Two local journalists and two community newspapers received the first-ever Think Pink Awards on Outstanding Stories on Breast Cancer.

Cristina Eloisa Baclig of received the Outstanding NCR (National Capital Region) Journalist Award while Yas Ocampo of MindaNews bagged the Outstanding Community Journalist Award. MindaNews was recognized as Outstanding Daily Community Newspaper while Palawan News was adjudged Outstanding Weekly Community Newspaper.

The awards ceremony was co-organized by the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) in partnership with ICanServe Foundation and Novartis on April 24, 2024 at the Century Park Hotel in Manila. The event coincided with the 60th anniversary of PPI.

In June 2023, PPI, ICanServe and Novartis held the “Health Reporting on Breast Cancer in the Philippines” workshop which was attended by 60 journalists who are PPI members. The workshop aimed to deepen local journalists’ understanding about the disease, the burden of breast cancer, and related terminologies and policies; inform them about new medicines available to breast cancer patients and their families; and link them with government and medical experts so they can write accurate and comprehensive stories about breast cancer.

Twenty journalist-fellows were selected who contributed 40 stories on breast cancer that were published in major media outlets in the latter part of 2023. These published stories were then assessed by the Think Pink Awards panel of judges based on content (multiple sourcing, in-depth reporting, visualization), technical quality (clarity of report, absence of typos, strong headline), and ethics. The panel of judges was composed of Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, founding president of ICanServe Foundation; Sheila Crisostomo, reporter of The Philippine Star; and Christine Fajardo, Communications & Engagement head, Novartis Healthcare Philippines & Asia Cluster.

Alikpala thanked the journalists for opening “our minds with great detail about how dire and desperate it gets for patients” and that this difficult struggle “is a shared journey with family and friends”, and for highlighting the “health workers who would go beyond the call of duty” to help breast cancer survivors and their families.

“You’ve demonstrated that breast cancer is a multifaceted issue, it’s not only a health issue. It’s an issue that is also economic, political, social, environmental, lifestyle, cultural. It’s a gender and human rights issue and many more. And like COVID, it can be headline material,” said Alikpala. “Writing with different slants for different audiences, is a great way to attract different kinds of stakeholders whom we need on board to act and unite against breast cancer.”

Rolando Estabillo, PPI chairman and president, invited journalists, media organizations, civil society, government, and the public to join their mission to combat misinformation, defend press freedom, and ensure that journalism continues to serve as a pillar of democracy. “Our work is not just about protecting the rights of journalists and media organizations; it is [also] about safeguarding the right of every citizen to access accurate and reliable information.”

Kevin Zou, President of Novartis Asia Aspiring Cluster, thanked and lauded local journalists for promoting health literacy and serving as catalysts in improving breast cancer survivorship in the Philippines. He stressed that health literacy is vital in enabling patients and caregivers to use and understand health information and services.

“A high level of health literacy can facilitate early diagnosis and enhance treatment outcomes in many diseases, including breast cancer, the most common cancer among Filipino women. Your work [as journalists] is making a difference in the lives of Filipino breast cancer survivors and their families,” Zou said.

“Telling these stories about cancer and the struggle of women who fight cancer…[is] important,” said Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa.

Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, a breast cancer and women’s health advocate, said there is a need for breast cancer stories “to be told in a personal way, a creative way, in a way that will make a difference to the people who are reading these stories. I honor the people who tell these stories.”

H.E. Ambassador Bernard Dy, Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland, thanked the winning journalists, finalists and contributors for promoting health literacy through informative and inspiring stories in the fight against breast cancer. “May the winning journalists and community newspapers continue to be a source of inspiration and give voice to the patients and survivors, their families and those who care for them.”

Migrant Workers Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne M. Caunan thanked the journalists for supporting the personal advocacy on women’s health and breast cancer of the late Migrant Workers Secretary Toots Ople.

Dr. Corazon Ngelangel, president of the Philippine Cancer Society said that the Think Pink stories shared by local journalists echo the stories of cancer patients who approach their organization for assistance. “As excellent and creative storytellers, you help spread awareness on breast cancer.”

Two local journalists and two community newspapers received the first-ever Think Pink Awards on Outstanding Stories on Breast Cancer

Photo shows (from left): Redempto D. Anda, publisher/editor-in-chief of Palawan News (Outstanding Weekly Community Newspaper); Robert Timonera, editor-in-chief of MindaNews (Outstanding Daily Community Newspaper); Kevin Zou, president of Novartis Asia Aspiring Cluster; Cristina Eloisa Baclig, researcher and writer of (Outstanding National Capital Region Journalist); Rolando Estabillo, chairman and president, Philippine Press Institute (PPI); Joel Chong, country president, Novartis Healthcare Philippines; Senator Pia S. Cayetano; Dr. Corazon Ngelangel, president, Philippine Cancer Society; Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa; Christine Fajardo, Communications & Engagement head, Novartis Healthcare Philippines & Asia Cluster; Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, founding president, ICanServe Foundation; and Migrant Workers (DMW) Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne M. Caunan. Not in the photo is Yas Ocampo of MindaNews (Outstanding Community Journalist).

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