As told by Fred Padernos to Fidel Duna Banzon
Untold stories, experiences may be surmountable, only the willing reveals.
When media practitioners become victims they too need help.
Without volunteers many will remain in trauma.
During my first visit to Tacloban City after Typhoon Yolanda, on the last day of May, I met Fred Padernos, station manager of Radyo Abante. In the middle of the noon 33° heat, between gulping of the cool San Mig Light beer, he poured his experience on November 8, 2013.
Fred reminisced after the devastating Typhoon Yolanda; he saw different humanitarian organizations from other countries arrived in Eastern Visayas region. Almost all communities were reached with assistance in one way or another. However, no international media organization came to extend aid to their co-media practitioners affected by the tragedy.
In his own words: “As if they forget, we in the media here are experiencing difficulties, especially the media outfit they worked with were destroyed by Yolanda – included are our respective houses and belongings.”
Many among the media practitioners became jobless.
Fred was not blaming the international media, because he knew in other countries some media practitioners had the same situation. He only confided the truth. However, they were not left alone in their predicament. The Peace and Conflict Journalism Network (PECOJON) whose members are media people too, a local media organization, was the first one extended assistance to Tacloban media persons. Like other humanitarian organizations, PECOJON was able to assist them up to what they could only afford.
PECOJON established Radyo Abante (Radio Forward) as part of a humanitarian radio station project. It is to rehabilitate the minds of the Yolanda’s victims by disseminating hopes. The traumatized victims are the main target. The radio station provide counselling, providing different subjects as tools for recovery to return to normal the minds affected by the strongest typhoon ever hit the area. Few media practitioners in Tacloban were fortunate included in the project – earning money to fill the gap.
The National Union of Journalist in the Philippines (NUJP) and National Press Club contributed too. Fred between sigh, said: “Thanks to all of them!”
Volunteering is a personal desire to do the job that he noticed the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and Philippine Information Agency, and other bigger media network in the country failed their colleagues affected by the calamity.
He lamented: “We are called media community. Are we partners only when there are ‘praise releases’ or to cover activities, but when we are the victims they cover behind the locker?
“Why nobody thought the media people, here, also lost their houses. The media community needed housing project too!”
Correct the System
“This period where no calamity is coming, could it be possible for the government to arrange the distribution of relief goods, materials, etc.; so if another disaster comes, the distribution will be smooth – that everybody are given especially those really in need.”
He further explained the reason for his suggestion. To avoid teaching the people become lazy, because they no longer move out of their houses. They wait for someone doing rounds to list the inhabitants of the house every time relief to be given. If nobody is in the house, the pitiful person would not be included in the list for relief. That difficult system must be corrected.
Return to School
The cry, “MAINIT!” (Heat!), sounded all-over the classrooms. Electric fans could not operate without electric current – like in Rizal Central School. The Department of Education should have assured first the “Balik Kuryente” (Reconnect Electricity) simultaneously with “Balik Eskwela” (Return to School). The heat in the classrooms is bad for the pupil’s health – not conducive to learning situation – how could the children learn while sitting uncomfortably under the excessive heat – also the teachers became irritable, hot-headed.
Cash for Work
The “Cash for Work” of the government is a means for people to have income through working under the program. Its purpose is to answer the hungry stomach of our country mates. However, there are complaints that for two or three months already finished the “Work”, but no “Cash” for the wages.
It seems the government is finding difficulty in time of paying wages thereby tantamount to punishing the workers. Instead of Cash for Work, it became Hungry for Work. The bright boys should fix the ugly situation.
Only then and there, we could say we are really walking the “Matuwid na daan” (Walking the straight path).
About Fred Padernos and the writer.- The writer is 78 years old with more than 40 years in free lance journalism. Fred is print and broadcast media practitioner. The two became classmates when then Congresswoman Remedios “Matin” L. Petilla sponsored the study of more than 20 media practitioners in Eastern Visayas for AB Journalism, Asian Development Foundation College, Tacloban City. Philippine Information Agency Regional Director Olive Tiu arranged the project that made possible equipping the self-styled media practitioners to have formal study in journalism.