Bulatlat.com wins in Gawad Agong for reporting on IP issues

“This award is for the indigenous peoples, this is for the people we write about, like the Mangyans who strive to educate themselves despite countless limitations. But having said that, we thank the organizations who gave this award.”- Marya Salamat

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Bulatlat.com writer Marya Salamat won the Gawad Agong for Online Media for her article “Mangyan’s lit-num schools face seemingly insurmountable challenges” in a ceremony held at Balay Kalinaw in the University of the Philippines last Oct. 10.

“This award is for the indigenous peoples, this is for the people we write about, like the Mangyans who strive to educate themselves despite countless limitations. But having said that, we thank the organizations who gave this award,” Salamat said.

Gawad Agong para sa Pamamahayag is a salute to the media workers in print, broadcast, and online who devoted their time, talent, and efforts in covering the real situations and issues of the indigenous peoples, said the groups behind it, adding that “Telling the stories of the people in the margins, especially those in the far-flung communities of the indigenous peoples is a true dedication to the media’s role in development, human rights, and transformation.”

Gawad Agong Para sa Pamamahayag was organized by advocates of indigenous peoples’ rights in the Philippines, such as the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan sa Pilipinas, Cordillera Peoples Alliance and Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad to recognize outstanding reports on issues and welfare of indigenous peoples in the country.

Salamat’s article, published on June 7, 2013, is about how a literacy school for Mangyans is facing not only the usual shortages plaguing the country’s education system but also harassments from the military.

Edgar Banaw, one of the teachers of the literacy school, said they conduct classes under the trees.

“(Banaw) said they hold classes only on Mondays and Tuesdays every week, because the schoolhouse is far from where some of the children live. Young students have to start walking at 5 a.m. just to get to the school at 7 a.m. It is not that the school is in a different sitio, he said. It is just that for some of their students, there is no straight, easy route to the school. The children have to trek up and down the safer side of the mountain to get to their school,” the report read.

The school is also being subjected to harassments by the military, who claimed that those behind the literacy project are organizing the members of the community for the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The threat, wrote Salamat, is similar to those faced by other lit-num schools of other indigenous groups, for example the lumad who until now has an ongoing “Save our Schools” campaign.

In a separate article, Salamat reported that soldiers have also threatened the Mangyans. Opposing so-called development projects in the area such as large-scale mining, construction of a dam, among others, the military said, “is tantamount to being a member or supporter of the NPA.”

Another Bulatlat.com reporter, Raymund Villanueva was also cited in the online category for his report, “Probe reveals massacre of Blaan family premeditated.”

Northern Dispatch Weekly, an alternative news media based in Baguio, was also cited for its report, “Ibaloi women seeks abrogation of Regalian Doctrine,” written by Arthur Allad-iw.

Finalists and winners of other categories of Gawad Agong are as follows:

Awardee for the Gawad Agong para sa Telebisyon: Karen Davila – “Bakwit,” an episode of ABS-CBN’s Krusada
Special Citations:
Grace Doctolero – “Tanem,” an episode of UNTV’s Istorya
Abner Mercado – “Pulag,” an episode of ABS-CBN’s Krusada

Awardee for Gawad Agong para sa Radyo: Malu Candelina Manar – “Munting pangarap ng mga IP sa North Cotabato,” an episode of BIDA Special aired at NDBC-Kidapawan City
Special Citation: Raymund Villanueva – “Mining EO ni Aquino at ang mga Katutubo,” an episode of Sali na Bayan, aired at DZUP

Awardee for the Gawad Agong para sa Pahayagan: Aldwin Quitasol – “Protecting the land for the children,” published by Northern Dispatch Weekly.

Special citations:

– Macky Macaspac – “Military pinapanagot sa masaker sa pamilya ng katutubong kontra sa mina,” published by Pinoy Weekly
– Nestor Burgos – “Dexter Condez: A voice of courage for Ati folk,” published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer
– Delia Bagni – “Conner’s unity keep miners out,” published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Davila also won the Agong Award for Most Distinguished Media Reporter.

Awardees received a trophy and a cash prize. A certificate of recognition was given all reporters shortlisted for each category.

“It is an honor for Bulatlat.com for its writers to be cited by IP groups through the Gawad Agong. Bulatlat.com is committed to amplifying the voice of the oppressed by providing a venue for people’s organizations to elaborate on their issues or concerns so that it would reach the general public,” Benjie Oliveros, managing editor of Bulatlat.com, said.

Oliveros added, “Thus, we feel that there could be no greater recognition for us than that which comes from the people who we intend to serve.” (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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