NOV. 17, 2018


How Did Hawaii’s Filipino Chronicle Survive the Odds?

by Elpidio R. ESTIOKO

Today is the 25th Anniversary issue of the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle! At a time when mainstream media are attacked here and there and being challenged every now and then, the Filipino Chronicle stands tall and very much in circulation up to now. Many are wondering why and how the paper did it and is still doing it.

Here’s how!

For a paper to survive for a longer period of time, especially FilAm newspapers where the papers are free, there must be a strong, respected, effective, and efficient marketing arm and a very solid, innovative, creative, and enterprising editorial staff. Without these two components, the paper will fold in five, seven or at most 10 years. These two vital components combined is the asset of the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle!

Consider this: When a paper has a strong marketing arm, but has a weak editorial staff, the paper will not last long. Conversely, the paper may have a strong editorial staff but have poor marketing arm, it will not work either. Of course, when both are absent, the life span of the paper is less than three years. The two components must complement each other to survive the competition for a longer period of time.

I saw FilAm papers collapse and end their issues in my 21 years in the US. When I immigrated with my family in California in 1997, there were about 12 weekly FilAm newspapers in the Bay Area. In five years, it went down to nine and then for another year, to seven. I found out, as I went through the history of the folded papers, the two components were not present all the way. Now we have five papers in circulation. The reason? The two components I mentioned earlier didn’t gel together which led to their downfall one by one. I know, this is similar to the fate of FilAm papers in Hawaii because this is a universal cause of downfall for free weekly papers in the area they operate. They will either sell it to another entity or family or just fold altogether because they can no longer subsidize the paper and can no longer meet the production cost on a weekly basis. An owner-publisher of this nature, unlike big corporations, can no longer afford to subsidize the expenses.

Hawaii Filipino Chronicle’s owner-publishers are respected, well-entrenched businessmen and professionals in the area. They have strong connections and stable financial base to keep the paper going. Marketing-wise, it’s working well because the owners are spearheading the drive to enlist more partners to finance the paper to supplement their financial base.

In addition, the editorial staff is very capable of putting up the paper on time. It is composed of well-respected, experienced, and able writers, columnists, and production staff. The editorial team is composed of people with diverse talents, various skills, and capabilities that’s keeping the paper’s existence and maintaining the connection between the paper and the population they serve. The relationship is fulfilling their role as partners in bridging the gap between the community and the paper towards a well-informed and updated community.

Members of the editorial staff have passion to write and have the ability to meet deadlines. Unmindful of financial benefits, they continue to serve and maintain their commitment to journalism as a tool for community service. They are either schooled in journalism or have acquired long experience in the field or both, which kept them continue their accountability for the paper and for the community.

Honestly, I have to admit that I didn’t go to a journalism school but instead… I graduated from the University of Hard Knocks. My students in journalism classes asked me: “Sir, where’s the University of Hard Knocks? I haven’t heard about it and I don’t know where to find it…” they say. Well, I learned it the hard way, I told them. That’s where the university is: in the field, in the workplace. Also in my creative and investigative reporting classes, I told them to be innovative and creative and must know how to read between the lines, both verbally and in writing. But… there was a student who told me: “But sir, there are no words between the lines!” Are there really words in between? I think so, but you really need to scrutinize and examine the lines and words to be able to get them.

When I graduated from college, I landed working for a daily English newspaper as a regular field reporter. I learned to cover my beats the hard way by learning to conduct interviews, and writing my daily stories beating the daily deadline. First, I was assigned to the police beat, the training ground for new reporters, and then to various beats. The students in my journalism classes were lucky because I taught them both theory and practice in the field of journalism.

As I covered my beat, I was hired as a special lecturer at the Institute of Mass Communications (IMC), University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP-Diliman). Then, I put up the Bachelor of Science in Public Relations (BSPR) at Arellano University as a department chair and after five years, I taught at the College of Languages and Mass Communications (CLMC) with a rank of Assistant Professor 1V, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). Simultaneously, I was hired as the Director for Public Affairs of the University. While in these teaching and staff positions, I was elected as Director of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) and became an active member of the National Press Club (NPC).

When my students who graduated from journalism joined me in the police beat, I asked my editor to move me to another beat. So, I was transferred to the Justice beat for two years before I was moved to the Foreign Affairs beat until in 1997 when I immigrated to the US.

My fellow writers, columnists, and reporters in Hawaii Filipino Chronicle have similar practice and educational attainment… surely, which qualified them to be members of the editorial staff of the paper. By the way, I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from UP-Diliman and my master’s degree in Mass Communications (M.A. – Mass Communications) from the PUP Graduate School. I was 4th year in the College of Law at Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU) when martial law was declared, but I didn’t continue my law degree after that. I retired from the De Anza College, Cupertino, California after 10 years of teaching, taught at San Jose State University (SJSU) and a five year stint with Axia College, University of Phoenix teaching communications subjects.

I know, I have been boosting my experience but it is just logical for my readers to know my journalism experience that qualified me to work for Hawaii Filipino Chronicle. I am the co-publisher editor for TGU Urdaneta Voice and PB-USA Palaris, organization’s quarterly publications, both non-profit organizations based in Southern California. I’m also a member of the Media Advisory Council (MAC) of PB-USA.

Congratulations to the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle for 25 years of excellent reporting, insightful editorials, and valuable news. It has been a voice for not only Hawaii’s Filipino community, but Filipinos on the U.S. mainland, the Philippines, and globally. Your tens of thousands of readers look forward to many more years to come.

(For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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