A Star is Born

- Matt Wolf, Max V. Soliven -

MANILA, Philippines - What? Another newspaper?

Indeed, there are already 22 daily newspapers in this wordy archipelago, where volubility too often outstrips logic, and gossip is regarded as juicier than truth. But, yes. Here is a newspaper, No. 23 perhaps, but not just another newspaper.

We are embarked on a simple adventure –– that of trying to tell the unvarnished truth. This is not to imply that other newspapers peddle lies, or half-truths (which are more dangerous than falsehood itself), or are careless with the facts. We propose to bring out a newspaperman’s newspaper: easy to read, each news report as detailed and succinct as we can make it, written without fear or prejudice, catering to no one and no selfish cause –– each reporter committed only to the truth or what he honestly sees to be true, regardless of whoever may be offended (including his own publisher and editor).

This is a tall order and may appear an outsized ambition. We will make mistakes in the rush to meet deadlines. But if we do, we will correct them immediately and abjectly apologize for having made them. An apology, we know, will never fully banish hurt or restore a damaged reputation. An injustice can seldom be justly repaired. But in these rare instances of misstep we trust that our sincere defense can be that each word was written with honesty of purpose. Between a scoop and being accurate, we will opt for the latter.

In a statement of purpose such as this, one is tempted to cite some pompous and impressive phrases about freedom of the press, the public’s right to know, and the role of the media as the guardian of the public good. When we were young and feisty college editors, we even basked in the rather smug motto: “A drop of ink makes the millions think.”

And yet, those words, born of our youthful conceit –– and, beyond that, perhaps our optimism –– are true. Never more true than today. For we constantly harp on the need for a War against poverty, when, in reality, what our country and our people need most in this hour of continuing confusion and crisis is a war on ignorance. It is ignorance that keeps our people in bondage and in despair. It is only knowledge –– a knowledge of their rights, their worth, their capabilities, and what they can achieve –– that can set them free.

We have called our newspaper, “The Philippine STAR”. And we have borrowed a Biblical phrase as our motto: “Truth Shall Prevail”. We believe that each individual who helps truth prevail is in himself or herself a “star”.

And we pray that God’s star will guide us and teach us to be true to our nation’s goals, to our manifest destiny, to each other, and to ourselves. For we believe that the Lord did not give us a “miracle” at Edsa, a miracle which was implanted like the tiny mustard seed in the hearts of all Filipino and grew to animate and inspire us all to throw off the shackles of tyranny, only to abandon us now.

I am reminded, incongruously, of that American movie idol of many years ago –– Clark Gable –– who died in 1960 while filming a movie called “The Misfits” with the actress Marilyn Monroe. The last words Clark Gable spoke on camera were strangely symbolic.

In this final scene, Marilyn Monroe in a lost and plaintive voice asks: “How do you find the way back in the dark?”

Gable replies in his deep, resonant voice – almost the final phrase of his career. “Just head for the big star straight on. The highways under it will take us home.”

We, the Filipino people, having wandered in pain and sorrow in the desert of despair for two decades, agonizing, in Ninoy Aquino’s poignant words, “through the long, dark night”, are looking for a star to guide us home.

May our “Philippine Star”, on this homeward pilgrimage, shed some light to dispel the encircling gloom and help lead our hesitant steps towards that inexorable dawn. (Reprinted)

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