Farewell, 67!

Just a year ago, I was appointed as the second female editor-in-chief of The Bedan, the official student publication of the College of Arts and Sciences of San Beda College – Manila.

And tomorrow, my term ends.

Tomorrow, a new set of editorial board will continue on defending campus press freedom and fighting for the voices of each and every student. Before so, I would like to share with all of you a very important weapon I have been armed with for the past four years of being a student journalist.

“Write NOT to impress, but to express.”

I hear this a lot from my mentors when I was still starting as a writer. And now, I believe it’s my turn to impart these words to you, my beloved brothers-in-ink.

For every stroke of your pen, always write with dignity. For every blot of your ink, always write for what you believe in. Stick to your principles at all costs and never, never brag. Remember that even the greatest writer in history have had the opportunity to better himself.

If others do not believe in what you can do, if others look down on you, if others do not respect you, that is the time you must learn NOT to listen. For instance it does not matter whether you are a man or a woman (or in between), because as an editor, your worth is based on what you can offer the publication, and it does not include chromosomes. Instead, focus on what your goals are for these will prove them wrong eventually. If you let their negativity get into you, then you are bound to let down the whole studentry.

Lastly and most importantly, LOVE what you do. Dark circles will soon surround your eyes. Coffee will become your new best friend. Juggling academics and journalism will make you go crazy. And when others start saying it is not worth it, that is when your love for the publication will tell you otherwise.

As I bid my final farewell to volume 67, I am confident that I will leave the publication in good hands. You make me proud! Please do a heck of a great job for The Bedan.

Good luck, volume 68!!! :)

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Once upon a time

This is my sixth column for The Bedan, and this would most probably be my last as well.

This time, I will not be talking about puppet shows. No more Cartoon Network, no more Santa Claus, and no more nursery rhymes. I will no longer tell you about someone else’s fairytales. Because this time, I want to talk about mine.

When I first set foot inside the Lions’ den, I was just a small town girl who had absolutely no idea what college would be like for me. Inside the walls of this academic institution, I never thought I would find a home.

This four-year joyride of mine took a lot of twists and turns as I began to discover myself along the way. When I decided to shift from the Department of Accountancy to BS Economics and Public Policy, I knew I was heading into a different direction, a path which I chose for myself. This may have prolonged the journey, but I am certain that it will be worthwhile.

The highlight of my story inside these ivory-clad walls was, of course, when I joined The Bedan. Being the second female editor-in-chief in the history of this 67-year old publication, I had to take it upon myself to initiate recovery to this once glorious school paper which severely suffered from a great depression (as how we might probably refer to in Economics). Some may not understand, but for all of us who genuinely care for this institution within an institution, no currency on the face of earth could ever compensate for all the sacrifices that we have been through in order to keep our student publication alive.

I do not want to go into details for I am preventing myself to become overly dramatic about this, but for what it is worth, I pray that someday my beloved alma mater will also be an academic institution where the voices of students are regarded to with utmost importance and where campus press freedom is never taken for granted.

After this column, I still have one more semester to spend inside the Lions’ den. But before anything else, I would like to make the most out of this page to thank all the people who played a special role in my fairytale.

To my blockmates, Lea, Jomila, Carlos, Allen, Fil, Loise, Kel, Grace, Arnold, and to the rest of 4-AEC, thank you for accepting me in the block. The past two years have been so much fun. Good luck to all of you!

To my department chair, Dr. Benedicto Marcelino, thank you for allowing me to become part of the Economics department. To my favorite Economics professors, Prof. Lucky Malveda, Prof. Jun Viray, Prof. Nic Conti, Prof. Rulina Viloria, Prof. Harold Valera, I have learned so much from you. Thank you for your patience and for sharing your knowledge to us.

To my second family, The Bedan, you have provided me the best chapter that could ever be written on my story book. Julius, because of the love you have given for the paper, I am confident that I will be leaving the publication in good hands. To my co-editors, Khryc, Nicole, Pao, Enzo, cheers to volume 67. I hope I was a good EIC to you guys. To my previous co-editors in volume 66, Danna, Pua, Marc, Jr, I will never forget the struggles that we have been through together. To my mentors, Ate Trish, Kuya Kots, Kuya Bryan, Kuya Migs, Kuya Jio, Ate Nice, Kuya Jd, Kuya Ej, you have taught me a lot of things and I will forever be indebted. Thank you for your trust. To our most loyal manager and everybody’s friend, Ryan, I know someday you’ll make it big in the photography industry. Thanks for the friendship! To our very devoted layout artist, Jv, thank you for lending your creative skills to the publication. To volume 68, Justine, Pax, Nevin, Jonathan, Darvin, Nissi, Jeck, Jen, Gary, Wan, Karl, I do not expect you to be like volume 67. I expect you to be better. I am proud of you! To the rest of my The B family, thank you for all the memories. You are truly the best thing that happened to me in San Beda.

To my real life villains, you are essential to my fairytale because without you I will not be able to do all those things which you said I could not. Thank you for making me a better person.

To my best friends, Ellai, Hannah, and Arian, you girls are my wickedly beautiful step-sisters. Though I am not perfect, I know I can always count on you to fly by my side and save the day. I have three pairs of shoulders that I can cry on, and for that, I am lucky to have you. Thank you very much.

To my knight in shining armor every time I play damsel in distress, Mark Romillo Clemente, I could dedicate this whole page to you and still it won’t be enough. My college life would not have been the same without you. Thank you.

To my real-life fairy god mother and fairy god father (if that is the appropriate term), my parents, I owe everything to you. I apologize if I have, in any way, disappointed you. And I thank you for always understanding and giving me the opportunity to have a good future. Someday you will be proud of me. To my brother and my sisters, Mek, Ate Melai, and Micah, you are my guardian angels. Because I know you are always here for me, I could never ask for more. I love all of you and there is nothing that I would not give.

To God Almighty, I thank you for all the blessings. I know you have been listening to my prayers all along, and you are truly my hero.

In fiction, they say all fairytales have happy endings. I say, I do not know about the end part. But I certainly do know I am happy.

Thank you, San Beda!

XXX

This was published as my graduation column for The Bedan volume 67: Graduation issue. This serves as my final column for the school paper.

Who’s coming to town?

When I think of Christmas, I think of Santa Claus.

In my nineteen years of existence in this world, I have always been a fan of this big plump man in his famous red suit and long blonde beard. Every 25th of December, I wait for his arrival to fill my knitted socks with wrapped presents. We do not have a chimney, mind you. But he was always welcome to come in using the front door, so I never thought it mattered anyway.

Well, it is December once again. The air is starting to feel chilly, kitchens smelling like cinnamon and peppermint, and cities becoming more alive with brightly colored lanterns on the streets. I guess, like myself, the rest of you probably start to welcome this Yuletide season with a quick reminisce of your own Christmas stories as well.

This year, however, the Christmas stories of our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao are bound to change.

With roughly one month to go before Christmas, the whole Philippine archipelago was bombarded with devastating news about a massacre which occurred in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province. This dreadful event may not be your favorite research topic to find in Wikipedia, but by now, it is considered as the Philippines’, if not the world’s, one of the most vicious massacres of all time.

If you ask me, there is a big fat difference between electoral candidates who are simply determined to win and those who are willing to do everything and anything including monstrous murdering of people who get in the way. The Maguindanao massacre is only one manifestation of how dirty politics can be in our country. And it is not exactly the Christmas story all of us are probably expecting this year.

More than sixty people were killed, majority being journalists. These are Filipinos murdering fellow Filipinos because of an absurd political war. And the most disgusting part is that they did it in the most inhuman way possible.

How can we expect to build families in a land that is run by officials who themselves are threats to the human race? How can we sleep peacefully at night knowing that there are criminals lurking freely when in fact they deserve to be behind bars? How can we sing Christmas carols when there are families in this part of the nation who are weeping in search for justice?

It is the yuletide season, my friends. People are expected to give love on Christmas day, and not slaughter one another as if they are animals to be sold in the market for Noche Buena. For crying out loud, we are supposed to be wrapping gifts and not dead bodies! But instead of building Christmas trees, we are choosing to build a political dynasty where an era of evil reigns.

I am absolutely not sure why it is taking so long for the government to find justice for the victims of Maguindanao massacre, but I do hope they are not waiting for Santa Claus to do the prosecution himself in order to bring righteousness and equality to this country.

Because for the record, Santa Claus never came.

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This column was published for the The Bedan volume 67: Christmas issue. I wrote this when I was the editor-in-chief of the student publication.This article represents my feelings towards the barbaric massacre that happened in the province of Maguindanao, Philippines.

Wish I may, wish I might

Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder where you are.

Perhaps I am not the only one who is familiar with this nursery rhyme. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid, possibly because it is one of the easiest to memorize, and you do not need a voice like Beyonce’s to be able to sing it properly.

Apart from the song, there was one more thing about stars which actually caught my attention when I was young. It does not even have any scientific basis, and yet children are so smitten by this concept. Silly as it may seem now, I actually believed that stars are some sort of genies or celestial fairies that can grant wishes. I believed in this so much that every night I would gaze up in the sky, choose the brightest star, close my eyes, and make a wish.

Some nights I wished that I was a mermaid, with long beautiful tail and colorful seashells on my hair. Other nights I wished that I was a superhero, fighting villains with my magical powers. I also remember there was one night when I actually wished to become a member of the Spice Girls. Yeah, well, that was a long, long time ago.

None came true, obviously.

And now, as I look back, I am starting to realize that those endearing wishes I made as a little girl were not only far from impossible, but insubstantial as well. They were selfish desires, made by a likewise selfish little brat who is apathetic of the real world she is living in.

I would love to try and wish for something else right now, but I think I am too old for that. I doubt the stars would bother to listen, because they never did in the first place.

So instead, let me make the most out of this opportunity to impart my wishes to you, my Bedan brothers and sisters.

To start off, I wish one day my fellow countrymen would not anymore have to suffer from this dreadful poverty. There are people starving to death because they are being deprived of their basic needs in life. There are people ending up behind bars for committing crimes which poverty pushed them to do. There are hundreds, thousands, or even millions of Filipinos who cannot afford education. No shelter, no clothing, nothing at all.

I wish the next generation would not anymore have to struggle for survival in this Third World country. It is never too late to realize that there is a need for change. It would have to start from each and every one of us. Now, more than ever, it is time to give more attention to economics and stop being all emotional due to excessive watching of koreanovelas and soap operas.

I wish that someday my grandchildren and their children may have the privilege to live in a country that is free from oppression. I wish by then they can reside in a nation ruled by a government that is free from corruption and fraud.

But still, I also wish that people would stop blaming the leaders of this country for everybody’s misfortunes. Though I commend the untiring efforts, I do not think it is profoundly reasonable to try and oust every president who attempts to govern the Filipino nation. Each individual is accountable for himself. And we, as the youth of this nation, should know better.

The 2010 national election is drawing near, and for what it is worth, I wish the Filipino voters have learned enough from the past’s mistakes. A large percentage of voters would come from the youth, and it only proves one thing. Indeed, we can make a difference.

I may not have been a mermaid, a super hero, or a pop star. However, I did become a writer. And through this column, I am hoping that one day you will be the ones to make these wishes come true.

Oust Johnny Bravo!

“ENOUGH ABOUT ME. Now let’s talk about…me.” –Johnny Bravo, American animated series created by Van Partible

I am not sure why, but somehow children are always fascinated by animated films. To be honest, I was no different when I was young. I remember that cartoon characters used to make me jump with joy. I never miss an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, and oh boy, how I hated Mojojojo. Back then, I always find myself engrossed with the endless chasing of Tom and Jerry, the wacky plots in Dennis the menace, and even with the misadventures of Cow and Chicken.

But apart from the above-mentioned, I do have my personal favorite. When I was a kid, I recall skipping meals just to see him on TV. Well, brace yourselves. He is no other than the narcissistic Johnny Bravo. (Did I just hear someone say, “Whoa, momma!”?)

Well, we might have had different childhoods (and cable networks), so I cannot assume that you all know the overconfident cartoon character that I am referring to. Let me just give you a short description, shall I?

Johnny Bravo is the main character in his self-titled cartoon series. He is incredibly in love with himself, which is why girls despise him. His brainless pick-up lines are literally funny that it drives the women mad. And I am not just referring to ordinary lines, okay? I am talking about I-bet-your-name-is-Mickey-because-you’re-so-fine-you’re-so-fine-you-blow-my-mind kind of lines. See what I mean? Believe me. It is even more hilarious on screen.

Sadly, that cartoon habit of mine was forgotten when I entered high school, and more so when I entered college. It is a wonder why kids seem to enjoy this sort of idealism and fantasy, and then afterwards they grow up realizing that all of the things they actually believed in were unreal and just part of something called fiction.

Nowadays, I do not watch cartoons anymore. Today I see a clearer picture. Time taught me to think more rationally and believe in things more reasonably.

Surprisingly, I still see Johnny Bravo, or at least the likes of him. I see them on TV, not anymore on Cartoon Network, but on the news. They are the talk of the town almost every night. And since 2010 elections are drawing nearer, I am expecting to see more of them on print ads and commercials, declaring familiar and silly promises in order to attract voters.

Apparently, things have changed for me. As a kid, I used to like Johnny Bravo. But now that I have grown up, more knowledgeable and less naive, I have no more reason to be fascinated by him anymore.

Johnny Bravo is so in love with himself, just like our politicians who say a lot of flowery words about themselves during campaigns and in front of the public.

Johnny Bravo does not think before he acts, a lot like our government officials seated on their air-conditioned public offices who do not get tired in robbing the people’s money.

Johnny Bravo is conceited. Like some of our so-called leaders, he cannot do anything else rather than to talk about himself. In reality, they do not know anything about service because what they vie for is power and power alone.

Even inside the ivory-clad walls of our alma mater, Johnny Bravos continue to linger. Last academic year 2008-2009, the most controversial Student Council election in the College of Arts and Sciences took place, following a campus-wide dispute why the presidential seat still remains untaken. Rules have been violated, power has been abused, and traditions have been broken.

Politics is no Cartoon Network. It is not a popularity contest and neither is it for politicians who run only to fulfil their own personal intentions. It is not for leaders who vow to serve no one else but themselves. It is not for individuals who are willing to go beyond what is just so as to get what they want.

The essence of an election is first taught and learned in school. Policies are not made to be manipulated, because an honest and unprejudiced nation has no room for hypocrisy.

It has no room for Johnny Bravo.

A tale as old as time

Fairytales always begin with once upon a time, and most often than not, it ends in happily ever after. Of course, it is not that hard to figure out why. Cinderella has glass slippers, Aladdin has a magic lamp, Snow White has seven dwarves, and Sleeping Beauty has fairy godmothers.

But then, this scenario does not usually occur in real life. No one gets three wishes granted just as easy as how it was told in the books. For one reason, fact and fiction are far different from each other.

There is only one thing common between them.

In fairytales, there are villains. In the real world, there will always be antagonists.

Their strategies are somewhat identical to each other. They could give you a beautiful but poisonous apple to make you fall asleep for hundreds of years. Or perhaps, they may even curse you to death. They may be werewolves disguised as people in need of help. But do not be deceived, or else you shall be eaten alive.

Even inside our beloved San Beda, this whole setting of wicked evil characters continue to exist. But behold, these real life villains may even be wiser than your usual witches and ogres. If you do not know how to play your cards right, then you might consider abandoning your high hopes for a happy ending.

The Bedan Watcher may have had its 60 seconds of fame, but beware of the fake glitter for it can forever blind your eyes. They are venomous antagonists pretending to be allies, but in fact they are parasites and leeches whose real purpose is to cause havoc by afflicting everyone with an epidemic plague. They call themselves heroes, and yet they are not even courageous enough to reveal their secret identities. They brand others as sinners, though they themselves are not saints. They are promoting bedlam, but they are lucky enough to escape the blame with others to serve as their scapegoats.

They make use of journalism, but no, they are not journalists. Because they are not worthy to be called as such.

Journalism without ethics is not journalism at all. There is nothing to hide if you know you are principled enough to stand by the truth and nothing else. There is nothing to be afraid of if you know for yourself that you are truly being just and objective. If you spell your words in the name of journalism, then take full accountability for every letter that you write.

A real journalist is courageous, yet objective; principled, but not egoistic; rational, and not emotional. He knows the difference between fact and fiction. He knows how to properly deliver news, because without basis it becomes nothing more than plain gossip.

Just so you know, someone is watching.

For as long as there is a need for real journalists, the history of The Bedan will be a tale as old as time.

*     *     *

This  was my second column for The Bedan. It was written for volume 66, when I was the news editor of the said student publication.

The Puppet Show

“When I was a kid, I never saw a puppet show. I never played with puppets or had any interest in them,” –Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets

Let me tell you a different story, my story.

When I was a kid, I spent most of my playing time in front of the television set while waiting for Sesame Street. I grew up playing with my favorite stuffed toys, Elmo and Cookie Monster. I was a big fan of The Muppet Show, and I once thought Kermit the Frog was actually cute. Plus, Miss Piggy never failed to make me laugh even though I used to think that she was gay.

However, I lost interest in them when I grew up and entered college. I became aware of our dying economy, our apathetic Philippine society, and the dirty game of politics beneath it all.

Speaking of politics, adults usually associate the word dictatorship with the Marcos regime. But I do not think its definition should be too complex in order to reach the discussion about the People Power revolution. For one reason, it does not matter how young or old we are. Oppression knows no age. As far as I am concerned, if there would have to be a seven-year-old term which comes at par with the word dictatorship, it would then have to be puppetry.

There are people using each other in order for them to get ahead: the rich abusing minorities because of greed and thirst for wealth, and politicians using power for the sake of achieving their own political ambitions. All these prove but one thing. This world is full of living puppets.

This explains why there are activists performing rallies, yelling their lungs out even under the blazing sun. They seek for freedom, and not for a lifetime to spend behind the metal bars of fake promises. There are also voters choosing electoral candidates, and journalists making their own stand. They have one common goal, and that is to break free from the puppeteer’s strings and enjoy the privilege of liberty.

We may not be aware of it, but it is time to face the harsh reality. This puppet show premieres everyday. Tickets are sold everywhere, because puppeteers have a knack for fooling the audience. The show goes on. We need not to go beyond the borders of our country to witness one. It happens everywhere, be it in the street, in the Senate, or even within the mighty walls of our beloved alma mater.

Whether we like it or not, that is life as we know it. It is one big puppet show.

However, we still get the freedom to choose which role to play. You can be the star of the show and be manipulated by strings. You can only accept orders from dictators, and you are not allowed to say anything else aside from what was written on the script. On the other hand, you can be the puppeteer, blinded by the spotlight and deafened by applauds. You are after all, a professional impostor, who is seldom loved by most, and is often hated by many. Or perhaps, you can opt to become part of the audience, and allow yourself to be fooled by the masters of disguise.

Each role has its pros and cons, although some are more deceiving than others. But then, ultimately, the role we play as the puppet, the puppeteer, or the audience is a role which we ourselves choose.

So then, you decide. Which role will you be playing?

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This article is very memorable to me because this was my first column for our school paper, The Bedan, which I wrote more than two years ago when I was still a senior staff writer. Since it’s my first time to create a WordPress account, I figured that transferring some of my work from my previous blog accounts is a good way to start here.