Stolen sunshine, stolen moonlight

One year ago, I wrote a poem inspired by my everyday life as a university student. These are my favourite lines:

Stolen mornings/stolen sunshine,

Stolen evenings/stolen moonlight.

UP’s academic freedom allows every student to choose their classes and arrange their schedule any way they want. I exploited this as much as I could and crafted a schedule according to my convenience – a schedule that lets me sleep in even after the sun has long risen, and allows me to delay my sleeping time as far as I could stretch it.

University students are nocturnal people – we wake up when the sun is high up in the sky and sleep just a few winks before the sun rises for another day. Gone are the days when we would feel the cool morning breeze and the soft warmth of the sun’s earliest rays during daybreak. Gone are the days when we would be in bed by nine o’clock, sleeping soundly in the dark.

Sleep steals our mornings, while work steals our resting time at night. That’s how it is.

But for the past two days, I was able to see the sunrise after a long, long time. I and my co-interns had to go to Ultra at around 6 am, to catch Elma Muros’ morning practice. I had to be up at 4 am and prepare myself, and then be ready by 5 am.

It sure is a nice feeling, to be able to see the mornings once again. I felt that I started the day right, and even though more than once I stifled a yawn throughout the day due to lack of sleep (it’s not easy to adjust your body clock right then and there), it was a day well spent. I felt a different kind of exhaustion – an exhaustion full of a sense of fulfillment in getting things done. I felt contented, to be able to spend the entire day working, from sun up to sun down.

When I got home during those two days, I was happy to collapse on my bed. Rest feels like much more deserved when you’ve accomplished things. It’s been a while since I last had this feeling, retiring to bed with energy drained but feeling the day was complete.

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Inner Musings: Interview Realizations

Today, we interviewed the track and field legend Elma Muros-Posadas.

For someone who’s always been a sports writer, meeting her is a dream come true. She used to be just a name I frequently encounter in sports stories, often alluded to when a female athlete would win hurdles or long jump. Now I got to shake her hand and sit with her for one hour, listening to her voice as she chattered animatedly about her career.

I realized lots of things: first, this is my very first interview outside the realm of UP’s academic requirements and extra-curricular activities; second, I cannot fathom how fortunate I am to have this kind of opportunity while I’m still a student interning; third, I would probably immortalize this experience for the rest of my journalistic life.

It is an amazing thing to get to know the person beyond their name. I learned that Nanay Elma dedicated her whole life to track and field as she continues to develop aspiring athletes, young and old alike. Perhaps it is her life’s purpose, and she never let it get away once she found that out.

The fourth, and probably my biggest realization, is this: it is unbelievably true that the stories of the people you interview touch your life in more ways than one.

Looking back in the three weeks that I’ve been interning so far, there have been lots of struggles and sacrifices. And yet I couldn’t recall a single negative feeling – I was tired but happy, enjoying every single moment of it. I didn’t mind braving the MRT-LRT crowd just to get to TV5, Ultra, and Rizal Memorial under the summer heat. I didn’t mind having no pay, no allowance.

And I realized that maybe, like Nanay Elma who found her life’s purpose in athletics, I found my life’s purpose in this – in being a sports writer, in telling stories of sports men and women, in watching them grow and their careers blossom.

I realized that I’ve always found stadiums my third home (because UP will always be second), and the sounds of whistles and cheers and drumbeats are like music to my ears. When I first went to Ultra a week ago, I was fascinated by the oval and the bleachers and the gigantic light fixtures. It was my first time to see a field in my entire life, and yet I felt as if I belong, as if I’ve always been there all along.

I remember that I didn’t plan to get my internship at InterAKTV at first. I was going to go for VERA files and CMFR, and then Rappler when I heard that they send writers to the Palarong Pambansa. I just sent my resume to InterAKTV on a whim, not really thinking my internship things through because of the busy semester.

I’ve always liked to do sports writing, but I had been thinking of widening my horizons. Owing to the fact not every batch gets to have their internship during an election year, I wanted to capitalize on the rare opportunity to gain experience in other fields.

But perhaps it was a calling – I couldn’t just make more doors and ignore the one that was really made for me. This is what my interview with Nanay Elma has taught me.

Today, we interviewed a legend. Tomorrow, we’re going to interview the reigning superstar. There is one more story to tell, one more story to touch our lives.

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Journo Pet Peeves: Contacting Sources

One of my batch mates posted in her Facebook status: “May special place sa puso ko iyong mga source na nagrereply agad.”

Indeed, sources who immediately respond to queries are like angels sent by heaven to us journalists. On the other hand, sources who take forever to reply, if they are going to reply at all, are like fish bones stuck in the throat of reporters whose world revolves around deadlines.

Here’s a list of the great banes of our lives, based on my experiences as an intern.

Pet Peeve #1: The dreaded operator line, “The subscriber cannot be reached. Please try again later,” following the monotonous ringing of office landlines.

If this were to happen one or two times, then it’s no big deal. We can always fool ourselves into thinking that maybe we are calling at a bad time. But when we’ve done it a couple of times, in different times of the day, in different days of the week, our journalist patience will no doubt snap in half.

For my internship, I am a part of a team assigned to chase big name athletes. One of us is tasked to work on the phones, and as I checked up on him from time to time, I also went nuts each time he has told me no one’s answering the phones of organizations supposed to be handling them.

Pet Peeve #2: That awkward moment when someone finally answers the phone, and then suddenly, “Sorry pal, you got the wrong number.”

This actually happened to our team’s phone guy. I can imagine his reaction, when, after going through trouble of introducing himself and explaining why he wants to get the contact details of said big name athletes, the person on the other end of the line said he’s with the Congress and not with a sports organization.

If I were him, I would probably stab the contact details we found on the said sports organization’s website. A million times.

Pet Peeve #3: “Oh, so you want something from us, huh? Fax/email us a letter first, then we’ll talk later.”

Bureaucracy is annoying, but we have to deal with it. We drafted a letter of request and sent it to the organizations, but to receive no replies even after doing so is another story altogether.

What’s worse is that when we finally got in touch with someone, she gave another email address and asked us to send a letter yet again. Just how many letters do we need to write?

Pet Peeve #4: “We sincerely apologize, but boss doesn’t have a phone.”

When our phone guy had to be away for a few days, our relief phone guy told this story when we sat together one afternoon to update each other the progress of our legwork.

Like, seriously. A top official not having a phone? We find that hard to believe in this day and age of modern technological advancement.

Pet Peeve #5: “If you want to send this message, pay up, pal.” – Facebook

Of course, as journalists, we exhausted all means to get the contact details of said big athletes we’ve been looking for from the start. Apart from the phone calls and letters, we also resorted to directly messaging the athletes themselves through their accounts in various social networking sites.

I stumbled upon their accounts while doing preliminary research on their careers, so I took it upon myself to message them one by one. But after clicking the send button, a dialogue box appeared before me: I was given the option to send the message directly to the person’s inbox for a price, or send it to the “Others” folder for free.

Unbelievable. Since when did Facebook thought of this feature? Before, even though you are not “friends” with a person on Facebook, you can still send a message to his or her inbox without paying a single centavo. “It’s free and always will be,” my foot.

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Yoroshiku onegaishimasu

Umi no hoshi (海の星) is the Japanese for “star of the sea.” Recently, I’ve been looking up the etymology of my given name and stumbled upon this meaning, so I decided to translate it into Japanese and use it as the name of this blog.

I am a university student who happen to love Japanese culture as a result of watching anime. When I was in high school, I liked putting my hair up with chopsticks, and once I even made my mom have a kimono tailored for me. I do Japanese restaurant-hopping and stuff myself with chicken teriyaki, maki rolls, and gyoza. Presently, I’m taking my second elective class on Japanese culture to learn more about Japan.

I started this blog because of a requirement in my public relations subject. I never blogged before, so I saw this as an opportunity to finally acquaint myself with the blogging world. For me, blogging itself is an act of public relations or PR, because I see PR as letting the public know what you want them to know and benefit from such information release.

There are many sides of me, but in this case I want to share the part of me that loves Japan. I certainly won’t benefit anything from blogging other than a medium to express myself, but I think I’ll have fun.

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