“ ito yong tumitira sa akin.” I answered back, “ Sir, hindi naman. May mga news nga kami tungkol din sa mga ginagawa mo dito sa Rosales”. I took my seat in front of him not aware that other callers had already entered his room. Before I opened my mouth for my first question, he said , “ Kay Sendong So ito, eh.” (referring to Abono Partylist Chair Rosendo O. So of Carmen West, Rosales) with apparent disgust on his face"
The last time I personally interviewed Rosales Mayor Ricardo V. Revita was in 2008. In that interview, I was treated indifferently. I was given cold shoulders as if I was not existing in front of him. . Since then, I promised myself not to step in his office as I was also told by many colleagues in the media that Mayor Revita will really give you an acerbic attitude especially if you are from the print media. But it’s a big no-no if he is being interviewed by reporters of television stations where you could see him in the “boob tubes” smiling.
But my sad experience with this Presidential Lingkod Bayan Awardee of Pangasinan did not deter me to cover many important events in his municipality. In my mind, I believe that what is important is to bring information to the people, the very reason why a reporter like me exists. And in those events, I never approached him personally but just leave copies of this paper to the municipal staff manning the information booth in the town’s Presidencia.
Four years after or last March 28, I was itching to get information relative to the farmers’ rally against the management and contractor of the on-going Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) last March 24, 2011 . I was informed that the rallyists were dispersed upon the order of Mayor Revita and I had to confirm from him if this was true or not. I also wanted to give a copy of the paper where a news article about his State of the Municipality Address (SOMA) on March 15,2011 was published.
After all these years of not meeting him personally, I told to myself that maybe Mayor Revita has already changed his attitude towards media. Methinks, he has outgrown that attitude being a Lingkod Bayan Awardee- an award which carries in it self good public relations not only to his constituents but to other people particularly those in the media community. So I went to his office and waited for my turn to enter his room. There were many callers waiting also for his services.
When my turn came, I entered his office. I introduced myself and provided him a copy of Northern Watch. I was surprised to see that instead of getting the paper he just glanced at it and told me “ ito yong tumitira sa akin.” I answered back, “ Sir, hindi naman. May mga news nga kami tungkol din sa mga ginagawa mo dito sa Rosales”. I took my seat in front of him not aware that other callers had already entered his room. Before I opened my mouth for my first question, he said , “ Kay Sendong So ito, eh.” (referring to Abono Partylist Chair Rosendo O. So of Carmen West, Rosales) with apparent disgust on his face. I did not answer back, instead I threw in my first question on the updates of the farmers’ rally against TPLEX.
In fairness to him, he explained lengthily about the issue that the rally was not dispersed by him as he was in a seminar in Manila and that the rally has no permit. He said that he is for the rallyists to air their legitimate grievances only they have to comply with proper procedures. I was about to interrupt him talking to go into the bottom line of the situation but I was told bluntly “ Tapusin mo akong magsalita para huwag ka nang tanong ng tanong.” I was dumbfounded. Here is a municipal mayor in front of me who I thought would be treating media reporter like me with savvy but I was getting it unfairly. The worst was when the callers around him were laughing- I don’t know if the laughter was directed to me or to him. Deep inside, it was a humiliating experience. Maybe, I was treated that way because of his earlier statements that I belong to a newspaper associated with Sendong So.
Now Mayor Revita, since I was not able to parry off your insinuations about a person I admire, let me clarify this in this column. Abono Partylist Chair Rosendo O. So is indeed helping us to make this paper grow but never in its four years of existence that he intervened with our editorial work and policies. He’s more concerned on how to inform the people on what Abono Partylist is doing for them that’s why most of our headlines have been about the activities of the said party.
If in the course of news gathering, there were instances that your name has been dragged in some unpalatable issues in your town, these were not done to besmirch you or written just to make tirades against you. These were for the interest of your people and the reading public for them to be aware of what’s happening in your town. And I don’t understand why are you itching against Engr. Rosendo O. So? I am aware that he has helped your town in many ways- he being a philanthropist and has more love than anybody else for public service. In your previous terms, I know that he has helped you also politically or otherwise.
Let me assure you Mayor that we in this paper are all fair and independent minded. You might notice that I don’t want to be always visiting your office like most media reporters are doing. In fact, I have written good news about your activities in the town but you have not even known me personally. This I could say that not a “single centavo” have I benefitted from you on these news write-ups. This is a far cry from other reporters who are frequenting your office and only telling you many good things about you. But that is not what media is supposed to be. Good and bad news should be reported and it’s up to the people who will weigh the truth in them. And back to those reporters patting your back, these are the same people in the media who also frequently visiting Engr. Rosendo O. So.
I am writing this Mayor not to malign you but to make things straight. Whatever ill feelings you have with Engr. So, that is between you and him. Spare us from that. Engr. So is such an admirable person and I haven’t heard anything from him saying bad things about other people.
And by the way Mayor, the farmers’ concerns in your town are not only the late payment of right of way to their lands affected by TPLEX and the subsequent flooding of their farms. More than those is about the indiscriminate hauling of backfill materials for TPLEX from Balingcanaway and Acop? Your people feared that this will cause more environmental deterioration in the said barangays.
(for comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)