Americas Community

Philippine Global Media Group Gala Night: Inauguration swan song and phoenix rising 

By Louinn Lota  /Contributor  

NORWALK, California– Philippine Consul General Edgar B. Badajos ended his 3-year tour of duty in Los Angeles by inaugurating 12 officers of the newly established Philippine Global Media Group (PGMG) and offering up one swan song solo during Lunar New Year 2024.

“In America, the President reigns for four years and Journalism governs forever and ever,” the Consul General told an audience of about 130, quoting 19th century Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. “You’ve got a great, good start with veteran media practitioners producing quality and accurate reportage.”

Newly inducted PGMG President Val G. Abelgas, publisher and editor-in-chief of the digital newspaper Philippine Post (PP), embraced Badajos’ remarks, adding that the state of print journalism has reached a pivotal point as newspapers continue to cut staff and reduce pages. He said a way to battle this is to train the up-and-coming generation of FilAm journalists.

“We as veteran journalists need to bind together and set goals,” Abelgas said to applause. “I would love for us to help young reporters by holding seminars, giving scholarships and wholeheartedly accepting business leaders’ support for our cause.”

Badajos added that PGMG members should “not just be purveyors of information but guides to its relevancy to the public.”

He said that this especially should be a high priority for newly arrived kababayan (compatriots) who “face both challenges and opportunities to preserve their identity” while assimilating into America’s diverse population.

“I encourage you to continue writing stories to inspire and embolden action to further improve the lives of all Filipinos here and at home,” Badajos concluded.

ABS-CBN North America News Bureau Chief T.J. Manotoc agreed with Badajos that Artificial Intelligence online bots have become a double-edged sword. “In this unusual and unconventional time, we’re both aided and challenged by AI,” Manotoc said. “We need the algorithms to promote our stories and we have to adapt to the trends.”

Manotoc didn’t just list AI as a challenge that needs to be harnessed, but social media citizen journalists that bend the trend in their favor to get clicks and upvotes.

He retold the parable of the starfish stuck on the shore, about a youth returning dozens of them one at a time back to the sea and how an elder asked why he would do something so futile. The boy replied that the reason why was to save them from dying.

“We have to remind ourselves of the Why,” he added. “Bakit tayo gumagawa nito? (Why do we do this?). There’s a passion, a burning desire for the Why for us to inform, educate, hope, and inspire.”

Badajos inspired his fans one last time by singing crowd favorite Ikaw (You). “It’s more romantic in Europe,” he added, hinting at his possible next service assignment.

Those inducted on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Norwalk included: Abelgas, president; Lydia V. Solis, PP associate editor & Balita Media, Inc. contributor, vice president; Rick Gavino, PP photographer, treasurer; Dan E. Niño, freelancer, secretary; Manny Ilagan, freelancer, chairman of the board; and board members Ruben Nepales, Rappler; Joe Cobilla, PP photographer; Meh M. Guevarra, Philippine Tribune editor; Bobby Crisostomo, PP chief photographer; Abner Galino, PP associate editor; Marc Pijuan, San Gabriel Valley Examiner publisher/editor; and Julian Oriel, Philippines & Asian Report managing editor. (Board member Donnabelle G. Arevalo, Asian Journal writer, was in the Philippines and could not attend.)

The business sponsors of the event included Philippine Airlines, which donated a round-trip flight to the Philippines; and Rajah Tours, which donated a tour of Bohol and Boracay. Gold sponsor was BayaniPay, while Bronze sponsors were Azul Balikbayan Cargo, O Skin Care, Cherish Care Staffing and Caregiving Services, Inc., Pen Homes Inc., Vina Lelim Nacionales, and Van Dichoso. Other donors were Print Hub (Erlinda Granada Sabah), Pena Napoles Orbita, Serry and Zeny Sabocor, Ludy Ongkeko, and Josie E. de Jesus.

California public servants who attended included: West Covina Councilman Ollie Cantos; Mark Pulido, former Mayor of Cerritos; Artesia Councilwoman Melissa Ramoso, also former Artesia mayor; Carson Councilwoman Arleen Bocatija Rojas; and Jessica Caloza, deputy chief of staff of California Attorney General Rob Bonta and a candidate for State Assembly District 52. The late farm labor organizer Larry Itliong’s son, Johnny Itliong, also attended the PGMG event.

Master of ceremonies was Annie Nepomuceno, a Katha and Awit awardee in the Philippines, vocalist, composer, and music teacher in Los Angeles, who also sang the national anthems of the United States and the Philippines. Niño gave the Invocation before dinner, Ilagan delivered opening remarks, Abelgas delivered his acceptance speech and introduced TJ Manotoc, while Solis introduced Consul General Badajos and made the closing remarks.

A modern dance number by Cebu Dancers, led by Venus Madrigal, entertained guests. DJ Isidric Panganiban provided the music and video slides.

Philippine News Today editor in chief and former National Press Club president Alfred Gabot also attended the event.