I first met Luige at a PRSA event earlier this year where he attended as a panelist. You only had to hear him but speak a couple of sentences before you knew that journalism is a true passion of his. And after reading his story, I find that this passion only comes second to the love he has for his wife.
Upon hearing that Luige has taken on a new role as both associate publisher and editor at Arizona Capitol Times, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to get to know him and his fascinating story a little better.
Luige, take it away!
About a decade ago, I found myself high above the desert, on a plane, looking out the window and seeing a network of roads and houses that a forms a neat grid. The grid is this metropolis we call the city of Phoenix, which is fitting. In Greek mythology, Phoenix is a magical bird with scarlet and gold plumage that lives for hundreds of years and dies after being consumed by flames, but only to rise again.
This theme – of dying in order to live – is also Biblical. Indeed, the New Testament is replete with references about life and death, and the Apostle Paul once wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
But when the plane landed, I thought, “This is the end of my journalism career.” In the land of the American dream, I’ve come to bury mine. Or so I believed.
A few months before, my wife and I received our U.S. visa. You see, my wife is a nurse, and Filipino nurses often end up in the United States. At the time, I was a reporter covering national security issues for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s biggest English daily, and it was my dream job. I had a choice to make: stay in the Philippines and pursue my journalism career, or start a new life in the United States, which likely meant I’d never get a job as a reporter.
But love is the oldest and the best story of all, and I didn’t want to look back at that moment 50 years later and regret not following the love of my life. So, I hopped on the plane. Destination: America.
Fortunately, Ginger Lamb, then the publisher of the Arizona Capitol Times, and Karen Fullenwider, then the managing editor, took a chance and took me in. I started as a Senate reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in January of 2007. Over the years, I’ve written about the meshing of politics and religion, the financial meltdown and the housing crisis, immigration, and the intricacies of this experiment we call American-style democracy. A few years ago, my wife and I took our oath as American citizens.
Later, I became editor of the paper, and this month, I became the associate publisher and editor. In this role, I oversee both the newsroom and business units of Arizona News Service, which publishes the Arizona Capitol Times, the Yellow Sheet Report and the Legislative Report.
Journalism, for me, is simple: It is the job of reporters to watch those who are in power, and report back to the people. Journalists here are fortunate – they don’t have to face the dangers and restrictions that reporters in my old country still deal with. A free press is essential to America’s identity and its success, but press freedom is also a fragile thing. If we’re not vigilant, it could vanish, like the Phoenix consumed by fire, but with no assurance of life after death.