It was always expected that the students in the honor roll in the fourth year high school level would be the same people in our high school publication. Thus, there were high expectations from us. I wanted to be one of the staff; that’s why I took the qualifying exam and suffered from writing different kinds of articles for four hours. I had to think and then write. I had to think and write again. It took two months before the school finally revealed the lucky people who qualified as the staff members. But before that, a friend of mine told me that she and I were included in the list of qualified students to be future staff of the publication. I was too excited and glad when I found that out. Eventually, the time had arrived to officially announce the new batch of journalists. I was anticipating my name to be called. My heart kept on beating so fast because of too much excitement. But that “too much excitement” fell down like a ton of bricks in a split second. The list was completed. My name was not called. The new batch was congratulated. I sat on my chair inside the auditorium in complete silence – dumbfounded…
After the program, I was so deeply depressed. I felt that the world turned its back on me. I had no friends to lean upon that time. I was walking along the corridor when one of my classmate teased me, “O, Carl, Ba’t di maipinta ang mukha mo? Kala ko ba tatawagin ka sa stage?” Then he laughed at me. I was angry. I burst into rage that it reached to the point that bad words came out from my mouth. It was terrible. I was very disappointed with myself. “Where did I go wrong?” I asked myself.
After going through a week-long depression and frustration, I started to think things over. “What do they have that I don’t possess?” I had thought of so many things until I realized that I should not stop dreaming. It was not yet the end of the world. What I must do was to prove them wrong. Since then, I began reading the newspaper everyday most especially the news section. I read, I read and I read until I found myself writing news articles for practice.
Lead writing is the first step in news writing. My journalism teacher asked us to write a lead using some details scribbled on the board. I wrote what my heart was telling me. After which, I got an A-, the highest grade given among us. Definitely, it put a smile on my face. That single moment inspired me to develop my writing skills. I wrote a news story from a feature article I read. Unexpectedly, I made it again to the top. Even in our quarterly exam, which was sort of a qualifying exam too, I had the highest score. At the end of the grading period, I was able to obtain the highest grade. Truly, my journalism class became my training ground.
But the blessings did not stop there… The editor-in-chief asked me to speak with the paper’s moderator. I was not that clueless why she wanted to talk to me. An opportunity was offered to me – to join the newspaper group. I was overflowing with emotions. I answered every question thrown to me with a Yes. Those questions were regarding the responsibilities and obligations entailed by being one of them. I had proven myself in my class, now, it was time for me to prove myself to the whole high school.
I still continued in improving my writing abilities although I now belonged to the circle of writers. I became part of every problem and shortcoming of the group. I wrote my articles once the Editor-in-chief told me to do so. In such way, I passed them ahead of time. Because some of the members were not submitting their articles, I had to do their articles also. This became our routine for a half a year. Nevertheless, we were still able to publish the newspaper.
Everything changed when the month of January arrived. It was Intramurals’ time. Everybody could not wait. But this was hell for us. We needed to produce news letters for five consecutive days. At first, I thought that it would be easy because it was just back-to-back newsletter. But to have an article to fill up every space in that back-to-back news letter was not as easy as counting 1, 2, 3…
Because being one of the staff members was tough, I had to leave the school premises late. Usually, we ate at a food chain in front of our school after the tedious work. But one time, while falling in line to order food, I was confronted by my former adviser and Math teacher. He told me my article in the third day was “offensive.” “You favored the losing team instead of the winning team,” he added. My blood went up to my head. I was speechless. When I got home, I sent a SMS message to our moderator to inform her with what transpired there. It was terribly traumatic for me.
The next day, I personally talked to my moderator to know what to do and what action she must take because of what my former adviser told me in the food chain. She interrogated me in detail. The probe ended with a question I should not leave unanswered, “Do you think that your article was offensive?” With all bravery, I responded, “No, I just wrote how the winning team won and what went wrong with the losing team.”
Our moderator did not have a conversation with that teacher because she was still annoyed. What really irked her was the wrong way of telling his comments regarding the newsletter. My former adviser should have spoken with our moderator first before speaking with me. Instead, she talked to my English teacher, who was her colleague, and told the whole story. She also wanted to confront him of what was offensive with the article. Afterwards, our moderator informed my Journalism mentor, who also happened to be the Principal, of what happened between the two of us. He just said, “Don’t mind him; He doesn’t know the sports jargon. He’s not a journalist.” Words from them uplifted my spirit and gave me courage to write news articles again.
“Carl, it just means that he is reading our news letters and you made him react with your article. It means that you’re an effective journalist…” our moderator uttered. These words are stored in my mind. These have kept my passion in journalism burning, perhaps, until forever…