terrorism threats in Asia, their connections to the global jihad and how governments are responding to these evolving threats.” The book’s release is expected to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

In late 2010, Esquire magazine hailed Ressa as the Philippines’ sexiest woman alive, citing her fearlessness in writing an eyewitness account of Al Qaeda “despite her size." She has her own website and has contributed write-ups for CNN.com and Wall Street Journal.

*Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Ressa
4

I’ve been in Manila for two days now and it’s been a great couple of days. :)

My school is attending this national summit called Write Tool. I’ll just give you a gist of what Write Tool is about: It is a training program for young journalists formed back in 2007 as the need for quality instruction intensified. Instead of training that was contest-centered, it was decided that it would be the type of training that focused on excellence and ethics. The Write Tool Program, Caravan, and National Summit aims to mold campus journalits’ values and skills while they are still young. There are talks, workshops, and assessment tests held throughout the summit. The speakers and lecturers include the country’s finest journalists.

Our school joined the Write Tool National Caravan - Davao Leg back in January and though I’ve been in campus journalism for a long time, I was shocked at how informative the whole event was. Usually, journalism trainings would prove to be redundant and bland but Write Tool gave fresh approaches to writing, helpful tips, and inspired me. The talks were more than just about technicalities, they stressed that we, writers, have a crucial role to our society. Since then, I promised myself that I would do my best to uphold that role and when I heard about the National Summit to be held in Manila, my schoolmates and I were ecstatic.

Today, February 23, was the first day of the summit. We started the day early, waking up at about 5 AM. We went to DLS-CSB and when we got there, we were told the School of Design and Arts was another building and we walked through Taft looking for it (Haha, tourists). When we got there, it was a beautiful site and my excitement grew. We heard about the program and I was just euphoric when we were told Maria Ressa and Charie Villa would be there. I’m a huge fan of their work. My mother is a news geek and she loves them both. She told me that I should take a picture with both of them as a souvenir to her. Moms. :)) Anyway, I didn’t know what to expect from them and the other well-known speakers, because I’d only ever seen them on the internet and on TV but I knew it was going to be awesome. And I was right. :)

READ ABOUT THE LECTURES HERE.

January 12, 2012

Rappler, held a symposium today at school to discuss about Social Media for Social Change. The speakers were some of their top-notch journalists. 

Patricia Evangelista

and guess who..

Yes! It’s The Maria Ressa!

A very nice person I must say. Just by looking at her, you’ll know already that she really is smart! (she’s using my cocka-doodle-doo pen!)

Cathrene, Danah, Starly & Willy.

Other speakers were Veronica Pedrosa, a Filipina, a reporter in Al Jazeera English and Natashya Gutierrez, also a Filipina, a multimedia reporter of Rappler. They too were amazing. 

And just when she was about to leave.. (fan mode = ON!) (told you she was nice!) This was took by my “SHY” friend Alexa.

“Silence is consent. To see it and not say anything means it’s okay with you” - Patricia Evangelista

Social media starts in everyone of us. Now is the time that we should take a stand for everything that surrounds us. Let’s make a change!