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num. 519 - February 2012

ASIA-OCEANIA

Philippines - Using videos to speak up for the poor

Since 1988, the United States Embassy in the Philippines has organized an even to honor outstanding Filipinos in the fields of journalism and public service. On December 6, 2011, Oblate Fr. Eduardo “Ponpon” VASQUEZ was the recipient of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Fellowship for Professional Development for his work in journalism.

In his address to those attending the award presentation in Manila, His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Philippines, made these comments about Fr. Ponpon:

“Since 2003, Father Ponpon Vasquez has been serving bravely, as priest and media man, in Maguindanao Province, where we all know conflict exists. In 2006, he founded i-Watch, a media outfit under the Oblate Communications Philippines. i-Watch produces documentaries that draw attention to the detrimental effects of armed conflict on innocent civilians.

“For all his good work, Father Ponpon has even received death threats from some parties, which has forced his congregation to ask him to go on hiatus for his personal safety. But despite the dangers he faces, he maintains that what motivates him is simple: that his documentaries give the poor a voice—that they allow the poor to be recognized in society.”

With his media efforts, Fr. Ponpon wants to empower the indigenous peoples as they strive for electoral reforms, and help them to preserve their culture through audio recording of tribal music and dances and filming the lives of their neglected far-flung communities.

A video of the award presentation may be found at: http://goo.gl/60yox