CHINA CONSTRUCTS | Louise Nichole Logarta
Maria Ressa’s win is all over the internet. That’s no surprise. To say that the Nobel Peace Prize is a prestigious award is bordering on ‘understatement.’ The Nobel is, according to the 1895 will of Swedish founder Alfred Nobel, an award for those who “have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.”
Let that sink in for a minute. “The greatest benefit to humankind.” The greatest benefit for nearly eight billion people. Ressa and fellow awardee, Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, were recognized as benefiting humankind for keeping true to the purpose of their craft: to safeguard freedom of speech and deliver accurate information to the public.
In interviews, Ressa said that she offered this honor “for all journalists all over the world.” It was reported that she wished it would serve as a “shield” for journalists to be able to do their jobs without fear of attacks whether physical or online.
I tried to figure out what that meant to me, as a writer. But I also tried to figure out what that meant for me, a daughter of a family of journalists. My late grandmother was one as well as my aunts and both of my parents. That is their bread and butter.
I remember back in college, way back in the year 2009, the Maguindanao massacre occurred. Fifty-eight people, including journalists and media workers were killed by the Ampatuan clan, who ruled the area at the time. Any Google search will give you an idea of how bloody and ruthless that event was.
My father had given me one or a couple of black shirts with block letters in white: STOP KILLING JOURNALISTS! I had worn that to school several times. My father used to work in the National Press Club, and the thing I remember most on my visits to his office were framed black and white photos lining the wall. Photos snapped by photojournalists marking murders and various events. One was even a snapshot of Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption.
Journalism as a profession has never been easy. That has never been clearer than it is today, as evidenced by the harassment of Maria Ressa, let alone other journalists not only in the Philippines, but in nations with authoritarian governments.
I can only hope to live up to greater journalists and be worthy of the name.
Malacañang officials have tried to minimize Ressa’s win first by staying silent and then giving her congratulations bearing with it what the Rappler CEO called a ‘hit.’ (Spox Roque said that she still “has to clear her name before the courts.”)
Duterte supporters have likewise tried to do the same by saying that “press is alive and well” and none of that is thanks to Ressa. Others still, commented that she and her “Nobel rubbish” will be forgotten.
But after all is said and done, a win – big or small – is still a win.