When you first held me in your hands, I had my own heaven.
Your touch electrified every fiber of my body with happiness. Your eyes were ablaze with interest as they darted across every inch, eager to read every word, excited to smile and cry at the same time. Your spirited comments were the light of my day and I revelled in your attention and your willingness to be aware.
At that moment, I knew I had found my purpose and I made a vow to always be fair and honest to you. And until now, believe me, I still and will forever hold onto that promise.
But what happened to you? Your concern started to diminish as passivity prevailed. I started to miss your enthusiasm in understanding our society. Have you forgotten about me? It seemed like it, when I found myself gathering dust in a corner one day.
A study from the Pew Research Center revealed that only 26 percent of 18-24-year-olds make use of me with an allotted time of about nine minutes a day. Forty-three percent of 16-29-year-olds even said that they could "get along easily' without my presence.
This you should know. I was not born to be buried alive in places distant in the eye. I have a genuine intention: I thirst to achieve the very reason of my existence. I never wanted to sit near the garbage can all day, waiting for someone to pick me up. I was not made to protect you from the unpredictable weather, to shield you from the rain as the water mingled with the words that were meant to inform you.
I was made to sustain equality, fairness and balance by revealing the unexposed misconducts in the society. My blood is hot red and my passion for truth is a burning flame. Just a little spark and I can awaken what you once thought was dead.
My love, I am not dead In Bicol University, I strive to complete my objective by providing you with all the information you have the right to know.
UPHOLDING THE TRUTH
I was born out of the burning desire of campus publications. In the College of Education where I was coined as "The Mentor", I continue to uphold.
the truth through in-depth stories. And when I say truth, I don't mean hearsays. I go into details. I ask different people. I let myself hear all sides of the story.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, an organization of student publications in the country which advocates for press freedom, stated in their website that student publications played a vital role in upholding the truth during the Marcos era. Marcos’ misconducts which cannot be read mainstream were exposed by student publications.
In College of Business Economics and Management also expose the truth by tapping all relevant persons and offices involved. I listen to their opinions - every detail of it. People throw mouthful of judgments at me, but it just further fuels me up to continue my quest for facts.
Meanwhile, in the Institute of architecture, I make sure that all the facts I speak are fair and accurate. I speak are fair and accurate. I seek supervision from my technical adviser as well as students whom I am tasked to serve, to verify the factuality of my statements.
Yet, my tongue backs off a little in the College of Industrial Technology, not that I embody cowardice, but rather, I am just protecting myself as much as I protect the truth. I remember hearing someone say in a seminar specifically conducted for journalists that “you don’t have to release all the information for your self-defense”.
There was a time when I found myself exposing some critical issues against the administration, but the issue was thrown back at me. I defended myself believing with great certainty that I should be completely fearless in this field. But then, as I grew more mature, I grasped the realization that not all stories are meant to be told.
That is why I slowed down. In the Institute of Physical Education Sports and Recreation, my lips are automatically sealed when the issue involves the admin. I don't expose opinions that would intimidate greater people. I don't do editorials. But it doesn't mean I am a protector of a certain side can't say am tearful, but I am more careful now. I can still expose the truth without causing harm to myself.
You ignored me in the same manner that you ignored the periods after every sentence.
I still fight to stand for what I believe in, as long as my argument is justified by the facts I have obtained, but regardless of what I do, people still misinterpret my intentions.
Politicians sneer at me whenever I unmask the dark side of their reputations, their wrongdoings and the facts they don’t want the public to know about. There are people who think I am fuelled by money and that I can be paid to bend the truth so that society will favor one side.
There are those who say that my calling to protect the truth is nonsense and stupid. In my life, I have encountered tons of condemnations in the exercise of my cause. But nothing can compare to the amount of pain and disappointment I felt after hearing the words of the person whom the country pays utmost respect. I was in front of him, waiting to be fed with facts when President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his disappointment in me. “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch”, he said. I got stuck in my position for a moment, the words inching in my bone disabling me to contemplate. Did I fail in my duty? Have I wronged the people I was meant to serve?
I knew exactly how to distinguish constructive criticisms from those that are not. I knew which opinions were helpful in shaping me into a better version of myself and those that were destructive to my dignity and self-worth. Mistakes are inevitable, of course. I am ready to admit my flaws if proven that there are.
In fact in the College of Arts and Letters, a place where I am put on a pedestal to be studied and learned, I make sure that when I make an erratum, my mistakes are acknowledged with an apology. Furthermore, to avoid the possibility of inaccuracies, I make sure that I uphold the knowledge that my professors in my college have given me.
A different type of criticism haunts me in the College of Nursing where my power to inform is dwindled by my funding which is just enough to provide. People judge the quality of my pages, but what can I do if that is all I can afford? Nevertheless, I continue to do my job, knowing that my existence must continue to persevere.
I thought the sharpness of those criticisms were painful enough. But then I saw you, shutting me out like I was background noise. You ignored me in the same manner that you ignored the periods after every sentence. What you did to me in the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy was really heartbreaking. I can still hardly stand on my own because you declined to be my feet. It’s hard for me to establish myself and serve my real purpose because you abandoned me. I don’t know if you are too frightened to be part of me or you just don’t care about the future we could hold together.
I have always tried my best to defend your right to be informed but what is the use if you continue to deny hearing my voice? I have constantly made sure that you are fed with the exact and right information, yet you keep on insisting that you are full. You cast me aside like I am yesterday’s meal - cold and unappetizing.
My pages have worn thin, weathered by the harshness by which you handled me. I am not a rag which can be used to soak the puddles on your tiled floor. I deserve to be read so that I may complete my responsibility to you: to provide factual and contextual information.
I, the campus newspaper, live to serve you. It does not matter if the people behind my existence are a force of fifty or a meager ten. Nor will it matter if my paper is glossy and multi-colored or simply black and white. I still aim to bring your stories, editorials, and graphics in hopes that I may enlighten, inspire, and prompt you to be involved in our university.
Please. Bring heaven back to my life.
Illustration by Deano Echague
Published in print in the Universitarian's 2016 issue with the title "Inked Battlecries."