More than a year ago, I left television production, where every day I had to deal with the Maja Salvadors and Coco Martins of the splendidly sparkling yet superficial universe of the local showbiz scene, only to try and become a serious journalist.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I thought I could serve more the people of this nation who paid for my four year education by giving them information they deserve as well as providing space for their stories than feeding them with tearjerker soap operas and morbidly deranged fantaseryes nightly.
Aside from the disappointments I gave my directors, producers and mentors and the abrupt slide of the digits on my BDO bank account, I thought everything is good.
People call us many things. Being a journalist, one day you’re the nation’s hero for exposing a huge scandal dragging the entire government only for the next day, you become the netizen’s target for their criticism for a few things that did not appeal to their tastes. Then follow your shrieking editors, your alarming deadlines not to mention your frantic mother calling you, asking why you’re not yet home at 9 in the evening.
In the end, it is not these trivial things that worry me. When you sit inside your service vehicle and eat with the rest of the crew while seeing the squabbling mob outside clamoring for a few packs of noodles and cans of sardines, you stop unknowingly, thinking about something that is totally unthinkable.
Sometimes, a certain interview would haunt me even to sleep. I would often wonder how Edita Burgos, mother of Jonas Burgos, is faring, fighting a tough battle of searching for a son for four years already. Whether he’s in detention by the army, or killed, or currently in the mountains being a rebel, Edita Burgos wants only one thing. “I want him back,” she said.
I’ve seen reporters cried silently after a devastating coverage. Like the one that happened two years ago with Ondoy and now with Pedring and Quiel. I watched those nameless staff, crews and writers working behind the cameras of news programs – the silent journalists, gather clothes and goods for families living in shanties and under bridges and victims of typhoons, still, away from the rolling cameras.
It is difficult to do a job that forces you to face a blunt reality. There’s more to seeing a smiling young boy running around the church, wearing an oversized muddy trousers, barefoot, than people would often think there is. What the picture often misses to tell is that the young boy’s smile came from a different world he inhabits, a mother that died giving birth and a father that scavenges the entire city to scrape a living.
They say truth must be accepted, although sometimes, one could not avoid but challenge its glaring fangs to try and ease out the clouds of miseries. Most ask, not a charity, but ears and time to tell their stories. Others just want to know that they have an ally in their fight for daily survival.
People asked me if this is what I’ve chosen in exchange of glamour and glitter. Truthfully, sometimes I don’t know how to answer this. What I’m doing, I know, won’t make any difference in the world, but I noticed when you seek out to help others, you end up helping yourself. Maybe because I see myself in them, these people, and in doing the very little thing I can, I see myself helping myself.
I have a terrible pay, there’s no security and no definite working hours. I’m not sure if I’m entirely happy and I’m also not sure if this is what I want to do for myself. But this, I think, is what I have to do for now. And in the world where money counts and beauty and fame matters, I think I’m more than willing to stay on the sidelines, this time for the real Maja Salvadors and Coco Martins of the streets and cardboard homes.
The title may or may not have anything to do with the entry. Although if you’re interested to know, my heart is literally aching as I type this. Dunno why.