The National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) is THE competition for campus journalists coming from the 17 regions of the country. This national competition is held in two mediums (English & Filipino), two levels (Elementary and Secondary) and two categories (Individual and Group). Group contests involve school papers while the individual category is competed in by news, editorial, feature, and sports writers, copyreaders/headline writers, editorial cartoonists and photojournalists.
The NSPC was held recently on February 18-22 at Koronadal City with South Cotabato as the host division. This is the second time the NSPC was hosted by SoCot; the first being in 1994. It was my privilege to serve as lecturer and evaluator for the secondary level of the Copyreading & Headline Writing competition.
This is my third time to be a national evaluator for NSPC. The first was during the NSPC held in General Santos City in 2002 and the second in NSPC in Caraga Region in 2005.
I was well aware of what happened to the scheduled NSPC to be hosted by SoCot in 1993. Then DECS Secretary Armand Fabella decided to change the venue to Baguio City when a bombing incident occurred in nearby Sultan Kudarat. This was made a week before the scheduled event in spite of the fact that everyone and everything in SoCot were prepared for the hosting. So when the Valentine's Day bombings happened prior to the NSPC in Caraga Region, I volunteered to serve as an alternate evaluator in case some judge from Metro Manila canceled. Sure enough, somebody backed out and I was immediately called in as replacement.
A Metro Manila-based school paper adviser and officer of the national school paper advisers' association, upon learning that I would be serving as an alternate evaluator, gave me a tongue-lashing in front of a lot of people at the Surigao Provincial Capitol and accused me of bias- blah-blah-blah (surprisingly, when Gensan hosted the NSPC in 2002, she had no complaints at all about my being a judge and to think I was based in Gensan). As practised, NSPC entries are rated using blind evaluation, meaning, the judges don't know who wrote the entries they're rating since these are identified only through control numbers assigned after the competition. So what bias-blah-blah-blah was this haughty school paper adviser talking about? Anyway, I'm sure those who witnessed the incident only had one conclusion: the adviser must have failed her GMRC (Good Manners and Right Conduct) class in elementary. I had the go-signal to serve as an alternate judge from the DepEd Caraga Regional Director and DepEd Head Office officials-in-charge and that's all that mattered to me.