A year of upheaval.
2011 saw calamities challenge our notions both of safety and of the status quo.
This year, the stirrings of change disturbed the common and the powerful. One issue, one event after the other made us rethink or question our policies and our perspectives.
We saw personalities resurface to accountability. Beloved figures passed on. We remembered the past, saw it repeat itself, and wondered what has changed. In the wake of it all, we got some answers yet we face more questions.
This behind-the-scenes blog tried to find untold stories beyond the did-this-did-that sidelines of news coverage. Still, the media back-stories found themselves inserted in understated mentions. And even the unique circumstances warranted their own stories.
2011 began with a fleeting succession of big stories that for lack of downtime a number of them did not get written about here.
Among them: the mysterious EDSA bus blast, the construction mishap that killed 10, and the flooding in Albay and in Jolo that sent me for the first time there.
Even as the year ended, the season did not give pause for the routine holiday watch.
2011 also expanded the audience of PinoyJournalist as it affiliated with sites like ABS-CBNnews.com and ABS-CBN’s intranet newsletter E-Frequency. One result– the first post that breached the thousand-hits mark.
I haven’t followed through on last year’s resolution for more features outside of current events or more book reviews. Chalk it up to limited writing time and audience considerations.
2012 will sure bring more stories, and I hope, more ways to tell them.
For now, here’s the rundown of 2011’s headlines as seen through the eyes of this blog:
1. Finally, Garci’s Hello
– It was a one-shot assignment–a weekend in Mindanao and back–just to air live a Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano’s coming-out statement. But it wasn’t a tell-all as some hoped. This story gave a first look at his home and on his attempts to dodge probing questions from the persistent Manila reporters.
2. He’s back: Trailing a returning senator
– Sen. Panfilo Lacson was facing the media after an undetected hiatus and a year of file video use. Many wanted to know what he had to say, thus more than 400 hits in a day. Yet we mostly got a lot of peripherals on his exile.
3. The thing with gore and grief
– Death, more so a violent one, is a constant newsmaker. While many in media have mustered the stomach to face corpses and shoot at crime scenes, it has always been a challenge how to approach the bereaved.
4. Harapan, Rated RH
– The first televised forum on the controversial Reproductive Health bill showed that the debate has gone more personal than the opposing sides would admit. The arguments highlighted at Harapan the bill remains at an impasse in Congress.
5. Remembrance: A year back at the massacre site
– The log of my experience setting up at the site of the Maguindanao massacre in 2010 went unpublished until the second anniversary this year. By then, the site had gone through some landscaping. A story of comparison was relevant, considering that no one has still been convicted for the killings.
6. PNoy meets UP
– The President of the Philippines and a university known for activism–here’s a recipe for a clash. And true enough, a mob, shouts, and posters briefly greeted President Aquino as he spoke during the 100th graduation of the University of the Philippines. Being a UP alumnus, I also took the coverage as a chance to greet schoolmates who were graduating and rub elbows with those covering.
7. 5 years after in St. Bernard: It could happen again
– A disaster story was already on its conclusion when I arrived for the first time in Visayas. Students and teachers in St. Bernard, Leyte were still rushing to reach graduation at the evacuation center we slept in. With the recent flooding flashed reminders of the 2006 landslide that killed hundreds just a month before the anniversary.
8. Stories for Ma’am Chit
– Philippine journalism lost a luminary in one so unexpected a death. It’s the rare time when those who cover are also those who mourn. But more than the memories of those who worked with the Chit Estella-Simbulan, the seeds of her passion grow among her students, including me.
9. Weathering Pedring
– The worst storm to hit Central Luzon this year left areas under water for weeks. Amid the residents struggling to move forward were stories of courage and compassion among our news teams.
10. In flood-hit Cotabato, life goes on
– Cotabato City was in search of solutions when we covered the floods caused by built-up silt and vegetation in the local river. We saw two weddings among efforts to return back to business as the waters receded.
11. Sizing up a hostage-taking
– I missed the anniversary of my first brush near gunfire, but a remote hostage crisis down in Agusan Del Sur proved that much has changed since Rolando Mendoza hijacked a bus and nation in Manila.
And here are the runners up and some favorites:
· Fish talk over late-night cocoa
– An experiment in writing features inspired by a rare reunion moment with peers. Instructed in part by the narrative style of The New Yorker’s Lillian Ross, whose treatise I have yet to finish; and by the blind-item-like scene-setting stories by an upperclass girl back in high school. Here’s where I hope to write more.
· Mina’s mixed signals
– When no Manila reporters join us out of town, we work with the men and women of ABS-CBN’s regional news group. Their stories, like Julius Camba and team getting their hair tousled chasing a typhoon up north, are rarely told.
– We find a common denominator with other people when we reminisce a big event of the past, just like our parents at the EDSA revolt and our contemporaries in 2001.
· The faces of war
– Conflict brings dramatic images that tug and appall. But as we saw covering the aftermath of a bloody military operation in Eastern Mindanao, battles have other facets that make us think twice of a forceful, unilateral solution.