this month, cebu’s media is celebrating the annual PRESS FREEDOM WEEK. the celebration in 1999 had me writing about my then 8-month-old life as journalist. in yet another failed attempt at cleaning my room of age-old clutter, i came across that article. damn, dugaya na diay nako aning trabahoa uy.


IT PAYS to be the silent type. Clamming up unless whining is necessary gives you the privilege to do little crazy things without people asking you for an explanation. They won’t give a damn. Let him suffer in silence, they’d say. He’s good at it anyway.

Deciding to work for Sun.Star Daily was the craziest thing I did this year (who in his right mind aspires to be a journalist with philosophy as background?) . Or better yet, it was the latest in an endless series of crazy things I had been doing since my decision to wear a permanent shark tattoo on my back five years ago.

I remember mother wearing a what-else-is-new look on her face when I told her last year that I was giving up my seminary studies and planning to work as reporter for Sun.Star. “Well, well, this is another one of those boo-boo decisions he makes,” mother told the family.

I took her reaction as some kind of a maternal blessing. In return, I promised her a lump portion of whatever pay I’d be getting for writing news, plus a promise that I will hear mass daily, like the seminary days (ha ha).

There was not much money, actually (unlike when you’re a priest. Ooops). But who cares? For me, writing is life and that’s basically it, romantic as it may sound. The fact is how to operate the computer bothered me more than how much I was going to be paid when I started with my beat. Don’t laugh now, but I’m computer illiterate and they don’t have to canonize the typewriter.

But who needs computer literacy program when you deal with bloody crime stories woven around the poor people overcrowding the police blotter? The poor, I’m familiar with, thanks to years of seminary apostolate in the city’s slums and remote barangays. But it’s seeing the poor kill and getting killed that shocks a mind supposedly stuffed with things spiritual and concerns oh so divine.

The Ian Watin case was a test of faith. Remember that eight-year-old boy from Barangay Kalunasan stabbed 50 times before he was stuffed in a sack and dumped in a riverbank last January? A Sun.Star editor said it was my baptism of fire as a police reporter.

If it was, then coming up with a series of stories about a Kalunasan gang sucking children’s blood during initiation rites, and about a gay suspect seeing his future crumble before him for a crime he didn’t commit (and all because of sloppy police work) isn’t one hell of a baptism to celebrate.

But then again, it’s a crazy world. And this is precisely the stuff a police reporter is supposed to be made of: enough dose of craziness to survive in an already tragic world and a sick stomach to remind him that he is alive.

And the scoop will take care of itself.

Sun.Star Daily. Press Freedom Week. September, 1999.