Press Freedom within the Campus

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Saturday, July 30, 2011


CAMPUS journalism used to be a training ground of students taking up communication courses and other related fields like Arts and Letters and Bachelor of Arts (AB).

But the Education department (then Department of Education, Culture and Sports or DECS) decided to incorporate journalism in the curriculum of other courses and even secondary and elementary students.

Because of this, Republic Act (RA)7079, otherwise known as the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, was enacted. It is an act providing for the development and promotion of campus journalism and for other purposes.
This law guarantees press freedom within the campus and students may independently print journals and air statement over campus radios.

Section 2 of RA 7079 states that it is declared policy of the State to uphold and protect the freedom of the press even at the campus level and to promote the development and growth of campus journalism as a means of strengthening ethical values, encouraging critical and creative thinking, and developing moral character and personal discipline of the Filipino youth.

At the Holy Angel University in Angeles City, student writers are enjoying press freedom. Robby Tantingco, dean of the Student Affairs Office, said the school administration respects and observes the Campus Journalism Law and press freedom.

Starting this school year, officers and members of the school paper, "The Angelite," were given a hand in collecting publication fee from students amounting to P65 each, according to Tantingco.

He said part of the training of student-writers is the challenge of marketing their paper just like in the real world.

Tantingco said the school gives no subsidy to campus papers including other publications in various colleges and departments.

Each of the seven colleges has its own paper and office, too. The HAU high school department and elementary level also have their own publication --- "The Angelian" and "The Angel Wings", respectively.

Cindy Sicat, University Editor of Angelite, lamented that they were surprised by the sudden decision of the school to delegate the collection to the Angelite staff.

She disclosed that they have only collected 50 percent of the projected P1 million total collections as of last week.

If they fail to collect the whole amount, they will be forced to suspend other programs and avoid other expenses including meals.

Angelite comes out twice every semester, according to Sicat.

Sun.Star Pampanga columnist Noel Tulabut, meanwhile, has a different story to tell.

As an aspiring writer-journalist then, Tulabut envied people (co-students, friends, relatives) who had by-lines in publications.

"At school, I wished I had my articles printed regularly in 'The Pioneer,' the official publication of AUF," he said.

Tulabut tried out for the qualifying exams for the publication but he was not lucky enough to become part of it. "And so what I did was to contribute articles the editorial staff accepted."

As Mass Communications student, landing an article on any publication and on whatever capacity was a must for Tulabut. "It was sort of a feather in the cap for me," he said.

"I remember contributing an article about Karl Marx and communism, an article where I delved into the background of Marx from his childhood days. Not that I was a rightist or leaning towards them, the article was also an attempt of how communism was anti faith, anti-religion and anti-God.

"It was contributed at a time of Cory administration where the impression then was that Malacañang was leaning towards communists and armed group the New People's Army. I thought that the article would help bring about enlightenment about the evils of what Karl Marx has espoused and the revolution that it entails.

"Of course, writing the article was painstaking for me. It took a lot of reading especially at a time when student writers have to depend on print materials as there was no internet then. The article was biased towards people who have the Christian faith.

"How it felt when the article came out? I took 20 copies of the Pioneer and showed it before everyone I had the chance to brag about it," he recounted.

According to Jesus Valenzuela in the History of Journalism in the Philippine Islands (1933) and John Lent in the Philippine Mass Communication (1964), the history of campus journalism in the Philippines started when the University of Santo Tomas published "El Liliputiense" in 1890.

However, Oscar Manalo, Narciso Matienzo, and Virgilio Monteloyola in Ang Pamahayagan (1985) argued that the history of campus journalism in the country started when the University of the Philippines published "The College Folio", now "The Philippine Collegian", in 1910. They also added that "The Torch" of the Philippine Normal University, "The Guidon" of the Ateneo de Manila University, and "The Varsitarian" of the University of Santo Tomas were also published two years later.

Whatever came first, Carlos Romulo y Peña edited "The Coconut", the official student publication of the Manila High School, now the Araullo High School. It was published in 1912 and it is now considered the first and oldest high school newspaper in the country.

In 1923, La Union High School in the Ilocos Region published "The La Union Tab," the first printed and regularly issued high school newspaper in the country. Since then, high school newspapers came out one after the other.
Among these high school newspapers were "The Pampangan," Pampanga High School, 1925; "The Leytean," Leyte High School, 1925; "The Rizalian," Rizal High School, 1926; "The Coconut," Tayabas High School, 1927; "The Volcano," Batangas High School, 1927; "The Toil," La Union Trade School, 1928; "The Samarinian," Samar High School, 1928; "The Melting Pot," Tarlac High School, 1929; "The Granary," Nueva Ecija High School, 1929; "The Torres Torch," Torres High School, 1930; and "The Cagayan Student Chronicle," Cagayan High School, 1931.

In 1931, 30 out of 106 high schools in the country had campus newspapers registered at the Bureau of Public Schools. In 1950, this number increased to 169; by 1954, to 253; by 1975, to 500; and by 1986, to more than 900 newspapers in English and in Filipino.

Source: A brief History of Campus Journalism in the Philippines by Alixander Haban Escote in History, August 28, 2008

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 31, 2011.

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