Thursday, August 5, 2010


Filipino-Americans in the Metro Baltimore region may have their social calendars filled up all the way to winter, but a sports event last weekend was special for many of them.

Katipunan, the largest Fil-Am organization in the Baltimore area, held its third annual golf tournament at the Oakmont greens in Hampstead, Maryland.

It was a golfing tournament with a difference – tourney proceeds are destined for the families of Filipino journalists killed in the Maguindanao Massacre.

More than 30 journalists were herded like sheep then slaughtered in a deserted patch of Ampatuan town last Nov. 23. The Al Capone-type execution was allegedly ordered by the provincial governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and implemented by his son Andal Jr., who according to some accounts actually took part in the shooting.

That sent a shudder up the spine of at least one Katipunan member.

Retired police general Cris Maralit is a familiar face for those who’ve covered the police and military beat from the 1980s onward.

For decades he was the face and voice of, first the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP) and later the Philippine National Police (PNP). He rose through the ranks after accepting a commission in the PC-INP and retired a general a few years back.

Before joining the police, he was actually working for a newspaper. He graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Santo Thomas in Manila.

Ask any journalist who covered the Camp Crame beat and they will tell you Cris was more a colleague than the designated propagandist for the police. He knew well the perils journalists face, sometimes at the hands of scalawag cops.

“Filipino journalists have always been the vanguard of Philippine democracy,” he averred.

Also an avid golfer (we’ve since lost track of his handicap), he convinced the Katipunan to dedicate their upcoming tournament for the slain Filipino scribes. He chaired and organized this year’s tournament.

Conrado Bautista clinched the men's division championship while Joanne Toledo topped the ladies' division.

Three Fil-Am doctors dominated the senior's division -- Dr. Ed Reyes submitted a 71, followed by Dr. Ray Magno with 74.5 net and Dr. Teody Paglinauan came third with a net 75.

Dr. Claro Pio Roda, a former Katipunan president from Baltimore, said supporting a noble cause “gives us a sense of commitment and solidarity with our countrymen, particularly the mediamen”.

“Hopefully, this will go a long way in helping the families of the slain journalists in their quest for justice,” he added.

Katipunan president Belle Owens said their group “recognizes the hard work and sacrifice of Filipino journalists to espouse truth and expose wrongdoings, and will always support the cause of press freedom in the Philippines.”

They may not be able to directly influence the prosecution of the murder trial in Manila, but Fil-Ams in Maryland want to make sure the struggle to protect Filipino journalists is sustained.

Proceeds of the tournament will go to a Press Freedom Fund for Slain Filipino Journalists to be dispensed through the National Press Club of the Philippines.

The Fund aims to provide legal assistance to the victims’ families and education benefits for their children.

Maralit noted the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reported some 140 journalists have been killed since 1987 – 105 of them during the nine-year Gloria Arroyo administration.

The New York-based Committee to Project Journalists called the Maguindanao Massacre the “deadliest single attack on the press”. The Philippines is now regarded as the 2nd most dangerous place for journalists, next only to Iraq.


  1. Give my regards to Cris Maralit.

  2. In behalf of the National Press Club Executive Board for 2010-2012, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all those who chipped in for this tournament. Rest assured that the proceeds will be put to good use and that we at the NPC will not rest until justice is served for our fallen brothers.

    Again, thank you and more power to you all.

    Kristina Maralit
    Director, NPC