Lhiera Nicole Trinidad and Reyza Bianca Ferranco

If there’s a silver lining for the Philippines’ gnawing Constitution, it would be the freedom of speech, expression, and the press. Yet, rumor has it – every cloud has a silver lining.

While guaranteed by the Constitution, the issue of media oppression is growing rampant in the Philippine landscape. In fact, according to the 2022 Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Philippines is the seventh most dangerous country in the world for journalists, with at least 13 murder cases that remain unsolved, and the deaths of radio commentators Renato Blanco and Percival Mabasa during the initial two months of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos' administration as an example.

I stared at the person sitting in front of me. Being prominent in the field and having been through a lot—verbal abuse, libel charges, and cyber-attacks, I made the decision to have an interview with Anna. As fearless as she is known to be, she covered stories regarding the ABS-CBN shutdown, palace vlogger accreditation, and former president Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs.

And the thought came to me: this woman in front of me—the woman I am picturing as strong and relentless—has experienced threats in multiple shapes and forms, and that is a clear manifestation of how significant journalism in society is. It is constantly threatened. 

Seemingly a silent hermit, one question lingers in the farthest reaches of my head.

“What makes her stay?”

Looking back at my questions, Anna answered them confidently. Her responses easily mirrored her fearlessness:

“Maria Ressa, founder of Rappler and Nobel Peace Prize winner was once asked during her Nobel Prize acceptance speech, ‘What are you willing to sacrifice for the truth?’  The question demanded a level of honesty and self-awareness that could not be answered easily, hence why it even took me a while before I was comfortable with my answer. 

Truth is the first casualty of war; yet what some fail to recognize is that just like the truth, journalists are, too. Treading a thin line as truth-tellers, we stand on the battlefield of havoc with the aim of uncovering the truth and delivering accurate reportage to the masses.

I have always viewed journalism as a double-edged sword, especially in today’s time. After all, it has the ability to empower facts and deceive, and having a full understanding of that reality was a vital part of how and why I continue to write now regardless of the dire state of our media landscape, which is often polarized and fractured. 

The state of journalism today is a complex and multifaceted issue, characterized by a confluence of factors that have led many to question the profession's future. With the amalgamation of the fact that several media people have strayed far from the real purpose of their profession, the shutdown of media outlets, the blocking of news sites, the infiltration of blind narratives, and the accreditation of vloggers, it is undeniable to say that although journalism is still a venerated profession to many, it is also seen as a dying field. 

Nevertheless, it serves as a loud call to fight back, to stand in line with the truth, and continue rebuilding the hallmark of democracy with the remnants of yesterday’s valor.  Our work is needed, now more than ever.

So, I write.

Fueled by ingenuity and mere guts, I write, and I write, and I write. I continue to do so as there are more sharp lines to put out, more lies to expose, more eyes to open, and a thousand more voices to amplify. Writing, for me, is an act of rebellion, a means of confronting and challenging the injustices that pervade our society. 

The information ecosystem in our country is clogged with propaganda, but I see it as all the more reason to sift through the noise and continue using our pens' prowess as a weapon to fight misinformation, violence, and hate, both in the digital space and in our communities. 

They say it takes integrity to be a writer, and so I believe that crafting truthful narratives is what I’m meant to do and what I know I can do in order to spark societal change. But in order to achieve this powerful change, it takes you too—to reassess what you can do for the nation and what you can willingly sacrifice for the truth.

Without a doubt, the role of journalists is imperative as it is the “lifeblood of a healthy democracy.” Being always on the lookout for relevant and latest events, they amplify the voices of minorities. Not only do they serve as watchdogs of society, but they deliver all facets of truth.

In the present day, whether through writing, art, social media, or marching on the streets, the quest for justice, freedom, and true democracy shall persist for as long as tyrannical and systemic forces reign over the masses.