Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘coverage’

Learning From the Power of the Pen and Paper

I once thought I could eliminate the use of pen and paper after school. Being a reporter for more than three years already, I’ve been used in jotting down my notes on my phone or laptop. But it’s just recently that I have to rely on the classic way of recording notes.

When I started to cover court hearings for the pork barrel scam case at the Sandiganbayan (the courts when public officials are tried for cases like graft and plunder), they required the media not to bring phones into the court room. Thus, I have to bring a pen and notebook. So, while I listen and take down notes, I wonder how I get to understand my writing which has turned steno.

But then, I realized there are more advantages in taking down notes by hand.

Taking aside the odd handwriting, having a hard copy of words is safer than those being recorded in electronic. There were a few times that my phone would delete all my notes before an ambush interview ends or my laptop shutting down at the end of the press briefing. Now, such instances devastates me…literally.

When writing down by hand, it’s easy to review the past notes and leave markings as I rewrite my story. Adding markings to my past notes in electric gadgets only complicates them and adds more time. Besides, I tend to remember them better by hand. I realized that by marking notes, I can remember more the significant words from a coverage.

Now compared to touch screens, I can get the right spelling of words when writing on paper. Oh, yes, I can get the words correct when I type on my laptop, but I can’t write there all the time when we run after interviewees in the middle of the street, right? Now when I thumb in the words unto the screen, I’d get 40% of the words wrong in spelling. This only confuses me. But when I take down my notes on paper, I tend to understand the words better.

It’s amazing how I understand my own handwriting when I review my notes. Maybe because my brain can remember what was discussed better when my hand writes them down.

I learned never to discriminate the power of the pen and paper. Our high-tech gadgets can help us in our everyday routines, but sometimes, it is the traditional way that saves us from the odd-balls of innovation.

Well, not unless the ink of your pen vanishes even before the court hearing has ended. O.o20131226-215922.jpg

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Tindog Tacloban!

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

“Tindog Tacloban!”

This is the message that was written almost everywhere in the city where much attention and focus has been given after Typhoon Yolanda’s wrath. From the native tongue of Taclobanon, this phrase means, “Rise up, Tacloban!”

It is already past three weeks ago since I came to Tacloban, Leyte for a one day coverage of Yolanda’s aftermath. But the memory of a recovering city never fades away. A day is not enough for me take up every truth behind the lens.

For the first time, I’ve landed in Visayas. From the airport itself, I can’t help but be appalled, as the workers struggled back to normalcy. The city was being cleaned, and it’s good to see that no more bodies were scattered when we came. Still, there are much to recover and many are still homeless.

I was anticipating for this visit, but catching up with a day’s coverage left me dissatisfied much. I wanted to know much more, to talk to every people in Tacloban and if given the chance, the whole Leyte. I’d wish to capture everything — as in everything — the emotions and the reality behind the camera.

I felt like a wolf ravaging for a good story in a limited time. As a journalist, I wanted to feel the very heart and soul of

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

these people and digest every stories they wanted to share. I wanted to take time and leave them with great love, too. But the constraint at work limited my soul into a corner. In order to fulfill my mission, I had to complete it emotionlessly.

Despite of these limits, I caught a glimpse of the hope that glimmers after the storm. From the glint in the eyes of the survivors I interviewed, the smiles that welcomed us from the broken houses and ruins, and messages of hope sprawled in the broken walls, hope overcomes the trodden structures around us. I may not have seen the storm itself, and yet I am — until now — fascinated with the resilience that my fellowmen kept in their spirits all these times.

I tried to dismiss the heartbreak as I saw the ravaged cities in my one day stay. But what I would never like to forget is the strength these people kept, that caused them to stand admist the ruins. Before the day ended, I swore deep inside my heart that I will return. Perhaps, by then, it is not the devastated city struggling to rise, but it is a new city teeming with much life that sprouted from this glint of hope I’ve seen.

Now is the time. Tindog Tacloban!

A Few Firsts for My Independence Day 2012

For once again, I got a taste of my firsts last Tuesday, June 12. I can’t help how I cherish this 114th Anniversary of the Philippine Independence. Even though we all had to wake up too early, it’s something I’ve enjoyed to remember.

High school students perform some excerpts of the Philippine Revolution through dancing

As we covered this event, I can’t help but feel how proud I am to be a Filipino. Oh, yes, though I’m just another generation reminiscing a history I’ve never witnessed first hand. After a year of being a correspondent, this is my first time to cover a commemoration of Philippine Independence. As a palace reporter, I and my team had to follow him wherever he goes – unless, it’s extremely far. But everything starts with small things and short distances. And his visit to my province, Bulacan, is a big privilege to me.  Most of all, I was able to get a glimpse of pure, young Pinoy talent. These young students who reenacted history did it with all their hearts. And somehow, I wished I were a teenager, too.

Finale of the students’ presentation…”Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!”

Now here where the irony sets in. It’s weird how a Bulacan resident like me got to visit the popular Barosoain Church for the first time after 27 years of existence. Imagine, going there should have been so easy, as Malolos is just more or less thirty minutes away from my town, Sta. Maria. And it took a president to push me to go and take a touchdown on this historical landmark.

For a backgrounder, the Barosoain Church was where the Philippines was declared and established as a republic. This was also where the Malolos Constitution, our nation’s first republican constitution, was announced. I’d remember as a kid how it was depicted on the back of the old ten peso bill.

I’d still remember how I wanted to visit this church when I was a bored college student. And how it was never done because no one was willing to go around with me. Oh well, everything has it’s own time.

The Barosoain Church just behind me right after the program ended. I can’t help but feel elated by letting my heels touch its stone pavements. O.o

To make sure that this was a special day, I had to wear something special. So I chose my newest violet dress (and the others had to call me “ube” or purple yam). But I wouldn’t wear a traditional baro’t saya because I don’t have one. And even though my mom had kept some old traditional clothes in our magical closets, I wouldn’t dare…I’d have a hard time walking around for interviews underneath the fiercely hot sun!

And so I had to get a glimpse of it personally for the first time! But because this was no pleasure trip, I did not get that “awe moment”. Awww…

I saw how real and huge the church was. I could have touched its walls but I had to find the media seats first. I never thought I could also get a glimpse of that hundred-year old tree in front of it. Weeee!!

But we all got down to work. President arrives, speaks in public, watch his every more, then waved goodbye. Our focus was the leader of the country, and so we had to keep our eyes on him all the time. And we had to hurry back to office to produce my story. No time for that “awe moment” again. Awww…

Next year, the president is expected to visit another historical landmark. Oops, that would be my second coverage of Independence Day. But it hope it would be as exciting as my first one…and every coverage be something that I would anticipate all the time.

I guess I just have to muster all that guts to go back to Barosoain again. Maybe, when I come back there, I’d be able to have that “awe moment” – and make it feel like it’s my first time again! 😀

Sustaining My Passion

The media world is a harsh realm. Ever since I started covering in the senate, I felt a sense of strong competition among different media personnel compared to that in the palace. I am used to the teamwork in the palace press people and so I am appalled by the reality that the media world offers for the sake of popularity and ratings in the outside world.

And so I experienced a belittling of my own entity.

During the first days, I felt desperate. But I had no intention of complaining. Although it’s fun to be with the people in the same feathers called our team, going around looking for ambush interviews were a shock for me. But I had soon beginning to gain a few friends outside our team, mostly young reporters.

But the biggest test was my character check. And it is in here that refinement is beginning to take place.

Naturally, I’m a bit shy…and childish, in fact. I always smile, thanks to my happy-go-lucky character. But the world states that one has to be harsh to win the top. But I don’t intend to be overly popular on TV. I don’t intend to bag awards or win public approval. I am just doing my job. However, this world is trying to put you into compromise.

But only by God’s grace that I survive without seeking fame.

Focusing on the “glitter” of this world is nothing compared to yearning for the love of a God I’ve never seen physically. And yes, how I yearn for Him and want His fellowship. I’ve experienced sinking deep into His presence before but that is not enough. I want more of Him. Thinking that this world will just pull me away from His love, I decided to stay in the church. But that was not His plan.

Outside the church, majority of the world’s entities has no pastor or church worker to touch the unsaved. I remember how desperate I was when I went into “secular” work, but my mother would tell me that I have a reason being there…since no pastor can get in there, who can reach those who had not known the Lord?

I’m no preacher. And I’m not as “great” as Cindy Jacobs or Chuch Pierce and yet I am a part of His puzzle for His Kingdom. I believe the Lord is sending out His children into the remotest part of the urban jungle in order to be a voice to those who have not heard and be a living testimony of His love.

How should I sustain this? I need hunger and thirst. I need passion to lift His Name and embrace His love and give it away. It can never happen should His presence not stay with me and fill me more. I need You, God! And this world needs You!

Little by little or perhaps by one sudden move, the earth will be filled with the knowledge and the glory of Him. And yes, the senate, the palace and the whole nation will be a different place. More of you God…do not only sustain me with You presence…make me sink in You more!

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