Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy New Year!

Dasia and I finally got to meet each other yesterday. “You’ve not updated your blog,” she said, glaring at me. “I still read Mariannet--and it’s already New Year!”
“Can you feel it?” I asked her.
She gave me her puzzled look.
“The ground is shaking,” I said. She stopped on her way out the door. She must have been thinking of earthquakes.
“The ground is not solid anymore,” I said, but noticed that the words didn’t sound right to my ears.
“I mean, we’re no longer standing on solid ground,” I corrected myself but that didn’t sound right, either. I was sweating. “Can’t you feel it?! The ground where we’re standing is not solid anymore. It’s so shaky!” I blurted, with a hint of panic, because of my inability to express myself.
As usual, Dasia was still her cool, reliable self. “That’s only because you’re thinking too much about it,” she said.
Actually, I wasn't thinking of anything. I did not tell her I got colds, and that, I've even been having trouble breathing since Christmas.
She paused and noticed my eyes. “Too many dark rings,” she said. “You’re excused tonight.”
She said, she’ll just tell Banana and Mandy that I couldn't make it.
We were supposed to go to The Café, where some time in early December, we saw Tec talking to Batman in another table. We never thought that was the last time we would see Batman alive. He was the fifth journalist to be killed in the Philippines before the turn of the year, the 91st since democracy was restored in 1986, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) list.
In November 2004, he still joined the march for dear friend Geneboyd, the 59th on the list. Urggh, the terror of numbers! Who would have an inkling who'd get to be the 91st?! During that march, Batman was bringing along with him a copy of an article about him on the Mindanao page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Batman told JA he decided to frame the article because he considered it an "apex" of his career as a "hardhitting" radioman to get printed on the page.
When I think about this, I often pause and wonder how he would have taken it, to know that he even made it to the front page banner headline nowadays? But, of course, that is such a bad joke. He could not have known!
"Kung mag-inday-inday ka, wa kay madawdaw," he used to say, showing off the old scars he got from an attack he survived over a decade ago. Everybody knew he was identified with a politician. But what was it that he said that got the bullet into his head? Was that bullet intended to silence him?
At The Cafe, we just waved, because all of us at our table were so busy talking about a dizzying range of topics from Mariannet Amper, the Digong-Nogie war and Lex Adonis.
If you happen to live in Davao, you would see the connection.
We were talking about covering disasters and whether or not journalists were at fault at the Manila Pen coverage (because earlier, at the PCIJ training at the Chateau del Mar, Malou Mangahas of PCIJ said, probably, they were!) We never kept track of the time (how could we, with Mandy and Banana around?!) so, the next time we looked up, we saw Tec and Batman waving, turning to go.
Then, in the morning of Christmas Eve, we just became dimly aware of the music from our cellphones, bringing along the message that another journalist was killed.
Brrrh. Is this the way to celebrate New Year?!

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