Heaven and earth in one day

People asking Cardinal Vidal to bless them
People asking Cardinal Vidal to bless them

Holiness and corruption are like oil and water – they simply wouldn’t mix.

But one can encounter them within one day.

It happened to me on August 12.

HEAVEN

At 11 AM, I attended a mass officiated by His Eminence Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

Yup, it’s a Catholic mass. And I’m not even a Catholic.

I’m a Methodist and I didn’t see anything wrong with doing that. Don’t we all believe in the same God?

With Cardinal Vidal after the mass. Yeah, sinner and saint
With Cardinal Vidal after the mass. Yeah, sinner and saint

I attended that mass because I was curious. I wanted to see how a priest in the upper echelon of the Catholic Church hierarchy did his thing.

Had the mass been held by an “ordinary” priest, I would not have attended it.

High

Cognizant of the fact that he was holding a mass at a government media institution, Vidal centered his sermon on the practice of journalism.

In his homily, Vidal called on media workers to use their profession to spread positive values.

This way, he said, the media would help people realize that their neighbors are their brothers and sisters.

EARTH

At 3 PM, I was at the UP College of Mass Communication auditorium, listening to the lecture about ethics in community journalism delivered by journalist and UP journalism professor Yvonne Chua.

The journalism department chair introduced the lecturer
The journalism department chair introduced the lecturer

Four hours ago I was also in a place filled with people.

This time, however, the people were generally younger than the ones who attended the mass. And as far as I can remember, there were no religious icons in the auditorium.

The main difference though between the mass and the lecture was the subject matter: the mass was about spreading good deeds – something that was heavenly, while the lecture was about corruption – something that was earthly.

Low

In her lecture, Chua discussed corruption in the Philippine community press.

Chua said that the level of corruption among community journalists was higher compared to the level of corruption among their Metro Manila counterparts.

"We refuse to lower the bar," journalist Yvonne Chua says, referring to ethical and professional standards in the press
"We refuse to lower the bar," journalist Yvonne Chua says, referring to ethical and professional standards in the press

She cited low salaries as one of the reasons for the trend (but she was also quick to point out that some of the highest paid journalists are also corrupt).

Chua noted the provincial or community journalists’ low awareness of the Journalists’ Code of Ethics of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI).

She lamented that there was even less awareness of the PPI’s Expanded Code of Ethics.

Reaction

Red Batario, executive director of the Center for Community Journalism and Development, said corruption is not just a press issue, but an issue affecting society as a whole.

Journalist Red Batario used to be the boss of Yvonne Chua
Journalist Red Batario used to be the boss of Yvonne Chua

He said it’s really hard to be a journalist in the provinces, where choices and employment opportunities are much more limited compared to those in Metro Manila.

Batario explained that many community journalists are not only reporters, but are also asked to function as editors, photographers and worse, advertising solicitors.

He added that some provincial reporters are not provided with the most basic reporting equipment, such as tape recorders and cassette tapes.

ME

It was a tiring but fun day.

I took lots of pictures!

And now I’m blogging about it.

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