By Bobby Q. Labalan
NAGA CITY --- All roads led to this city for campus journalists as the annual Regional Schools Press Conference (RSPC) being initiated by the Department of Education (DepEd) formally opened November 13 at the Jesse M. Robredo Coliseum.
Thousands of elementary and secondary campus journalists, aided by their advisers and coaches, representing the thirteen school divisions in the entire region would be competing in various individual and group events, Joan Lagata, regional campus journalism supervisor, said.
Included in the events are news writing, feature, sports, science and technology, editorial, copy reading and headline writing, cartooning, photojournalism, collaborative desktop publishing, TV and radio scriptwriting and broadcasting for both elementary and secondary levels. Online publishing is added for secondary level, Lagata added.
The annual journalism competition is mandated under Republic Act 7079 or the Campus Journalism Act of 1991 which aims to “promote the development and growth of campus journalism as a means of strengthening ethical values, encouraging critical and creative thinking, and developing moral character and personal discipline of the Filipino youth.”
This year’s RSPC is being hosted by the Camarines Sur National High School based in this city and has adopted the theme, “Fostering 21st Century Skills and Character-Based Education through Campus Journalism”.
Aside from the campus journalists, school paper advisers, coaches and parents, the opening ceremony was also attended by top DepEd regional and division officials as well as officials of the Naga City government led by Vice-Mayor Nelson Legacion who represented Mayor John Bongat who was on official trip abroad.
In his inspirational message delivered to the 2,896 delegates during the opening program, DepEd Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad underscored the significance of training the student-writers on the ethical practices of journalism in their early years.
“We want to hone not only the writing skills of our students, but also their ethical values. We hope that you will train your students about the importance of upholding the truth and promoting fairness and objectivity. Teach them also to be courageous, and to speak the truth no matter what it costs. Through the school paper advisers’ close supervision, we hope to develop upright citizens of this country,” Sadsad stressed.
The Regional Director also expressed full support to the development of campus journalism in Bicol as he revealed that the DepEd Regional Office V has allotted a special budget for the cliniquing of the student-writers who will win in this year’s RSPC and will participate in the 2019 National Schools Press Conference (NSPC).
“We have to make sure that our students will be fully prepared to take part in the 2019 NSPC, and surpass the achievements that we garnered in the past years. Let us train our students well, and enable their participation in the NSPC to be meaningful and rewarding,” Sadsad said, as he announced that there will be no registration fee to be collected during the NSPC.
He said DepEd Central Office will shoulder the board and lodging of all participants, including all other expenses in the event, so only the transportation expenses will be assumed by the schools who will win in the RSPC.
Bicol was adjudged first runner-up over-all in the NSPC held in Dumaguete City last year, while Calabarzon was hailed as champion.
Lagata said they are looking forward to a better performance in the NSPC to be held on January 28-February 1, 2019 in Lingayen, Pangasinan.