Magjo-journ ka? Hindi ba dapat magaganda lang yung mga journalist?”
That was what a high school teacher once told me when I boasted that I wanted to pursue journalism as my college course. She blurted that out in front of her co-teachers which made me more embarrassed.
I wanted to slap the cup of water she was holding but I also wanted to graduate and so, I just faked out a small laugh.
I am not flawless, I have the extra pounds and I tend to stutter in public. Maybe she was right. Maybe journalism is not my cup of tea and that I was just forcing myself in it. But the 16 year old Janine persisted and ended up taking the course.
Four years after, my diploma is slowly coming its way into my hands. Here I am, writing my farewell column not only as the Photography Editor of the Flame but most importantly, as a Journalism graduate of the University of Santo Tomas.
If could just visit the fourth year high school Janine, I would give her a pat on the back and tell her “You made it…and you deserve every single bit of it!”
I graduated under a Special Program in Journalism curriculum in high school. In the Philippines, only one school per region is allowed to hold that curriculum. Since our campus paper, The Clarion/Ang Klaryon, has already made its mark on Region IV-A, my school was chosen to have the pioneer batch.
During our early years, we were exposed to different journalistic competitions not only within the school but also on regionals and even nationals. While the non-SPJ student learned home economics, we had special subjects like Advanced English and Journalism.
After getting the highest score on one of our photojournalism activities, everyone urged me to train and become the representative of our school during the National Press Conferences. A lot of teachers from our school hated us because we always had to ask them for free time.
It was free time not to play around but to train more for competitions and produce the campus paper. While other kids enjoyed their summer break, SPJ students were required to go to school to train from morning until the sun sets.
I used film cameras back then during trainings which made it harder. Just imagine having to wait for hours just to get your photos developed. Also, the process of installing the film gave me headaches. Despite that, photography stuck to me like bubble gum which is why I still carried it in college.
I remember calling this publication “The Flames”. I entered with basic photography knowledge which I think gave me an edge against the other aspiring photographers. I got in during my first year here at UST and have stayed there since. I am one of only three staffers who were a part of the publication since the beginning.
If there is one thing that I learned from the Flame, it is sacrifice. I had to give my time, effort and attention to this publication. Even though I live almost 2 hours away from UST, I had to travel just to cover events.
Events that were outside the University were twice as hard since I did not know my way around Manila. I would also like to boast that due to the numerous events that I have covered, I was able to memorize the UST Hymn; a great achievement for a Thomasian. Even though I sacrificed a lot for this publication, it became my second home which made me stay until the end.
With this, I want to say to whoever is reading my column to appreciate the people behind every publication. We sacrifice sweat, tears and sometimes, blood just so we can deliver you the news.
And to those who look to photographers as “photographers lang”, you might want to rethink that.
Our photography team goes through a lot just to deliver you stories of people and places. Photography is not just pointing a camera and clicking the shutter button. It is telling a story through our photos.
If you think that a job of a photographer is easy, try going to the Feast of Black Nazarene and squeeze yourself against millions of people just to take a good shot. The next time you see our Flame photographers roaming in front of an event, give them a warm smile because our job is not an easy one.
To my dearest UST, thank you for giving me a roof during my four years of college life. I have never thought that I would go out into the real world with yellow pride. You are the first university that I set my foot upon in my life and I am honored that you will be the one who will keep my foot print.
To my circle of friends, Minus Ladies, thank you for keeping up with my craziness. It might be possible that we would be too busy to even have a meal together, but always remember that even though I am your friend who always forgets your birthdates, I am a friend that always cares and that is willing to lend a hand if you need it.
My dearest The Flame and ‘Flamily’, a “thank you” would not be enough for me to show how grateful I am to have you in my life. Another publication year has passed and sadly, it is my last one. I will surely miss our cramped office and please leave the powder on top of the desk just in case I pay a visit. To those who will be left behind, continue to ignite the intellectual senses of Artlets.
Lastly, I would like to give appreciation to my family for their unending love and support. This is just the first chapter of my life and I hope that you continue until I can stand on my own. I will surely repay you for giving me a comfortable teenage life.
It came to me that this column is the last article that I will be writing as a college student. It might not be my best one but I enjoyed it the most. Again, I thank everyone for being a part of my life. To God be the highest glory and to my fellow graduates, cheers for finally getting the piece of paper that we worked for throughout our whole lives! F