“Every story is important.”
Maria Jessica A. Soho, broadcast journalist for more than 33 years and a University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) alumna, said she lives by these words, as she received the prestigious UP Gawad Plaridel at the UP Film Center (Cine Adarna) in Diliman, Quezon City on August 29, 2018.
In her acceptance speech and lecture, Soho thanked all her mentors and colleagues in both UP and the GMA News and Public Affairs division. “Wala ako rito, kung hindi dahil sa inyo,” she said, as she detailed her humble beginnings as a student and as a journalist.
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael L. Tan, Asst. Vice President for Public Affairs Jose Wendell P. Capili, and UP CMC Dean Elena E. Pernia delivered inspiring and congratulatory messages in the program.
Soho imparted valuable lessons as she tackled the plight of journalists, the bane of disinformation, and the weaponization of media platforms. “I am not torn between public interest and the truth. I do not see any conflict there because at the bottom of it all is The Story. The Truth,” she said.
“The Story can never be changed nor revised, even if memories are short. What happened, happened! Pagbali-baligtarin man natin ang mundo,” Soho told the audience comprised mostly of students and teachers from UP and nearby schools. She then urged the public to “defend the integrity of The Story”.
Soho explained that “fake news is nothing more than a deliberate distortion of the truth and of reality,” and that “the only antidote to fake news is The Truth. The Story.”
Soho asked the public to be more discerning and to fact-check. “Get your news from trusted sources, not primarily from your own news feeds. Don’t believe anything just because it’s been repeated or retweeted or liked a million times. It is never a popularity contest,” she said.
“The Truth is determined NOT by algorithms or the number of posts, likes, tweets or engagements but by facts and facts alone,” Soho emphasized.
Soho is recognized here and abroad for her excellent work in GMA news programs, such as “Brigada”, “I-Witness”, “State of the Nation with Jessica Soho”, and “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho”; as well as for her comprehensive covering of and reporting on important events such as the EDSA Revolt of 1986, the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, super typhoons, and even wars in other countries.
Soho has received numerous local and international awards, including six Readers Digest Asia Most Trusted News Presenter awards. And is the first Filipino journalist to receive the prestigious George Foster Peabody award.
The UP Gawad Plaridel, the only award in the UP System given to outstanding Filipino media practitioners who have performed with the highest level of professional integrity in the interest of public service, was established by the UP CMC.
With this accolade, Soho joins UP’s roster of honorees: Eugenia Duran-Apostol (2004, journalism); Vilma Santos (2005, film); Fidela “Tiya Dely” Magpayo (2006, radio); Cecilia “Cheche” L. Lazaro (2007, television); Pachico A. Seares (2008, community journalism); Kidlat Tahimik (2009, independent film); Eloisa “Lola Sela” Canlas (2011, radio); Florence “Rosa Rosal” Danon-Gayda (2012, television); Jose “Pete” Lacaba (2013, journalism); Nora “Nora Aunor” Villamayor (2014, transmedia); Ricardo “Ricky” Lee (2015, film); Francisca “Babes” Custodio (2016, radio); and, Tina Monson-Palma (broadcast-TV, 2017).
The award is named after Marcelo H. del Pilar (nom de plume, Plaridel), the selfless propagandist whose stewardship of the reformist newspaper La Solidaridad, gave voice to nationalist sentiments and libertarian ideas in the 1890s. Like Plaridel, the recipient of the award must believe in a vision of a Philippine society that is egalitarian, participative and progressive; and in media that is socially responsible, critical and vigilant, liberative and transformative, and free and independent. (Fred Dabu, UP MPRO)
Click here to read the full text of Jessica Soho’s address.