The Inkblots 2005 is seminar/workshop attended by different student publications from all over The Philippines. The event, also known as the National Journalism Fellowship, is organized by University of Santo Tomas’ official student publication “The Varsitarian”. Held in Thomas Aquinas Research Complex and Beato Angelico Building, University of Santo Tomas from October 17-19, 2005, The seminar/workshop is a three-day series of lectures on news writing, features writing, culture and lifestyle writing, cartooning, broadcast journalism, campus paper management among others. I and staffers Patricia Aurora Cruz, German John Sipin and Associate Editor Mary Claire Mercado represented Heraldo Filipino, the official student publication of De La Salle University- Dasmariñas. Mr. Christopher Gabriel, Student Publications Director of DLSU-D, attended the event also.
The first day was held at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex. It was started by Charie Villa, a former Reuters correspondent who is now part of ABS CBN. She relayed her experiences on being a journalist for more than a decade. After the keynote speech it was followed by lectures on Investigative Journalism by Sheila Coronel of Philippine Center on Investigative Journalism [PCIJ], Filipino literature by Michael Coroza and Culture and Lifestyle writing Ruel De Vera, a Philippine Daily Inquirer writer. The lectures were very informative and the speakers entertained questions from the audience. Mr. Coroza and Mr. De Vera livened up the discussion with their sense of humor. The lectures ended around 6 PM after that an opening cocktails followed however, the Heraldo Filipino team did not attend due to time constraint.
On the second day, the seminar was moved to the Beato Angelico Building. Two lectures were delivered on that morning first was News writing conducted by another Inquirer writer, Luige Del Puerto followed by Features writing conducted by Mr. Nestor Cuartero, entertainment editor of Tempo and feature writer of Manila Bulletin. The latter conducted a “mock” press conference to test the participants’ skill on writing. The “mock” press conference featured Champ, the lead vocalist of the popular band Hale. Several participants (mostly girls) lined up to ask questions to Champ. However a lot of time was consumed for that activity since the participants also asked for an autograph and to take their picture with Champ. When the speaker noticed that he is running out of time he announced that they will not entertain “questions and requests” for Champ anymore. He then asked the participants to write a lead for an article that will talk about the aforementioned activity. His comments on our pieces was that it was more of a “news lead” rather than a “features lead” but staffer Patricia Cruz was commended for her lead since it was creatively written and not stiff. On the afternoon session of the seminar, there were four parallel sessions lined up namely Photojournalism by Ernie Sarmiento, Cartooning by Rene Aranda of The Philippine Star, Column writing by Rina Jimenez David and Broadcast Journalism by Arnold Clavio of GMA 7. However, we were not able to attend all of the sessions since we were asked to choose only one session since all four sessions will be done simultaneously. The HF team picked cartooning by Rene Aranda. Aranda discussed that what is important in drawing an editorial cartoon is the concept. He also cleared that sometimes not all he draws is exactly the same way he felt. He said that it is the paper’s stand and not his personal conviction. After his discussion he asked the delegates to make an editorial cartoon base on the topic Calibrated Pre-emptive Response. Later on he selected the three best editorial cartoons and fortunately two members of the Heraldo Filipino made the cut, yours truly garnered third place and German placed second. Aranda commended my concept despite the lack of artistic style and he liked the sarcasm of Sipin’s work [He referred the hosing down of the rallyists as “patubig ni Gloria”]. After the parallel session we went home.
The third and final day of Inkblots started with a Plenary Session with Christian Esguerra, former Editor in Chief of ‘The Varsitarian” and currently working with The Philippine Daily Inquirer. He discussed Campus Paper Management; he was an effective speaker since he really knows what he is talking about and is experienced with the topic. He also gave advice to the student publications that are having conflicts with their school administration. After that session was the lecture on Sports writing with seasoned sports analyst Quinito Henson. He also conducted a “mock” press conference, the guests were coach Ryan Gregorio, rookie Jondan Salvador and veteran Richard Yee coming from Purefoods, a team from the Philippine Basketball Association [PBA]. This time several guys lined up to have their chance to ask questions to the three. After that Mr. Henson asked the participants to write an article about the press conference. He picked top five articles and unfortunately no one from HF made the list. The winners were awarded with Chunkee corned beef gift packs. The next lecture was about Journalism Ethics delivered by Marites Vitug, publisher and editor in chief of Newsbreak. The last activity was a Panel discussion and open forum with the topic on the dangers of being a journalist. Panelists include Alice Colet Villaloid, a former New York Times correspondent, Jiggy Manicad, a GMA 7 reporter and Glenda Gloria, managing editor of Newsbreak. It was enriching activity since the speakers gave out sensible answers to the questions raised by the respondents. However Ms. Villaloid talks so much that she took a lot of time when she answers questions which sometimes bores the delegates. To cap off the night and the whole seminar as well the organizers conducted a Fellowship night where the different student publications are expected to mingle and share experiences. But due to the fact that we live in a far place and it’s not really practical to stay that late we decided not to attend the said activity.
Inkblots 2005 is one of the best conferences, campus journalists could be a part of. This is where student writers learn from the people who know well how powerful the media is. It inspires the student scribes to further hone their talent because we after all are destined to be at the forefront of the media industry in the future.