Campus journalists from CALABARZON region put on a clinic in Koronadal City, South Cotabato to post the first ever 4-peat in the history of the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) – showing the competition why it has the best journalism program in the entire country.

Clad in their signature red journalist’s vest, CALABARZON delegates flocked the contest venue at the Notre Dame of Marbel University, ready to defend the coveted NSPC crown.

The National Capital Region, which was determined to stealing the overall crown, drew first blood after edging the defending champion in the elementary group contest, while Central Luzon remained at a striking distance.

As the perennial bridesmaid, NCR’s spirit was on the all-time high with two elementary school newspapers winning the “Best National School Paper” awards, compared to just one for CALABARZON (Ang Kaimito).

With the ongoing El Niño, the atmosphere at the awarding ceremonies literally heated up with NCR poised for another upset in the secondary group contests.

However, CALABARZON’s finest proved to be too much for the Capital as it dominated the high school competition with Ang Pandayan of Cavite province bagging the lone “Best National School Paper” title in the secondary level.

The win at the group contest gave student journalists from Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon the much-needed morale boosts coming into the announcement of winners for the individual contests.

By end of the fifth day of the competition, CALABARZON students were declared overall champions in their respective categories – winning all individual and group categories, as well as television broadcasting and scriptwriting contests.

Powerhouse team CALABARZON, after dominating in the individual and group contests, took home the overall championship award for the fourth consecutive year. It was also the first time for a region to win 4-peat since the establishment of the overall scheme in the NSPC.

Meanwhile, NCR and Central Luzon ranked 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.

Dr. Diosdado M. San Antonio, DepEd-Region 4A regional director, lauded students and school paper advisers for the record-setting peat, stressing that the win would serve as a reminder of the flare of the journalism in the region.

San Antonio, at the same time, urged campus journalists to imbibe the lessons they learned during the competition and uphold their responsibility as individuals who use the power of the “fourth estate” or the PRESS to help the country overcome economic, natural and societal drawbacks and difficulties.

“This 4-peat should be taken as a driving force for aspiring media practitioners. Lead the country into enlightenment and awareness. Student journalists and school paper advisers (SPAs) continue the legacy you yourselves started with passion and determination,” he said.

The regional director, on the other hand, called for a more active involvement among Calabarzon’s school paper advisers to ensure continuity of the winning tradition. He added that SPAs play a crucial role in preparing and honing student writers and broadcasters for future competitions.

“With the win, our teachers and school paper advisers are challenged to share valuable input during journalism trainings and symposiums. They should act as a support force for our young journalists,” San Antonio added.

For her part, Ms. Jennifer Lopez, DepEd-Region 4A supervisor in Journalism, echoed Kara David’s appeal to the country’s campus journalists and news industry aspirants during the opening program of the annual journalism competition.

“Inspiring others is the extension of journalism’s reach. I want you to influence change. Be the change. Journalism is more than what we write, deliver and tell,” Lopez said in an interview.

In this year’s NSPC, CALABARZON has also proven that the Most Outstanding School Paper Adviser (MOSPA) and the Most Outstanding Campus Journalist (MOCJ) are residents of the four-peat champion region. Joseph Natanauan of Fr. Luigi Caburlotto School netted the 2016 MOSPA award, while sports writer, Francis Eric Salvador of Krizliss International School brought home the MOCJ honor.

Patrick T. Coquilla
Trece Martires City National High School