The term "badass" is applied to people with palpable confidence and an uncompromising attitude. It implies both toughness and disaffectedness, a particular stoicism in the face of dissidents and opposers.
It is a term that can easily be applied to all the men listed below, journalists who are passionately engaged with their subject matter and are burning with a desire to tell their stories.
Working in hostile environments, giving voice to the marginalized, reporting with integrity, putting their lives on the line for the sake of a story or their principle yet somehow finding the time to write eloquent dispatches or look dapper in front of the camera: these are a few of the things that these journalists go through on a regular day.
While some of these men are no saints (notorious renegades that dance to the beat of their own drum, in fact), it's hard to argue that their commitment to their craft doesn't take some serious badassery on their part. To commemorate International Press Freedom Day, we honor the following exceptional media men of modern day. (PS Watch for the second part of this feature, listing down the femmes fatales of Philippine mass media.)
Carlos P. Romulo
We would be hard-pressed to find a better starter of this list with than Carlos P. Romulo, journalist extraordinaire. He was a reporter at 16, a newspaper editor by the age of 20, and a publisher at 32. Carlos was the first non-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for Distinguished Correspondence in 1942 for his in-depth coverage of Far Eastern developments during World War 2, even predicting the Japanese attack on the United States through his keen observations.
From this, he branched out to an illustrious diplomatic career, serving under eight presidents, dedicating more than half a century of his life to public service, including seventeen years as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 10 years as the Philippines’ ambassador to the United States and as the President of the United Nations General Assembly from 1949–1950. He also served as the Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives during the Commonwealth era, as the Secretary of Education during the term of President Diosdado P. Macapagal and was part of President Ferdinand E. Marcos’s Cabinet through 1962 to 1968.
His illustrious name only shadows his many accomplishments, having held distinguished positions in many fields. He was a general in both the US and Philippine Army, President of the UN General Assembly, President of the University of the Philippines and was a recipient of the Philippine National Artist’s award for Literature.
Few can replicate the accomplishments of Max Soliven, founder and publisher of the Philippine Star, one of the country’s top newspapers. In a career spanning 6 decades, he has interviewed the likes of Pope John Paul II, John F. Kennedy, Indonesian President Sukarno, India Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and Cuban President Fidel Castro, and also had the privilege of meeting other distinguished personalities such as the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and US President George Bush.
In his writing, Max always fought to be objective, treading the road of impartiality throughout his career. From his beginning as an associate editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Sentinel, to his stint as foreign correspondent during the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War and the Indonesian Gestapu Coup, to his fight against tyranny as a columnist at the Manila Times during the Philippine Martial Law era, to his establishment of the Philippine Star in 1986, Max wielded the power of his trusty typewriter responsibly, a steadfast reporter of the truth. His last article was written hours before his death, an article for his By The Way column in the Philippine Star, datelined from Tokyo, Japan, where he passed away after suffering acute and pulmonary cardiac arrest at the Narita Airport.
Conrado De Quiros
Little is known about the personal life of Conrado De Quiros but perhaps, that is part of his appeal as a journalist. A shady part of his colored history as a writer includes being firmly entrenched in President Marcos’ camp as part of a collective of scriptwriters churning out propaganda at the height of Martial Law. This simply adds to the mystique of the man. As one of the more eloquent opinion columnists, Conrado’s intelligently written pieces have earned either the nod or the ire of the populace, fearlessly sounding out his thoughts on events that do not necessarily echo those of the vast majority. In turn, he has been lambasted as a turncoat, a journalist whose principle have been bought by the highest bidder. Such public animosity would intimidate a lesser man, but not Conrado, who audaciously speaks his own truth, no matter how unpopular it might be, reminding us, at the end of the day, to remain constant to your personal beliefs.
Noli De Castro
For a media persona, it can be quite difficult to stay under the radar, effectively separating your public persona from your public one. It becomes more challenging when you are a household brand such as Noli De Castro. From his beginnings as a radio broadcaster during the Martial Law Era, where much of media freedom was curtailed, he entered television broadcast in ABS-CBN, earning his popularity through long running shows like TV Patrol and Magandang Gabi Bayan, closing each program with his signature line “Magandang gabi, Bayan.” He was also the anchorman of an ABS-CBN radio program Kabayan where he earned his moniker.
After a brief foray into politics, where he served as Senator and Vice President of the Philippines, a candidate who topped the 2001 senatorial race and won 15 million votes in the vice-presidential contest in 2004, he returned to broadcast media. He turned down the opportunity to run for the highest position of the land, one which he would have undoubtedly win, had he thrown his hat in the race.
As far as credibility goes, no one did it better than Frankie Evangelista, a pillar of Philippine broadcast journalism, best known as the compelling voice booming out stern warnings against incompetent government officials in the “Hoy, Gising!” portion of Radyo Patrol.
Fondly known as ‘Ka Kiko,’ his stellar career spanned half a century with ABS-CBN, anchoring popular shows on television and radio like TV Patrol, Hoy, Dateline Philippines, and Hoy, Gising! Frankie was passionate about his job; his love of his career allowed him to face the daily grind of the life of a media practitioner with zest. His peers count him to be one of the most humble and hardworking persona of the industry, a respected and dignified broadcaster who will continue to be the standard that young journalists aspire to.
Being a journalist doesn’t always have to mean covering hard hitting stories. Sometimes, reporting on fun tidbits could resonate far louder and longer than most sensational news items. Ernie Baron, the Philippines very own ‘Walking Encyclopedia,’ proves that highlighting the extraordinary in the mundane is just as relevant. His 1965 radio program Mga Gintong Kaalaman, which set the precursor for today’s trivia driven programs, explored bizarre and extraordinary facts about humans and their environment. Ernie was also the venerable weather anchor for TV Patrol, delivering weather tidbits in his inimitable manner that charmed generations of viewers and pioneering the custom of offering various trivia after his segment, a practice that has since been adapted by succeeding local weather news anchors.
From his early years on 5 and Up to hosting youth-oriented programs like Breakfast and Y-Speak to reporting about a diverse range of news topics for various ABS-CBN news programs, Atom has definitely grown into his own as a young journalist with versatility, providing intelligent and insightful commentary on the topics that he covered. His bravery in the face of one of the most powerful typhoons to make landfall in recorded history caught the world’s attention, as millions of viewers watched a drenched, shivering Atom fearlessly reporting the facts amidst howling winds and torrential down pouring of rain.
His resignation as an ABS-CBN news reporter came amidst controversies surrounding his strong opinions about the certain political issues including the burial of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Atom has since debunked this theory, illuminating his wish to explore other avenues of expression such as his climate change documentary Warmer, a finalist in the climate change and sustainability category in the New York Festivals Awards for international TV programs and films, and his upcoming foray into cinema in Mike De Leon’s Citizen Jake.
If there was a portrait of a modern gentleman, it would have to be of David Celdran, who was ABS-CBN Director of Current Affairs and Television Production. His affable personality, combined with his elegant, man-of-the-world bearing, are some of his most powerful assets as a journalist, with his genteel manner and eloquence adding a dash of class to news reporting. A board member of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), David is well regarded among his peers for his sophistication, insight, integrity, savvy and good sense. Among these is this site's edtor-in-chief Barry Viloria, who has worked with David in the luxury magazine Vault for approximately four years. ("I've always considered him my #lifepeg. You don't see a lot of legit lifestyle journalists around, yet the ever-charming, intelligent, and creative David endures for us to look up to." - ed.)
ALSO READ:Lifestyle Buzz: Atom Araullo's Docu Gets Nominated In A Prestigious International Film Festival!
Photographs from Instagram.com/atomaraullo, Instagram.com/david-celdran, Instagram.com/metrosocietyph, Commons.wikimedia.org, Shubert Ciencia, Abscbnpr.com, Abs-cbnnews.com
Banner Photo by Jana Jimenez