September 11, 2006 · Posted in: General

Not quite good-bye

THIS is a valedictory of sorts. After 16 years as executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, I am bowing out. Beginning this month, I will be a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York, where I will also be the inaugural director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

I leave PCIJ with sadness. After all, some of my best, most productive and most exciting years as a journalist were spent at the Center. In 1989, the PCIJ started out with second-hand equipment and a borrowed office. In its first year, none of its staff was paid, except for a secretary. Since then, the PCIJ has grown to be, modesty aside, the premier investigative reporting institution in Asia. Its work is widely recognized and its reporting has made an impact on politics and public policy in the Philippines. It is also a model investigative reporting center that has inspired similar initiatives in places like Nepal and Indonesia.

I leave the PCIJ in the hands of a talented, committed and hardworking staff and a board whose members include some of the best journalists in the country. My departure comes at a time when the PCIJ is making what I believe is a monumental shift to new media. For the most part, despite occasional forays into television, the PCIJ has done mainly reports for newspapers. Starting this year, we are making the shift to multimedia journalism, doing reports not just in text format, but also using audio and video. I am confident that the Center will continue producing the trailblazing journalism for which it is known, but this time on multimedia platforms.

I will, however, remain on the board as a trustee of the Center and will continue to help in whatever way I can, including posting reports on the PCIJ blog. The PCIJ board is still searching for a new executive director and a deputy and will make an announcement when these appointments are filled.

I will be bringing to my new job a lot of what I have learned at the PCIJ. The Stabile Center at Columbia is dedicated to training students interested in pursuing careers in investigative journalism. This year we have 15 students, including several from overseas, who will work on investigative projects with my guidance and support. At the same time, I hope that the Stabile Center will help promote investigative reporting worldwide and collaborate with existing journalists’ networks to spread the techniques and ethos of watchdog journalism to countries that need it the most.

I am excited by my new job as it gives me an opportunity to start something again, but in a different place and under different circumstances. I feel privileged: it is not often one gets a second chance to start from scratch — and this time, in one of the world’s greatest cities.

I have been in New York a week now. I still think of the Philippines often. It will always be my home and I hope to return and to bring back with me what I have learned here, just as I am bringing to New York what I have learned back home.

Meanwhile, the day-to-day affairs of the PCIJ will be managed by its board whose members include:

I have had a good run as PCIJ executive director. The Center has given me the chance to work with the most gifted and promising journalists in the Philippines and to embark on long-term journalistic projects, including books and documentaries, that would have been difficult to do had I stayed in a newspaper or a magazine.

I am confident that the PCIJ will continue to provide a home for journalists who want to wander off the beaten track and to embark on challenging reporting projects that the mainstream media will not support. Its efforts to help build a grand reportorial tradition for the Philippine media has already earned the Center a secure place in Philippine journalism. The PCIJ will build on these strengths as it navigates new waters. And while I will no longer be there to steer it, I leave knowing that the PCIJ is a sturdy ship with a first-class crew that knows where it wants to go.

Wherever I am, the PCIJ will always be a part of me.

27 Responses to Not quite good-bye



September 11th, 2006 at 9:24 am

Congratulations and Good Luck always Sheila!! Hope you like your new city and enjoy.



September 11th, 2006 at 10:29 am

Saludo ako sa yo kabayan. Patnubayan ka nawa ng ating Panginoong Diyos sa bagong landas na iyong tatahakin.



September 11th, 2006 at 11:06 am

congrats, sheila! the first time i met you was after you received the magsaysay award, which you modestly failed to mention in this “valedictory of sorts” =)

since then, i’ve had the chance to work with you, and i will always remember just how much i learned from that experience.

i know you’ll be able to work the same kind of “magic” on your students in new york. good luck!



September 11th, 2006 at 11:20 am


Come back as soon as you can!

Someday, I hope most Filipinos who leave the Philippines will be scholars teaching in schools abroad like you.

Rye Bosco :(



September 11th, 2006 at 11:46 am

Whenever and wherever, be it in a grounds of Ivy League, busy floors of any press room, or in the alleys of Tondo; bright and serious people is always in constant need of– a Shiela Coronel.

Am confident as hell, the honor is on the university for Shiela will bring not only her colorful experience (they have lots of it there) but of more significance; consistency bordering on tenacity, healthy dose of imagination, fearless character, wit and grace. The last will probably linger forever in my heart.

Too bad, we have a short supply of her likes to counter, and put into place the warped ones–that comes dozens’ a dime; Mike Defensor, Kiko Pangilinan (a continual ho-hum), the ever Mr. Talented – Teddy Boy Locsin (a recent discovery), etc., etc.

Truly a case of losing a local marvel to help cater and serve a bigger audience– the peoples’ of the world.

No doubt you will make it good. A selfless Pinoy contribution to the world, to make it a better and more dignified place to live and enjoy.


Another Angle

September 11th, 2006 at 12:11 pm

I learned blogging because of Sheila Coronel…

I have always been a fan of PCIJ since Estrada’s corruption was made public by it.  The rest is history. Then I came to know that without a Sheila Coronel there could not have been a PCIJ.  Without her, I could not have learned to use “bl…



September 11th, 2006 at 1:59 pm

i thought it was just a rumor. you will be sorely missed by a young fan. i still keep the little notebook where i asked you to sign in when you visited our class a year ago. =)



September 11th, 2006 at 2:20 pm

isa isang nag-aalisan na ang lahat sa Pinas.



September 11th, 2006 at 4:34 pm

Congratulations, Sheila. Aside from being part of a very prestigious University (Columbia), I am sure that you would influence other journalists to take on the task (and associated risks) of investigative journalism.

More power to PCIJ!



September 11th, 2006 at 5:56 pm

not goodbye, sheila, rather, au revoir.



September 11th, 2006 at 6:06 pm

so is the rumor that your senior reporters, luz rimban and yvonne chua, resigned months ago also true? no offense to pcij’s hardworking staff, but what’s this i hear that pcij is left with a shallow bench? your blog isn’t as hot as it used to be. it’s reassuring to read the impressive names in your board, but boards are, well, boards.


Global News Blog » Philippines - DREAM START

September 11th, 2006 at 6:38 pm

[…] Not quite good-byePhilippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Philippines – 9 hours ago… Its work is widely recognized and its reporting has made an impact on politics and public policy in the Philippines. … I still think of the Philippines often. … […]



September 11th, 2006 at 7:38 pm

Not that its any of our business but I always thought that certain people, because of who they are and because of their function in society, are never allowed to leave the country. Like past Presidents and writer laureates, they are tethered to our ships and are fated to sink or wim with them even if opportunity beckoned elsewhere. Maybe Shiela Coronel is by herself an institution and her departure – for whatever reason – will take too much away from the Philippines and will leave us hobbled. Not to take anything away from PCIJ but her decision to leave genuinely leaves a void that can never be filled. I’m reminded of Jim Paredes’ decision to move to Australia – this is similar in many respects – only a billion times worse for us.


Sheila Coronel

September 11th, 2006 at 8:33 pm

Thanks for all the good and warm wishes. Vonjobi, I hope to see you in this part of the world in the coming months. AnotherAngle, keep on blogging. Stonbx, I hope you did well in school.

On the concerns about PCIJ: I think that part of the task of building institutions is letting go. It is a bit like parenting (although I have no first-hand experience in this matter): we must not and cannot always be there. No one is indispensable. As PCIJ’s founding executive director, I was in great danger of thinking that, of being caught in what they call the “founder’s syndrome.” But institutions should be able to not only live on but to thrive without us. Shallow bench or not, I am confident that PCIJ will carry on wonderfully, even without me.



September 11th, 2006 at 9:50 pm

Attagirl Sheila!

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.


Ambuot Saimo

September 11th, 2006 at 10:33 pm

Shiela, Welcome to New York!!! But the truth is I have that mixed emotions of sadness on one hand on the notion that you are an exemplification of “brain drain” in the Philippines and happiness on the other knowing that you will be creating many “Shiela Coronels” around the world.

Without doubt you left a very large shoes hard to fill in the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS & GOOD LUCK!!! (Hope I will “bump” unto you at Central Park.)

Yes, I also share the “shallow bench” concern of bgfortunato.


Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Blog Archive » Unfilled jobs

September 12th, 2006 at 1:03 pm

[…] Sheila Coronel becomes an OFW. She will be terribly missed. […]


Jon Mariano

September 12th, 2006 at 1:38 pm

It’s good that nobody questioned Sheila why she has to go. Is it because everybody understand well enough that it is better for her?

I’m glad though that Sheila will not be missed as her presence in this blog will continue.




September 12th, 2006 at 3:38 pm

Sheila! All the very best to you and your new adventure. Manolo is right, you will be sorely missed. Will miss you at next Media Nation, as well as during more restless times that will be coming our way.

New York City and Columbia will be all the richer with you there. Bon Voyage!



September 12th, 2006 at 4:19 pm

“so is the rumor that your senior reporters, luz rimban and yvonne chua, resigned months ago also true? no offense to pcij’s hardworking staff, but what’s this i hear that pcij is left with a shallow bench? your blog isn’t as hot as it used to be. it’s reassuring to read the impressive names in your board, but boards are, well, boards.”

i’ll take you up on that, bg fortunato. Are you implying that excellent work is dependent on impressive names? Because that sounds o–so-feudal. Or what exactly are you implying?

Well, for the record, I don’t think that you can simply dismiss PCIJ’s staff collectively as “a shallow bench.” Alecks Pabico, Vinia Datinguinoo and Avie Olarte are also journalists worth their salt. Maybe they’re just young and humble.




September 12th, 2006 at 11:06 pm

You will be sorely missed.

Yet there is a saying that the mark of a true leader is that he/she is able to produce a good successor.

Good luck, more power and GOD bless


tongue in, anew

September 13th, 2006 at 2:51 am

No goodbyes now, but rather, congratulations and good luck.


Ambuot Saimo

September 13th, 2006 at 10:27 pm


When I shared bgfortunato’s “shallow bench” view, I don’t mean that the “other people” at PCIJ like Alecks, Vinia, Avigail, Isa to mention a few are not as talented as Shiela. They too deserve credit and praise for their good work.

The shallow bench I am referring to is only about their choice of topic or subject matter that they put in for discussion. (In other words, the subjects are bit “shallow” because most of the time the issues are not of paramount importance that will elicit “in-depth” discussions.)


Kampai to PCIJ’s Ms. Sheila Coronel « Istambay sa Mindanao

September 14th, 2006 at 4:30 am

[…] Congratulations to Ms. Sheila Coronel of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. She has moved to Columbia University in New York as a graduate school of journalism professor and as director of a new investigative journalism center. Read her “valedictory” blog here.   […]



September 14th, 2006 at 8:44 am

Hi Ambuot Saimo,

thanks so very much for your clarifications about bgfortunato’s comment. that was very helpful.

maybe you can help by identifying which topics or subject matter you think are worthy of in-depth discussion?

that way we can all reserve our energies for bigger battles…and there are many things we still need to feel outraged about.

this will also help us all (pcij and pcij’s supporters) stay on track. after all, beyond its prestige and fame is the fact that pcij’s work is vital…beyond the rumors and intrigues is the fact that we are all better off because of pcij’s work.

or you can even post particular issues that you think should be covered / discussed. one of the wonderful things about blogging is that it allows you to participate in pcij’s work.



‘Bon Voyage’ Sheila: look out big apple! « Mike in Manila - at large

September 15th, 2006 at 4:28 pm

[…] I often wonder how time flies like it does – it seems only a few years back when I heard about as I was just leaving Palawan PCIJ  and…It was about the same time I started working with TV Patrol’s special reports group and risking my knenck on undercover work- being ‘undetectable” and tourist looking- doing  investigativer work under the ‘SRG’ brand led by Gen ‘Pregenia’ Reyes -and of course supervised by Tita Arlene De Castro and now VP Noli De Castro. […]



September 19th, 2006 at 10:04 pm

belated congratulations & good luck sheila. i’m sure malacanang is very happy w/ your decision. a major critic is off their throat.

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