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America and Philippine media

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In observance of the Filipino Heritage Month, I am resuming this column, “America in My Heart” to tackle subjects close to the hearts and minds of Filipinos, especially those in America.


In a way, this “resurrection” is ignited by a news report about the Plaridel Awards of the Philippine American Press Club (PAPC) in which my lawyer friend, Rodel Rodis, recounted the history of PAPC in which  all those founders were named, except me, then one of the editors of Manila Bulletin on study leave in US and later editor in chief of Philippine Examiner, the Northern California edition of California Examiner of Southern California which for a time was managed by the triumvirate of Oscar Jornacion, Art Madlaing and Roger Oriel. The report states: “In honor of the founding members of PAPC, Atty. Rodel Rodis, narrated the start of the erstwhile press club in 1988. Founding members were Willie Jurado, Dave Baquirin, Al Repato, Quezon Mangawang, Prudencio Europa, Lilia Andolong, Art Madlaing, Art Padua, George Nervez, Angelo Castro Sr., Rodel Rodis and George Bernal.” Ironically, weeks before the event, Rodel and I had exchanges of messages about the beginnings of the club in which names cropped.


The reason I may have been missed in the list, apart from senior moments, is that I returned to Manila after one year leave in the Manila Bulletin. But if my memory serves me right, the initial meetings of the founders at Tito Rey’s were spearheaded by Lilia Rianzares Andolong (partner of former NPC president Nereo Andolong), among others, when she learned that a member of the National Press Club of the Philippines – that’s me -  was in town. So old members of the NPC were invited and originally planned to form an NPC chapter in the Bay Area. Just like in the NPC Bar in Manila, Willie, a former general manager of the Manila International Airport, who was then publishing the newspaper “The Eye,” was boisterous in those meetings like Lilia, who we fondly called “Tiger.” Former defense reporter Dave, though towering over Willie, was silent but active, especially in dishing out his column “Mail From Washington.” Angelo, who was my poker classmate in the Malacanang Press Corps during the Marcos years (his brother was a Chief Justice), and later a court interpreter when he migrated to San Francisco, was at his element in those meetings just like Manong Art of Liwayway Magazine and Quezon of Manila Bulletin. George, former business editor of Evening Express and business reporter of Daily Express, was there, too, representing the Filipino Guardian.


 Realizing much later that there are others who are non-NPC members who are potential members, the group became the Philippine American Press Club.


The formation of the press club clearly showed that the Filipino journalists are active and Filipino publishing vibrant in America. During those years, the information technology revolution was taking its roots. Internet was not yet popular then as it is today and the cellular mobile telephone (CMT) or cellphone was so expensive as they were very big (Diamond Tel, Mitsubishi) and so were overseas calls. So the main source of news were the old Manila newspapers brought in by Philippine Airlines. The US publishing industry was then also slowly shifting from typesetting using big and expensive photo-based equipment like the Compugraphics which galleys you produced will still have to be cut and pasted into pages to what is known today as personal computers (PCs) where typesetting and layouting or pagemaking can be done with ease.


We were much luckier though than the early Filipino journalists in America like Pangasinan native Victorio Velasco and his brother who were based in Seattle, Washington like my grandfather Carlos Bulosan using mimeograph machines and the dirty, messy and slow letterpress. (More on the Velascos and in the succeeding columns).


In 1999, 10 years after I left San Francisco, I returned now as president of the National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines. On my way to Washington DC where I signed the first reciprocity agreement with the National Press Club in Washington, the most powerful and influential press club in the world, I installed the officers of affiliate clubs in Los Angeles and Southern California with Las Vegas, Chicago and the Midwest and San Francisco and Northern California. It was George Nervez of Filipino Guardian who headed the Philippine American Press Club officers who I inducted into office in the presence of seven other NPC officers and leaders like Melandrew Velasco, a book author and Philippines Today columnist. Then Consul General Amado Cortez was our guest of honor and speaker during that event.

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