Media and journalism issues

Red-tagger SMNI to get award… for ‘ethical journalism’?

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Red-tagger SMNI to get award… for ‘ethical journalism’?
The other story is the award-giving body, Asia Pacific Luminare Awards, which is said to have required at least one potential awardee – a veteran photojournalist – to shell out P15,000 for ‘registration’

Wait, are we still on the same planet? 

Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), notorious for red-tagging government critics, will get an award for… (drumroll) “ethical journalism,” according to a supposed award-giving body, the Asia Pacific Luminare Awards.

The awarding ceremony is scheduled for November 15 at the Grand Ballroom of the posh Okada Manila. We are still verifying with Okada Manila if this is true. In 2021 and 2022, SMNI journalists also received awards from Asia Pacific Luminare, which the network reported on their newscasts as expected.

The “Outstanding Broadcast Company in Ethical Journalism” award for SMNI went viral soon after the award-giving body posted it on Facebook. It immediately drew flak from many social media users. The last time we were able to access the post was around noon on Thursday, November 2.

Curiously, the Facebook post is now either hidden or deleted.


We have many stories why SMNI, owned by the “appointed Son of God” who is now wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for alleged labor trafficking, can never be the paragon of “ethical journalism.” In the first place, they are not journalists – but rather the propaganda arm of a church with close ties to the government, especially under Rodrigo Duterte. (Whatever happened to “watchdogs” of people in power?)

They red-tag journalists, too. 

In May, the Commission on Human Rights said it was “gravely alarmed” after SMNI hosts red-tagged the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and its chairperson, Jonathan de Santos. SMNI hosts also red-tagged broadcast journalist Atom Araullo – who, in September, filed a P2-million ($35,500) damage suit to hold them accountable

Read more in this Rappler investigation: “Quiboloy’s SMNI fuels disinformation, online attacks on gov’t critics.”

For more on SMNI’s owner, the “FBI most wanted” Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, read the Rappler investigative reports below:

A closer look at the award-giving body

Now here’s the other story: the award-giving body, Asia Pacific Luminare Awards.

According to the organization’s Facebook page, it is “an organization that search (sic) for the best of the best individuals.” Its address is listed as “Blk 26, Lot 12, Nickel St, Platinumville, San Nicolas 3.” Their page has 27,000 likes and 36,000 followers. The group also has an email address and a website, which is inaccessible.

Rappler counted the number of awardees posted on their Facebook page, and we found that the group will recognize at least 180 individuals and groups on November 15. The group posted the names and photos of the awardees on a rolling basis, in a span of more than four months starting June 21. 

The awardees are a mix of ordinary Filipinos and at least three celebrities – Janno Gibbs, Geneva Cruz, and Vina Morales. 

One teacher, who holds the rank of “associate professor I,” is getting the award for “Asia Pacific Most Inspiring, Dedicated, and Outstanding Associate Professor of the Year.” One other educator, a “teacher I,” is “Asia’s Multi-awarded, Remarkable Professional Teacher, and Most Inspiring International Educator of the Year.”

A Bureau of Corrections officer with the rank of CO1 is recognized as “Asia’s Most Inspiring Educator, Outstanding Junior Non-Commissioned Corrections Officer, and Most Notable Public Servant of the Year” at the Asia Pacific Luminare Awards.

Veteran photojournalist Jimmy Domingo told Rappler on Friday, November 3, that he once pretended he was interested in the awards handed by the organization, so he sent a message to its Facebook group. The group had piqued his interest after a teacher told him about it. 

Domingo also shared this experience in a now-viral Facebook post on Wednesday, November 1.

P15,000 for ‘registration’?

The photojournalist said that in mid-February this year, he asked Asia Pacific Luminare Awards about their criteria, after which he sent his résumé. The group responded on February 20 that “based sa info mo qualified naman po kayo to be given a recognition (based on your information, you are qualified to be given a recognition).”

But here’s the catch – he needed to pay a registration fee of P15,000 ($267) to cover the costs of a dinner, an “elegant lei,” a glass plaque, a framed certificate, an Okada VIP card, and “photo and video coverage (by) SMNI and other media.” The deadline for payment was May 5.

So, if there are at least 180 awardees willing to pay around P15,000 each… do the math.

Check out the screenshots provided by Domingo to Rappler on Friday:

Electronics, Mobile Phone, Phone
Text, File, Electronics

Rappler reached out to Asia Pacific Luminare Awards for comment via Messenger and email on Thursday night, November 2, and followed up on Friday, but the organization has not responded as of posting time.

In a Facebook post on Friday morning, however, the company behind Asia Pacific Luminare Awards said they “operate on a legal basis” and defended their practice of charging registration fees.

Royal Creative Events Management, which runs the awards, said they are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under Registration No. 202030090399-44 with TIN 623-815-660-0000.

“For every event that is held, there will always be costs involved such as the registration fees, payment for the dinner of the awardee, and the other amenities that go with the award itself. No award-giving body or event would not be able (sic) to exist or operate without having to entail any corresponding costs at all,” said Royal Creative Events Management.

The company said it has “served as an inspiring venue for its awardees” and “has also helped many charities” through its earnings. 

“We would like to assure our clients and our prospective awardees that we do operate on a legal basis and whoever it is that is spreading unpleasant or false facts or impressions about our company surely does not have its best interest in mind and whose only aim is to destroy our integrity and credibility,” Royal Creative Events Management said.

Do you have family or friends who received awards from them? Let us know!

And, as a general rule: be careful! –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    Well, they say that “birds of the same feather flock together.” The virgin-eating eagle of Davao City has found a friend here at the NCR: The money-eating eagle of Awards.

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email