PIA’s Kapihan PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 August 2017 14:11



I’m not fond of formatted press conferences. They don’t bring out the best of interviewees. It is, to me, a shackled news briefing. However, such a format introduces some sort of intelligence because the interviewer and interviewee come prepared. Little or no nonsense come out of their mouths. Well, so much for Donald Trump.

In my five years with Marcos’s press secretary Kit Tatad in Malacañang, he talked on the enormous responsibility of the press. In one of his speaking engagements before civic leaders (Lions), he pointed out that a licentious press isn’t good for the public. His vision of an integrated information program was met with antipathy by Congress and power brokers who were quick to denounce anything that would advance clear thinking in the task of informing a nation.

To Mr. Tatad, integrated information is: “A process whereby one citizen informs another on the positive things of life, about living in a community we call a nation. It is a process whereby one moves another toward a positive goal because the information that is transmitted is useful, creative and ultimately for the good of the many rather than the few.” Decades after being Marcos’s information secretary/minister, Frontera Noticias: Kapihan na Zamboanga Garden Orchid Hotel was born.

Out of curiosity, I hopped in at the hotel’s Lobby Bar last Wednesday to see how things were. Approached obviously by an employee of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), she handed me a briefer on Kapihan’s concept. It is a joint project of PIA-9 and the officers of the Mindanao Communicators Network (MINDA COMMET), in cooperation with the Zamboanga Press Club, Inc., Mindanao Cable TV, FEBC DXAS “y miembros del prensa de ciudad de Zamboanga.” Isn’t that cute?

Kapihan features two sets of invited guests who interact with a main host (PIA) and a co-host (private media). It is conducted in mixed dialects and English. The show runs for one hour.

Flashback: Francisco S. Tatad organized the Department of Public Information (DPI) months after the declaration of Martial Law by Mr. Marcos. It wasn’t easy for Mr. Tatad, as he once admitted, because of his lack of managerial education and training. But in a short span of time, he established an information machinery that would constantly inform the public about the actions and directions of the Marcos government. Kapihan is a vehicle for which programs of the national government are discussed.

Mr. Tatad, former national assemblyman and senator, is first and foremost a writer. He started his brilliant career as a writer-reporter. And when his political vocation came to a close after consecutive poll losses, he went back to his old passion – writing.

Kapihan should be supported, especially now that programs and directions of state agencies are unclear and underdefined. The local media can help bring about understanding for the directions, for example, that the local government are taking to “build back better” and to advance (Adelante) Zamboanga to better heights (we are great already). The local press may not be as good as Mr. Tatad, Teodoro Valencia or Teddy Benigno. But they certainly shine in their own turf and intelligence without necessarily using this gift to intimidate people in power.

Those who have retired from the DPI and its replacement – PIA – should be glad that what they’ve worked for is still in progress: INFORMATION.