Tuesday, June 20, 2006

tribute to dad

Valentine’s Day 1998. I was excitedly tinkering with pink and red cards with hearts strewn all over, not to mention the screaming “Happy Valentine’s Day” printed by hands whose eyes must have bulged from lack of sleep the night before while fishing out words and sentiments from nowhere – when one card caught my eye. Sealed in a wild fusion of pink, red, and flesh, it momentarily stripped off the sender’s austere mien to reveal the loving side of him which I have come to know throughout the years.

Loving? It was something that never crossed my mind as a kid who was raised up in a pretty tight situation, where the father figure at home is the same head figure I see in the school corridors and classrooms every day as the school principal. A disciplinarian and a real professional, I was not spared from his critical eye at school, most probably contrary to what most people thought at that time – reprimanding me for violating school rules and yes, issuing me reminder slips (and an offense report as well). I never complained because I knew it was part of the discipline he tried to inculcate in the students, including me – I mean, most especially me, his daughter and his student. Unwittingly, I became more cautious and I brought that with me at home, maintaining a strictly professional relationship with him. My classmates and friends would often ask me how the school principal is like at home and I’d tell them, “Well, he usually comes home late at night, eats dinner, plops down on the carpet in front of the television, and I come bugging him with my one thousand and one questions about science, math, and history.”

At times, I would think it is a curse to be the “daughter of the principal” because I was a magnet of little controversies that went on like “…salig ra na siya kay anak sa principal...” and it hurt like hell because my father never taught me how to take advantage of situations where I’m supposed to have a “little edge” over the others. I labored for every little thing I have gone through. No special treatments. No favors. I did everything fair and square. Some people just didn’t get it and kept playing the same old tunes – in vain, though because my father kept my spirits strong, telling me to ignore them.

Yes, it must be a curse. I believe it the more I think of it now. Because I got the attitude, the vibe, and the enthusiasm to pursue my dreams. The discipline that he tried to instill in me is taking its toll on my being. Now I’m one determined woman, willing to take a lot of risks and wander far away from my comfort zone.

My father may be the strictest man alive on earth for most people (which I think he is not) but he always gave me and my siblings enough room to grow. Which father would laugh at you when at grade 3, you show him your test paper with a failing mark one point away from passing? Which father would strike up an exchange deal with a condition that you can go to a conference in Baguio as long as you go out of your shell? Which father would bring you a pasalubong of books every time he comes home from a board meeting? (consequently starting my love affair with reading) Which father, when your grades are declining, would tell you it’s okay because not everything in this world are graded? Which father, though no expert in the kitchen, would wake up extra early in the morning to “experiment” on sinigang with sausage and hotdog toppings when your mom is away on an official business trip? (In all fairness, the sinigang tasted good!)

There’s nothing really extraordinary about all those. But it’s not like he has to eat fire or walk in a tightrope to prove his worth. Watching me grow and guiding me to the right path is enough reason for me to say, “Pa, thank you. I love you very much even though I don’t say it that much.”

I hastily opened the envelope to find a message from my father. It read: “Stay sweet and loving. I love you.”

Life is just so good.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

the mass communication puzzle

Classes officially start this week – after quite some drought of surprise quizzes, hours’ labor on projects and case studies, student-teacher-student backlashes, hypertension-inducing stress, and head-bashings with immature classmates.

This year will hopefully be the last in my journey as a mass communication student. Now in my senior year, I still am growing and learning about things that prepare me for a longer stint in the labor force. And up to know, I am fully convinced that I chose the right course. No amount of bribe can take away the feeling of satisfaction I get. Even if I often wake up stressed and too tired to even move a muscle, I still fall in love with this course all over and over and over again. Why? I guess, when something is your passion, you just do. Passion leaves little room for setbacks to make people give up. Instead, it moves people to explore and exhaust all the possibilities.

A question I always encounter whether inside or outside campus is: “Nindot ang Mass Comm?” , although on a more suspicious note, I think they're trying to goad me into saying that Mass Communication is a breeze-through, hassle-free course. But they never get that kind of response because truth to tell, Mass Communication is no easy course.

Glitzy and glamorous it seems, but ask any senior and they'll tell you that mass communication also spells deadly working hours, community – organizing, intense data- gathering, artistic quality, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So don't get too comfortable seeing that you have lesser Math units in your syllabus and instead prepare for the challenges that four years in this course can give – there's a lot to learn, to enjoy, to live, and to love about Mass Communication!

Mass Communication encompasses a broad spectrum of subjects from journalism, broadcast communication, development communication, down to film and advertising, that requires so much energy, talent, and versatility. You get an opportunity to interact with top editors of local newspapers and the chance to get published. You get to improve your stock of Cebuano and English vocabulary, and your diction. If you're a bit techie on the side, you learn the technical aspect of broadcasting, from satellites to microphones and consoles. If you're in for community service, you may find yourself immersing in communities and putting up publications. And if you have the eye for television production and scriptwriting, you're definitely an asset for your film class. The fatigue of constant planning in productions may pull your hairs apart (and in all directions) but you'll be rewarded with the realization how meticulous planning can contribute to your work of art. You will experience the helpless moments of trying to find the “right” words to complete your article while trying so hard not to look at the clock ticking minutes away from the deadline. And speaking of time pressure, your world tears apart when, during a radio production, you realize that you have underestimated your segments and you're running overtime.

Being a Mass Comm student also means FUN! You go to places and meet different people, nice and nasty alike. There's always something new and exciting about this course – even we are caught off guard by its perks and surprises. But then, it also calls us to be independent, gutsy, and skillful all the time.

“Nindot ang Mass Comm?”

No doubt about it.

Friday, June 02, 2006


I’m breaking my over-a-month-long’s-blog-silence. And first posts after being mum for quite a time are usually full of issues and updates. Information over load downloading…

DEMOCRACY SUMMER FEST: Civic Engagement Module
Last May 17-21, 2006, I was one of the 50 luckiest young people in this millennial generation to participate in a Civic Engagement Module sponsored by the US Embassy. It was a great experience, getting to know and interact with student leaders oozing with so much idealism and hope. I was inspired myself to continue and even do better to make a difference in this poverty-stricken country. Let the power of the youth reign! It all starts with us.

I got sick and my taste buds haven’t completely recovered. I force down at least two tablets per meal and I’m surprised why I’m still walking vertically from the ground. Earlier this evening, the grossest insect on the planet by the name of cockroach was flying around the room and had it pooped on my McDonald’s Chicken Meal, I would still have loved it to the very last bone (eeeyeeew!) without an ounce of suspicion that I just committed the gravest Vianney’s rights violation. Ugh! Anyway, I am getting better although my appetite has changed a bit and something is always gurgling in my stomach. Side effects? Maybe.

I was thrust into the colorful, hectic, and deadline-beating world of journalism through the theories and practical exposures of Mrs. Maria Theresa “Mayette” Q. Tabada, the event coverages from Ms. Pura L. Kintanar, and the beauty of meeting new and different people from Mr. Michael “Myke” U. Obenieta.

I am one lucky budding writer because these people gave me the chance to blot my name on the paper they work for as early as second year in college and they continuously and patiently give me the opportunity to develop myself in the field.

But this internship aimed to go beyond the special pages and features section and envisioned the young UPian Mass Communication student as someone versatile and well-equipped with skills for print, radio, and television. ‘Yan ang tatak UP!

Because my stint as a news writer for Tug-ani was brief (and high school campus journalism is way too different), I had generally forgotten that working in a newsroom involves a lot of constraints and experiences, as well. So now I recount my print internship days with both pain and pleasure -- pain because the experiences and memories were good and I hate the thought of bidding the newsroom and all the wonderful people and experiences in it goodbye, and pleasure because even if I had shed tears and sweat for this internship, I would never trade the lessons I learned from it for anything else in the world.

I would have to say that the highlight of this internship lay not on the number of articles I published during the entire period. The highlight lay not on the number of free meals I savored and definitely not on the perks of covering an event. Sure, published articles translate to points and points translate to grades, but there’s such a thing as the school of hard knocks, where one learns important bits of lessons like (s)he never will in the four corners of the classroom. As my father told me many years ago, not everything in this world can be graded. And indeed, I found those precious gems in the people directly or indirectly associated with the profession, down to the least likely news source to the writers up to the editors and the big news makers. These people have enriched me with wisdom that two months of exposure in the field can’t completely give. I felt like I have been in this job since forever! I felt what it is like to be a print journalist in two months, but the knowledge I gained from it can span as far as two decades…two centuries…

It’s true that there are two ways in which you learn: the first is through your own experience, and the second is through other people’s experiences. Hence, this internship was a healthy blend of both the former and the latter – with enough lessons that kept my spirits strong but planted both my feet firmly on the ground.