I ended 2013 with a statement saying it was best year of my life so far. I’ve said the same thing in 2012, and the year before that, and the year before that.

I want to say the same thing this year, but I just can’t.

It was a “losing” year: a year of lost struggles, of saying goodbyes, and of trying to let go. It was a year that reminded me of my weaknesses, the fears that I have tried – but failed – to overcome. It was a year that brought out the unwanted, undesirable me; the “me” whom I can’t control, the “me” whom I can’t tame.

The past year has taken a lot from me, one way or the other.

The deaths were the worst. I’ve said goodbye to my dog, which has been with us for the past 12 years, in August. I wasn’t with him when he died. But days before he passed on, I’ve told him that it was okay to let go. Everyone, even dogs, has to at some point in his or her life.

Not that I was aware that I will have to say the same words in just a little over a month – this time to my grandmother, one of the most important people in my life.

It was the hardest thing that I have done in my life: telling her that it’s okay, even if it’s not; saying I’ll be okay, even if I know I will not.

I’m not okay, not then and not now.

Her death has caused a permanent damage, which has affected other aspects of my life. I almost lost my sanity, and I thought – after years of not doing so – of ending it all. The series of events resulted in the break-up of an already fragile relationship. It was a hard, but necessary decision that I had to make as I try to go on with my life.

I kept telling myself, I had to. I just had to.

I’ve lost other things: friendships, my beat, and even colleague-friends who were moved to other beats or decided to leave the industry for good. I even lost faith in what I do, in the purpose of it all. It was all for naught, I’d say.

Losing, it seems, really is the highlight of my year.

But the problem with losing is that when you do, you forget about the other things that you have gained, the other battles that you have won.

I’ve travelled a lot, expanded my network, and even co-organized a series of youth dialogues across the country. I have met new people, established new relationships, and realized – once again – how big the world really is.

I have gone back to school and – more importantly – learned more about myself: who I am and what I really want to do.

Admittedly, some of these would not be possible if not for the losses that I had to endure. And in the past weeks, I have extensively dwelled on the “what ifs”, on what would happen had faith intervened and I have not lost the things that I did.

There were nights when I surrender myself to the delusion that everything will go back to where it used to be; because the pain of losing continues to linger, even after assurances from people around me that the wounds will heal. I know it will not.

And I know that my delusions were just that. Delusions.

I want to start the new year right, even if I am clueless as to how I will do it.

Perhaps with this statement: Year 2014 was not the best year of my life, but it was not the worst either.

For the meantime, I’ll look forward to the day when I can say that 2014, while not the best one, is perhaps the most important one. After all, this was the year when I decided to face my demons, and actually tried to live the way I want my life to be.


Wish you had

I vaguely remember what happened. It was a memory that I wasn’t proud of, a memory I tried to bury deep in the recesses of my mind.

But I can still picture the scene. You, moping, seated at the corner of your dark, gloomy room. It was not an unfamiliar sight. You’ve been doing that for years – only this time, you were holding a knife. Or was it a blade?

That was the closest you came to hurting yourself. And I am not sure what it was about.

That was six years ago.

For years I’ve told myself – that was your most stupid moment; a time when you actually revealed how weak you are. You weren’t even broken hearted. I know, because you’ve never really fallen in love, at least at the time. You did not fail a subject either, because you just don’t, at least at the time.

But I know how you felt. You felt like you’re a failure.

Now I know that you – or I – shouldn’t be ashamed of that; because believe it or not, six years later, I’m back at the corner of the room, at 3am, thinking what the fuck happened with my life. I don’t have a knife or a blade with me, at least not right now. I don’t think I’m as brave as you were before. And sometimes I hate myself for that.

Indeed, what the fuck happened with my life? I’d say a lot, and a little, at the same time.

I’ve always wanted to be a journalist. And here I am, six years later, working as one for a major daily. That’s on top of the other things that I do, for myself and (I believe) for the country.

I’m living the dream, some say. I still don’t have the financial capability to buy my own car or condominium unit, but I’ve already exceeded the expectations of most of the people who were around me while I was growing up (not that they were expecting a lot from me).

But here I am, moping, at 3am, at the corner of my dark, gloomy room.

Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. I love who I am. I love where I am right now. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy.

Happiness, it seems, is more than achieving what you wanted to achieve when you were a child; because if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about growing old, it’s the reality that the list grows longer every time you take a step toward your coffin.

And I have committed the worst mistake of all: I kept myself focused on my old list – not noticing that the new entries are already starting to drown me. I grew old, but did not grow up.

Now I’m back to where you were before. Only now I cannot undo the things I have done in the last six years.

I hope I’m not too late.

You know what, I’ve always thanked you for not doing the thing you thought of doing that night. But when moments like these happen, and it’s happened a lot in the past months, I just wish you had.

‘Journalists not barred from covering massacre trial’

First published in The Philippine Star, 13 November 2014

The Quezon City judge handling the Maguindanao massacre trial yesterday said journalists are not barred from covering the court proceedings at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 told The STAR that the court proceedings have always been open to the public.

She made the clarification after police and jail officials banned journalists from attending the massacre trial.

Solis-Reyes said the court has not changed its rules when it comes to media coverage, adding that journalists are allowed to attend the hearings provided that they only take notes using pen and paper.

She said only the live broadcast of the trial is prohibited based on a 2012 Supreme Court (SC) ruling. Read more of this post

Backhoe operator tags Bedol in bribe try

First published in The Philippine Star, 4 November 2014

The backhoe operator who allegedly dug the graves of the victims in the Maguindanao massacre has accused former election supervisor Lintang Bedol of attempting to bribe him to alter his testimony.

Suspect Bong Andal, in a 47-page judicial affidavit obtained by The STAR, said Bedol – a former Maguindanao provincial election supervisor – approached him last June in the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame, where they are both detained.

Andal is charged with multiple murder in connection with massacre, while Bedol is facing charges for allegedly rigging the results of the 2007 midterm elections in Maguindanao.

According to Andal, Bedol asked him if he will accept P300,000 in exchange for not identifying a certain “RG” as among those involved in the Maguindanao massacre.

“You will just refuse to identify him and then you will earn money,” Bedol allegedly told Andal, who said he refused the offer because he does not want to sacrifice his family.

When he asked who will give him the money, Bedol supposedly told him that the money will come from him.

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Malacañang public petition page coming soon

First published in The Philippine Star, 2 November 2014

The government is planning to establish an online petition platform similar to the White House petition page of the US government.

In line with its efforts to expand and improve the government’s feedback mechanism, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office will put up an online platform for petitions on the gov.ph website, PCDSPO said.

“Users will be able to log in and post petitions, which will then be open for e-signatures from the public. When a certain signature count is reached, an official response will be posted,” it said.

The PCDSPO said discussions on the design and features of the platform have been made.

The communications group has opened a webpage http://bit.ly/1qcE0wO where the public can provide constructive insights until Nov. 15.

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