Eminent journalist and author Marites Danguilan Vitug will deliver the 2016 Adrian Cristobal Lecture, which will be held on 22 February 2016, Monday, 3:00PM, at the AIM Conference Center Manila (ACCM), J.V. del Rosario Building, Benavidez cor. Trasierra Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City. Her lecture is entitled “Democracy beyond elections: overcoming impotence.” 

The Adrian E. Cristobal Lecture Series was established by the Cristobal family, in collaboration with the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL), or the Writers’ Union of the Philippines. It aims to honor the intellectual legacy of the late renowned writer and former UMPIL chairperson whose name the series carries. In this annual event, a Filipino public intellectual delivers a keynote speech on a topic related to a current socio-political condition in the country or a cultural development. The past lecturers include Gemino Abad (2011), National Artist Virgilio Almario (2012), Resil Mojares (2013), Reynaldo Ileto (2014), and Solita Monsod (2015). 

In light of the forthcoming national elections, Vitug will propose in her lecture other modes of exercising democracy, to make it real and substantial, and to make it work for the public good. This is in contrary to the elite rule and the power of the dominant few. She states in the summary of her talk, “Given the oligarchic structure of our society, the prevalence of vested interests and the inequality in our midst, popular discourse should include ways to overcome our sense of impotence, of powerlessness beyond casting our votes. There are various paths to take, as outsiders who publicly advocate reforms, form pressure groups and lobby for these with the legislative and executive departments to becoming insiders by running for public office and working in government. Thus, kindling our civic spirit takes more than a trip to the polling place on election day.”

Vitug is editor at large of www.rappler.com. She is the author of seven books, including two on the Philippine judiciary—“Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court” and “Hour Before Dawn: The Fall and Uncertain Rise of the Philippine Supreme Court,” which won the 2012 National Book Award for Non-fiction given by the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board of the Philippines. 

Her other books are: “Our Rights, Our Victories: Landmark Cases in the Supreme Court” (with Criselda Yabes); “Power from the Forest: the Politics of Logging”; “Jalan-Jalan: A Journey through EAGA” (with Criselda Yabes, 1998), and “Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao” (with Glenda M. Gloria, 2000). Both “Power from the Forest” and “Under the Crescent Moon” won the National Book Awards respectively in 1994 and 2001. “Jalan-Jalan” was chosen by Asiaweek as one of the best books on Asia for 1999. Her latest book, “Endless Journey,” is a memoir of retired general and former national security adviser, Jose Almonte. 

Vitug’s essays and articles have appeared in periodicals such as Nikkei Asia Review, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, Newsweek, and Asahi Shimbun; and in books and journals, including “The Politics of Environment in Southeast Asia” (Routledge: London and New York) and “The Journal of Environment and Development” (University of California in San Diego). In 2006, a global risk consultancy firm, Eurasia Group, ranked her 45 among 50 Global Leaders, mostly heads of states, for her work in Newsbreak. She received the Courage in Journalism Award from the US-based International Women’s Media Foundation for her reportage on the plunder of Palawan’s forests, and the Journalists of the Year award (2015) from the Metrobank Foundation, among many others. 

This lecture is co-funded by SPIT, or Silly People’s Improv Theater Philippines. It is open to the public. Admission is free. For more details, please contact Ms. Eva Cadiz at (63)9178453721; or email Michael Coroza, Secretary General of UMPIL at mcoroza@ateneo.edu.