#NSPC2018: John Nery encourages campus journos to keep on writing

Abigail Abigan

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#NSPC2018: John Nery encourages campus journos to keep on writing
"Choose, not just your battles, but your battleground," says Nery in the opening ceremony of the 2018 National Schools Press Conference

MANILA, Philippines — How can campus journalists hold the line and uphold the spirit of being a media practitioner?

Philippine Daily Inquirer Associate Editor John Nery strived to answer this during the opening ceremony of the 2018 National Schools Press Conference on Monday, February 19 at Dumaguete City where he used Dr. Jose Rizal as his guide when he talked about the intersection between journalism and nation building.

In addressing this question, Nery pointed out three topics in his speech – first, Rizal and ASEAN Integration; second, Rizal and inclusive education and; third, Rizal and (campus) journalism. In 2011, Nery’s “Revolutionary Spirit: Jose Rizal in Southeast Asia,” was published in Singapore and the Philippines to mark 150th birth anniversary of Rizal.

ASEAN integration and inclusive education 

When approaching the topic of ASEAN integration, Nery said that campus journalists can learn from Rizal and look into the common bonds that bind ASEAN countries: geography and misfortune. 

“We are neighbors because we live near each other, and because many of us suffered from a history of marginalization and colonization,” Nery said, encouraging students to report and write about other schools and students from other ASEAN countries too. 

Visa-less travel and budget airlines make inter-Asean visits much more possible, but in fact there is no need to leave our own campuses. We can Skype interviews, talk in Google Hangouts, organize virtual campaigns on Twitter, share each other’s Instagram accounts,” Nery added. 

Nery told the participants that it is the role of schools and universities to look for other men and women with honor in other ASEAN countries to help foster genuine integration among the nations.

How can ASEAN integration work in the Philippines when, in our own campus publications, there is almost zero mention of Indonesian environmental activists, Thai business majors, Malaysian scholars working in Singaporean universities?” he said.

Nery also reiterated that the case of inclusivity in education is one of the battles to rally behind, as this also reminded him how Rizal genuinely loved the Philippines.

As you grow older, you will hear the grown-ups say, ‘Choose your battles’ You will hear this more and more often, the more responsibilities in life you bear. As Rizal advised us: Choose, not just your battles, but your battleground,” Nery said.

According to Nery, someone from DepEd told him that it was also a battle cry of the department.

“The DepEd is now trying to address the voiceless, marginalized and disadvantaged learners by intensifying the different Flexible Learning Options (FLO) such as the Alternative Learning Systems (ALS), Special Education, Madrasah Education, Indigenous People’s Education, Open High School, Rural Farm Schools, Night High School and many more,” DepEd told Nery.

Inclusive education is when children, with or without disabilities, take classes together. DepEd thought of reaching out even to the farthest communities to give a high-quality, free and accessible education. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: The challenges of inclusive education)

“Let’s use our student newspapers not only as a loudspeaker for our campuses but also as a megaphone for our fellow citizens who live in nearby communities of risk,” Nery added.

Role of campus journalists

Nery looked back on how Rizal participated in the law-making process and the freedom to write about the true conditions in the Philippines defusing rising tensions in the Spanish colony.

“He lived his own advocacy. He wrote political tracts, analytical pieces, and the occasional review for Solidaridad; that is, he served for all intents and purposes as a journalist. As I have argued before: “In my view, much of Rizal’s work for “Soli” was in fact journalism: dedicated to the truth, concerned with public interest, verifiable and, above all, independent,” Nery said.

He stated that a true freedom of the press is always connected to the freedom of expression. It was needed to help create a moral men and women who can express their opinion, as an exercise in reason.

Nery suggested that schools should “use student newspapers not only as a hub for schools and universities, but also as a public square, a space to host voices of reason and conviction in our larger communities”

He also reminded student journalists to ignore those who have self-interest and just continue to write.

“Do not believe anyone, even those in authority or those who are close to you and have only your best interests in mind, who say to you: Wait until you graduate and live in the real world,” he said.

“The truth is: You are in the real world. Your concerns now — are important, and real, and shared in common with our neighbors in Southeast Asia, and they are worth writing about,” Nery said. “Keep on writing.” — Rappler.com


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Abigail Abigan

Abigail Abigan is community and civic engagement specialist under MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm.