Adam David, writer and champion of indie publishing in the Philippines, in an on/offline conversation* with Miguel Syjuco, author of the prize-winning Ilustrado, said something about the conceitedness of writers; that writers, “should make claims;” that they “should assume the right of making others think” (2010).
As we celebrate the 82nd anniversary of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, the oldest and widest alliance of school publications in the Asia-Pacific, we shall continue doing an engaged kind of writing that is born out of our concrete experiences in our immediate communities and shall be useful in molding these communities for the better.
CEGP’s 82 years of history is a testament not only of its relevance but also of its potency. From the Guild’s positioned documentation of the Japanese occupation during the World War II, the massive uprisings popularly tagged as the First Quarter Storm antedating the Martial Law that tried desperately to quell these displays of dissent, the ruinous passing of the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, every instance of Tuition and Other Fees Increase in schools and every instance of the violation of the freedom of the Campus Press, the Guild has shown that writing is an act of making choices, that writing is an act of taking sides.
At the present, we continue being conceited and through our pen, provoke others; if not make them act on certain issues. From the issues of Cybercrime Law, the achievements of our schools, Tuition and Other Fees increases, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey among others, we continued writing and in the process of choosing our topics, angling and delivering them, we took sides and advance certain positions ideally for the interests of the students who are our primary publishers.
This we have done despite the generally uninviting and challenging setting where we operate. During the Guild’s National Convention at Cebu last April, there were 230 documented cases of Campus Press Freedom Violations, with administrative intervention and withholding of funds as the principal cases.
In Baguio-Benguet, the case of Loquitur’s adviser being terminated in her position is the most recent effect of a repressive system that spoils the students’ interests. Without properly consulting the staff members of the Loquitur, the official student publication of the King’s College of the Philippines, the Administration of the school informed the adviser that her “position as adviser will expire on May 30, 2013.” Installing a new adviser without the recommendations of the Loquitur staff, the Administration is also now requiring the student publication to submit to them the final draft of their newspapers before these can be printed.
The libel case of the former Editor-in-Chief of UPB Outcrop continues up to now and gives distress to the former EIC who is also still a student. Most of the school publications in Baguio-Benguet also need to undergo the process of accreditation every year whereas as student institutions, this should not be required of them. Aside from that, all student publications except the ones in Benguet State University do not take hold of their own funds and instead have to abide by the rigid and extremely bureaucratic process of paperworks needed to make use of their funds when needed.
The repressive system, explicit or otherwise, where the campus press resides is a result of the conflicting interests found in this setting. As the mouthpiece of the students and protectors of their interests, the campus press needs to be silenced by powers-that-be in the academic institution most of the time. These violations of campus press freedom are only the most convenient ways by which those in power hinder the potentials of the campus press to record facts, document events and shape the opinion of the students. It is also not rare that the campus press has goaded its readers to act and oppose the existing order of things. This is the worst scenario the powers-that-be try to stave off by limiting the campus press.
But we are far from being deterred. The choice is wide open for us and we know the conditions that should guide this choice. We are members of the campus press, mainly funded by the studentry to which we also belong. We should be working for the interest, welfare of and discursive engagement with the students. Returning to David and Syjuco, we should make them think, we should make them listen to us in the same way that what we should write is relevant and useful to them. No amount of repression could be tantamount to stopping the campus press from fulfilling its duties – that is, choosing for the students, its main publisher, choosing for the students’ interests and concerns.
A long standing 82 years of history only shows how formidable the campus press has become. Together, we can look forward to more years of continued struggle for genuine campus press freedom and the welfare of the students and the Filipino people.
*this ‘conversation’ appeared in the 15th issue of Kritika Kultura, Ateneo de Manila Univesity’s refereed journal (254-276)
UPHOLD CAMPUS PRESS FREEDOM!
SCRAP JOURNALISM ACT OF 1991!
JUNK CYBERCRIME LAW!
PASS THE CAMPUS PRESS FREEDOM BILL!