Filipino journalist bags Global Media Award

PINOY Newsmagazine/Philippine News
January 2008

Text, photo and video by Ted Regencia

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A disturbing look on sex, media and children and a separate story on population explosion and its effects on the environment, won Philippine television reporter Melclaire Sy Delfin the 2007 Global Media Award from the Washington-based Population Institute (PI).

Delfin, of television network GMA 7 and its US affiliate GMA Pinoy TV, was cited for Best Individual Reporting for her articles “The Forbidden Games Filipino Children Play” and “When Wells Run Dry: A Tragedy Looming Large.”

The lone Asian awardee shared the stage with a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, a radio show host from the African country of Cameroon, and nine other recipients, during a ceremony, December 5, at the Rayburn House of Representatives Office Building in the US capital.

“Being a journalist, my goal is always to provide accurate and complete information. So that my countrymen, the Filipinos, can make the right choices for themselves and for the country,” Delfin said in a short remark after receiving the award.

“I am definitely honored by this award, especially that it comes from a very respected international organization,” she said in a separate interview.

Former director of the Philippine Press Institute, now Washington-based executive of Global Media Ventures, Adlai Amor was also at the ceremony to congratulate Delfin.

“I am delighted that [she] won this award. It shows that Filipino journalists have what it takes to compete in the international stage. I hope other journalists will follow her path and will continue to make us Filipinos proud throughout the world,” Amor said.

The Media and Family Planning
Coincidentally, a Filipino professor from the John Hopkins University was guest speaker at the event. Jose G. Rimon II, senior deputy director of the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, stressed the crucial role of media in educating the populace about population control.

Using scientific findings, he pointed out that mass media is the most “cost effective” way of reaching its target audience, even as he stressed the important role of government in promoting reproductive health issues.

In the case of the Philippines, Rimon urged the government to do more to promote family planning. He said that despite economic growth the country now enjoys, poverty still persists because the economy cannot keep up with an even faster population growth.

Rimon said that while the Philippines share the same economic growth as neighboring Thailand and Vietnam, it has 18 million more people.

“The Philippines would never progress as long as their is no political will to address this issue. We have been left behind by most of our Asian neighbors. At one time we have been compared to Thailand, and they have surpassed us. And we were being compared to Vietnam, and Vietnam has surpassed us in this area. What else is there to compare,” he said.

Despite the strong opposition of the highly-influential Catholic church to numerous family-planning methods, Rimon believes there’s a way to find “common ground” to work together

“From my experience, if you talk to individual priests in the parish level, they do understand the issue. But sometimes they have to toe the line. But there’s a lot of progressive thinking even within the Catholic church. It’s not monolithic in this particular issue, so probably you just need to find a way so that some kind of common ground is found, and which politically everybody can work together,” he said.

Private corporations and non-government organizations must also do more to encourage responsible family planning, Rimon added.

Population explosion
In the two articles Delfin wrote, she showed how unrestrained population explosion affected the populace, as described by Rimon in his statistics.

In the story “The Forbidden Games Filipino Children Play,” Delfin delves on “the shocking sexual precocity of Filipino children.”

Because of lack of proper sex education, limited parental supervision due to poverty and family size, combined with continuous bombardment of images on television, the Internet and magazines, children have become exposed to risky sexual behaviors as told by the article.

Delfin reported how she witnessed children living in an impoverished area in Manila, simulating sexual acts.

“Most often, it is a taboo talking about it (sex) with children in many Filipino families. This leads children to explore it on their own, thinking it’s just another game,” Delfin wrote earlier in explaining her story to the Population Institute’s Media Awards Committee, headed by a respected Indian journalist, Rahul Singh.

Meanwhile, Delfin’s other piece, “When Wells Dry: A Tragedy Looming Large” looks at dwindling of natural resources amidst population growth and increased pollution and contamination.

The Population Institute, which handed out the award, is an international, educational, non-profit organization that seeks to voluntarily reduce excessive population growth, through universal access to family planning information, education and services.

While based in Washington D.C., it does not accept funding from the US government. Established in 1969, the Institute has members in 172. It is headed by Dr. Lawrence Smith Jr, president.

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