In a little town where most people tend to pursue teaching or tourism in college, I stood out when I wrote that I wanted to become a journalist in our class yearbook. I was dead serious.
I had to get out of Lupao—where rice fields and cows crossing the roads are common sights—if I wanted to be successful, my parents told me. So they sent me to Manila, hoping the University of Santo Tomas (UST) would provide me quality education and render me highly employable.
At 15, I left my hometown with a heavy heart and a big city dream.
But it was probably a mistake.
Get out when you still have time, someone told me. You don’t want to be a sad adult who hates her job and her life. Journalism is not a well-paid career. Do PR instead. I’ve heard all these. For many times, I felt disillusioned because I badly wanted to provide my family a better life while doing what I love. I always found myself asking: Why the hell am I here?
Because I thought I was good enough. I thought my achievements in high school journalism press conference contests would matter. But I wasn’t and they didn’t.
My first year in college was terrible. I started to have a poor image of myself and doubt the only talent I have—writing. I was a mediocre student who dreaded recitations and hated interactions. I almost lost my scholarship. I let this monster of a city eat me alive.
Before the end of my uneventful freshman year, I took The Flame’s examination following my mother’s advice that I should join a student publication. I thought that maybe this could be a good training ground and a breath of fresh air to my dull college life.
And yes, it is.
The Flame took me under its wings and taught me many things—including the lessons my three-hour classes failed to offer. I developed my interpersonal skills and learned to stand my ground. I welcomed every cover, legwork, harsh feedback from my then editors, and even major revisions as an opportunity to enhance my craft.
I was happy with my experience in the Flame but I had a bigger dream. So I took the chance and passed the qualifying and specialized examinations. During the interview, I was asked if should I pass, would I leave The Flame? My answer: yes.
It was a lie. I qualified but I didn’t leave. My decision to stay in the publication with a small office, limited resources, and little support from the people in power often merited “sayang” from people but I could not see myself being anywhere else but here.
Had I left, I would not have created friendships with interesting people who continuously inspire me with their talents and who hope to finally see a genuine change in the Faculty and the University. Had I not stayed, I would not have grown as an individual and a writer.
These bad decisions push me to work my ass off every day. I have to work hard because I have to prove to everyone that I can write, that I am as good as the others, that I deserve where I am now more than anyone else. I often feel like I was programmed to meet other people’s expectations of me. It is exhausting but it is what drives me to move mountains that I once had to climb.
I have no regrets because these bad decisions led me to discover my purpose. It gave me the answer as to why I’m still here.
The University is the microcosm of our society. Just like the country, my stay here has been marred by controversies one after another. I have witnessed the students being oppressed and sometimes removed from truth. This led me to believe that moving people to action so they can fight oppression and effect changes in the society is our most important task as journalists.
Journalism is a service—a passionate service. It has been a great pleasure to serve the Artlet community for three years. I cannot wait to serve the whole country.
Staircase wit is defined as thinking of what should have done or said too late. It has always been a curse of mine; but for this time, I won’t let my chance slip.
I dedicate my triumph to the people who took a great leap when they sent me to Manila—my family. Mama, Papa, and Che, it has been tough for four years not having you around most of the time but thank you for always supporting my endeavors. I love you so much.
To Meg and Marla, thank you for making it easier to lead a publication. It has been a rough year but I know that we finished strong. I always admire your talents; it is without a doubt that you will go places.
To my co-editors, your expertise and hard work kept the Flame burning. As we venture into the real world, always remember that it may take a lot of time but success will definitely come.
To my former editors—especially Kuya Celso, Kuya Arnel, and Ate Rose—thank you for believing in my potentials when I did not and for always pushing me to learn and be better.
To the entire Flamily, I will leave the Flame with my heart at ease knowing that the publication is in your hands. Serve the Artlets. Be fearless. Uncover the dirt other people try to bury. It is your time now.
To Kathryn, Chai, and Charissa, thank you for crossing paths with me and for raising the general quality of my life; my block, 4JRN1, you made my stay in UST worthwhile. I am so proud of what we have become.
Congratulations, my dear batch mates. We have triumphantly surpassed one of the greatest battles of our lives. With this, I end my last write-up with my favorite quote from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata: “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” F