Inside Marvin Enderes’ room as press communications officer of Colegio de San Agustin Makati (CSA), one will find stacks of books and school papers piled up in all corners of the office. Behind him is a very special trophy – The NSPC Most Outstanding School Paper Adviser of 2015 – which he considered most precious, as it embodied more than a decade of changing student’s perceptions about journalism in an elite Catholic co-educational environment.
“I first came to CSA in 2003 as a fresh college graduate,” Enderes said, who was the editor-in-chief of The Torch at Philippine Normal University–Manila. Being a campus journalist, he noticed the lukewarm attitude of the students toward the campus paper.
“I proposed to the administration a summer journalism program. In fact, I insisted that I would not accept their offer, unless they opened a school paper in Filipino,” he jested, as almost all students at school think and speak in English.
When he moderated the grade school department’s student journalism club, The Augustinian Mirror, he tempered the conservative Catholic ’flavor’ in its articles.
“Usually it would be filled with articles on saints, the Pope and all things religious, so instead, I made students write about social issues and how they perceived them.”
He shared the story when he brought the students to an urban poor community near PNR in Sta. Ana, Manila. “One of our student writers was the granddaughter of a retired military general and government official. He sent two bodyguards just to make sure we were safe. Or probably to assure himself that his granddaughter was safe.”
But beside these occasional quirks were the challenges that Enderes thought hounded not only him but campus journalism in general.
“The first distraction would be social media,” he revealed. “Usually the new writers could not reconcile the digital world with the [printed]. For them, newspaper work seems so ‘old,’ so it’s hard to encourage kids to join the club. Second, the academics can be demanding. Here at CSA we have an eclectic academic program, so we have to find extra time after school hours. Third would be the recent DepEd order that separates extracurricular activities from the selection of honors.”
He said partnering with parents proved to be the key to his endeavors. “If parents understood the purpose of the program, they would encourage their kids. In fact, many kids will come not out of their volition but because they were told to join. Eventually, with constant exposure, they have gained friends among fellow journalists and found journalism work to be engaging too.”
Today, the CSA summer journalism program is the most attended, most successful summer program at school, according to Enderes. The fruits are bearing too, with Ang Alab winning as the Best Elementary School Paper in Filipino at the 2016 NSPC along with The Augustinian Mirror, which topped the English category.
While many people think campus journalism is just an elective or an extracurricular activity, Enderus stressed that it plays an important role in molding the character of students.
“Journalism is [essentially] writing, and writing is a survival tool of the 21st century. Not all students will take up journalism as course or pursue it as a career, they will go to different fields, but writing will always play a big part of anything they do. Writing should be considered an institutional skill to help mold students to be critical thinkers, to be efficient collaborators, to be effective communicators, and to be creative individuals. Everything begins with campus journalism.”