Day 11

Today a typhoon is raging over the country. Emong has entered the Philippines and is threatening Northern Luzon and the Cordilleras. As for me, the typhoon made my internship more difficult because of the pounding rain and wind outside. Commuting to my destination was the first trial and going back home seemed impossible because of the flashfloods and heavy traffic.

Sir Marlon Ramos did not come to work today, but I pushed through because I wanted to finish my internship earlier. I went to Bicutan today instead of in Makati because I planned to go around the courts. Unfortunately, the typhoon literally locked me up inside Camp Bagong Diwa.

Despite that, however, I had a good story today which I think had a good chance for publication. It was a fire story in Paranaque City which struck the house of a former military official, Mateo Mayuga—the officer who headed the investigation on the alleged taped conversation between the president and Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garciliano.

The fire gutted the ancestral home of the ex-Navy chief after his brother left a mosquito repellant plugged on in his second floor bedroom. The house was easily consumed by fire because of its design which was similar to the old Spanish houses in Vigan and intramusos.

I find it a bit weird writing a fire story during a typhoon. At the same time, it is weird for a house to get destroyed by fire while other parts of the metropolis are soaked in rain. However, what’s most extraordinary is the fact that Paranaque City has recorded three fire incidents in eight days, not to mention their recent fire bureau upgrade supposedly to reduce cases of fire. I also wrote about the two other fire stories, thus, I kept track of the incidents.

I knew that this additional angle could enrich my fire story, but I wasn’t sure if the Inquirer desk would let it pass their scrutiny. Nonetheless, I was determined to put the information in so my fire story carried an additional angle—the brewing fire problem in Paranaque City. I hope this really gets published.

At first I wanted to write two separate stories—one on the fire incident and another on the problem of Paranaque. However, the one quote I needed from the fire bureau chief came elusive because the firemen would not want to call him. The officer who answered my call even sounded drunk so I guess he wouldn’t dare call his boss in that state. I exhausted all ways to get to the bureau chief but Paranaque fire really had just one phone so there was no other way for me to contact him. I had to give up.

I did not throw away the second story, however. Instead, I merged it with the Mayuga fire story as a backgrounder. It was an equally powerful angle, and it painted an overall picture increasing the relevance of the isolated fire incidents in Paranaque. The background answered the question, “Why should I care?”

In the additional angle, I pointed out that there had been three separate fire incidents in Paranaque, and two happened in the same barangay. On April 30, fire destroyed P200,000 worth of equipment in a handicrafts store in Barangay Tambo. Four days after, fire gutted four homes in Barangay San Isidro with an estimated damage of P1.2 million.

The third one involved the house of a former Navy chief which was also located in Barangay Tambo. All these incidents happened while the Paranaque fire bureau enjoyed new facilities and equipment, donated by the city government.
This second angle brings the story closer to the residents of the city. It encourages them to be involved in their community, to ask their local government to step up efforts against fire incidents. If it passes the scrutiny of the Inquirer desk, I will consider this my best story.
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