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Encircle all that apply

28 Nov

Beating the deadline (n. or v.)

– the writer’s (  equivalent of  / supplement to / substitute for  ) an orgasm.

Open by Marion Bais Guerrero

8 Apr

Note: In the recently concluded Campus Journalism Workshop Summer Camp in UP Diliman, 28 teachers from all over the country participated in a series of fora and learning activities designed to maximize their potentials as campus paper advisers.

One such activity was a feature writing exercise. For this, the participants were divided into three peer review groups. They were given 1 1/2 hours to write a three- to five-paragraph essay on any of the following topics: a) an environmental issue in their locality, b) a personality profile of someone in their group, c) their most memorable UP experience (some of them were first timers in the university and in NCR, after all), and d) their most memorable experience as a campus paper adviser.

When writing time ended, the teachers convened in their respective groups and critiqued one another’s papers. What you will read below (posted with the author’s permission) was a favorite in the peer group I facilitated, and with good reason. Penned by Sir Marion Guerrero of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, the piece relates his musings as he and his students entered the State U for the first time.



By Marion Bais Guerrero

Thursday morning begins in a taxi ride. A shared taxi ride for both our first visit to UP.

In acid-washed denims, suede sneakers and a plaid top bought by overseas payslips, the student beside me hums to the tune of the Magnificat. Even Catholic schools have their own playlist.

The same student nonchalantly asks, “Why are there slums inside UP?” This should be a moment to introduce him to the premises of socio-politics and the economics of population, but the response came in a jest, “That’s the lab for sociology and urban planning.”

Either borne out of sarcasm or naïveté, the question reflects how students reared in selective education see the world beyond the wrought-iron fences and RFID counters. When he comes face-to-face with the harrowing concreteness of abstract terms, they remain abstract.

UP and its swathes and swathes of greens is an island in the murky expanse of an uncontrolled, sprawling metropolis. Yet, while others prefer perfumed perimeter walls, it embraces the good and the bad of urbanization. Yet, while others encourage an entitlement to exclusivity, it is never ashamed of being inclusive. Education, after all, is the great equalizer. The same student should have realized this when he saw Nike-clad runners greet the ice cream vendor by the sidewalk; but he opts to hum the Magnificat.

As we snake our way through the main university avenue, the same student asks, “Why are there no walls around UP?”

For which I reply, “Because UP is an open university.”

He gives a neutral nod, then mouths the word “open”, and continues to hum the Magnificat.

A Different Kind of Lens

26 Mar

Last Saturday morning, our J 123 class met in the Inquirer room for the last time. Sir Sabangan was his usual pilyo, amusingly deprecating self  — he was feeling extra generous that day, because he treated us to four boxes of pizza — and spirits were high all around (except, of course, when we watched a horridly graphic video clip). Each of us presented our final requirement, a photo essay on a subject of our choice. Mine was about a day in the life of litseneros in La Loma.

If college were an amusement park, photojournalism class would be a roller coaster. The themes of our required assignments throughout the sem included nudity, Payatas, fraternities, the Oblation Run, sports and the procession of the Nazarene.  Thus far, no other subject has compelled me this much to go places I’d never be, meet people of varied sensibilities, and observe beyond what lay before me.

I came to know the difference between looking and seeing, of taking things as they are and learning how to deal when the output is wanting. I discovered how challenging it was to capture so much in so limited a frame, and how to do without the unnecessary. I got to work on my own accord and in tandem with others. Timidness took a backseat as I learned to assert myself when situations called for it.

I persisted on diskarte and pakikisama, and found out just how effectively a well-timed sob fest can make the impossible happen. I learned to adjust not only camera and image settings, but especially to less than desirable circumstances and personalities.

I’ll miss J 123. But just because I’m not required to cover off-beat assignments anymore, doesn’t mean I’ll miss out on other opportunities to take Sheldon (my camera, lelz) out for exercise.

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Journ this way

31 Jan

The ubiquitousness of personas like Boy Pick-up (and their characteristic, love-and/or landi-laced banat) have led some people to suggest that crafting pick-up lines is this generation’s counterpart to the balagtasan of yore.

I’m not out to discuss the academic merits of such an observation. But I’m inclined to believe that whatever activity forces us to think outside the box –and make associations where none were previously established — is healthy for the mushy pink organ between our ears.

As far as pick-up lines go, the more far-fetched generally elicit more positive reactions. For this to happen, however, one condition remains nonnegotiable: the tie-back has to be smooth, and the punchline has to be so deceptively simple, anyone could have thought of it.

Last night as I wondered what we’d be doing for today’s Newsroom Management class, my consciousness wandered from the left cerebral hemisphere to the right. And from my head sprang forth an idea for a pick-up line, which my fingers promptly translated into a facebook status.

But what started out as a facebook status evolved into a whole-day, journalism-related pick-up line spree in my head. Fair warning, though: There’s a reason this is posted past midnight, when the more innocent among us are presumed to be soundly asleep, and the less innocent are conversely preoccupied.

If you’re prudsqueamish about innuendo but would like to have your daily dose of G-rated, romantic-ish punchlines, well, there’s always 9gag Thought Catalog But if the needle in your spectrum of humor often skirts around the green zone, then be my guest.

‎”Headline ka ba?”


“Because you’re the first thing that catches my eye.”

“Eh ikaw, featurized lead ka ba?”


“Kasi you always leave me hanging.”

“Kung ganon, source ka ba?”

“Because I’m hard to get?”

“No. Because I like to keep you close.”

“Alam ko na. Advertorial ka.”


“Kasi ang hilig mo mambola.”

“Hindi, ah! Byline ka ba?”

“Kasi ayaw mo nang may ka-share sakin?”

“Hindi. Kasi gagawin ko ang lahat, maging akin ka lamang.”

“Pano ba yan, masthead ako.”

“Bakit? Kasi meron kang date?”

“Hindi. Because I like it on top.”

“Then if I were the EIC, you’d be the draft of tomorrow’s newspaper.”

“Because I’d be hot off the presses?”

“Close, but not quite.”

“Then why?”

“Because I can’t wait to put you to bed.”