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Celebrating Filipino American History Month: One-on-One With Maria Ressa

As we continue to celebrate Filipino American History Month, we’d like to take some time to recognize 2021 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Maria Ressa, the first Filipino American to be bestowed that honor.

Ressa is a journalist who has lived and worked in southeast Asia for some time now and is the co-founder of Rappler, an online news website in the Philippines.

Six years ago, things took a different turn for her as a journalist. Rappler faced multiple lawsuits from the then-Duterte Administration in the Philippines. Ressa herself has received 10 arrest warrants in the last two years.

Rappler has been critical of the Duterte-led government in the Philippines and its controversial war on drugs. The site has also reported about that administration’s alleged use of disinformation on social media.

Rappler and its staff say they have been targeted because of their revelations about corruption by government officials and its war on drugs.

“Who would have thought that I would have gotten arrested for being a journalist or that in less than two years 10 arrest warrants would be issued against me?” Ressa told NBC Bay Area. “It’s kind of unthinkable. But this is my 36th year as a journalist and everything has happened.”

Ressa was one of Time magazine’s people of the year in 2018, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 and she recently received an inaugural Albie Award from George and Amal Clooney’s foundation.

When asked what this has all meant to her, specifically as a Filipina American, she simply said she’s just doing her job.

“In many ways, this time period for all of the attacks on identity that has happened in the United States also forces Filipino Americans to step forward and to claim it, to strengthen it,” she said. “We’re different, we’re unique, part of both worlds, sometimes part of neither.”

“I think that the mission of journalism has never been as important as it is today, when facts are under attack, when there is no shared reality, when the fabric of democracy is crumbling, when people aren’t listening,” she continued. “How do you hold power to account?”

Source: NBC Bay Area

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