THE FILIPINO CHAMPION: SHIELA CORONEL AND HER SEARCH FOR TRUTH

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Feb. 1, 2013

NEW YORK– Award-winning Filipina investigative journalist, Sheila Coronel, was named the first ever Director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at the Columbia University’s School of Journalism in New York in 2006.

Before coming to the U.S., Coronel is better known as an advocate for free press at a time when the freedom of speech was under attack and suppressed under the Marcos Dictatorship.

Coronel chronicled the movement that brought the Marcos dictatorship down in a peaceful EDSA revolution in the mid 80’s.

Her compelling stories appeared in the New York Times and in the Guardian of England.

And together with 8 other journalists, Coronel founded the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism or PCIJ in 1989.

The Coronel-led non-profit media agency produced hard-hitting investigative pieces that unearthed graft and corruption in the Philippines. Whether it involved a Philippine government official, the Supreme Court, a military official or the Philippine media, this gutsy Filipina made it her business to uncover wrongdoings.
Under Coronel’s leadership, the center became the Philippines’ and Asia’s premier investigative reporting institution.

“There’s the adrenalin of following a story through exposing, but you know this is a different kind of fulfillment. You’re fulfilled if you see a story being published that makes an impact,” Coronel said.

Today, Coronel said that while she continues to write stories on the side, she found passion in teaching and in passing the torch to those who would be investigative journalists.

Coronel received the Presidential Teaching Award in 2011, the highest honors the University of Columbia gives out to recognize a teacher’s role in excellence building.

Coronel was also the recipient of the 2003 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communications Arts for leading a groundbreaking collaborative effort to develop investigative journalism — an important component in keeping the democracy alive in the Philippines.

She was named the Philippines’ Outstanding Print Journalist in 2001.

In that same year, she was elevated to the hall of fame of the Jaime V. Ongpin awards for investigative journalism after winning the top award four times in 12 years.

Coronel’s previous works include writing for the Philippine Panorama Magazine, the Manila Chronicle and she also filed reports from manila for the New York Times.

If you know a kababayan like Shiela Coronel who inspires you and makes you proud, you may nominate him/her by sending an email to thefilipinochamp@abs-cbni.com or calling (650) 508-6137.

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