99th Baguio Charter Day Anniversary Issue
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The 4 Fs across
the times
by Morr Pungayan

They are four words—found at the right upper part of the BMC tabloid, sometimes noticed or commented in-relation but often, left unheeded—or rather unnurtured, etc. but in sum: not as much regarded as a “big deal.” The words, left to right, read: Fair, Fearless, Friendly, Free, which we shall refer to in this discussion as “The four Fs.”

Compared to the other identifications in the aforestated location viz. Baguio Midland Courier, Exponent of the Wonderland of the Cordilleras and the riches of Ilocandia, even the ISBN No., the number of pages, the date, the price (per copy), Yes! The four Fs are not as nurtured or noticed.

The sedate purpose however of the four Fs being placed at the very top, at the very right corner of the paper is to define, state, and stand for the stance, qualities, or culture of the paper—the Baguio Midland Courier.

So that: if it lives up to those stances/qualities declared, well and good; if it does not, at times or less than often—well, at least the Fs provide the “parameters” and besides, there is “still room for improvement”; but if it does not at all, then those four Fs should be replaced in no time —and the best people to decide such replacement shall be the paper’s owners themselves.

But the four Fs have endured (!) across the times—amid “turbulent” regimes and politico-economic upheavals. The four Fs have always been: from the time of BMC’s founding on April 28, 1947 up to the present time; and there was never an attempt by the BMC—during this or that era—to have the four replaced or substituted by softer terms, or otherwise “fitting” saber-toothed ones.

In the light of their most basic, general, but sufficient respective applications, we thus set forth the simplified definition of each of the four Fs, to wit:

Fair = “just, unbiased, and in accordance with ‘the rules’ [of the field or profession]”

Fearless = “without fear, brave, unshrinking [from doing]”

Friendly = “acting like a friend, well-disposed, kindly”

Free = “not a slave or under the control of another; having personal rights and social and political liberty”

Now, to some highlight instantiations of the Four Fs in the course of the Baguio Midland Courier’s life of more than 62 years and still very much on the “go” – serving, ministering, and ‘living-up-to’ the four Fs it has since been banner-carrying.

Was it a couple of times that I read—under the section “The Week’s Mail” —readers on two separate occasions, where two different readers were berating two BMC reporters for “not checking with the facts” first? And what happened next?

Same pattern was what: immediately after the pinpointed issue, BMC’s reply came i.e. the Sunday following. In the case of the second occasion, the Editorial main handled the explaining, con detalles, of course.

Another instance was when there was a writer trading discussions with a ‘persistent reader’ over a certain topic. Many subscribers were later lured into the discussion—as evidenced by some readers’ letters proas well as con to it. After a month or so, the discussions died out from the BMC completely.

Curious, I asked the editorial staff, why the sudden “stop” and they said: “both” sides were given three times each to ventilate their arguments, those will do – to be fair, don’t you think so? [Not expecting to be asked, I managed a simple: ‘Opo’].

To add to the traditional policy of the BMC on fairness, its committed present and recent past’s staff members and editors have provided sections such as the Letters to the Editor or The Week’s Mail,officially called such since October 1953; Dear Baket in the 1990s; and the Animated Me and Speaking Out which commenced in 2004. Now and then the paper also conducts contests on essay writing, letter writing, as well as photojournalism.

What else were these conceived for, if not to answer for the ‘inclusion’, involvement, and participation (in the paper) of our BMC readers, the young sectors of our society, and others of different registers or repertoires?

* * * * * * * * * *

“No, it must be incorrect to say that ‘the Midland people are without fear’; rather what should be said of them in that context should be: “they fear not what those affected by what they write may do or say,” defended one Midland avid reader, Alexander F. of Itogon, one sunny day at a ‘round-around’ conversation of friends and the like.

The stimuli to Alexander F.’s defense of ‘the Midland people’ came from discussions of two others seated an the table: one said, “government officials—high or low—cannot escape the eyes of the ‘Midland people’... did you read the headlines Sunday before this... garbage, chicken dung, and those near Mendiola, and all?

“Sure did. Yes, ‘the Midland people’ must be truly brave, they are without fear... [that was where Alexander F. cut him. cf. Supra].

But if we mean by the term ‘fearless’: unshrinking from criticizing, speaking/writing “for” (or its vice-versa of “against”), even leading a collective action to effect a pressing action, why not?

All of us witnessed the Jadewell debacle, the garbage fiascos, Candy non-grata, and most recently, the Busol headlines—to name an outstanding few.

Did ‘the Midland people’ shrink? The answer resounding—and which shall echo across times doubtless—is: No, Sir!They said some things, wrote many things as this or that validity; such truth as this, such truth as that. In sum: they came out fearlessly to be part of all above-said issues, as they did in the past, in equally controversial issues, concerns, and affairs.

In the “darkest times” of Martial Law, the Baguio Midland Courier came out in regular, normal issues—sober and intact in its fearless stance as one venue for communication and information, “inside” or “outside” the Philippines. Need we say more of the fearlessness of the BMC?

* * * * * * * * * *

“Environment-friendly”, “child-friendly”, “poor-friendly”, etc., are what easily characterize the Baguio Midland Courier when we attempt to assess its involvement and support for the realization of such concerns.

Spot in the pages—from BMC’s intrepid photo-journalists—the pictures and caption of a man at Burnham, on wheelchair and ‘handicapped’ but honestly making a living selling merienda and fresh eatables; or those of two smiling children bathing and enjoying in their innocence in one untouched creek in faraway Ferwang (Belwang); or those of volunteer SLU students, yearly planting seedlings at the Busol area under the leadership of print-shy Joseph Aguilar!

But BMC’s friendliness do not extend to “vandals”; so, they caption a bridge somewhere in the North now hanging precariously because some insensitive enterprisers de-leafed the steel supports of said bridge; they editorialize: “an P11-million-worth building billed as a ‘trading post’ in Tuba not only unused or abandoned but falling over to one side due to erosion” and the like.

BMC’s friendliness turns to “stinging criticism” where their allegiance to fearlessness-to-expose, begins!

In times of crises and disasters, the BMC people do not only help those needing immediate operation or rehabilitation for their serious ailments, in the city or in the Cordis: their dedication and concern for the Pinatubo victims of 1991 is a case in point.

* * * * * * * * * *

Whenever the need to detach itself from any “connection previous,” known or unknown, becomes inevitable, the BMC does not succumb to parochialism nor to convenience; nay! not even to the watertight processes of: exploratory, conciliatory, compromise! If and when it stands pat on one side, it knows to be its conviction-side, no amount of influence, power, pressure, authority, nor “chain-line order” can bend its will!

Witness its stand on the concrete Pinus kesiya at the Upper Session Road roundabout; its call for the securing of the pine tree lot area near the Convention Center; its exposés for the getting-bolder-and-bolder illegal constructions eating up our watersheds and reservations Cordi-wise; its firm but decisive role in the Jadewell affair—if I may say again.

BMC’s freedom—not only expressed but acted as well—has not only been demonstrative for expression of itself; that same free-dom the BMC (well, through the BMC people we must as well say) has proven Q.E.D. to distinguish itself as “a watchdog against the abuses of the ‘power-clothed’, the moneyed, and the ‘feeling’ones!”

Concluding remarks
Many better things could have been said about the four Fs of the Baguio Midland Courier had there been enough time to reflect, analyze, and insightify deeper the applications of each “F.” Therefore, rather than treat this short discussion with “Is-that-all?” skepticism, it may be prudent for the reader to agree with me that “it is a good glimpse, nevertheless.”

When the Baguio Midland Courier was founded in 1947, many were not yet born, including me; the temperament and life-philosophies of those times were certainly different in most probability, such lent to the just-finished devastating War; as compared, for instance, to the era of Emergency Employment, of Martial Law, of EDSA, of Post-EDSA, and so on. Were the originalsight-yonders of the four Fs, the same and consistent across those “regimes” or eras? Who knows? Seems no one can really tell. Assume: perhaps!

But the four Fs – Fair, Fearless, Friendly, and Free – were never changed (!) in the front pages of each Courier tabloid issued since 1947! So, but the import of each, therefore, endured and persisted?

“More or less” is what we can best say, as long as the definitions themselves do not metamorphose or standardify (as are the cases of hero and cute).
Furthering into the “exactnesses” of application of the four Fs is like denying our own accessibilities into the import(s) of each F in our own time—of this generation and before it.

All of us, “Midland people” or not, and readers all should we not rather express our fairness by giving credit to whoever were the original conceivers of the four Fs; nurture the same to demonstrate our fearlessness to act otherwise; embrace with friendliness the print and electronic media who are the partners-in-mission of the BMC; move forward with our freedom to express, articulate, and co-exist?

Supplement Articles
:: Which Baguio Centennial?
:: Baguio Midland Courier Builder
:: Kennon’s own report on the famous zig–zag
:: What if Baguio settled for a railroad
:: A look into Baguio’s transport system
:: Baguio: A Citadel of Learning
:: Growing up in early Baguio
:: Early recollections
:: Baguio’ cool climate keeps tourism, economy vibrant
:: Development of Burnham Park is city’ concern
:: Remembering the lessons of the past for the future: The Baguio City Market
:: Look, young man, on this tree city, now
:: The Anatomy of Squatting in Summer Capital
:: Baguio’s Many People
:: Bring Baguio Home
:: The Cordillera Warriors
:: A native–born scans: The Future of Baguio
:: Cement Pours into Baguio
:: A futuristic master plan for Baguio
:: Should BMC start tweeting?
:: Behind the scenes: searching the Midland Archives
:: 62 years of important events in the city
:: My hometown
Baguio City

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