Monday, January 25, 2021
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Of restless news and spews

AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Erratic would be an understatement to describe the days leading to this very moment, this tranquil, chilly January dawn moment as I sit here at a hilly resort porch at the foot of the mystical Banahaw; this very moment as I type these very words with my decrepit laptop, exchanging glimpse with the green foliage of temporary pastoral life as I sip by slow glorious sip the mugful of coffee that jumpstarted this morning. Ahhh, the aroma, the dawdling life serenaded by chirps of wild birds.The cold blanket of morning mist. Sana ganito na lang lagi.

Bakit ako narito at nagbubuhay kampante sa isang napakagandang lugar sa Southern Tagalog? Well, I had the honor to grace a conference of college student-journalists of the region. I was one of the speakers together with the top editorial honcho of this publication, Joel Pablo Salud, and Inquirer’s chief lensman Rem Zamora. Together with these excellent folks, we discussed the rudiments of the fourth estate’s soft and brutal skills.

After our short lectures, punctuated by no less than documentarist and TV personality Jun “Bayaw” Sabayton as the keynote address speaker, we became judges for our respective fields for the on-the-spot contests. It’s a yearly literary pilgrimage for me since I was tasked with guiding would-be poets and feature article scribes on how to write poems and feature stories since 2010. If not how to write well, at least how to con their way into the scribes’ circle.

The products of this yearly pilgrimage are endearing. Some won the Palanca, others got published in major dailies and magazines, a few got accepted competitive major writing workshops in the land. But most got a long endearing relationship with literature, and as an educator, that’s more than enough for me.

But of course it is not at all that cozy at some fronts. Now, more of the erratic part.

These past few days saw the spewing of ash and the eruption of the majestic Mayon. Significant because, hey, it is the eruption in a time of Instagram and Facebook. Ang gaganda ng mga larawan, all internet viral-ready. Taken with multi-megapixel capable smartphones.

Because we are living in an age of uploads and instant gratification, we never go uninformed, especially at the moment of grave danger of our Oragon folks in Bicolandia.

Ilan lamang ito sa legitimate na pakinabang natin sa social media. At a very safe distance, we can bear witness to the magnificent fury of Mayon. We can wish our kababayans well, remind them to stay safe, to click a photo or two, and upload while en route for evacuation.

Also, the other day, a certain university, ahem, was placed at the eye of the social media maelstrom for “giving” an alumni award to a controversial government official whose main task is to communicate well.

I was wondering if it happened, say, at the dawn of social media usage, maybe, just maybe, it won’t create much fuss. But it is bound to happen. A large, not to mention old, university can hand awards and recognitions to its alumni by the dozen. An insert or two of controversial figures is bound to happen especially if there’s an intent by some persons indebted to would-be awardees.

You already know what happened. Yes, the social media and mainsteam media maelstrom that created a whirlpool of protests from prominent alumni of this old university; the distancing of the university administration from the alumni award-giving body; the clarification of the president of the alumni association that instead of clarifying things, muddled the issue even more.

Heads rolled away from España Boulevard by way of resignation and indefinite leaves of absence. And as of this writing, the governement service award had been returned because, as the honoree mentioned, of the over-acting alumni and students and onlookers of the award-giving brouhaha. Hindi raw maka-move on.

And if these news aren’t enough to merit my title of restless news and spews, ito na talaga ang clincher: nag-aalburotong (rampaging) volcano meets the nag-aalburotong government service honoree. Paano? As the Filipino adage goes, naghalo na ang balat sa tinalupan.

Honoree returned the plaque with a standard divisive parting shot to focus on more important issues, to wit, investigate anomalous cases of the yellow-dyed former administration. Always about the previous administration, not about the missing 6.4 billion pesos worth of meth under the noses of her bosses, among other things.

As the typical Filipino millennial would ask, anyare? Ganito, habang sinasabi ang kaniyang award-parting shot, the caffeine beverage-flavored awardee mentioned the plight of the evacuees of the nag-aalburotong bulkan (na buti hindi niya sinabing dilawan) mula sa *drum roll* mula sa Naga! And social media went frenzy. Why? The supposed 6-digit salaried communication specialist missed it entirely, like, approximately a hundred-kilometer miss.

Nasa Albay ang bulkan. Wala sa Naga City though tagaroon ang kanilang paboritong i-bash.

Another restless news was about, well, an online news outfit, Rappler. As alleged by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Rappler operates beyond what the Constitution mandates. A boring protracted legal battle will surely ensue.

But the more exciting, albeit tasteless, front is now on the battle of the manifesto executed by different writers (and supposed intellectual) organizations in the land.Kung gusto ninyong tumalino, follow the threads created by these collectives as it will guide you back to your history lesson. Oo, may makukuhang talino sa pagbabasa, kaya iwasan muna ang meme-sharing attitude.

May makukuhang talino sa pagbabasa, gaya ng ginawa mo para matapos basahin ang isinulat kong ito. Mayroon kahit papaano. Kung wala, well, talino pa rin naman ang maging metikuloso sa artikulo. Basta, mag-ingat tayo sa putok ng bulkan mula sa Albay at kung saan-saan.

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