Of COVID-19 pandemic and My Journalism Career

Batanes to Tawi-Tawi

Julmunir I. Jannaral

The pandemic is a great time for writing when one is on Lockdown!

As I recall my timeline under normal time, I can say that I am under virtual under house arrest since the 12th of March 2020, and that was the last time when I was in Metro Manila and visited the NAMRIA (National Mapping and Resource Information Authority) in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Then the following day I passed by one of the malls in Las Pinas City where at the grocery most of the customers at the grocery have their push carts almost full of grocery items. I did not realize that most of the people who understood what come next like lockdown will start the next few days they were already on panic buying.

I only saw few of the customers wearing face mask and the term COVID-19 was not that popular until Metro Manila and the rest of the provinces had a state of quarantine.

So Metro Manila and nearby provinces like Cavite and Laguna were declared under ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) where movement of people are restricted and there is curfew at night time.

Thus some areas were under lockdown where travel outside residence is restricted unless to buy essential things like medicine.

In my case I began to adopt the Stay-At-Home since March 12this year and to acclimatize myself by just staring the four corners of the house or staring at the ceiling throughout the day. Until one day I have a long conversation with long time colleague Masiding Noor Yahya who was my fellow journalist at the defunct Philippine Muslim Times. He was one of the Editors of that defunct Muslim newspaper and I was then the Chief of Correspondents. After several decades we met again and where at present I am a Senior Correspondent of The Manila Times where I worked for this national broadsheet since 1992. I invited Ding as the Manila Times Correspondent with an Area of Coverage involving Marawi City and the two Lanao Provinces with Iligan City as his base. 

But by a stroke of faith both of us for some other reasons we both went on leave from Manila Times. Thus during this pandemic our time are both vacant from dawn to sunset. We even discussed to resuscitate his moribund Friday Times that was in circulation every week in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the 80s. But then our plan to revive Friday Times did not materialize.

Somehow, one day we both felt restless. But it is good enough his weekly RANAO STAR is still in circulation to ward off his boredom. Until one day in the first week of June this year he told me that we will have to put up a Digital electronic newspaper or e-newspaper weekly and he said it will be named as Philippine Muslim Today, which I seconded with an affirmative reply. 

Thus on June 19, 2020 the Philippine Muslim Today was born as an e-newspaper in Digital format has the Maiden Issue with a banner headline titled: “Returnees to Bangsamoro region surge Covid.” The rest is history and while people around the world are still waiting for the vaccine appropriate for Covid-19, this e-newspaper serves as an antidote to our daily boredom especially as of this writing Metro Manila and nearby province like Cavite was again on July 15, 2020 declared by President Rodrigo R. Duterte under GCQ (General Community Quarantine) as per recommendation of the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19.

Thus this pandemic while it is a nuisance to many people since some were left jobless and not to mention those who died due to the deadly Coronavirus, we take it as being the Will of the Divine Providence that we have have now the material time to write News stories to be published weekly in a Digital format at Philippine Muslim Today. This newspaper serves as a forum for Muslim in the Philippines to read the truth about us Muslims and written by Veteran Muslim journalists for the Muslim readers. After we have realized that mainstream newspapers based in Manila do not carry important good news about Muslims but they immediately used a screaming headline when Muslims have transgressed the law.

Take for example a Muslim lady from Marawi City who is a Bar Topnotcher in the recent Bar Exam being the No. 2 of this rigid examination to be hurdled by Law graduates and administered by the Supreme Court of the Philippines, yet she was not interviewed by the defunct ABS-CBN. I can attest to this that the Anchorman Julius Babao instead gave prominence in a lengthy interview with another Bar passer also a lady but she ranked No. 4. Why did they omit and did not interview the No. 2 Topnotcher? Is it because she is a Muslim? 

Hence, in a nutshell what the mainstream Media may deliberately do not publish anything good about the Muslims but only they are happy to publish anything bad about us or the Bangsamoro people, the Philippine Muslim Today is here as the answer.

Another Trivia in my life as a Journalist that I owe it to a prolonged Stay At Home due to this COVID-19 Pandemic is my career development aspect as a Journalist. Bringing the banner of Philippine Muslim Today as its Managing Editor, I have just successfully completed on July 14 this year an international training for Journalists. It is the recently concluded Webinar by Zoom Platform of the Online Training for Conflict Sensitive Journalism (CSJ) in Mindanao that is being hosted by the Andrea Marshall M.A., Project Manager |Journalist Trainer, Asia & Europe Division    Deutsche Welle (DW), Akademie; and Online Lecturer Sheila Mysorekar, and Martin Schmidt who are all based in Berlin, Germany. 

To my Filipino fellow trainee like Karlon Rama of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City who always supplied me with the missing lessons due to the problem of poor internet connectivity. And most of all to Marlon Peter Dedumo the Cotabato City-based Staff of international NGO Nonviolent Peaceforce who facilitated my enrollment in this Online journalism training. 

This international training on Journalism that I have taken is not the first one. My first training also the lecturer was also from Berlin, Germany but it was under the Manila Training Program.

The 1st course that I took was in 1997 just in time when I joined as News Reporter of PTV-4 and being from the print media I have no background at all in television broadcasting.

Thus my completion of this first course “Diploma for Broadcasters in News Reporting” as hosted by 

International Institute of Journalism Berlin-Branderburg (IIJB) in e. V. GERMANY, Manila Training Program- November 4-14, 1997 had equipped me well in my transition to television reporting. PHILIPPINE MUSLIM TODAY

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