My 50 days of summer

Stephen J. Pedroza

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An intern learns about politics, teamwork, and love that can span the seas

STEPHEN PEDROZAThe chiaroscuro of people’s shadows passing by and the colors of dusk entranced me on May 14 — one day after the Philippine midterm elections. I sipped my second caffeine shot for that day, while I sat on a bench outside a mall and waited for someone.

Minutes later, she arrived and wore a big smile. Like the female protagonist in the movie, “500 Days of Summer,” she brought a lightness wherever she went. Her name was Greta and she was a fellow Rappler intern.

We made our way to the Rappler War Room — the network’s election headquarters. To us interns, it was also known as Rappler HQ Center or The Apple Orchard, as it housed almost everything Mac. It was our last day in that auditorium, which had become our home during the election week. It was a place that never slept.

Love in the time of elections

Election was, at that time, the hottest topic—talked about by every Filipino worldwide and tattooed on the minds of the people of this Republic. To many, elections were a chance for change — at least to the people who believed in it. For myself, the elections defined my Rappler internship.

Covering the midterm elections was a journey. In the roughly two months I was part of the Rappler army, I had a first-hand glimpse of a fraction of reality I didn’t want to see for myself. INTER-ISLAND FRIENDSHIP. The writer with fellow intern, Gretzel Lantican, a Development Communication student at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños. Photo by Janessa Villamera/Rappler

During our first week, we dealt with situations that never got old: we managed the loyalists of politicians during a senatorial debate; listened to how politicians throw mud at each other; and eavesdropped on their promises of reform and a better future for their constituents.

Week after week the election fever progressed. Everything intensified. Campaigns went off the hook. Election memes exploded in social-networking sites. We received reports of vote-buying, panic vote-shopping, and violence mere hours before the election. Incidents of violence were reported.

But these were small parts of a bigger story; they were the dramatic stories that make elections in this country more exciting and intriguing to cover.

Even as interns of Rappler, we engrossed ourselves with the anthology of Philippine politics—both the good and the bad chapters of it. We would type words that turned into phrases, then to sentences, then to paragraphs and eventually to a story worthy of public attention.

The experience left me awed and irreverent at the same time. I was awed by the fact that I learned a lot, tolerating insomnia included. But I was disgusted by the reality that every election in this country entails some amount of deception and violence. Nevertheless, the story must be told.

An election is like a summer love affair or, at worst, an infatuation. The candidates courted the voters. The victorious are overjoyed and hailed as overnight sensations. The losers go home crestfallen. Over time, the sparks will fade away; and perhaps, will be rekindled some other time.

More than words

My internship at Rappler was not just about covering the elections, of course. It was also an opportunity to hone my writing and multimedia prowess in different fields. My stay in this network was made even more colorful with a number of events that I covered.

FORGED BY FIRE. The Rappler War Room during the election coverage at the Bayanihan Center, Pioneer, Mandaluyong City. Photo by Haiko Magtrayo/Rappler

On the 3rd week of April, I met a handful of kids from conflict-stricken areas in Mindanao. They were full of hope and optimism that peace can be achieved in their respective areas by participating in the Football for Peace program of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC). Those kids were brave enough to fight for peace using balls and not bullets.

Together with some interns, we partied and at the same time covered the Summer Solstice Party 2013. It was a 12-hour, non-stop party to the beats of Dev, Afrojack, Cobra Starship and other international DJs. We had so much fun. The mantra “you only live once” lingers with me until today.

Lastly, a fashion extravaganza capped my internship. We covered the Philippine Fashion Week (PFW) Holiday 2013. Show after show, Rappler’s PFW team witnessed a celebration of Filipino talent.

Covering events for Rappler was a challenge. But with fellow interns, fun took the place of fatigue — in between phone calls, story writing and coffee breaks. Who would care about sleepless nights, if you enjoyed the company? We would talk about a lot of things, share boisterous laughs, and take gigabytes of photos.

My internship was a journey. It was a journey best shared with the most tech-savvy group of people I have known, and with fellow interns.

This was my 50 days of summer at Rappler — a story that will be hard to forget. –


Stephen J. Pedroza is a Rappler intern. He attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and is an incoming Development Communication senior at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan.

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