Beacons of truth and hope

By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, Special Features Writer

Nowadays, in the so-called age of information, it goes without saying that information is the most valuable asset. Yet, the challenge has mostly never been the access to information, but access to information that is both accurate and relevant.

Particularly during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, when fear and uncertainty about the world run rampant, valuable, verifiable, and credible information is the most useful tool for survival. In many cases, truth is a source of hope.

Which is why media conglomerate MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. (MediaQuest), the mother company of some of the biggest media players in the country, has constantly strived to provide the latest and most up-to-date information on the crisis as it continues to unfold more than a year later.

With a proven track record of credible and strong journalistic expertise, the companies under the MediaQuest umbrella have ensured that Filipinos have the most relevant and most accurate information on the country’s current state of affairs.

Since even before the outbreak of COVID-19, The Philippine STAR, one of the country’s most widely-circulated newspapers, has provided reports on the novel virus spreading in southern China towards the latter end of 2019.

In celebration of The Philippine STAR’s 34th anniversary, its lifestyle platform PhilSTAR L!fe launched “In Between: The Art of Moving Forward” which shared stories by over 100 writers about life and the nation during the COVID-19 crisis.

When the lockdown began, the newspaper firm’s online counterpart, philstar.com, offered Filipinos constant updates on COVID-19 cases through a daily tally, in addition to the breadth of coverage and commentary provided by the STAR’s writers. Even today, Filipinos can stay updated on the ongoing government rollout of COVID-19 vaccines through #VACCINEWATCHPH.

Meanwhile, BusinessWorld, the country’s oldest and most respected business daily, built on its reputation among the industry leaders and decision-makers in the Philippine business community to launch BusinessWorld Insights, an online forum series that sought to provide an avenue for discussion about the country’s most pressing matters.

Among the most recent forums talked about how COVID-19 has driven innovation in public health, as well as the importance of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria to companies in the post-pandemic world.

Leveraging the digital platform to provide a virtual space for local and international experts also gave birth to the BusinessWorld Virtual Economic Forum, which drew in speakers from organizations like the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, APEC, and the United Nations to discuss how to reimagine the future after COVID-19.

Also part of the PhilSTAR Media Group are Cebu-based, English-language broadsheet The Freeman; Filipino-language tabloids Pilipino Star Ngayon and Pang-Masa; Cebuano-language tabloid Banat; and online news portal InterAksyon.

MediaQuest is also home to TV5 Network, Inc., one of the Philippines’ major television players. At present, its assets include the broadcast television networks 5 and 5 Plus; the national radio station Radyo5 92.3 News FM; the regional radio network Radyo5; and satellite television channels Colours, One Sports, One News, One PH, Sari-Sari Channel, and PBA Rush. It also operates international television channels Kapatid Channel and AksyonTV International; as well as digital and online portals Digital5, TV5.com.ph, ESPN5.com, and News5 Digital.

Such a wide reach allows MediaQuest to continually provide aid and support to Filipinos in need, especially during the crisis. Alagang Kapatid Foundation, Inc., the social development arm of TV5, is committed to promote and support humanitarian causes, utilizing TV5’s different media outlets to involve the public through various programs and promote civic participation.

For instance, working with PLDT, the foundation has provided hygiene kits and food packs to indigent communities severely affected by the community quarantine. This effort was further bolstered by the Makati Medical Center Foundation, through the provision of blankets to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police quarantine facilities as well as some frontline healthcare workers from the Makati Medical Center.

Tulong Kapatid, which includes Alagang Kapatid Foundation, Makati Medical Center Foundation, Maynilad, Metro Pacific Investments Foundation, PLDT, Smart, PLDT-Smart Foundation, Inc., and One Meralco Foundation, together with other Manny V Pangilinan-led companies, is set to provide more meals and PPEs to frontline workers nationwide.

“We are fortunate that TV5 belongs to the MVP Group of companies that has important utilities in its portfolio — namely, power, telco and healthcare. All these allied organizations have provided a network of services that enable employees across the group to plan and implement ways of working during this pandemic,” Dino M. Laurena, chief operating officer of Media5 Marketing Corporation, said in an email.

He added that the leadership of Mr. Pangilinan has enabled the organization to embrace change in the current business environment and find ways for their employees to continue to do their roles in spite of the limitations.

“Specific to TV5, we continue to provide content to the public that keeps them informed and entertained during these challenging times. Our news organization continues to be at the forefront of news gathering to provide information and public service to our audience. Our entertainment and sports divisions continue to produce content that uplifts our audience, keeping them entertained and giving them a sense of hope,” he said.

For Luchi Cruz-Valdes, TV5 first vice-president and head of News & Information, Mr. Pangilinan’s support to them has “remained unflinching that not even the pandemic weakened it.”

She added, “MVP is the kind of leader that inspires loyalty. He could have just given up on us considering our size relative to the rest of his business empire, but he didn’t. On a personal level, I like how he keeps in touch with what people are thinking and saying while keeping his hands off editorial decision-making. No micromanaging there or elsewhere. He keeps his ear on the ground and when he can’t hear anything for himself, he calls and asks and engages. You can just tell that he is anticipating what can be done and gauging what he himself can do. And he acknowledges where he may have been under- or overestimated himself, and he adjusts.”

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