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Herstory of the Pampanga press

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A DAY after the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Pampanga Press Club elected its first woman president.

Sheer ahistorical coincidence that such had to happen too on the 70th anniversary of Central Luzon’s unarguably oldest, concededly grandest, organization of working media persons. That is older than the 1952-founded National Press Club – if we may indulge in some unjournalistic conceit.

That it took seven decades before a woman became the face – brain and heart too – of the PPC conjures a chauvinistic all-boys club, or worse, a cabal of misogynists. Pure conjecture that, I assure you.

The fact is that throughout PPC’s history, of the club’s distaff members it was only the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Tonette Orejas that dared to run for its presidency.

While it looked like an association exclusive to men, verily a fraternity in its early years, there were already a number of women members of the club by the 1980s, mainly staff writers of the Department of Public Information-Region 3 who also dabbled in column writing for the local publications The Voice, Pampanga Newsweek, Town Crier, and Pampanga Times.

There was Riza Angara-Moises who later also published her own newsmagazine Issues. Riza has since become the proprietor of the giant bus company Genesis Transport. Other women journos – called “newshen” then to differentiate them from the newsmen, no sexism here – were Gigi Llames, Erlie Tuazon, and Bunny David.

As formidable in the printed page as their male peers, alas, not one of them ever rose in the club roster above the position of secretary or treasurer. Not that that was warranted or mandated but that was…well, the way it was.

Truly, it is some ironic twist of fate that the first ever club of media persons hereabouts rather came late in the elevation of women to its apex.

The Angeles City Press and Radio Club (ACPRC), founded in the 1960s and since evolved to the Metro Angeles City Journalists Association Inc. had for some time Hannah Bauzon-Tulud, publisher of the Central Luzon Times, as president.

It was the now departed Hannah that also founded and acted as first and only president of the Angeles City Tri-Media Association.

If ageing memory still serves right, the ACPRC had a woman president even earlier than Hannah in broadcaster Jenny Canlas of the now defunct dzYA.

In the immediate post-EDSA Revolution, there was the Pampanga PC-INP Press Corps with Thet Tan of People’s Journal as president, propped up by the Visayan troika of tabloid correspondents Jess Malabanan, Rudy Abular, and the now departed George Hubierna.

So, it finally came to pass for the PPC after a lifetime of seven decades. Long years in coming, Tonette’s election to the club presidency brings to mind that 1970s Virginia Slims cigarette ad blurb: You’ve come a long way, Baby. Originally a strong feminist statement, aye, a voice of woman empowerment. Never mind its being perverted as some sexist denigration later.

Tonette’s ascendance is beyond any denigration though, not even but a whiff of it.

In the 70 years of the PPC, no other president – this conceited one who served in 1990 not excluded – came to the position bringing as much acclaimed body of work, as much recognition for journalistic excellence – the Catholic Mass Media Awards, Most Outstanding Kapampangan Award, The Outstanding Fernandino Award, etcetera, etcetera – as Tonette.

Indeed, it cannot be mere coincidence but destiny that on the PPC’s septuagennial anniversary, aye, at its platinum jubilee, one lustrous jewel of journalism makes its crowning glory.

Mayap a oras Tonette. Luid ya ing PPC. 

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