Jose Antonio Vargas' revealed his immigration secret before Times article

Jose Antonio Vargas, the former Post reporter who recently revealed — in the New York Times, because the Post, oddly, passed on the opportunity — that he's an undocumented immigrant, had told his secret to around 50 people a month before the Times published his story. Not a single one of them, including a journalist, leaked the news.


"I had the chance to scoop the mainstream press almost three months ago with the story," Rodel Rodis writes in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "I had all the information I needed right in my fingertips ready to type into my laptop but I couldn't. I gave my word."

In mid-May, at a National Federation of Filipino American Associations conference in Las Vegas, the Pulitzer Prize winner appeared as the surprise guest — initially described as an unnamed "immigration client" — of JT Mallonga, the NaFFAA vice chair and head of the Filipino American Legal Defense Fund.

"At the outset, Jose confessed his trepidation that this large a group may not be able to keep in confidence what he would reveal about himself, despite JT’s assurances to him that we were all trustworthy," Rodis writes.

Jose then asked us to withhold reporting about him until after his tell-all confession appeared in the Washington Post on June 6. We made that promise to him, all of us, NaFFAA delegates coming from New York to Miami, from Seattle to Honolulu, some of whom write regularly for Filipino community publications and virtually all of whom are on Facebook.

I was sure one of us would not be able to keep Jose’s secret for long. The mainstream’s scoop on Jose’s story would be spoiled and its impact great [sic] diminished if that happened.

Vargas' story wasn't published in the Times' Sunday magazine for more than a month, but every single one of those 50 people kept their word. Next time I have some burning secret that I absolutely must tell someone, but don't ever want it to get out — an actual burning, perhaps, in my groin — I know exactly where to go.

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