Saturday, October 20, 2007

TOWNS 2007 Awardees Acceptance Speech By Maria Ressa

For two decades now, my friends and I have had an ongoing debate: why isn’t our country doing better? First, it was because we didn’t have democracy. Then it was because we had too much democracy. Now it’s because our democracy is too mangled and torn by vested interests – often distorting truth and shattering certainty. What can we believe in? Where do we find hope?I’ve only known my co-awardees and the Towns women a week, but when I met them, I nearly broke down and cried. And I don’t do that. I’ve reported on death, destruction, radical change – but that day I was affected by this gathering of powerful women full of joy and hope for our future. This is an award given by women for women – who through their work – try to give the world back a piece of its lost heart.

Over the past week, we wrote each other about what really matters to find what we have in common.

I want to share five traits with you.First, we are fighters. All of us like to beat the odds. If you tell us it’s not possible, we’ll fight even harder to make it happen. We chose our fields and wanted to stretch the limits. We developed our own visions – not of things as they are – but of how we think they should be. We envisioned an ideal, and we worked hard to reach that.When I joined CNN nearly two decades ago, my goal was to change western media from within. Instead of complaining of how western journalists were reporting on Asian nations, I decided to do something about it. Now with ABS-CBN, I hope to help shape journalism at a pivotal time in our history.Cora, the head of the DNA Analysis Laboratory at UP, is instrumental in having DNA evidence accepted in court cases today. Eva, one of only 5 medical geneticists in the Philippines today is looking at the genetic root of birth defects, cancer and heart diseases. She is a pioneer in her field. Second, we are all teachers. We believe one idea, one person can make a difference and that the key is education. 7 of us have taught at universities here and in the United States. Cathy, a professor at Ateneo, has helped standardize and raise the quality of mathematics teaching. Glecy, a professor at UP, uses theater and arts to push for social change. A teacher builds for the future. The challenge is to take the vision you have and convince others to come along. That’s how you become a force-multiplier. Third, we believe deeply in integrity and values – and we are not afraid to stand up for them. Sandy led the Inquirer against an ad boycott by then President Joseph Estrada. Beth, the first woman president of two all-male groups - CAMPI (Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines) and the Truck Manufacturers Association – campaigned against smuggled vehicles. Fourth, we are obsessive about what we do. That word came from Dina, who admitted although she is being asked to guest on ANC for TOWNS, she planned to really talk about her obsession – which is her work teaching children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Hilly discovered a new species of giant clam found only in the Red Sea. How did she outscoop the other marine biologists in Jordan? Well, 7 of the 9 known varieties of clams are in Mindanao – which is where she’s from. We gain strength from being Filipino and use that to compete globally.

Finally, we all decided to stay. All of us – to varying degrees – were trained overseas. It’s human technology transfer. In order to be competitive, you need knowledge. But we all chose to come back and to put that knowledge to work in our society.Alyssa, a geologist-teacher at UP, gave up her US permanent residence status to come home under the Balik Scientist program of DOST.So what hope do we have as a nation? It comes from each of us. Hope is not something other people give you. We take responsibility for our patch, our areas of influence. That is our individual commitment and our contribution to nation-building.From all of us to all of you, thank you for this award!

Maria A. Ressa

October 18, 2007


1 comment:

raissa said...

hi, i was wondering how much you was the moleskine you've bought in fully booked?just turned in a moleskine convert.thanks!:)