Makati City (September 8) – There was a recent invitation from the Mindanao Institute of Journalism for me to be a resource speaker at an academic forum attended by around a hundred lecturers and students of Kidapawan Doctors College.
So I had to fly back home to speak about peace journalism and share my personal observations of the media as a MindaNews columnist (http://www.mindanews.com/author/mansoor-l-limba).
It can be observed that at the end of speech of the other resource speaker, he asked the young audience, “So, wala kayong tanong? (So, do you have NO question?)”
None raised his or her hand except a lecturer sitting in front who made a comment or two about the current imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao.
At the end of my 20-minute presentation, I thus told the audience something like this:
“In the Open Forum, you can make a correction to any point in my presentation, give your comment, or pose a question. In posing a question, let me remind you of certain things: (1) There is no such thing as ‘irrelevant’ question. In many instances, your question may exactly be the same thing which your seatmate wants to ask, and it may highlight a key dimension of the subject. (Remember, the casual falling down of a fruit from the tree catapulted Isaac Newton into the discovery of the Law of Gravity.) (2) Language is meant to be a bridge in communication. So, do not be imprisoned by the English language. You can freely express yourself in English, Filipino, Visaya, or any other language for that matter. (Yes, you can even ask a question in Mandarin or Thai, but you need to translate it because we can’t understand any of the two foreign languages.) (3) Asking question is already half of knowledge and right answer constitutes the other half. I hope I could give a percentage of the other half.”
The Open Forum took 72 minutes to address 17 questions (both oral and written). In other words, they threw hook, line and sinker of every ‘relevant’ question they could ever think of. One may even say that they threw everything including the kitchen sink.
Next time, perhaps I would rather say, “There’s no such thing as ‘irrelevant’ question – provided there’s still time left to address it.”
As my fellow millennials would express, “Tanong-tanong lang, kapag may time!”