Demystifying the region’s journalists

By Zoilo S. Andrada Jr. and Karen Joyce Pumaren

In the era of internet and digital technology, the situation in media society is becoming more complex and confusing. The distinctions and complementariness in the media community are faintly spotted. In particular, the very definition of a journalist turns fluid.

A decade ago, a journalist was simply an individual who investigates, gathers information, and presents them as stories in newspapers, magazines, radios, and televisions. But as they adapt new skills, routines, and outlooks to align with the digital world, the boundary between journalists, bloggers, and social media influencers blurred.

Thus, raising the question: in the digital era, what makes a journalist?

Seven top journalists from Western Visayas, representing different provinces in the region and varied media platforms they are affiliated with, speak about the nature of their journalistic work and what makes it distinctive. 


“I would describe myself and my life as a journalist as a journey. Many times, the journey is more fulfilling than the destination.”

Nestor Burgos

Nestor Burgos, an Iloilo based journalist, has a long journey in the industry. He started his career as a legacy reporter from national news organizations writing in-depth stories on

environment, human rights, politics, social movements, and other issues in Western Visayas.

For years of being a journalist, Burgos huddled titles and recognitions for his staggering community stories that made a profound impact on the society.

In his journey, the emergence of digital technology is the biggest plot twist. He

witnessed how digital media was weaponized for disinformation and destroyed the credibility and influence of news media.

“I started as a journalist before social media became as influential as it is now and

when traditional media was highly regarded as the main source of news and information. It is totally different now in the era of digital media, never have journalists and journalism been threatened, mocked and dismissed,” he detailed.

With disinformation posing a great threat to democracy, Burgos remained committed and more determined to defend press freedom and the truth as it is the nature of journalism.

“In journalism, credibility is everything. The best skills will be nothing if a journalist has no credibility,” he stressed.

Burgos, while utilizing multimedia platforms, performed the vital journalistic

functions with highest ethical and professional standards as he believes that this is the basic duty of a journalist in both traditional and digital media.


“I am as temporary as any living creature and my writings only last for the writing.”

Ted Aldwin Ong

Ted Ong has assimilated digital platform in his journalistic practice. This Western Visayan freelance journalist, writer and blogger maximized the opportunity proffered by the digital age to bring the practice to exemplary standards.

“My journalism work came way ahead of the digital boom and I’ve learned that the demands of the day require a remaining of the journalism discipline by learning how to overlay journalism with blogging in order to optimize the digital platform as a channel to cover stories,” Ong said.

Without the presence of big-league publication, Ong was able to practice acts of journalism by taking up the tools of self-publishing made possible by the internet. Now, he’s running his own website, the

“You write to inform, inspire, and trigger positive change as a journalist. You apply the same characteristics in blogging but with Google and algorithm in mind,” he added.

Regardless of the platform, the goal of the journalist is to be a purveyor and catalyst of positive change.

“I cover stories that support a cause or advocacy. A journalist plays multiple roles but we are an advocate of the public good,” he expressed.


“I could be an active volcano dormant until an issue close to my heart forces me to erupt and start a passionate campaign.”

Maria Sigrid Dugeno-Lo

Maria Sigrid Dugeno-Lo has been in the field of blogging for a decade. She was a

former news reporter, copywriter, and graphic designer. Having a background in mass communication, Lo employs the values and characteristics of traditional reporting to blogging.

Her blogs take on some major talking points in journalism, women, environment, mental health, and other issues. In dabbling in the editorial function and journalistic processes, Lo engraves on her wall the conventions of journalism, accuracy, credibility, and integrity.

“Being digital journalist, we try to bring our messages across without using dirty tricks like click-bait titles and misleading thumbnail photos,” she said.

As a stay-at-home mother with laptop, phone and internet, Lo carried out the journalistic responsibility to combat the plague of fake news and disinformation during the pandemic and advance the causes she believed in.

“I realized that my blog, with its associated social media presence, can be used as a powerful tool to spread information. In my own little corner of the world behind the keyboard, I could send my message across people around the world,” she added.


“A shining star that goes light to false and disinformation that often misleads the public.”

Elena Pabiona

Elena Pabiona is a Senior Announcer of the Radyo Pilipinas Iloilo with various recognitions in radio broadcasting and public affairs. She tackles issues with community and environment value like coastal resilience, solid waste management, effects of climate change and the like.

“Talking or discussing about the environment might be unpopular to some but I am interested in it,” she said.

Being in legacy journalism for a long time, Pabiona asserts that journalists in the digital age must continue to ask tough questions, seek accountability, and shine on uncomfortable topics because at its core journalism remains the same.

“Though traditional media slowly evolved to new media, the challenge remains to be the watchdog or gatekeepers of news as digital technologies continue to alter the nature and function of media in our society” she added.


“I wish all journalists would reflect on their own nut graft, not just of their published articles, but of their body of word.”

Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay

Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay is a multi-awarded Western Visayan journalist based in Iloilo City. This young journalist has an overarching goal of writing hyperlocal stories that can make a difference around the world.

“Balance factual information and sterile statistics with a human voice. I use hyperlocal grassroot points of view to tackle big-ticket issues that would otherwise be difficult to tackle. Think globally, act locally,” Albay shared.

Though relatively new to the industry compared to other mentioned journalists, Albay noticed the gap in local news media.

“What the regional media industry lacks, especially among the traditional media organizations, is an openness to continuing education. Stalwarts in the local media lack the adaptability and teachability that this always-evolving industry needs of its journalists,

especially with the rise of disinformation and social media,” he explained.

Albay noted that modern-day journalists need proficiency in multimedia and adaptability to the changing societal landscape.


“I have metamorphosed. I was able to evolve from a neophyte patrol/ police reporter to a more informed one.”

Runelyn Rocio Jamolo

Runelyn Rocio Jamolo is a veteran broadcast journalist and an advocate for women and child’s rights. She is passionate in local journalism, foregrounding that journalists play a critical role in informing communities and highlighting voices of the minorities because it is the building block of good journalism.

“I believe a good reporter/journalist must have a good sense of self and a good understanding of the community she or he is in,” she said.

Moreover, Jamolo pointed out that in journalism facts must speak especially in the era of fake news and infotainment.


“I consider myself a businessman producing truthful and reliable news and selling such to different news agencies.”

Jun Ariolo Aguirre

Jun Ariolo Aguirre is a freelance journalist who specializes in writing stories about environmental topics and issues. He sells his pieces to various news agencies across the globe.

“As a freelance journalist, I consider myself as a businessman producing truthful and reliable news and selling such to different news agencies,” he explained.

With the prevalence of false information in the new media, Aguirre calls for members of the media industry to be more truthful and accurate in reporting as it is the very essence of journalism.

Visayan journalists demystifying journalism

Clearing the obscurity placed by the ever-changing media universe, the seven foregoing Visayan journalists despite their varying platform have set forth truth as the nucleus of journalism.

As we live in a post-truth era of user-generated content, understanding and evaluating what information is accurate, factual, and relevant is the prerequisite of free and responsible journalism. Journalists should have to be more responsible, critical, and sensitive to stories they cover, write, and publish.

Seemingly, throughout history, Visayan journalists have been actors of the

journalistic role and responsibility. They showcased outstanding works and are considered as highly influential risk-takers of the media.

It is interesting to note that journalists in Western Visayas are observed to be generally vibrant, vigilant, and vocal. These basic individualities are comparable to the outstanding print and broadcast journalists of the region – Don Rosendo Mejica, Russell Tordesillas, Flavio Zaragoza Cano, Graciano Lopez Jaena and Conrad Norada, to name a few. They are the embodiment of a progressive, critical, and candid, and passionate journalists with exemplary contributions to the development of newspapers, magazines, radio, and printing houses in Iloilo.

With the marriage of traditional and digital media happening before our eyes and right inside the newsroom, modern day journalists, as they adapt with the changes, are called to bear the same attributes pressingly and necessarily.

Simultaneous to the continuous advancements of digital media, the lines and channels of traditional media are continually blurring, sooner they may all disappear.

Zoilo S. Andrada Jr., PhD, is Associate Professor in the Division of Humanities teaching Journalism and Communication and Media Studies (CMS) core courses.  Karen Joyce Pumaren is a 4th year CMS student under the Journalism cluster.  Both are from the College of Arts and Sciences, UP Visayas, Miagao.