this day is the longest day in my internship so far. i started the day at 9 a.m. and came home at 2 a.m. the next day—that’s 17 hours of straight work!
i visited some of the schools in san juan early in the morning and i was surprised some of them weren’t prepared yet for monday’s elections. i went back to the office to report what i saw. i also started working on a feature story about teachers serving in the elections.
at 5 p.m., our team (sir luige, jamie, charlie and i) was set to eat dinner together at megamall just in time for the miting de avance scheduled at 7:30 p.m. by some twist of bad luck, a reporter from another paper reminded sir luige about the event, adding that other reporters who were still around will be covering the event. since san juan was my beat and i was set to cover the miting de avance anyway, i was told by my trainor that i should stay behind so i would be in the company of some reporters. i waited for almost two hours for the other reporters to proceed to san juan. i was hungry the whole time. i could not find any food stall anywhere.
on our way to san juan, the news broke out: comelec chair benjamin abalos was rushed to the hospital. one of the reporters was thinking of going to mandaluyong right after covering san juan because abalos’ son, benhur, was set to attend his party’s miting de avance. he could give us some updates on his father’s condition. i asked my trainor if i could join them and he gave me the go signal.
in san juan, we waited for more than an hour. while waiting, the reporters decided to cancel the visit to mandaluyong after they learned that benhur won’t be able to make it to the miting de avance. but another news broke out: ex-pasig mayor enteng eusebio was holding a press conference at 10 p.m. that night. this was obviously regarding the disqualification order handed down by comelec this afternoon. why that late at night? because he would no longer be allowed to speak to the media the day after lest he be accused of electioneering.
we arrived at the venue for the press con at almost 11. it looked like some warehouse of sorts, what with the dim lighting. outside, there were around a dozen men in plain clothing (i thought they looked like bodyguards). they searched our pockets, told us to wear our identification cards, and listed down our names—it was the weirdest press con i have ever attended.
on our way inside the building, we were met with a stack of high-powered firearms kept in an open box. that scared me a little. i hoped those men were not out to kill journalists, including a would-be journalist.
we were still alive when the press con ended. ex-mayor eusebio was denying reports that he got disqualified. he had not received a copy of the comelec resolution, or so he said. sir luige arrived in the middle of the press con and asked most of the questions.
it was almost midnight when the press con ended. i thought i was heading for home but sir luige was still planning to meet the other party—rep. henry lanot who was running for mayor. so we went to whistlestop (were we in libis? i had no idea) to get a copy of the resolution. and we did see it.
finally, after a long day (and night), i went home.
it was sir luige’s day off today so we, the election volunteers (jamie, charlie and i), were left on our own. i started my day early at 8:30 a.m. i visited some of the schools and talked to the principals about their preparations for the elections. i saw firsthand how teachers were really involved in the election process—from cleaning the room to collecting the election materials. and they only get p3,000 for all their efforts.
i met jamie at the deped press con. i wrote a follow-up on the eusebio issue (a short one on comelec’s side since sir luige already wrote on it), a story about the jinggoy-jv rift, and a revision of the feature story on the teachers. jamie added something to the feature story and wrote her own stories in her beat, mandaluyong.
we finished submitting all our stories at past 5 p.m. and we decided to go home early to prepare for the elections the next day.
i voted early in my precinct so i could make it to the xavier gym in san juan on time. i was only the second person to vote, having waited since 6:30 a.m. outside st. paul quezon city.
by the time i arrived in xavier gym, fernando poe jr. was on his way out. i grabbed my tape recorder and desperately tried to get a comment. i was overwhelmed by the sheer number of reporters, cameramen and photographers elbowing their way just to get a statement or a good shot of the actor.
i was on my toes the whole morning, trying to keep an eye on the personalities who would be voting. we were told in the briefing at the inquirer that we were supposed to describe what they did before and after voting and that’s exactly what i did. among the personalities i interviewed were: senate president franklin drilon, tv host/councilor candidate bobby yan, senatoriable jinggoy estrada, sen. loi ejercito estrada, and san juan mayor jv ejercito. i also talked to national citizens’ movement for free elections secretary general guillermo luz, who came to vote in xavier but who ended up trying to solve problems of missing names.
i also talked to the comelec election supervisor and some pollwatchers before i left for greenhills at lunchtime to write my stories. it was hardly a lunch for me since i was facing the monitor while putting some food in my mouth. i wrote about the activities this morning and a feature story about disabled and hardly-able people who came to vote.
i left at around 3 p.m. for pinaglabanan elementary school, the polling place with the largest number of voters in san juan. there, i saw on tv gma-7’s report regarding a brief commotion at the xavier gym this afternoon so i immediately went there. i found out there were some voters who were unable to vote because the gate was closed at exactly 3 p.m.
at 7 p.m., i headed for the san juan gym where the town level canvassing was to be held, only to find out that the board of canvassers was postponing it for the next day. there was a brief argument between the chair of the boc and the lawyer of mayoral bet erick san juan regarding the postponement. i talked to both of them, dictated the quote to sir luige over the phone, before heading for home at 9 p.m.
it was a tiring day. but a lucky one, still. yesterday i texted lawrence: “congrats! you’ve got two bylines.” early today while waiting for the voting to start, i received the same message from him with a sidebar: “(sounds familiar? ayan, dinagdagan ko na.)” he was referring to the jinggoy-jv and the teachers stories.
since the canvassing was set to start at 1 p.m., i went to san juan at around 10 a.m. already. nothing unusual or newsworthy. i decided to wait, and wait. the canvassing started at 3 p.m. after some of the koalisyon ng nagkakaisang pilipino exchanged barbs with local comelec officials regarding the proper handling of election returns and ballot boxes.
when the canvassing finally started, erick san juan’s lawyer made a scene: he and the entire local lakas-cmd delegation staged a walk-out. i interviewed him right after the walk-out and he was saying his client could not take part in an election “patented with fraud.” yes, he was accusing jv ejercito of fraud. i thought he might have forgotten he was in an erap country.
i wrote a brief article about the walk-out and faxed it to sir luige. later, i interviewed mayor ejercito in his office. i faxed the quotes, with the pwersa ng masa’s quick count results, and waited for canvassing updates but they weren’t available yet. i went home at 8 p.m. with an exam early the next day, i was wishing myself luck. i’m not going to sleep tonight.
with 30 minutes of sleep, i was groggy when i went to san juan at lunchtime. not much happened. i waited for canvassing updates while making a few phone calls.
i called up namfrel-white cross and, after several calls, the woman at the other end of the line gave me an unofficial tally as of 3 p.m. i faxed it to sir luige and the metro desk. i didn’t write a story, probably because i wasn’t in my 100% self. or maybe because there were no stories to write about.
i decided to go home around 7 p.m. just when i was barely a block from home, sir luige called me up. “congressional bet jojo alcovendaz’ supporters were reportedly massing up outside the san juan gym.” so i hailed a taxi, conscious of the fact that i have to give sir luige an update before 8 p.m.
when i arrived there, i saw no people massing up. instead, i saw a dozen policemen by the gate. they must have been expecting something, so i decided to stay for a while.
later, erick san juan’s lawyer, atty. bugaring, was there again to file a protest for his client. he invited me to join him in filing the case at the comelec main office. after consulting with my trainor, i declined and headed home. sir luige texted me twice: “umuwi ka na ngayon. bukas na yan.” i checked my mobile phone, it was 9 p.m.
i went to san juan at lunchtime and talked to local comelec officials who, by now, have become nice to me (they even gave me packed meals). i was told they were set to proclaim the winners this afternoon.
while waiting, i called up atty. bugaring to find out what their protest was about. i also called up namfrel, only to find out that they could not release results until later tonight because they had problems retrieving election returns. looks like the official count is outpacing the quick count, i wrote in my lead. i faxed the story to sir luige and waited for the results.
there were still none by 8 p.m., the deadliest cut-off time. but for some strange reason, i had the feeling proclamation would happen sometime soon. so i waited, even way beyond 10 p.m., the time my trainor told me i should go home. i broke his order and it paid off. proclamation was held at 11 p.m. and i was able to talk to mayor ejercito and councilor bobby yan after. one comelec official promised to give me the results but she wasn’t able to do so, so i figured it would be wise to wait for the next day.
i went home shortly after midnight.
i was expecting to get the official comelec results so i went to san juan at 10 a.m. tough luck, the chair of the boc wasn’t there yet. she had the sole copy of the results. so i decided to write the proclamation story, hoping to get the results when i get back.
there were still no results because the chair, as it turned out, almost fainted. she is pregnant so she must be having a hard time with the elections and the canvassing. but i decided to stay.
with no results still, i decided to leave at a little before 4 p.m. i called up sir luige to inform him that the results weren’t available yet but he was adamant. “they have to release the results now.” so i went back to the canvassing area and talked to some comelec employees. they were also at a loss.
as luck would have it, they opened the ballot box with the consolidated results of the canvassing and so i hurriedly copied it. no other reporters were around, it was a scoop. i checked thrice to make sure the figures were correct and i asked a comelec official if this was official. it was, they said.
with that confirmation, i raced out of the canvassing area, called up metro desk and sir luige to give them the figures. then, off to inquirer office to get our remaining allowance. there, sir gerry asked me to write an article about the appointment of five clergymen. one became archbishop, two became bishops while two bishops were reassigned.
finally, at 7 p.m., i headed for home.
i didn’t know today was my last day. i asked sir luige yesterday if i could take a break today and tomorrow. he said it’s too early to take a break. he said monday would be fine. i agreed. i had no qualms about it.
so when he told me this afternoon that i didn’t have to report tomorrow, i was unprepared. i didn’t have my evaluation sheet ready. but that was fine with me. at least i could now focus on my pi 100 oral exams and report.
the day started at 10 a.m. i went to san juan and checked the canvassing area. they were empty. i was told canvassing for the national positions ended late last night. the people must have been tired because i didn’t see anyone at the comelec office this morning.
i talked to some vendors instead for my feature story. before i headed for the deped office, i decided to drop by the san juan police station. there were no big stories. but i did meet an inmate, my age. he was caught last wednesday for killing an out-of-school youth in august last year. he stabbed the guy 13 times, police investigation showed.
his was sad story. “he wanted to be a policeman. but his hopes vanished after his father was arrested for attempting to kill the man who killed his uncle. without a father to support him, he quit schooling. now, jonathan tatena, 19, is languishing in jail for killing a 20-year-old out-of-school youth he figured into a brawl with. tomorrow, he would join his father at the san juan municipal jail for an odd reunion.”
i was taken aback when i found out that he had a wife and a two-month-old child. he was married at the age of 17. he is the oldest in a brood of five. with him and his father in jail, i wonder what will happen to his family, especially his child and his younger siblings.
too bad i wasn’t able to confirm some of the details so i did not submit my story. but i was thankful to have known his story nonetheless. seeing jonathan’s plight made me appreciate my status right now. i’m not the most successful man in the world but at least i’m enjoying some blessings. i honestly hope he and his family will find a way out of this.
anyway, end of the road for me, at least when it comes to my internship. what can i say? it was the most fruitful, fun-filled, fulfilling summer i have ever had. i can’t wait to be a journalist.
so much has changed in my lyf. bt u being a part of it remains d same. no matter where lyf takes me, il nvr 4gt dat in ds lyf, my world crashed n2 urs & it has been beautiful...TC--one of *her* last messages b4 she left, 7-June-2003. 16:38:38