Friday, July 27, 2007

Death in the Newsroom

"It's a masculine newsroom," I confessed to Anton at the rooftop canteen, delighting upon the fact that I was able to point out the cause of the "strangeness" I've been feeling about the place. Anton crossed his eyes in disbelief. He was quick to retort. "Whaaat?!" he said. "There are more women in that newsroom!"
"That doesn't necessarily follow." How could I explain, how could I picture a female newsroom to someone, who has never seen, never experienced, and perhaps, could never believe it can exist? "Journalism, itself, is a masculine profession," I said. Most often, when they're not very careful, unsuspecting women who venture into the profession are often trained or are forced to think like men. Anton opened his mouth and said, again, "Whaaaa?!"
There might already be some headway made by some women somewhere, but right here and now, in this country, in this world where I live in, the institutionalized mainstream press is still pathetically masculine, made for the purpose of perpetrating the rule of the patriarchal culture, or, to serve the male-controlled commerce and industries.
The closest image I have of female-ness is Amy, in one of those meetings, when she fleets from one subject to another, turning the discussion into a crazy patchwork of life and anecdotes. You can feel right there and then, that each story that gets inserted is a living thing that has a potential to grow. So that the meeting can turn into a crazy whirl that can easily spin and confuse an average male, obsessed with rule and order. Yet, I've always felt richer and fuller after those meetings, because of the glimpses of life they offered. They allowed your imagination to run wild and your creativity to grow untrammeled. Don't talk about imagination in a masculine newsroom. Men are afraid of wild women and of minds allowed to roam free. Women spell trouble for men. In the Middle Ages, they labeled these women as witches and burned them at the stake so that inside the newsrooms of today, women would no longer know what innate power and magic they've got. They could no longer recognize who they are.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Changing Landscape

My landscape has been changing so fast the last few days. First, I remember taking a snapshot of davaotoday at the two-story YMCA building in Davao at the back of The Venue. Now, as I climb up the Cebu Daily News' rooftop canteen to eat, I can't believe I'm being greeted by the sight of cranes and containers being loaded at the Maersk container port! Last night, I climbed up here at six o'clock and I actually saw all those lighted cranes at work! What would JA say if he'd find out I'm closely living close to Maersk?! He has been in love with Maersk for a long time. He has been in love with all container ports for that matter. Cargo boats and cranes and container vans litter his adult dreams. His love has been so deadly and fatal that it has driven us out of our rented house in Matina! Maersk, of course, had delivered his shipment of bananas to Vladivostok! But sometimes, luck is in short supply. Sometimes, the yellow corn from Bulgaria also get stranded in the Black Sea on their way to Vietnam. So, we are cast homeless. Now, I can't believe I'm actually staring at the pile of Maersk containers at the port! Sighing and turning around, I see on the opposite end, far off Nivel Hills, where Marco Polo Plaza beckons! This is a totally different landscape!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Trying Out

In the last 10 days, I've been trying a hand on some editing works inside the newsroom of Cebu Daily News. The work stretches from the three o'clock story conference---when the editors decide on the headlines and stories of the day and give page assignments---to deep hours in the night when the editors finally put the paper to bed. On the first days I was here, I was bowling with laughter from the police stories assigned to me because they were---tragic, comic and absurd! They were also the toughest works to edit. After the first days (urrhm, nights), I discovered the benefits of coffee but I fought the urge to draw out a stick of cigarette. My cigarette memories are still with Nico, outside the gate of PDI Mindanao bureau where we can watch the Bachelor buses from Butuan passing us buy; or with Dasia, whose ashtrays bear the marks of nicotine abuse while we allow our minds to roam. Inside the newsroom, I can't probably allow my mind to roam. I have to fix an eye on the copies and make sure that it stays there. There's not enough time to explore the depth and breadth of things. You have to deliver a finished product before the first rays of the next day.
Over the weekend, I handled a page on a heritage building along Osmena Boulevard. I liked doing it because I wanted to get inside that building--a museum---and take a look inside. Cebu is teeming with those centuries-old Cathedrals and colonial Churches that are remnants of our past. I have the urge to go out and stare at them in the afternoons to summon all the ghosts and understand my future. But what can I do? I'm inside the newsroom!