#15YearsofBulatlat | Choosing journalism for the people

fringes-logoBy ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

It was February 2010 when I was “hired” to write for Bulatlat by then managing editor (now editor in chief) Benjie Oliveros . My objective then was to further hone my writing skills as my previous work was not lined with my journalism degree. I was already married and with children then, but I really wanted to pursue a career in writing.

My grandmother – who sent me and all of my siblings to college – said that there is no money in journalism. That was why I did not consider getting a writing job after I left my first job as advocacy officer in a non-government organization. Because I already had children then, I considered taking other jobs with good enough salary to send my children to school. So, for five years I worked as an administrative officer in another non-government organization with a relatively higher salary.

But then I realized it was not just about the salary. As time passed, I began to be more aware of the social and political condition in the country, and I thought maybe I could do more other than office work. I thought about working as a writer, but didn’t have the courage to leave the job and apply in a media outfit.

I kept thinking about the future of my children. I was also becoming restless (or maybe agitated), and can’t stop thinking that I can do more than clerical work. I considered writing for Bulatlat, but I also knew that it would also mean lesser income. I know Bulatlat is independent and non-profit, and there is no advertisement which could bring in additional income. Thankfully, I have a supportive husband who encouraged me to follow my heart. So, in the past six years I have been in Bulatlat.

But why work for Bulatlat when I can apply in corporate media which gives higher salary?

I was not only honing my writing skills in Bulatlat, but also deepening the commitment to serve the people’s interests and their struggles.

Working for Bulatlat, I understand more about the root cause of the Filipino people’s suffering as we write about them. We write stories that seldom land in the front page of broadsheets and or get broadcast in primetime television. It means covering fact-finding missions to a province where farmers’ lands were being grabbed by corporations and big landlords, or on certain human rights abuses committed by the state security forces in the countryside. We get the people’s point of view on issues of privatization of government services: we ask the employees, the patients and the lesser-known stakeholders, the experts that contradict this policy and not merely serve as a mouthpiece of big corporations and the bureaucracy.

Bulatlat was there to get the story in the court hearings of the disappeared UP students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, in the continuing oppression and land grabbing of President Aquno’s clan in Hacienda Luisita which had been ordered to be distributed by the Supreme Court order, in the mass actions of farmers, students, government employees and workers who voice out dissent against oppressive laws and government policies, whether they come by the thousands, or just a handful. The list goes on.

It is gratifying to be appreciated by people who thank Bulatlat for writing about their side of the issue, as opposed to how they deplore certain cases of twisting by the corporate media.

After six years I know my decision to work for Bulatlat was the right one. There is no denying that we have needs to address, but because I know the reasons why life is such a struggle for the ordinary people, the working class and poorest of the poor, it gives me no reason to leave this work and seek greener pasture. I won’t be hypocrite, I don’t know what lies ahead, but what is important is now. And now, I want to be an instrument for the people to attain social change, so that in the future, my children and maybe all Filipino children will live in a society much better than the society we have today.
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