A Letter to Artlet

Untitled-2DEAR ARTLET,

By the time you’re reading this, you’re probably either (1) in disbelief that you just finished your first year of college, (2) already expecting the major challenges that come with being a junior, (3) procrastinating your thesis and in denial that in a year you’ll also leave this place, or (4) like me, wallowing in limbo, not knowing when to finally admit it’s time to go out there and act like a real adult.

You see, there are similarities among college life, this thing called adulting, and, well, a Rodrigo Duterte presidency: They’re all risks. They’re all scary. But we have to deal with them.

The biggest risk I took was writing “AB Journalism” on my application form. It was a last-minute decision, something I didn’t discuss with my family.

Dear Artlet, I believe you also had your own reasons when you picked your path (or poison). I know that this decision might have been met by disapproval from your parents, judgment from your peers, or worse, lack of trust even from your own self.

By now, you might have already recognized some flaws in the curriculum or encountered professors who do not provide the level of expertise you initially expected. Yet for some reason, you carried on and learned to love your craft. For that, I salute you.

Nonetheless, I advise you to go the extra mile.

I, for one, did not even know basic terms like “lead” or “nutgraf” when I entered journalism school. Some of my peers, on the other hand, were already participants in journalism contests and regional press conferences back in high school. I knew clearly what I was getting myself into—I knew I had to catch up big time.

Thus, I applied for a writing position in our society’s publication, hoping editors would be kind enough to teach me the basics of writing a simple news story. I guess my seniors counted on the fact that I promised them my unrelenting willingness to learn. I have not broken that promise since.

It took a while before I mustered enough courage to do things like joining competitions, applying for publications, and directly asking feedback from my editors and professors. The risks were always worth it.

So dear Artlet, when there’s an opportunity, don’t be afraid to take the lead. Try to compare yourself with your so-called life peg, and gradually narrow the difference between you by learning what else needs fixing. #HumblyWorkHard, as my peers would say.

And yes, be ready for hell.

My taste of it was almost having to repeat a subject because of my failure due to absences. Oddly enough, I embraced that dark part of my college life. Without it, I wouldn’t have appreciated the joy of bouncing back.

If I had any regrets, it would be the times I did not raise my hand when I clearly knew the answers or the moments I chose complacency over determination. Believe me when I tell you it’s better to go all out than regret not being able to try hard enough. I know this sounds cliché, but it is commonplace for a good reason.

So if it’s not too much to ask, please enjoy your college life responsibly. Welcome your mountainous pile of readings, and savor every sip of your nth cup of coffee.

Manage to slay everyday—do it your way. And, oh, try to sleep in between.


To my dear publication, the Flame, saying your name is almost like second nature to me. I have come to love your best features and flaws that if I must imagine you as a person, you’d be what I call a “pulubing culturati.” Despite limitations in resources, to say the least, you always manage to thrive with style and substance.

It was you who introduced me to the beauty of a small office with artsy cutouts and cheesy jokes on its walls, chats about life and love over beer—or more often, siomai rice—until (or after) midnight, tired faces during sleepless nights of presswork, and seeing your alumni discuss how they would want to return to AB just to make it a better place.

To Sir Cuarts, thank you for being like our father here at the Flame; Arnel, I’m glad we still kept our sanity after two years of acting like parents here; Celso, you are 1/3 of the EB that we never had; Inna, Arvee, Michelle, and Quina, I know your individual talents will take you places; To the rest of the Flame staff and to the incoming editors, I take pride in having witnessed your growth and I hope you continue making us proud.

I owe my deepest gratitude to my first editors in the Journalese and The Flame who tolerated me and taught me things I wouldn’t have learned much earlier inside the classroom. To my favorite professors, you have inspired us with your work and I appreciate all the extra feedback you gave us just to make us better.

To my friends, kids-slash-amigos, and 4JRN1, thank you for making this journey much more bearable.

A few months ago, I asked one of my professors to comment on a feature article I submitted in his class. In the middle of his message was a line that struck me as it sounded more like a heartfelt farewell.

“Please be better than the rest of us elders,” he said.

Dear batchmates, I hope we will be. F

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