The Life and Works of Xy So (Happy birthday, Jose Rizal!)

In reality, life and journalism are pretty much similar: you write your own story; you think you have made a well-done article only to find out that your editor replaces some words with more appropriate synonyms…

Don’t worry too much about the ‘Happy birthday, Jose Rizal!’ tag in the post title. I just can’t think of any title for this blogpost and I found out that Monday, June 20, 2011 would be a holiday in the Philippines in lieu of the 150th birthday (June 19) of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. The title was taken from ‘The Life and Works of Rizal,” a three-unit course that tackles the life and works of Rizal (redundant: check!).

EXACTLY THREE years ago — JUNE 18, 2008, I was marching at the SMX Convention Center at the SM Mall of Asia compound in Pasay City for my graduation. Recalling that moment, it was a day full of mixed emotions:

Happy, of course, because after three years of undeserved stress from professors, I was able to win the battle and, in addition, axed the ‘Grayhawk Award for Outstanding Leadership.’ (Photo above is now the only souvenir standing as the actual plaque was “plagued” when my mom accidentally broke it into pieces while cleaning the house and apparently the Uni could not replace according to a not-so-reliable school official.) It also served as a reunion with classmates from previous campus where I finished a three-year technical course (hell yeah! I studied for six years in Uni).

Overwhelmed, that being the president of the graduating class, all the hardships from the collection of fees, efforts of scouting for a great venue (SMX did well, by the way!), and working in tandem with the university administration for some preparations, everything went well (not to mention the guest-speaker who never showed up — bright side: we didn’t have to pay for rental extension fees and had more time for souvenir photos at the end of the program).

Afraid, because I am not sure where I was headed. It is a known fact that I never wanted to take up an engineering course (but I do not use this as an excuse for failing the board exam because I accept the fact that I failed) so I do not know what’s next for me. Apparently I ended up teaching which is very fulfilling. And later, allowed me to work as a writer/researcher and then as a transaction specialist for a bank located in Taguig City that would rather be referred to as anonymous.

Sad, because the days of overnight projects with friends, cinema nights after class, dinners at the dodgy and dangerous “pares” place, and the daily prayers for professors not to be around are all over. Also, I never wanted to leave the student publication where I met the BEST people. Yes, “Breaking the Silence” started as an opinion column on The Philippine Artisan, the official student publication of the Technological University of the Philippines (TUP), the premiere state university of technology. I know I had my fair share of misunderstandings with the school administration but I must say that these moments form part of my “most memorable list” when I grow old.

Now I reckon how I was summoned by the University administration for a “libel” and “insinuation of rebellion” case. How I made my “priviledge speech”-like statement at the opening of the meeting, starting off with a joke (yes, I can clearly remember this): “This is not a fight between the Chinese: Dr. Tan and Mr. So as many would have called this, but a quest for the truth.”

Being in the publication though is not just about always having a clash with the administration. We had a very strong partnership in the advocacy to influence students to participate actively not just in academics but other school activities — we were able to help students form their technology-based student organizations (hello to my good colleagues in IECEP-TUPTSC), we were able to help students exercise their right to suffrage on the student council elections, we were able to help students voice out their opinions on issues that truly matters.

Exactly three years after, it’s like walking across memory lane. College life was so exciting, even more enjoyable than highschool (no offense meant for highschool colleagues, but being in a Catholic school since pre-elementary to secondary education was so-so).

In reality, life and journalism are pretty much similar: you write your own story; you think you have made a well-done article only to find out that your editor replaces some words with more appropriate synonyms (worst note: consider revising); beating, instead of just meeting your deadline, etc., but the most important thing to remember is that whether you have a well-written article, or topping your story as a breaking news and even make it to the headline — you wrote everything that’s in it.

This is Xy, #breakingthesilence.