The station tower seemed to welcome me the moment the train stopped at Quezon Avenue station. Hovering above the small buildings on Mother Ignacia Street, it still stands proudly as it did during the time I walked away from the media industry. Now, every step towards it was like pure torture. I had some unfinished business to do. I had some fears to face.
ABS-CBN (which is a merger of Alto Broadcasting System and Chronicle Broadcasting Network) has been running since 1956. It’s considered as the Philippines’ biggest broadcasting station, with its media technology evolving while bringing forward new content for decades. Anyone with big dreams in the media industry would like to be a part of this company. Of course, I was lucky to be here five years ago.
I came straight from a small, religious broadcasting station with great ambitions. Since I already worked as a reporter and segment producer, I was lucky to become a segment producer in one of its TV programs. But working here is not all glory and prestige. It requires more than hard work.
I’ve sacrificed much of my time and social life. Most of the time, I’d work for 14 hours in a day just to work on an episode. That’s the danger of working with a flexi shift. I’d work on my script right after taking interviews and shoots on the field. Sometimes, I would sleep beneath the desks when we have to go out-of-town shoot because the crew had to leave early in the morning. Usually, I’d finish my work until midnight or early dawn. I knew this would happen when the theme music of the late night news begin to blare on air.
The people I’ve worked with were nice, but the pressure of this industry would bring out the demons from within us. I was having anxiety attacks whenever my phone rings, but I’ve had to muster whatever strength I have to cop the high-pitched, stressful voice of my executive producer. Her voice was so high and powerful, my mom was able to hear it from my room one night. There’s no room for any mistake in this job. One glitch could bring me great disgrace.
Six months felt like ten years for me. I’ve met interesting people, my knowledge and career experiences widened, and my horizons broadened. Some of the stories we’ve gathered were eye-opening and some of those we’ve met became our lifelong friends. But running this rat race became traumatic for me. By the time I decided to leave, I felt a wave of peace from within.
It’s weird that it took me years before getting the documents I needed from this company, but I guess I just didn’t have the courage to see the old ELJ building again. It still carried that strong, electric vibe of pressured and excited people when I returned, contrast to the quiet, relaxing lane of Mother Ignacia. The rain momentarily stopped when I dropped by, perhaps tipping its hat off to give some reverence to my visit. I could not help but roam around a bit, my heart harboring both anxiety and awe at the same time.
Once again, I felt the same wave of freedom while passing along the lane towards the bus stop. It’s the same sense of freedom I felt when I decided to leave this industry and move on to a new career. The sun, in its gleeful audacity, gave a short cheer at me while briefly pushing the clouds away. Yes, the past is gone and dead. I hope that whatever fears I’ve had will be fossilised into stories that I can face and smile at.