The first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize—widely regarded as the most prestigious award available on Earth—Rappler CEO and co-founder Maria Ressa formally accepted it—at last, after court’s approval—Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Oslo, Norway. She and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov share the victory as they brought global attention to their countries’ struggles against human rights and press freedom.
Maria Ressa, in her more than 35 years as a journalist working in conflict zones and war zones in Asia and reporting numerous disasters and seeing “so much bad”, had still seen and reported “so much good”. Part of it, she said, is how they in Rappler hold on amid the government attacks is because of the “kindness of strangers” that despite the dangers they just wanted to help in their own little way without even expecting anything in return. “This is the best of who we are, the part of our humanity that makes miracles happen. This is what we lose in a world of fear and violence,” Ressa posited.
Ressa started her compelling acceptance speech by addressing the facts about journalists that like her was “forced to sacrifice so much to hold the line,” she said, and to continue upholding the values and mission to “bring truth and hold power to account.”
I remember the brutal dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, my friend, Luz Mely Reyes in Venezuela, Roman Protasevich in Belarus (whose plane was literally hijacked so he could be arrested), Jimmy Lai languishing in a Hong Kong prison, Sonny Swe, who after getting out of more than seven years in jail, started another news group and now is forced to flee Myanmar. And in my own country, 23-year-old Frenchie Mae Cumpio, still in prison after nearly two years, and just 36 hours ago, the news that my former colleague, Jess Malabanan, was killed with a bullet to his head.-Maria Ressa during her Nobel Peace Prize award acceptance speech delivered in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10, 2021
Ressa also shed light that lawyers are more prone to get killed than journalists in the Philippines as at least 63 lawyers compared to the 22 journalists killed following President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.
“The toxic sludge,” Ressa lamented and in her grim words continued, “That coursing through our information ecosystem, prioritized by American internet companies that make more money by spreading that hate and triggering the worst in us.” For her, we all need to “work harder” and to be the good, Ressa strongly affirmed, “We have to believe there is good in the world.”
The first Filipino Nobel Peace Prize awardee Ressa evidently identifies technology as the catalyst for “creative destruction” that leads to variants of paradigms, and where sliding door moments become intensely difficult for all of us to figure a way out. Thus, Ressa calls upon us to act, ponder, let empathy reign our hearts, and dissolve fear.
Journalist Maria Ressa, with her shared vision with David Beasley, swells the compulsion of the audience present in the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony by encouraging them to be accountable and audaciously responsive to the call of time as she puts it, borrowing the words of David Beasley,
We are standing on the rubble of the world that was, and we must have the foresight and courage to imagine what might happen if we don’t act now, and instead, please, create the world as it should be — more compassionate, more equal, more sustainable.
To believe that there is good in the world is to sacrifice readily for the truth. As Maria Ressa left this question to everyone unanswered, “What are you willing to sacrifice for the truth?” the world, perhaps, “loses its soul.” ▲
You can read the full text of Maria Ressa’s speech at the Nobel Peace Prize awarding here.
Congratulations, Maria and Dmitry!
Featured photo: Rappler
Regel Javines is a former editor-in-chief of an official student publication in a state university. He has been blogging since 2011 writing news and opinion on various social issues; a stringer for already defunct Yahoo! Contributor Network and Allvoices.com. He is also a former content editor and proofreader for various book publishing companies and spent a short stint in The Manila Times as a Deskman for national and foreign business news. See Regel’s posts.