Day 2

Action-packed. I’ll describe day two as such. Instead of going to Camp Bagong Diwa, my reporter and I proceeded immediately to the Old Makati City Hall to take over the Makati beat from another Inquirer reporter.

Makati City Hall’s press room is as wide as the Press Information Office in Camp Bagong Diwa. It was a lot messier, however. Piles of papers and magazines jutted here and there. Old press releases covered desk tops and tables. Metal cabinets belonging to old and present reporters accumulated dust and earth under the office desks attached to the grayish wall of the office. Evidences of press work are everywhere.

Two old desktops were used by the reporters to bash their stories and beat deadlines. Most of them, however, including our fellow interns from the University of Sto. Tomas, brought their own laptops at work. I can’t bring mine because I don’t want to risk it in the packed MRT rides I endure going to and from Makati.

Sir Marlon Ramos arrived early in the office to take over the coverage of the pre-trial of a case filed by the brother of running priest Fr. Robert Reyes. The deceased Reyes files a 500,000 peso case against Philip Morris for allegedly luring him to smoke their tobacco products at an early age through their advertisements.

We went to the Makati Regional Trial Court to cover the hearing, but upon arriving, found that it was already finished. The other reporters were already interviewing Fr. Reyes outside the court room, asking him opinions on the motion filed by Philipp Morris’ lawyers further delaying the hearing.

It was my first time to see Fr. Reyes up-close and personal. He looked much like the images broadcasted on television. I was also privileged to meet his parents and get to ask them a question or two. Fr. Reyes’ mother was a very nice lady. She’s soft-spoken and inquisitive and asked me and Rachel Miranda, my co-intern, about our studies and our future plans. She also commented on the defense’s lawyers attempts to stall the proceedings.

Early on we got good leads and writing the story’s all that’s left for us to do. Sir Marlon assigned Rachel to write her version of the tobacco case story. I on the other hand was assigned to write about a tanker which spilled its cargo in Pasay city, tangling traffic in the morning rush hour.

The biggest police news in South Manila that day involved a 10-wheeler truck spilling 19 tons of molasses after it tipped over on its side along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City. Sir Marlon got the lead from the local radio stations which reported on the accident in one of their news bulletins. Sir Marlon followed up the story and wrote a quick news for After a while, he asked me to write my version of the story and to add quotes to liven my story.

Unfortunately, as I tried to call the traffic management arm of the police, they denied me the information, saying an Inquirer reporter—Sir Marlon—already called earlier. They told me to just get the information from him.

I told this to my reporter partner and he just laughed, commenting under his breath about the lazy police force we have in the country. Left with nothing to do, he asked me to write the same story using his notes. I finished my story in a couple of minutes and tried to compare my work with what he had written. There’s not much difference, I noted.

After writing the story, we were back to reading newspapers and comparing news and headlines. We laughed at some sensationalized tabloid reports, particularly about a young man attacked by a shark in Batangas. The different tabloid-sized newspapers ran the story, each using the most absurd verb to catch readers’ attention. One newspaper used “sinagpang,” another “nilapa,” and yet another “niratrat.” This is sensationalism in action, I thought.

At around five in the afternoon, I though the day would soon be over. Sir Marlon, however, announced to our group in the office that a news is about to break. It involved the Subic Rape case where the complainant, “Nicole” recently recanted. Sir Marlon said the Court of Appeals was about to overturn the decision of the Makati RTC, clearing Lance Corporal Daniel Smith of the guilty verdict.

Sir Marlon and the other reporters, us included, raided the Makati RTC to get the opinion of Judge I-don’t-remember-the-name, who gave Smith the guilty verdict. The judeg, however refused to comment, saying he still didn’t know that Smith was cleared. The reporters argued a bit with the judge’s secretary, pleading her to tell Judge that they’re just asking for three minutes of interview.

When judge finally went out from his room, the only information the reporters were able to extract from him was that he had never been overturned before. The reporters tried to push the limit by asking him to comment on the case, but he judge was firm. He didn’t want to say anything about the decision.
This was the last-minute action in my day. I’ll add more tomorrow. :)
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