Veteran journalists Howie Severino and Joel Pablo Salud, were guest speakers at a forum on “Literary Journalism in the Age of Fake News,” held on April 30, 2019 at the Benavides Auditorium  organized by the University of Santo Tomas Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (UST-CCWLS).

The multi-awarded Severino is best known for his long-running documentary show on GMA 7, “I-Witness,” although he has also been a journalist in print and online for the past two decades. Salud has been Editor-in-Chief of the “Philippines Graphic Magazine” for ten years, and he has also worked for other newspapers. He is the author of two books published by the UST Publishing House.

The audience consisted of UST students in the humanities and social sciences, and those who are in the creative writing, journalism and communications programs. There were also students from other schools, including a large group of students from St. Scholastica’s College.

Also in the audience were Gemma Cruz Araneta, herself a journalist, with a regular column in the “Manila Bulletin,” and former Managing Editor of “The Manila Times,” Felipe Salvosa II.

The writers spoke – not only of the political climate that journalists have to contend with today, and the dangers they have always faced – but also about their early experiences as writers. Severino even read excerpts from his journal as a very young man. Both emphasized the importance of immersing in the environment when writing about anything, of obtaining all the facts, and reporting them accurately, even when employing literary techniques to make the writing more interesting.

Severino and Salud also recalled their first writing assignments. Howie Severino shared that he covered a story about Vietnamese refugees who survived an arduous voyage at sea.

Joel Pablo Salud disclosed that there was nothing so dramatic about his first assignment. His editor was looking for someone to write a story on a branded light bulb. Salud, who was an office assistant, and whose work consisted mainly of getting coffee for the staff, volunteered to write it, and the editor wondered why he was volunteering to write an article, but gave him the assignment, anyway.

Joselito B. Zulueta, lifestyle editor and editorialist of the “Philippine Daily Inquirer,” served as moderator of the open forum, while UST CCWLS Assistant Director Ralph Semino Galán read the opening remarks of UST CCWLS Director Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, and delivered his own closing remarks at the end of the program. UST CCWLS Resident Fellow Jose Mojica was the emcee of the event.   

The forum was part of the series USTingan, a round-table discussion held every term by the UST CCWLS, on different contemporary issues involving literature and the other arts, and featuring prominent members of the larger arts community.

Some of the earlier fora conducted were on scriptwriting for film, drama and TV (“Silip at Iskrip”) featuring Jerry Gracio, Rody Vera, Auraeus Solito and Dwein Baltzar; spoken word and performance poetry (“Ang Tula Bilang Bigkas at Palabas”) featuring Vim Nadera and Juan Miguel Severo; fan fiction, manga, teleserye and other fandoms (“In the Kingdom of Fandom”) featuring Vlad Gonzalez, Louie Jon Sanchez, and Karren Renz Seña); Philippine speculative fiction in all its shapeshifting forms (“This Spectacular Artifice”) featuring Nikki Alfar, Karl de Mesa, Paolo Herras, Emil Flores; and Philippine contemporary songwriting and OPM (“Titik at Himig”) featuring Ely Buendia, Ebe Dancel and Lourd de Veyra.

This edition of USTingan, coordinated by Galán and UST CCWLS Resident Fellow Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, was the CCWLS’ contribution to National Literature Month of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).