Archive for the J117 Articles Category

Promoting a Love for Reading

Posted in J117 Articles on October 12, 2010 by mariafatimareyes

N.B. This article was originally published in UPIU on September 25. Click here to view the original post.

During a critique session, the evaluator said that the article had no problems with grammar and syntax but could be further improved by using subheads to break different parts of the story. The class noted that the article would be better if the author interviewed other sources. The evaluator said that the direct quote used as lead was not that enlightening but was in-line with the theme of the story. The class professor noted that the article was neutral and not biased.

UPIU mentor Tim Maier said that the article was a good start on a profile of a retired teacher. However, the story could be further improved by interviews from other sources. He also noted that it is better to avoid starting a story with a direct quote.

Although some parts of the article have been revised for this site, there are still no added information from other sources. The author tried to interview other sources but unfortunately, none of them were available as of the time this article was posted on this site. However, the author will see to it that necessary changes be made once she is able to get interviews from her sources.

Make every Filipino child a reader.

To some, these words might mean a seemingly impossible task. But to Patria Cordero, these words serve as a mission and service to her country and her people.

Cordero is a retired Filipina English professor who has dedicated her life to developing a “love for reading” among Filipino children and training Filipino teachers across the Philippines. As a child, she was fascinated by her father’s love for newspapers, books, and literature. Her father wanted her to be a doctor but her early experiences with reading books fueled her determination to be a reading and language teacher.

“I started to love books, reading, and interacting with other people based on the materials I read,” she said. “I just became addicted to it.”

Cordero believes that it is important for every child to appreciate reading as an “essential fact of life.” She says that reading and good vocabulary and language skills are fundamental tools that make it easier for students to go through different subjects in school and allow them to develop critical thinking skills.

“The early objective would be first to equip students with vocabulary and language skills and then give them reading comprehension exercises so that given a variety of reading materials, they can get meaning and put meaning into the written page,” she said.

Poverty and literacy in the country

As a former director and past-president of the Reading Association of the Philippines, Cordero stresses that there is a need to realize the importance of improving the status of literacy in the overall progress of the country.

Her past positions with the organization gave her the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the country and made her see the problems faced by public schools in remote and far-flung areas in addressing the need to promote a “culture of reading.”

She said that poverty remains to be one of the greatest difficulties. She emphasized that limited reading materials and limited exposure to reading activities cause students to “struggle with their language and with their understanding of the printed page.”

“In some of the provinces I’ve visited, the ratio is one book to three or four children,” she said.

She said that there are attempts made by the Department of Education to provide books but she thinks that these are still insufficient as teachers continue to clamor for more books to be used in their respective classrooms.

“The ones that we really need to help are those in the poverty line,” she said. “We have to give full assistance in terms of materials and added experiences to allow the students to appreciate reading.”

Rigid training for teachers

Cordero’s desire to share her reading experiences and to persuade others to read led her to conduct seminar workshops to teachers across the country and to organize conventions aimed at improving reading programs and teaching procedures and techniques.

She emphasized the need for adequate and rigid training for reading teachers. She said that for teachers to motivate students to read, they should have the know-how of how reading can best be done and implemented in the classroom.

“Teachers should be at home with the subject and should have the disposition to give creative questions and activities so that students will not think of reading only as a mental activity, but something that is fun doing and something that will allow them to understand their society,” she said.

She added that principals, supervisors, and heads of schools should monitor what the teacher does in the classroom so that they will be able to provide them with new techniques and new approaches to reading.

She also said that the government should continue to implement policies and assist teachers in their needs. “They have to give support to the teachers so that even without major conventions, they get out of their way to improve themselves and be readers themselves,” she said.

Promoting Reading in different communities

Her busy schedules did not stop her from being a reader advocate in her own community. She was known for organizing a project called Story Telling Time, where-in she and a ladies circle committee, together with books provided by the municipal government, gave drama teaching and reading sessions for children.

“On special occasions like Halloween, the beginning of the school year, during summer, and in December, we give reading activities for children to keep them busy,” she said. “We offer them something they will enjoy.”

She was also known for conducting special reading sessions in depressed areas where she invited children who were not able to go to formal school.

“They think that it’s just singing, or acting, or reciting nursery rhymes but actually it is a preparation for them to love reading,” she said.

Good feedback from her students gives her hope for the future and confidence in the youth. She says that when the kids come back for the next sessions, they are more articulate and they would volunteer to do the action rhymes and recite poems for newcomers.

“That’s a way of making them show how they used their experience with us and how it is important for them to keep on reading,” she said.

Cordero said that she likes to end her seminars by saying: “Teaching is an honor, a joy, and a privilege. The teacher can do nothing but give her very best.” With her contributions to literacy and reading in the Philippines, she has proved herself as a pioneer reading teacher of the country.


From an online shopaholic to an online entrepreneur

Posted in J117 Articles on October 10, 2010 by mariafatimareyes

N.B. This article was originally published in UPIU on September 15. Click here to view the original post.

The evaluator said that the article was well-written and that it’s light tone was maintained up until the last sentence. The evaluator personally liked the concept as it is related to the class course. The four links were relevant to the article because they give readers an idea as to how online shops work. It is good that the article was complemented with a photo of the featured person. Although the article is an easy read because it has a continuous flow, it would be better to use subheads to aid readers.

UPIU mentor Brendan Smith commented that the article was well-written and interesting but it sounded too much like the author was promoting a business rather than writing a feature article. He suggested different ways by which the author could improve the article. He said that the article could not be published by UPI because it did not have a broad appeal to readers beyond the Philippines but that did not mean that it was not a good article. He said that it could be a nice story that the author might be able to get published in a newspaper or web site in the Philippines.

Melanie Entuna strikes a pose wearing a 2-toned black-purple bubble dress. (Photos courtesy of

It all started with her need for money and her love for fashion.

This was how Melanie Entuna, a 21-year old Broadcast Communication student at the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD), came up with the F-Stop Fashion Shop.

“When my family started having financial problems, I realized that I needed a source of income that would lessen my parents’ burdens of having to pay for my own expenses,” she shared.

Since Melanie was an online shopaholic, she decided to try her luck in the world of online business. Initially, F-Stop was supposed to be a joint venture with her friend Rona Bungay, but Rona had to migrate to the United States so she was left to deal with the business on her own.

Melanie’s online fashion shop first sold brand new pre-order clothes, accessories, shoes, and bags from Korea and Japan. She contacted an international site which provided her stocks. However, when other online shops selling the same type of items opened, she realized that she needed a new business strategy.

She was inspired by The Ukay Queen, another online shop selling quality thrift items. “Since I am also a thrift shopper, I decided to do it as well since I realized the market for it and in ukay (thrift shop), there are a lot of unique and excellent clothes so there’s no chance of me selling the same thing as everyone else,” she said.

It became a hit to her customers so she continued with the strategy. Now, aside from thrift and Asian fashion items, she also sells cosmetics and glutathione products.

Melanie shares that she had doubts when she first started this business in August 2009 but her experience as an online shopper and her desire to earn money made her decide to continue with the business.

“I relied on my strong yet charismatic personality and my PR skills to get girls to buy my stuff,” she said.

Melanie also prepared for the business by studying HTML codes, layout editing, and Photoshop editing to improve her site. She also enhanced her skills in photography because she believed that great shots of the fashion items really attracted customers. She invested on good photography, great marketing, and quality stocks to get her business going.

“I really push myself to serve my customers well,” says Melanie. “I just need great photos, a really nice attitude, quality items, and nice packaging.”

Melanie describes her target customers as the “modern women” – mostly teens and mid-twenties who are fashionable and who see themselves as trendsetters. She believes that being extra friendly and assertive helps her get customers and close deals. Advertising through text, optimizing her blog and social networking sites, and getting good feedback from her clients also play major roles in developing her online shop.

Dealing with nasty customers and bogus buyers has been one of the challenges Melanie continues to face in handling her business. She also shares that she gets really stressed when the business does not return much money.

“I feel so down when my online shop does not gain profits while other shops do when I know in myself that I have good products and yet they’re not noticed,” said Melanie.

Aside from handling her online shop, Melanie also juggles the difficulties and pressures of being a student, of writing fashion articles and PR for brands, of doing freelance styling for online magazines, and of doing production work for indie films. Despite her experience, Melanie says that she still goes “crazy when the work piles up.”

She emphasized that she faces difficulty in dealing with time management issues. “I try to balance but it’s really difficult because even though I try to plan and organize myself, I end up being otherwise,” she said. Still, she tries her best to do things step by step by prioritizing and doing work which she deems more important.

The business has taught Melanie the importance of learning to let go and making sacrifices. In fact, one of the biggest sacrifices she had to make was to stop schooling for a semester to give her more time to earn money. “We’re not rich and both my parents already do not have jobs and are just relying on their pension so I have to work for myself and put my studies on hold,” she shares.

Melanie believes the youth should engage in similar business activities because it will enhance their skills and make them more independent. She says that entering the business will require one’s readiness to give much time and effort. Asserting for one’s rights and speaking one’s mind to customers are also some of her points to ponder for future youth entrepreneurs.

“When you know how to speak your mind with class, calm, and respect, they’ll respect you as well,” says Melanie.

Originality and creativity are also must-haves for Melanie. She expresses disappointment in other online shops which copy the exact “prototype” of the others. “One must think of something that will make you stand out and emerge as one of the best,” she says.

What makes Melanie’s job more difficult is the fact that her parents don’t approve of her online business. Her parents told her that her work makes her look like a vendor, but Melanie does not take these comments too seriously and instead focuses on how to make her online shop more endearing to customers. The lack of support from her family and friends does not hinder her from doing what she wants.

“I don’t need support to have the drive and determination to do it anyway,” she shares. “I push myself to be what I want to be despite others contradicting me.”

This shopaholic-workaholic shows no signs of stopping in beating the odds. “As long as my customers need me and as long as I am happy with what I’m doing, why should I stop?” she says.

With Melanie’s confidence, hard work, and determination, there’s no doubt that she’ll soon make it big in the business.

Forum assesses role of media in hostage crisis

Posted in J117 Articles on October 10, 2010 by mariafatimareyes

N.B. This article was originally published in Asian Correspondent on August 30 and has been revised for this site. Click here to view the original post.

During a critique session, evaluators said that the article was generally well-written and that it was a good example of a hard-news story. The story had a good flow with important points highlighted. The use of links were also maximized but more links to sources were needed. The professor noted that a generally well-written comment to the article showed how articles could get good responses from readers.

Members of various Philippine media organizations called on the media community to evaluate their coverage of the Aug. 23 hostage crisis and to come up with a set of guidelines to be used during crisis situations.

At a forum titled “Unbound Hostages: Addressing Media Crisis Coverage” held Friday at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) Auditorium, journalists, media practitioners, professors, and students acknowledged the mistakes committed by media and the need to examine the application of fundamental ethical principles in covering crisis situations.

ABS-CBN Senior Vice President for News and Public Affairs Maria Ressa, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) (Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines) board member Roberto del Rosario, National Union of the Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Director Ilang-Ilang Quijano, and UP journalism professor and Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) Deputy Director Luis Teodoro served as speakers at the forum.

Review of ethical guidelines

The media has been hit by criticisms in its reporting of the hostage tragedy inside a tourist bus in Quirino Grandstand that left the hostage-taker and eight of his hostages dead.

Quijano said that journalists should follow guidelines in covering crisis situations laid down by various journalism institutions and journalism scholars.

“We urge news organizations to abide by these guidelines and to ensure that those it assigns to cover these crisis situations are adequately trained and informed,” she said.

She also pointed out that the incident highlighted the need for more training and education for media practitioners to exercise caution in the performance of their work.

Teodoro said that fundamental criteria in covering crisis situations are to “minimize harm” and to “not make the situation worse.”

“Media organizations should have enough sense to know when to delay coverage and when to stop,” he said.

In various reports, he expressed the opinion that the blow-by-blow account of the media might have provoked the hostage-taker into shooting his hostages.

Calls for discussion among media organizations

Ressa said that the hostage crisis stressed the need for media owners and industry leaders to meet and agree on a set of protocols to be used during similar situations.

“Let us unite and work together to put in place measures to collectively decide when we stop live coverage in the absence of government presence of mind,” she read from an ABS-CBN statement on the hostage crisis.

Teodoro agreed saying that media organizations should discuss the parameters, limits, and possibilities in covering crisis situations to reduce the tendency to try and outdo each other.

Authorities assailed

The speakers agreed that the police and the government, not the media, are primarily responsible for supposedly handling the situation and ensuring the safety of the hostages.

“In crisis situations, the struggle is between journalists whose goal is to tell the story and the authorities who must resolve the situation,” Ressa said.

She pointed out that lack of ground rules and crowd control measures supposedly laid out by authorities contributed to the worsening of the situation.

She added that controlling information is part of the resolution and that without the presence of rules, media will push for what they can get.

“Press freedom issues take a back seat during situations like this – where the government already has the power to define terms to the media,” she further said.

She also stressed that ABS-CBN will always cooperate with authorities in resolving complex issues similar to the Aug. 23 hostage crisis.

New threats to media

Teodoro expressed concerns that the hostage crisis resurrected his fears of the warning that the “media’s failure to regulate themselves will invite government regulation.”

He said that his fears were brought about by President Aquino’s statements on the hostage crisis and the emergence of bills aimed at imposing news blackouts during crisis situations.

He urged journalists to continue to oppose any attempt at legislated journalism ethics since news blackouts and delays in coverage will keep media ignorant of matters of public interest.

“These bills often have distorted purposes and cover more than what they originally intended, making them more and more restrictive,” he said.

Quijano agreed saying that legislated restrictions on media coverage are dangerous and could lead to government excesses and abuses.

Teodoro also emphasized that through responsible practice, media must show that the power and freedom that they have are well-deserved.

The FOI Bill and the Fight Against Corruption

Posted in J117 Articles on October 10, 2010 by mariafatimareyes

This article is a revised version of the opinion article that was originally published in Asian Correspondent on August 8. Click here to view the original post.

During a critique session, the evaluator said that the original article showed weaknesses in terms of style and syntax. The paragraphs were too long and the sentences could be further simplified. The links were very useful but more links to the sources were needed. However, the class professor noted that what was “remarkable” about the article was that it was able to “send a message” as it was able to get good comments from readers.

The new Philippine administration has been emphasizing that its main agenda is to end corruption. In his State of the Nation Address, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III stressed the importance of making corrupt government officials accountable for their actions. If his administration is serious in stamping out corruption, passing the Freedom Of Information Bill into law is a great way to start.

On July 28, the UP Mass Communicators Organization (UP MCO), a duly-recognized student organization based in the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD), held a symposium entitled “Figment of Imagination?: Exposing the controversy behind the Freedom of Information Bill.” I believe that the points that were raised by the speakers during the forum are worth pondering as they shed light on how the FOI bill can be helpful in combating corruption.

“Passage of the FOI bill into law will help the media perform its role as the watchdog of the government,” said National Union Of the Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Secretary-General Sonny Fernandez. It is indeed media’s responsibility to serve the public interest and it does so by being critical of the government and exposing the wrongdoings of government officials. With the FOI bill passed into law, media practitioners can perform these roles and practice their profession without threats of not being able to acquire information held by the government. Philippine journalism still has a long way to go in terms of freedom and responsibility and the FOI bill will be a big help as it encourages press freedom and enhances journalism. It will help develop a media that is dedicated to ensuring good governance by helping the public make informed decisions as to making their leaders accountable.

The speakers emphasized that aside from helping the media, the FOI bill also serves as the public’s defense against corrupt government officials. It is no question that these same government officials are the ones who are making it difficult for the passage of the bill into law. This was pointed out by former Manila Representative and Chairman of the Committee on Public Information Bienvenido Abante Jr. when he said, “We don’t have 10% of our congressmen who are idealistic, who would want to see real, incorruptible, and transparent governance. Most of them are hypocrites who protect their personal interests.” It is so frustrating to know that when it comes to rampant corruption, it all boils down to who he is in power.

Citizen empowerment is the main reason why the FOI bill will bring about a revolutionary change. It turns the handling of power from the government officials to the citizens. Right to Know Right Now! Coalition spokesperson Nepomuceno Malaluan said, “We are realizing more and more that the passing of the FOI act is a question of power. Are our congressmen willing to give the citizens the power to check on the government and give them the services that are due them?” Government officials must give this power to the citizens as the people’s right to know is a fundamental right that is enshrined in the 1987 constitution of the Philippines. If this bill is passed into law, it will be easier for the citizens to acquire information from the government as the bill provides precise procedures and time-frame for compliance. Citizens have the right to know how the government budget is allocated, how the government is spending the people’s money, and whether or not money intended for government projects are spent wisely. By encouraging active citizen participation, the FOI bill will also contribute to nation building as it will force government officials to internalize and craft government policies well. It will put pressure on government officials to be transparent as it provides punishment for those who violate the right to information.

Filipinos must remain vigilant towards government actions regarding the FOI bill. As President Noynoy Aquino is regarded as “The People’s President” and the new symbol of hope and democracy for the Filipino people, a lot is expected from him and the 15th Congress in terms of uplifting the Philippines from its status as one of the most corrupt countries in Asia. The Filipinos have long been hoping for change in the form of a more transparent and a more accountable government. I hope that the President will not disappoint his country and his people by turning the FOI bill from a figment of imagination to a resounding truth and reality.