Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) was recognized as “Best Peace Journalism Performing University” in the recently concluded Peace Journalism Training and Internship Program held at Alavar Restaurant, this city on Friday, March 7.
WMSU also bagged other major awards in the culmination of the training and internship program.
Vernon Kenny Jimera (AB Journalism III) was considered as ‘The Most Productive Intern’ for coming up with a total of four articles; Althea Basilanica Sanson (BS Biology I) was adjudged as the writer with ‘The Best Peace Journalism Story – first place’ for Football: Building A Better World; Juseph Elas (AB Journalism III) came in second place as the writer with ‘The Best Peace Journalism Story’ for Al-Muhminat: A Voice for the IDPs; and the whole of WMSU team got ‘The Best Performing University’ award.
Other participants that composed the WMSU team include Ella Dee Cruz (AB Journalism III), Pearl Desiree Montes (AB Journalism III), Rominalyn Sayson (AB Journalism III) and April Rose Cañete (AB English IV)
“It is very overwhelming after we got those awards because they are proofs that we, [WMSU] writers, did our job efficiently and effectively. Also, they stand as a reminder that we are one step higher because the training and internship were not easy,” said April Rose Cañete.
The training and internship program was sponsored by USAID-Enhancing Governance and Accountability Engagement (ENGAGE) in partnership with the Public Information Office of Zamboanga headed by Mrs. Shiela Covarrubias.
“Amazing! WMSU team submitted the most number of articles and most importantly, the best articles,” said Covarrubias. Covarrubias is one of the judges during the training and internship that assessed the performance and articles of the participants.
She further added that the group’s performance was a clear proof of students’ capacities, eagerness to learn and to confront the challenges in reporting head-on.
“It also affirmed the quality of training they underwent in school – the school where I proudly came.” Covarrubias finished.
However, all these recognition and awards are results of countless challenges faced by the trainees during their internship.
“The training was a bit challenging because people [of Zamboanga] consider money, blood, death and any other conflicts as news. It’s challenging because we have to expose these violence that are happening in the city in a peaceful manner,” said Ella Dee Cruz.
Cruz also said that there was also the fear that people might not welcome such reportage given that war journalism is the demand.
The said training and internship program was conducted to hone new breed of writers in Zamboanga and build new culture of reportage in the city where conflict and violence are presented in a non-violent manner that “create opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict.”
Covarrubias highlighted the role of the trainees, as future media practitioners, to promote peace in the city after the chains of trials and adversities through their articles.
In an exclusive interview, she said, “the trainees, because of all these problems the city is facing, might have problems on how to start [promoting peace]. But they are young, they have the all the time and potential to help promote peace – peace journalism – through their articles and other advocacies.”
Covarrubias can’t stress enough the importance to practice Peace Journalism in the city especially now that Zamboanga is beset with a lot of challenges. She said that it is important not to cater the people with more negative reports to avoid complicating the city’s present situation.
Covarrubias stressed that Zamboanga is not all about the negative events. “Even if there are challenges besetting Zamboanga, she also has many positive developments like the capture of the killer of Judge [Reinerio] Estacio,” Covarrubias added.
For Covarrubias, these positive developments should also be given the limelight and be highlighted.
In the efforts to build back better Zamboanga, Peace Journalism “can help promote unity and understanding among the people, it will help our economy because definitely it will invite tourists to Zamboanga and ultimately it will help in the growth and development of Zamboanga,” according to Covarrubias. (Juseph Elas – AB Journalism III, WMSU)