'I used to be so excited about bumping into Filipinos because they felt like a window to the world I ached so much for'
MANILA, Philippines - Whenever you ask successful people for their secret, they almost always answer one thing: Do what you love.
For me, I think I may have found the work I love the most. After all, getting excited early in the morning to go to the office counts as a tell-tale sign, don’t you think?
When I applied for an internship at Rappler, I did not expect that in 5 weeks’ time I would turn into an office junkie craving for more assignments. Sure, I had had my workaholic tendencies previously, but the internship somehow managed to combine that with schoolgirl giddiness.
Yay, a coverage! Yay, a byline! Yay, cool reporters!
At least, that was how it played out in my mind most of the time. On the outside, I had to play the part of responsible journalism intern, going the extra mile when doing research or being game for any article that may be assigned to me.
Three years ago, my life was a different story. Despite being the editor-in-chief of my high school publication, I foreswore journalism as a course. The reason? I did not want to end up dead or missing.
2009 was a terrible year for Philippine journalists, with the year being capped by the Maguindanao Massacre which claimed the lives of 34 journalists. The media was all over these events and I, passive viewer that I was, promised to avoid the whole business entirely.
But then there’s a certain fascination with the nobility of the profession that drew me back to it. Journalists are in a constant quest for truth and I decided to let go of the fear and join the cause.
Now I’ve made it sound like some kind of activism. In truth, we are simply storytellers who aim to give voice to the unheard. We present the facts as they really are, untarnished by motive or money or personal interests, so that people may understand and eventually make the right decisions.
Singing heroes’ songs: Palarong Pambansa
Interning for Rappler helped me grow that way. Being a young social news network, Rappler gave more opportunities to us interns than what I initially expected.
Work was not limited to coffee-making (except if you wanted one for yourself) or faxing or photocopying or simply research. We were blessed to have been given so much freedom: the freedom to pitch stories, set interviews and shoots, write solo articles, and even have bylines.
Yes, the story assignments we were given were smaller than the reporters’ actual articles but the people at Rappler did not in any way make us feel like we were merely assistants. They made us feel like we were important team members, representatives of the youth whose opinions mattered in smart conversations.
Notwithstanding my lack of experience in the field of sports writing, I was assigned to Natashya Gutierrez, our head sports editor. We went all the way to Pangasinan to cover this year’s Palarong Pambansa.
Here, I saw how Rappler set itself apart from its contemporaries. Although we did cover the important sports events during that week-long coverage, what we focused more on were the people themselves. We were tasked to find human stories and to lend a voice to unsung heroes, especially to the promising young athletes of the country.
Besides the technical lessons I picked up from the various reporters who mentored us (and I do have a list of those tips), I learned that sometimes, it’s the littlest people that matter a lot.
Society may think that big news does not consist of Sendong victims joining Palaro or barefoot runners, or impoverished athletes gunning for gold. But that was what I loved the most about the job: I was bestowed the power to speak about people, to make the world know about their lives, to give them the attention they deserve.
So even if I had to approach complete strangers or run around under the heat of the sun, the smiles on the kids’ faces was worth it all.
An intern love story
So yes. I admit it. I’ve fallen in love.
And I believe it’s the kind of love that stays with you for a lifetime, the one that keeps you grounded and reminds you why you’re even doing this amidst the turbulence and the dangers.
I started out in Rappler as a college kid looking for a way to whiz through the summer. Instead, I found a way to spend my entire life.
To the big bosses who taught us to be inspiring and to always thirst for social change, to the reporters and the staff who have shared their knowledge and their warm welcomes, to my co-interns who proved to be great co-workers and even greater friends, I give my thanks.
I may be far off from where the journalism greats are but at least I’ve taken the first step. Hopefully, I can take the love I’ve found and share it with the rest of the world – whether through a listening ear, a poignant video, or a bunch of words searching meaning.
As Ma’am Maria says on the newscast, “Tomorrow begins today.” But we interns prefer to put it in another way.
“Gora lang ng gora. GoRappler!” - Rappler.com
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