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Friday, August 28, 2009

Vignette 2: Baby niece inside a drawer

When I saw the scene in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button where Queenie, baby Benjamin's adoptive mother, put him in a clothes drawer right after finding him on the steps of the old folks' home where she works, I was reminded of the same thing I did.

Our first niece, Nerissa Joy, who was 6 months old then, was staying with us that time. She was left in my care while Mama went to the market. Mama was taking a long time coming back and it was almost time for my class. So I packed some linen and one bottle of baby formula and rushed to school.

I cleared the top drawer of my desk at school and placed the sleeping baby gingerly inside. No one was in the faculty room so I had no one to ask to look after the baby. Already late for my one-hour class, I left for my classroom.

When some co-teachers arrived from their classes several minutes later, baby Nerissa Joy was awake and gurgling. The teachers were frightened by the sounds the baby was making. They thought it was a tiyanak (a Philippine monster in the form of a baby) as they weren't able to see baby Nerissa Joy inside the slight open drawer.

Coming back to the faculty an hour later, I was surprised to hear them talking about a tiyanak haunting the room. I laughed upon hearing them and proceeded to take baby Nerissa Joy out of the drawer and show her to them.

The room was filled with laughter and cooing sounds when I proudly passed my baby niece around.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Is an urban legend coming full circle?

Several weeks ago, I came across this news item:

08/12/2009 | 05:47 PM

Two secret lovers became the talk of the town in the southern Philippines Wednesday after they were found literally stuck to each other.

Doctors were at a loss on how to separate the two lovers, who had been stuck for more than 17 hours since Tuesday night, radio dzRH reported Wednesday afternoon.

The report quoted doctors at the Isulan town hospital in Sultan Kudarat province as saying the two lovers experienced penis captivus, a condition in which the muscles in the female organ clamp down on the male organ more firmly than usual, making it impossible for the man to withdraw his organ from the woman's.

Before experiencing the condition, the two lovers had a rendezvous at a local pension house in Isulan town Tuesday night.

The man, 32, was described as married and connected with the Department of Public Works and Highways. The woman, 20, was working at a local department store.

Initial investigation showed that the two experienced penis captivus at about 10 p.m., and decided to seek medical help at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, said the report.

Draped only in a blanket, the naked couple asked a tricycle driver outside the pension house to take them to a hospital.

At the hospital, doctors used a tranquilizer on the man to make his muscles contract, but still could not immediately separate the duo. - GMANews.TV

This news immediately brought back a particular memory of the early 60s when I was in Grade 2 or 3. I remembered a commotion in Pioneer Avenue of the municipality of Dadiangas (now General Santos City). A lot of people were gathered outside the clinic of a doctor. Some were scrambling to peek through the glass louvers of the windows and the wooden barandilya on the upper portion of the walls.

The adults were talking about a man and a woman covered in a flimsy blanket who were brought to the clinic early that morning by some fishermen. It was said that the couple spent the night together trysting on the nearby Lion's Beach. The man's wife learned of this tryst and with the help of an albularyo who gave her an amulet fashioned from the penis of a pawikan (sea turtle), she managed to affix this inside her husband's pants before he went to the beach.

While engaged in their illicit romance on the sand, the couple became stuck (as a result of the power of the amulet) and remained so until the fishermen found them the next morning. Later, I heard that the couple died of blood poisoning.

Several of my high school batch-mates also remembered this incident.

I have a theory about how this incident evolved into the urban legend that it is now.

At the time of the incident, the only means by which news of it could spread was by letters, telegrams or word-of-mouth. I would however bet on the last one as the biggest culprit for its spread.

Visitors and relatives from Luzon and Visayas islands would be regaled by local residents with this story. Local residents going to Luzon and Visayas would talk of this incident.

But I suspect that the spread of this incident might be attributed to movie checkers who were assigned here during that time. Checkers, usually men, were assigned by film distributors to escort the movies to be shown in towns and cities all over the country. Their job was to make sure the film reels arrive on schedule and to check that every ticket was torn at the tills (as whole tickets, already bought, could be returned to the ticket booth to be resold several times).
Checkers were great story tellers, often telling whomever was interested in where they had been and what has been going on in those places. This incident was such a great story they could tell and relish to tell over and over again everywhere they were assigned to go.

Until it became an urban legend. From the time I was a teener until now, I would hear variations of the incident happening in different locations in the country. Usually the location was a coastal place. The couple would be a married man and his paramour. The amulet would be made of a turtle's genital or that of another animal's. They would be found stuck together like Siamese (conjoint) twins. Some couples died, some survived.

And now the incident happened again in this part of the country. Has the urban legend finally come home?


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vignette 1: Papa snoring in Golden Cinema while "The Fiddler on the Roof" was playing

In my final year in high school, Mama was able to persuade Papa to give me a rare treat for being the second honor in one of my periodical exams. Papa gave me several choices: merienda at our favorite Chinese restaurant, cash, or a movie at the then newest movie house. Since I knew he also liked watching movies, I went for it.

The movie house was showing double programs then, two English movies for the price of one. Papa got us tickets to the balcony. There were only a few people inside the cinema. Papa sat through the first movie, the title of which I had already forgotten. The second movie was another story. It was The Fiddler on the Roof, the film version of a Broadway musical. From the first frame showing the fiddler on a roof playing a melancholy tune on his violin, I was entranced. However Papa slept through it, punctuating the soundtrack with his snores that sounded like a boat sounding its horn as it departs from the wharf.

When the lights were lit at the end of the movie, I shook Papa to wake him up. He saw in my face how much I enjoyed the movie and that was enough for him.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adventure in Journalism 7: Karen Davila plagiarized Stuart Santiago's work? (Repost)

(Another case of lazy journalism where author Angela Stuart Santiago, who wrote Himagsikan sa EDSA Walang Himala! accuses Karen Davila of plagiarizing several portions of her book for the ABS-CBN documentary Laban ni Cory.)

plagiarism and, uh, karen davila? is that you?!

while it was great that upon cory’s death pinoy tv was swamped with docus that revisited her exalted place in philippine history, one docu, Laban ni Cory, produced and aired many times by ABS-CBN 2 from august 2 onward, raised my ire and my eyebrows.

my ire because some of karen davila’s narrative spiels covering the period of the snap elections through to EDSA sounded oh so familiar, so very close to, if not my very own words in, Himagsikan sa EDSA — Walang Himala! and yet there was no attribution, as though karen davila herself researched and wrote the stuff (wow ang galing), something that took me all of twelve years, lol.

I
KAREN DAVILA:

(010) Sa paniniwalang sila ang tunay na nanalo sa eleksiyon, isang victory rally ang inilunsad sa Luneta nina Cory at Doy, na dinumog naman ng mahigit isang milyong tao.

(013) At bilang tugon sa malawakang dayaan sa eleksiyon, inilunsd nina Cory Aquino at Doy Laurel ang civil disobedience campaign, Himinok ang taong bayan na huwag magbayad ng koryente, tubig, at iboykot ang media, bangko at iba pang kompanyang pagaari ng mga tuta ni Marcos. Marami ang sumangayon at sumunod sa panawagang ito. Wala pang isang linggo mula nang unang manawagan ng boycott si Cory nameligro ang ekonomiya ng bansa at nataranta ang mga negosyante.

HIMAGSIKAN SA EDSA–Walang Himala! page 40 last paragraph

Ika-16 ng Pebrero, sa isang “victory rally” sa Luneta na dinumog ng mahigit isang milyong tao, inilunsad nina Cory Aquino at Doy Laurel ang kanilang civil disobedience campaign. Nagpilit si Cory na siya ang nagwagi sa eleksiyon at nangakong pupuwersahin niya si Marcos na magbitiw, sabay hinimok ang taong-bayan na sabayan siya sa pagsuway sa mga utos ng diktador — huwag magbayad ng koryente at tubig, iboykot ang crony media at crony banks, gayon din ang Rustan’s Department Store, San Miguel Corporation, at iba pang kompanyang pag-aari ng mga tuta at katoto ni Marcos.

page 42 paragraph 2

Wala pang isang linggo mula nang unang manawagan ng boykot si Cory…

page 41 paragraph 1

Nataranta ang malalaking negosyante, gayon din ang multinationals …

II

DAVILA:

(022) Kakaiba na noon ang ihip ng hangin. Palaban na ang taong bayan, sabik sa pagbabago at may natatanaw nang pagasa, salamat sa biyuda ng isang tao …

HIMAGSIKAN page 42 last paragraph

Salamat sa biyuda ni Ninoy, kakaiba na noon ang ihip ng hangin. Mapanghimagsik na ang timpla ng taong-bayan, punong-puno bigla ng pag-asa, sabik sa mga naamoy na pagbabago, noong bisperas ng EDSA.

III

DAVILA

(063) Naghudyat si Ver ng all out attack sa riot police, sa marine artillery, sa mga helicopter gunship, at mga jet bomber.

(067) Naririnig din si Marcos sa radyo. Isinusumpang lilipulin ang mga rebelde.

HIMAGSIKAN page 135 paragraph 2

Sa Fort Bonifacio, naghudyat sina Ver at Ramas ng all-out attack sa riot police, sa Marine artillery, sa mga helicopter gunship, at sa mga jet bomber. Naririnig si Marcos sa radyo, isinusumpang lilipulin ang mga rebelde.

IV

DAVILA

(070) Pumosisyon ang mga sundalo at nagkasahan ng mga baril. Subalit walang atakeng nangyari. Lumapag ang mga chopper sa Crame. Isa-isang lumabas ang mga pilot, may hawak na mga puting bandila at naglalaban sign.

HIMAGSIKAN page 138 paragraph 4

Napakagat ng labi ang mga sundalo, nagkasahan ng mga baril, pumosisyon.

page 139 from last paragraph page 138

Isa-isang lumalabas ang mga piloto, may hawak na mga puting bandila at nagla-Laban sign.

V

DAVILA

(076) Ala singko ng hapon, sa kabila ng banta sa kanyang seguridad sumaglit sa EDSA si Cory …

(081) Sa main entrance ng Philippine Overseas Amployment agency o POEA building nagbigay siya ng maikling talumpati sa mga taong nagtipon sa kantong iyon ng Ortigas at EDSA. Pinuri ni Cory ang mapayapang pagkilos ng mga tao…

HIMAGSIKAN page 165 paragraph 1

Bandang 5:00 ng hapon, nagpakita sa wakas sa EDSA/Ortigas si Cory Aquino, na Sabado pa ay hinahanap na ng mga Coryista. Sa main entrance ng Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) building, sa kanto ng EDSA at Ortigas, siya dumaan kasama ang kanyang pamilya at mga tagapagtaguyod.

paragraph 5

Sa kanyang talumpati sa mga taong nagtipon sa kantong iyon ng Ortigas at EDSA, pinuri ni Cory ang mapayapang pagkilos ng mga tao …

the docu’s closing credits list the writers and researchers. i expect the researchers cited their sources of info, it’s part of the job, and if so, who decided not to mention na lang these sources, the writers or the hosts? na okay lang naman as long as magaling sila and they can write the material in their own words. but even then, dapat ay mayroon pa ring acknowledgement sa dulo ang sources of information na hindi pa common knowledge.

kung hindi pala sila ganoong kagaling, dapat ay inamin nila by writing-in “ayon kay… sa librong so-and-so….” or maybe it was karen davila who couldn’t be bothered with “ayon sa’s”, akala niya ay makakalusot? whatever, whoever, wittingly or un-, she committed plagiarism by lifting and appropriating my words for her own use without a by-your-leave or a thank-you, how unprofessional, how dishonest, how disgraceful.

nakakataas ng kilay kasi it doesn’t take much time and effort to cite and acknowledge sources. unless of course the idea is to give the impression that hosts and writers of ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs productions are all-knowing and sufficient unto themselves?

so, okay, now that i’ve vented, what next? what do i expect? well. iniisip ko nga. an apology? too easy to shed crocodile tears. credits on the docu? rather too late, unless of course they have plans of selling dvds, in which case, okay, credits, and a share in the profits?

suggests a writer friend: like a lawyer can be disbarred, a beauty queen forced to abdicate, ask for the head of the plagiarist in the form of dismissal or suspension. or how about punishing the culprit by having her write a million times in longhand a very long mea culpa — the equivalent of 20 years of keyboarding chores or tendonitis. oscar lopez could also buy the next edition of your book to give away to all libraries nationwide.

sounds good, all of the above ;)

Adventure in Journalism 6: Erratum from Philippine Daily Inquirer (Repost)

Correction, confirmation

Philippine Daily Inquirer Publisher’s note

TWO RECENT news stories and an editorial mistook an intellectual exercise for hard fact.

Yesterday’s editorial mistakenly attributed the alleged itemization of the Le Cirque bill incurred by President Macapagal-Arroyo and her party to the “New York Post.” In fact, the hypothetical itemization was done by columnist Manuel Quezon III in his blog on Aug. 8, and introduced as “a theoretical breakdown of how the presidential party could have racked up the bill.”

Our story on Aug. 9 reported that “The purported menu included caviar; such appetizers as lobster salad, wild burgundy escargot and soft shell crab tempura; main courses of black cod, halibut, Dover sole, saddle of lamb and prime dry-aged strip steak; and Krug champagne at $510 a bottle.” There was, in fact, no such menu, only a hypothetical list of ordered items.

Our story on Aug. 10 reported that “The restaurant tab, purported copies of which have since circulated on blogs, showed that the Arroyo delegation had five servings of wild golden osetra caviar ($1,400), 11 bottles of Krug champagne ($5,610), and 25 orders each of the Chef’s Seasonal Menu and Tasting Menu (totaling $1,450 and $4,500 respectively), along with 17 other items.” There were no such copies circulating, only links and images from Quezon’s blog.

Based on these two stories, yesterday’s editorial criticized the presidential party’s insensitive self-indulgence. We stand by that assessment, however, since the original New York Post report is a fact. It read, in part: “Macapagal-Arroyo ordered several bottles of very expensive wine, pushing the dinner tab up to $20,000.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Adventure in Journalism 5: Lazy Journalism and Lazy Reading (Repost)

Lazy Journalism and Lazy Reading

August 11th, 2009 at 12:50 pm by caffeine_sparks

Yesterday on twitter I was alerted to the supposed receipt of GMA’s New York dinner. The graphic looked familiar and true enough I’d seen it on another blog and knew the breakdown was THEORETICAL, the purpose behind this exercise being to illustrate how X amount of people having dinner in a restaurant with a menu at X prices could’ve racked up $20,000.

The purpose of the THEORETICAL exercise was to see whether it was possible for 27-30 people to consume such an amount in one sitting. And true enough, at the prices food and wine were selling at Le Cirque, it was possible.

Yesterday and today news articles came out in the Inquirer, the Star and even ABS-CBN news taking the THEORETICAL break-down as factual. I am now wondering whether these journalists were alerted to the receipt in the same manner as I was – through social networking media. And in their rush to publish news in real time, they neglected to do something which makes them professionals – fact check their report.

I understand that the terrain of journalism is changing and perhaps many journalists are pressured to deliver news at a faster pace. I do not know whether this is because traditional media organizations feel they are competing against the internet and the ease with which people online, networked through sites like Facebook, Plurk and Twitter, may share information. Blogs are blogs. In Filipino Voices we do commentary. For news – we still rely on journalists – pros. So please, Mainstream Media – do not succumb to lazy journalism.

And to denizens of the internets, please do some critical thinking and a little fact-checking on your own. Follow the url links, verify the sources of forwarded information before you forward said info yourself.

Come on people. Let’s not be lazy shall we?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Adventure in Journalism 4: Not quite like Ninoy's (Repost)

(Note: Here is a report from Newsbreak online regarding the contrast between reporting on Ninoy Aquino's death and the death of his wife Pres. Cory Aquino.)

Not quite like Ninoy’s


Monday, 03 August 2009

Image

Exaggerated and clueless reports on Cory’s procession are a disservice to the public.

As former President Corazon Aquino’s cortege moved from La Salle Greenhills, through EDSA, then Ayala, to the Manila Cathedral today, we monitored the extensive broadcast and online coverage of the event.

And we cringed at the inaccuracies, exaggerations, or plain cluelessness that slipped through some of the reports. Mostly it was about the size of the crowd.

One reporter said EDSA was packed and people could barely move. But the TV camera showed it wasn’t like sidewalk-to-sidewalk, and people could actually walk, thank you. Photos taken by our colleague show that there was enough breathing space in there.

Another reporter said there were 50 vehicles of mourners from Ms. Aquino’s home province of Tarlac. But when interviewed, one of these mourners said their convoy consisted of 5 vehicles.

ImageAt the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati City, footages taken were mostly tight shots, making it appear that it was a packed procession. The few times the cameras took wide shots, they revealed that the there was not much crowd beyond the intersection. The same was true along Buendia.

Some reports estimated the crowd at 25,000 persons. Our photographer thinks the actual size was only half of that. The crowds in “ordinary” rallies are even bigger, he said. A veteran of rallies who walked with the crowd was more generous with his estimate. The rule of thumb with rallies, he said, is to subtract one-third from the figures that the police gives.

Not lost on us either—but was overlooked in many reports—was the presence of so many grade school students along Ayala. “This is so Marcos-time,” a photographer said, referring to the practice of the authoritarian regime (that Cory helped topple, remember?) of hauling school children to pro-government rallies to give the impression of a big crowd.

Not a few reported—either as their own observation or quoting some politicians—that the outpouring of people on the streets at Cory’s procession was similar to what happened during the funeral of her husband in 1983.

To give perspective to readers and viewers, especially those too young to know what it was like during Ninoy’s death, we compiled photos from that era—when Ninoy’s coffin was transferred from their house at Times Street to Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City; when it was brought to Tarlac, and during his funeral. (We lifted the images from the book “Ninoy Aquino: The Willing Martyr” by Alfonso Policarpio Jr.) See how packed the crowds really were and realize that today wasn’t quite like 26 years ago.

ImageImage

Image

President Cory will be buried on Wednesday morning. We have more than a day to give her and her public some respect by being objective and responsible with our reports.

Adventures in Journalism 3: News writer apologizes for "killing" Pres. Arroyo (Repost)

(Note: On July 31, I blogged about my unpleasant experience to have the spelling of Sarangani rectified. Instead of thanking me for pointing out the error, the news writer rejected my comment for being a "personal attack against persons and institutions." In contrast, in this blogpost, Lala Rimando, the erring news writer apologizes for her oversight with grace and humility.)

I’m guilty. I killed our president.

I wrote an online story about the passing of a former president but inadvertently referred to the current one who’s still very much alive in portions of the story. Instead of Mrs. Aquino, some sentences had "Mrs. Arroyo" in them.

Aside from both presidents having a last name that starts with letter "A," the two have other similarities: both are lady presidents, thrust into power by bloodless people power, and belong to a political family. But the differences are stark: Mrs. Corazon Aquino was herself not corrupt, was uncomfortable with the trappings of power, and stepped down as soon as her term was over in 1992. President Gloria Arroyo, however, has been dragged in almost all political scandals during the past 8 years, and has tried, through her allies in Congress, to amend the Constitution to possibly extend her stay in power beyond her term in 2010.

In typical online fashion, the comments to the online story were immediate. Some were horrified (‘How dare you dishonor the memory of Cory’). Some were naughty (Facebook comment: ‘Was that wishful thinking?’). Some even called me names (dullwhite in plurk.com: ‘Lala Rimando you're an idiot. It's MRS. AQUINO who died, not MRS. ARROYO, doh!’).

I was sinking in my seat as I read those comments. While I immediately made the corrections on the abs-cbnNEWS.com and www.newsbreak.com.ph sites, and added an erratum, the story with the wrong names on it stayed in Yahoo Philippines’ news page for at least 2 days.

I self-flagellated. Why did I not name-check before I published the story and went to do a couple more? Why did I put my name and fruitful 9-year journalism career on the line for a simple explanatory story that’s not likely to change national policies as did my award-winning ones? It was a story that simply explained the implications and contrasts of the Aquino family’s decision to hold a private instead of a state funeral.

Then I rationalized. I was processing many information and had limited time to spend on each story that day. Mrs. Aquino’s death was announced and stories were pouring from all over. We wanted to cover as many as we could. Too, days before that I was writing and editing stories related to the State of the Nation Address delivered that same week. There was constant reference to only one president: Mrs. Arroyo.

After Mrs. Aquino’s only son Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III announced in a late Saturday morning press conference that there won’t be a state funeral, I merely wanted to explain what a state funeral is and what it is not. It was a story on protocols and symbolisms that could help readers better appreciate what Mrs. Aquino's supporters and her family members are possibly missing out on.

Then I laughed. I heard broadcasters make the same mistake. “Palabas na po sa La Salle ang convoy para sa labi ni Mrs. A-a-a-aquino,” a radio commentator stuttered. “Military honors para kay Ginang Arroyo, inihahanda na,“ a TV news show flashed on its screen. The slip ups occured countless times that I sheepishly thought, "Good, I wasn't the only one who "killed" our president."

I became a statistic. On top of the minute-by-minute account of their own 'Cory watch,' the bloggers and those in social networks included in their regular status updates how other media, big and small, committed similar slip ups. "That was fast!" said a Tweeter account holder about story of a national publication's online arm with "Arroyo" on the story's large-font title. The Tweet, however, had a screenshot of the story with the wrong title, before it was corrected to "Aquino."

A Facebook "friend" said in his status page, a "network reported that President Aquino will attend the funeral of President Arroyo." Not only did they "kill" President Arroyo, they also "resurrected" Mrs. Aquino! Worse, the "foreign network" ran this phrase for about an hour in their ticker.

Hilarious they may sound, these slip ups may be causing doubts on who really died. And for contributing to that confusion, I apologize.

It is our mantra as journalists that we exhaust all means to confirm that the facts of our stories are verified or documented, that we get all sides, that we put our stories in perspective, that we stand brave when harassed by libel or intimidation tactics for saying the truth, and that we humbly apologize when we commit mistakes.

How fitting that I practice the latter as we continue to cover the wake and funeral of the late President Cory Aquino. After all, humility to her was not just an accessory. She lived it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Adventures in Journalism 2: They come to bury her, not to praise her

In the flurry of photo opportunities and exclusive coverages of the Cory wake and funeral, the following are just three of the bloopers reporting the death of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instead of former Pres. Corazon Aquino:


Philippine Star news item featured in Yahoo.com

ABS-CBN live coverage
Manila Bulletin August 6, 2009 issue

(Photos courtesy of Gibbs Cadiz and Frank Cimatu)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cory, my Beacon of Hope

The years after Ninoy Aquino's assassination leading up to 1986 were turbulent years for me. Being a teenaged high school senior when Martial Law was declared and ten years of being bombarded with New Society slogans and jingles (Sa ikauunlad ng bayan disiplina ang kailangan, PLEDGES, Bagong Lipunan march, etc) and relying on the government-controlled media for information, I didn't know how to react to changes wrought by Ninoy's death.

One favorite magazine, Mr. & Ms. spawned special edition issues which I followed avidly because they were reporting the news that didn't make it to the radios, newspapers and TV stations. Songs took on a different flavor as patriotic songs like Bayan Ko and Tie a yellow ribbon were played on the air by a Catholic diocesan radio station here. The local religious community was slow and timid in criticizing the government. The local officials were mostly Kilusan Bagong Lipunan (KBL) party members. Groups like JAJA (Justice for Aquino, Justice for All) shouted anti-government slogans as they marched on the city streets.

In the eye of this storm was a curly-haired widow - Cory Aquino. She was the opposite of then President Ferdinand Marcos. Soft-spoken where Marcos was stentorian. Tentative to his decisiveness. But she was an alternative, antidote to the strongman. She was not what one would expect of a traditional politician (trapo). What she had was the dignity, integrity and courage to stand up to the dictator.I first saw Cory in person when she and Doy Laurel campaigned in General Santos City. Onstage, while she was delivering her speech, the whole city was plunged into darkness. To us, whenever blackouts occurred, something was bound to happen. It was common to have electrical supply interruptions during election day and when the Laban group had events. The international media covering Cory's campaign immediately focused their lights on her, their TV and SLR cameras ready to shoot if any eventuality happened. For a few minutes, there she was - the lady in yellow enveloped by the lights. And then she was whisked away from the stage and brought to a nearby car.

In the Catholic college where I taught at that time, the pro-Cory teachers were a majority. The few remaining Marcos loyalists were ribbed about their staunch support. Unlike their Manila counterparts, the priests, nuns and brothers here were cautious in showing support to Cory and the opposition. Even the Catholic schools had no clear guidelines on how fora and protest rallies were to be held. But the ordinary people started wearing yellow dresses and shirts. The L-finger sign (for Laban "fight") was being flashed everywhere. And the yellow creepers blanketed vacant lands everywhere. The yellow fever turned a pitch higher as the election day neared. Many Marcos loyalists like rats abandoning a sinking ship were seen joining protest marches. On the other hand, at the diocesan radio station, instead of the usual sign-off after the Rosary, I was surprised to hear two radio announcers recording KBL campaign ads! Someone conveniently forgot to turn off the transmitter.

The usual blackouts occurred on election day despite the vigilance of several groups to guard the ballots. The Jaycees, of which I was a member, were among the volunteer groups that helped the Namfrel (National Citizens Movement for Free Elections). I witnessed the incumbent mayor's people distributing campaign leaflets right outside the voting precincts. This was promptly reported to Namfrel. I reported the same on the diocesan radio station DXCP where I was also a volunteer announcer on Sundays. Later, the lady broadcaster on board and I were alerted about the presence of armed men riding a Ford Fiera. The staff helped us exit the station using the backdoor. Hitching a ride, I saw the Ford Fiera and the nozzles of firearms protruding through the side windows as we passed by it. Reporting to school following the elections, I was warned by a well-meaning friend that a death threat had been issued for me. The brothers allowed me to go on leave as I told them I didn't want to involve the school or my students in case the threat was carried out. Some friends acting as intermediaries asked relatives of the mayor to verify if he indeed issued a death threat for me. This he dismissed by saying that he didn't even know me at all!

The protest movement here gained momentum as cheating by the KBL was reported here and abroad. More turncoats joined the protests. When the EDSA revolution started, classes were not cancelled as it was being played out in Metro Manila. But the fervor of People Power was also strongly felt here. The religious community was finally emboldened and openly said prayers and masses for the revolt. The technicians were able to record the broadcasts of June Keithley over Radyo Bandido and these were replayed regularly. The two pro-Marcos announcers took a sudden leave of absence from DXCP and I volunteered to be onboard after my evening classes.

After dismissing my class at 8:30, I walked to the radio station and started my duty until 5:00 the following day. We did not want for anything because listeners would drop off food items, coffee, bread and sandwiches for the 24-hour broadcasts. When we learned about the order to the military to shut down the station, a local volunteer group surrounded the transmitter and provided us protection because we also received a bomb threat.

On the fourth day, while we were broadcasting live a Holy Mass, we received confirmation that the Marcoses had left Malacanang (this after an earlier false alarm) and the priest announced this. Jubilant shouts punctuated the air from those hearing the mass and those living in the vicinity of the station. Many were jumping and almost all, including myself, were in tears. Again, food and beverages flooded the station. It was a euphoria-filled day.

Our college conducted a victory march around the city. When we approached a local station known for being critical of Cory and Laban, we heard "Tie a yellow ribbon" being played for us. This was met by loud boos from the students, teachers and the religious community.When President Cory came to Gensan after being named Time Magazine's Woman of the Year, I begged the local news stand owner for a copy of the large poster of the Time cover, mounted it on a board, and held it high and proud for her to see during the large gathering at the plaza.

The remaining local pro-Marcos trapos, who were ousted from their positions and replaced with transition officials appointed by Cory, switched allegiance and even had the audacity to show themselves onstage to welcome Cory to our city. They were booed as expected. The few Pro-Marcos teachers in school had joined the majority. One teacher, Cory's namesake, who used to tell us she hated to be called Ma'am Cory now wanted us to call her just that.

After she finished her term as President, Cory remained in my mind and heart as the lady in yellow enveloped by lights. After witnessing three presidents take the helm after her, I was in turns dismayed and appalled by what they had done to our country. I may be terribly disappointed by the way the promise and potentials that Cory stood for had turned out, but Cory remains to be a shining beacon of hope to me. Following her exemplar of integrity, dignity and courage, I'm not giving up on our country - not then, not now that Cory is gone, not ever.

(yellow creepers pic courtesy of Avel Manansala)
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