Dispatch from Crame No. 434: Congratulations Maria Ressa! Salute to “The Guardians!”


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There are heroes among us. And though they may not wear capes, they do wield powerful weapons in the form of their words and their endless commitment to truth.

And these are the people that Time Magazine chose – very rightly – to honor as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year: a group of people that are simply labeled, “The Guardians,” i.e., the journalists who have been speaking truth to power, and who, as a result, have become victims of retaliation and suppression.

They face the scariest of villains for they are the most dangerous enemies of the public: the politically and economically powerful, who choose to wield their power and influence to subjugate the rest of humanity to further their own, already well-padded, interests. Mayayaman at makakapangyarihan na, nagpapayaman at naghahabol pa ng mas malawak at walang hanggang kapangyarihan. Vampires who greedily suck the lifeblood of society.

Yet these heroes continue to fight the good fight – even to the very end, literally – because they realize that they have the greatest of missions: to defend Truth, Freedom, Democracy and Humanity. They are the last stand of the ordinary people.

Yet, they are often never recognized. And, worse, they are rarely defended in return when they are the ones who need defending. But sometimes the people do take notice. Unfortunately, it takes the worst acts of oppression and suppression to get the people cheering for their heroes.

Of the four covers published to recognize these heroes, two covers, namely, the cover with Ms. Maria Ressa of Rappler and the Reuters journalists who exposed the slaughter of the Rohingya people, represent Defender of Truth who have been imprisoned or criminally charged for trumped-up charges that are intended to neutralize them; while the other two, namely, Mr. Jamal Khashoggi and the five journalists from the Maryland newspaper, The Capital, represent people who have been neutralized and silenced permanently.

Yet, that is the greatest weapon of these heroes: attempt to silence them, and their cause just becomes stronger. In the face of oppression and even death, their voices resonate even louder. More importantly, the stories they tell are now heard all over the globe.

It is a great honor to us Filipinos that Ms. Ressa has been recognized as among the bravest and effective of these heroes. It is an honor to us Filipinos, not just because she is one of us, but more importantly because she, along with her colleagues in Rappler, has been fighting for us.

She is not doing it for glory, or for money. She does it simply because the Filipinos deserve to know the truth.

She is, by any measure, a real “People’s Champ.”

Congratulations to Ms. Ressa! May you continue to fight the good fight. Someday the Filipino people will realize the debt it owes to every single honest-to-goodness journalist, who perseveres in bringing the Truth to the people, even at great personal expense. ###

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