St Scholastica's Sister Mary John calls journalists an 'endangered species'

MANILA, Philippines – Sister Mary John Mananzan of St Scholastica’s College on Wednesday, April 24, threw her support for journalists and media practitioners whom she said have become "an endangered species" under the Duterte administration.

Mananzan, the college's former president, spoke of the persecution and arrests of journalists in her opening remarks at the 13th Hildegarde Awards for Women in Media and Communication held in Malate, Manila. 

"In this administration, I think these journalists and these media practitioners who are socially-oriented and gender sensitive, I think they are an endangered species. You see that. How they are persecuted.... They are arrested, so all the more, they are needed in our time," she said.

"Because who will fight a creeping militarization? Who will fight against the growing tyranny? Who will have the courage to come out and protest or critique of what is happening in our government?" added Mananzan, St Scholastica’s Vice President for External Affairs and Director of the Institute of Women’s Studies.

She called on everyone to express "full support and our solidarity with these endangered species."

The Hildegarde Awards, named after 12th century Benedictine saint Hildegarde von Bingen, “were envisioned as a way through which women's ways of doing media can be documented over time so that these best practices can serve as models and duplicated by future media practitioners.” The 2019 edition awarded 8 recipients.

In her speech, Mananzan applauded the example of the awardees, women whose work she called "socially-oriented and gender-sensitive." She added that “fear is very contagious, but courage is more contagious.”

“I think they are inspiring so many people to also have courage, and to stand out and speak out against corruption, against all the injustices that we are experiencing in our times,” she said. 

IN SOLIDARITY. St. Scholastica College's Vice President of External Affairs and Director of the Institute of Women's Studies Sister Mary John Mananzan delivers the opening remarks at the 13th Hildegarde Awards in St. Scholastica's College on April 24, 2019.

It was not the first time Mananzan criticized the current government. In 2017, after a mass on the National Day of Protest, Mananzan was asked by reporters for her message to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Her answer was terse. "Can you please stop killing people? That is my message."

A long tradition 

The theme for this year’s Hildegarde Awards “recognizes women media practitioners who served and paved the way in improving the welfare of the youth.”

Documentary filmmaker and ICanServe Foundation, Incorporated co-founder Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala accepted the award for Development Communication for her work on cancer awareness.

She called on the audience to give Mananzan a standing ovation. “She is the endangered species in this endangered democracy,” Magsanoc said, smiling.

The audience at the school’s St Cecilia’s Auditorium rose to their feet to give the nun known for her martial law activism a resounding round of applause.

Rappler investigative reporter Patricia Evangelista, one of the awardees for Broadcast Journalism, received a second Hildegarde award after previously accepting the honor in 2012 for ANC documentary show “Storyline." 

In her acceptance speech, Evangelista spoke of Rappler’s reporting on the drug war, and the Philippines’ proud tradition of independent journalists. (READ: Some People Need Killing)

“I am honored to stand during here today,” Evangelista said, “with some of those women whose courage allowed my generation of reporters the right to call ourselves members of what was once the freest press in Asia.”

The other winners in the individual category are:

  • GMA Chief Marketing Officer Lizelle Maralag - Advertising
  • Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Executive Director
  • Melinda Quintos de Jesus - Print journalism

The winners in the institutional award category are:

  • CNN Philippines Junior - Broadcast Journalism
  • “She Talks Asia” - Development Communication
  • Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Read-Along - Print Journalism
  • TBWASantiago Mangada Puno - Advertising