The Teddy Benigno Journalism Lecture

The annual Teodoro “Teddy” Benigno Jr. Journalism Lecture, named after one of FOCAP’s founders, is one of FOCAP’s major media events. Benigno also served as a press secretary and Manila bureau chief of the Agence France Presse.

The lecture has become an annual tradition for FOCAP, where stellar speakers from the media industry here and abroad share with a large audience of journalists and journalism students’ insights on the media profession and industry. They discuss press freedom issues and other challenges, recount major coverages of war, disaster and other cataclysmic events and provide tips on industry trends affecting the fourth estate. Aside from journalists and students, professors and journalism school representatives participate in the exchanges and a Q&A session.

Middle East-based journalist Baker Atyani delivers 13th Teddy Benigno Journalism Lecture on December 12, 2019 in Makati City.

Photos courtesy of Nico Cruz and Jamela Alindogan

The Prospects Conference

The Prospects Conference is FOCAP’s annual year-opening event where top speakers from government, politics, business, and security fields are invited to discuss an early outlook for the Philippines for the rest of the year. Usually covered live by TV networks, the speakers discuss policy direction and challenges, major projects and issues then face a grilling from FOCAP and local journalists in a frank and insightful Q&A session. Cabinet members and other leading government officials, business leaders and executives, ambassadors and other diplomats, FOCAP media members and the local media have traditionally attended the event, which usually draw a crowd of 100 to 150 in a hotel ballroom setting and ends with a working lunch, where journalists and officials hobnob.

Among the guests in recent years were Vice President Leni Robredo, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Carpio, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, and other top newsmakers.

Vice-President Leni Robredo (left), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez (center) and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año (right) speak during the annual Prospects Conference on January 30, 2020 in Makati City | Photos courtesy of Alejandro Ernesto Pérez Estrada

FOCAP Exhibit: Snapshots of History

To mark its 45th founding anniversary, FOCAP mounted a photo exhibit at the Ayala Center in Makati City to highlight its decades-long campaign for press freedom. “Snapshots of History” featured 45 of the most stunning photography works spanning the organization’s 45 years and highlighting key historic moments and Philippine figures, including the seven presidents ranging from Marcos to Duterte.

More than 20 of the country’s best photographers from FOCAP exhibited a wide array of stunning images from the Marcos dictatorship era, the “People Power” Revolution, the devastating coups, the insurgencies and other armed conflicts, natural disasters up to the drug killings under Duterte.

After Ayala Center, where the weeklong exhibit drew sizable crowds, the exhibit was moved to the Supreme Court in Manila for the high court’s commemoration of International Human Rights Day. The exhibit was then transferred to the De La Salle University’s Journalism Department, where FOCAP journalists also spoke in a journalism lecture. Other academic venues for the photo exhibit are to be arranged.

Photos courtesy of Alejandro Ernesto Pérez Estrada

Annual FOCAP Presidential Luncheon

Regarded by some as the Philippine counterpart to the White House press’s Gridiron event with the U.S. president, the formal Manila luncheon has carved a distinction for the aggressive and no-nonsense questioning the sitting president gets on policy, national governance and foreign policy issues. Philippine leaders, who have faced intense issues like Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Rodrigo Duterte have skipped the annual event but FOCAP stands ready to resume the luncheon, where all sitting presidents are formally invited. Past presidential luncheons organized by FOCAP have been covered live by Philippine TV networks and international and local news agencies.

The “Prospects” Magazine

The “Prospects” is an annual publication by FOCAP that looks back at the year’s most important and consequential news events. Members, who are experienced, respected, and award-winning journalists, write about their most memorable coverages with the perspective of hindsight and in the context of what lies ahead for a particular issue or story. Their articles, which are varied in style and content, are also accompanied by visuals by our photojournalists, who are some of the most renowned in the industry. The magazine complements the annual Prospects forum, and is distributed to forum attendees as well as to members, associate members, and media and corporate partners. 

FOCAP’s Zoom Online News Fora

Early in the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, journalists faced the unprecedented specter of being restricted to homes like most Filipinos under lockdown and varying degrees of quarantine. That would have severely curtailed the ability of independent journalists to cover the news comprehensively and report other crucial voices and perspectives other than of the government on the national response to the health crisis. FOCAP immediately organized online video news fora as alternatives but effective platform to cover the breadth of the pandemic onslaught, from health, law enforcement, governance to personal perspectives.

Since the start, FOCAP has organized dozens of Zoom news video fora on the pandemic and other national issues, providing a public platform for independent health experts including former health department secretaries, WHO and NGOs, analysts, LGU executives and Cabinet members. The Zoom fora also covered other key issues like terrorism in Mindanao and the South China Sea territorial conflicts. With the pandemic unraveling indefinitely, FOCAP looks forward to continuing its online news forums even when face-to-face news forums return in a hybrid mix to ensure independent news voices are heard along with the governments on all issues of public concern.

FOCAP’s ZOOM news fora have inspired other groups to initiate their own online media forums to overcome restrictions in the COVID-19 era.