Day 10

This is my most stressful day ever. And for the first time, I had to face news like an untamed lion that refuses to submit to its master. Forgive the comparison, but today I really had difficulty turning in a news story on an inauguration led by no other than the president of the Philippines herself.

The first hurdle is finding where the inauguration will happen. Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is supposed to lead the opening of the elevated U-turn in C-5 in Makati today, an innovation in traffic management according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

I don’t know how to get to the area because I really don’t pass through C-5 in my daily travels. In addition Sir Marlon Ramos failed to give me directions on how to get there. The only information I had was that the elevated U-turn is in C-5 is before a mall in the area. I even forgot the name of the mall. Rachel Miranda, my co-intern, gave me this information.

However, it’s always an adventure for me to try to find a place with almost no knowledge of how to get there. I rode a jeep to the mall from the Guadalupe station of the MRT. I asked the driver to drop me off the mall because I didn’t know where else to go.

Upon reaching the reference point, I went and asked the security guard how to get to the elevated U-turn in C-5. He, however, didn’t know where it was. He knew C-5 but had never heard of the elevated U-turn. Perhaps because it wasn’t opened yet to traffic, only a few people knew where it was. Taking my lead from the security guard, however, I went and asked more people. I next went to a police outpost for more information, but the guard inside was still asleep.

Luckily, two construction workers were able to give me directions. Like the guard, they also didn’t know what I was talking about, but when I clarified that I was looking for an inauguration of an elevated U-turn, they finally understood me. They said I needed to cross to the other lane in the highway and ride a jeep towards the inauguration. I did what they said and found where the ceremony would be, just on time.

The security personnel hastily checked me and instructed me to run to the top of the elevated U-turn because the president was about to reach the area. I sprinted to the top of the U-turn, reaching Sir Marlon and the other media people before the president arrived.

There were several television cameramen and reporters in the area. An MMDA brass band played music while everyone waited for the president. The press officers of MMDA also set up information regarding the elevated U-turn in addition to the press releases and media kits they were giving everyone.

After a few minutes, the president arrived with MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando. She rode a pick-up for the inaugural drive through, marking the opening of the elevated U-turn. Then, Fernando oriented her on the U-turn, its plans and the expected improvements brought by the project. She stayed for less than 20 minutes then drove off. The president just came from Egypt and Syria for business trips where she forged alliances with the two governments for the funding of different projects in the country.

After the entire ceremony, the press officers gave out refreshments for the journalists. Here, I saw how sometimes journalists can let go of their dignity because of the hardships of life. I do not condemn the receiving of food or drinks because even I took cola. What I didn’t like was the manner the journalists took the food. They looked so greedy, pushing and shoving one another just to have a sandwich and a soda. How’s that for a free press?

Probably, they were so hungry, but to act unruly just for refreshments lowers the industry and invites cynicism and criticism from the government. How can they respect these people if they do not act respectable?

These may be harsh words from an idealist, but even so, I know something’s wrong even without years of experience of journalism. The root of it? Poverty. I’ve learned early in journalism school that media people do not actually get enough for decent living. Take the photojournalists for example. They are among the least paid in the industry. And though these journalists endure the glaring sun and the dangers of the trade, they will be paid barely enough. Because of this condition, who can blame them if they resort to unethical practices to tie loose ends? They have families to support, mouths to feed, children to send to school. In such a scenario, journalism becomes merely a profession, no longer a passion. That’s a sad thing.

After witnessing all these, Sir Marlon asked me to write a story on the event. I had a hard time owing to the fact that I had never written an even story before. I knew the basics but I didn’t know how to structure the story. I spent the rest of the afternoon struggling to finish the story. I finished it but with a throbbing pain in my head. This is indeed a very tiring day.
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