Maria Ressa (seated, right), Charie Villa (standing, left), and Glenda Gloria (not in photo) of ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs
Photographed by Steve Tirona at the ABS-CBN Headquarters on May 15, 2009.
The three generations of Lopez media moguls have this in common: the ability to marshal talent. Here enters the troika of Maria Ressa (News Group), Glenda Gloria (Current Affairs Group), and Charie Villa (News Gathering Group), a matriarchy where once patriarchy ruled the ABS-CBN roost; of these, the primus inter mares is certainly Ressa, Filipino-American, daughter of two worlds, and product of CNN. In 2001, the network reached the nadir of its disrepute, attacked by the public on the streets and hounded by two successive governments for excessive partisanship. It needed someone who had the personal prestige, and cultural sensitivity, to transform the organization. Ressa was already an up-and-coming figure, internationally, so that her rise was certainly not due to domestic bootlicking; neither can Gloria, with her Newsbreak in-depth-reporter’s credentials, be shrugged off as a toady; while Villa’s management of the crews and reporters is testimony to what can only be compared to generalship on the ground. But of the three, it is Ressa who sets the policy, and that policy has been crafted both within the institutional ranks of the network, and in terms of the network’s peers, none of whom have any love for each other. And yet whether it was in confronting the government in the Peninsula caper coverage, including grappling with officialdom in crafting rules of engagement for future coverage; or appealing to rivals to respect a media blackout during the kidnapping of Ces Drilon, things always ended up with Ressa taking the lead and keeping both management and rivals at bay. There is something remarkable – and uniquely Filipino – in how she has proven adept at parlaying her professional prestige into a means to foster professionalism in the industry as a whole.Â And this, in a nutshell, is the Filipino dilemma: to grapple with the modern world, not according to the antiquated notions of family loyalty, but instead, according to means that promote an institutional mentality, and a professional esprit de corps.
By Manuel L. Quezon III