BY ALEX P. VIDAL
I would like to set the record straight that former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada did not oppose my participation in the Poynter Institute for Media Studies held at St. Petersburg, Florida in 1992 as mentioned by our Health and Wealth Journal publisher Herbert Vego in his June 23, 2011 column “Powwow Wow” published in the Daily Guardian.
Mr. Vego actually named somebody only as “BM” in that column but there is only one person with an initial of BM who became a grantee of the Poynter media studies twice and that is no other than Mr. Mejorada.
He salvaged the feat in 1991 when he was editor of The Sentinel (Community journalists in Western Visayas should be proud of this achievement which has not been duplicated by any seasoned journalist in Metro Manila until today—to be granted with a slot in the prestigious media training twice!).
Anyway, both Mr. Vego and Mr. Mejorada are my seniors in media and I hold them both in high esteem as community journalists –Mr. Vego, then editor of Panay News and book author, and Mr. Mejorada, then editor of Western Visayas Daily Times and a media behemoth who catapulted into limelight for his famed Asiaweek story about famine in Negros that caught the attention of the UNICEF.
They are among the pillars of journalism in this part of the country and, like fledgling lovers, they also squabble on principles from time to time but are dignified and very professional in their choices of words.
I also had the privilege to serve as officer under their respective terms as presidents – the Iloilo Press and Radio Club (IPRC) under Mr. Mejorada in 1990 and the Iloilo Press Club (IPC) under Mr. Vego in 1991.
They are actually included in my print media Dream Team composed of the late Mr. Ivan Suansing, Mr. Limuel Celebria, Atty. Pet Melliza, Mr. Nereo Lujan, Ms. Diosa Labiste, The Guardian publisher Lemuel Fernandez, Ms. Lydia Pendon, Mr. Amante “Boy” Espejo, Atty. Ernesto “Ernie” Dayot, Mr. Peter Jimenea, Mr. Nelson Robles, Mr. Wenceslao Mateo, and Florence Hibionada, a very good and diligent journalist, who was with the TV media at that time.
I did qualify for the Poynter’s “Coaching Writers” seminar based on the letter dated March 2, 1992 sent by the Institute Associate Don Fry. There were 16 of us who made it in the print media – 14 from the United States, one from Africa and I was the lone qualifier from Asia. We were chosen based on the 1992 Seminar Nomination Form we filed up with our personal information. I was inspired by Mr. Mejorada’s back-to-back entry and with my four years of exposure in community journalism, I submitted my application.
I failed to make the trip because when Philippine Press Institute (PPI) Chairman Zacarias Nugid released the endorsement letter dated April 25, 1992 to PPI Board Secretary, Atty. Fraulin Penasales, as required by the US Embassy in Cebu, it was already the day of my supposed departure for the April 26 opening program.
A year earlier on October 15, 1991, here’s what Mr. Vego wrote to the program director of the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships based in Washington, D.C.:
“The first time I met the applicant (Alex P. Vidal) was sometime in 1987 when I judged a regional editorial writing contest for college editors sponsored by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. He won a gold medal in that contest.
“Whereupon he started writing news stories and features for several community newspapers, including Panay News. As editor of said newspaper, I noticed applicant’s interest in almost all aspects of journalism – especially in sports writing.
“Applicant’s nose for news shows in his being everywhere where the action is. As a columnist and sports writer of News Express, a weekly local tabloid, he is often sent to cover the most important events.”
In his column in Sun Star Iloilo dated July 8, 1997, Mr. Mejorada defended me from an ugly incident that happened in the dinner party tendered by then DILG Secretary Robert Barbers:
“Just because his by-line occasionally comes out in the sports section of the Manila Standard, a certain Aldrin Cardona has had the gall to belittle the writing abilities of Iloilo mediamen and falsely accuse a respected writer of plagiarism.
“By this time, the humiliation and embarrassment suffered by Alex Vidal arising from the boorish behavior of Cardona during the closing get-together party for the LGUlympics on Saturday has become public knowledge. Without first investigating, Cardona confronted Vidal during the party at Punta Villa and started hurling insults at the Ilonggo writer.
“A shocked Vidal tried to explain to him the story originated from Sun.Star News Service in Manila, and he couldn’t have copied the story at the media center because he was busy serving as juror for the boxing matches. These fell on deaf ears, and the tirade about Ilonggo writers not knowing how to write continued. Cardona was just lucky Vidal is a gentleman. Not wanting to cause a scene in the presence of DILG Secretary Robert Barbers, Vidal simply ignored Cardona and kept his cool.
“But the insults hurled by Cardona against Vidal and the rest of the Iloilo media can’t just go unchallenged. Let me say that Vidal is a far better writer than this Cardona. And there are many Ilonggo journalists whose writing abilities would make Cardona look like a high school scribe in the company of journalism giants.
“Cardona’s own editors should know better: our own Limuel Celebria and Gina Hablero have long been correspondents of the Manila Standard, and their stories have always come out the way they were originally written. In journalism lingo, Celebria and Hablero always submit “clean copy” requiring no substantial editing or corrections. That’s the reason why they are highly respected in the field of sports writing.
“I don’t think Cardona’s work can come near the standard of these two sports scribes. So he’d be better off keeping his mouth shut and work hard at polishing his writing skills.”