A meandering: Philippine blog awards, nostalgia, and The Ballad of Tom Jones

This blog is one of the finalists in the technology category of the first staging of the Philippine Blog Awards. I’d like to thank the people behind it for the honor. It may sound passé but it is indeed honor enough to be one of the finalists. Never mind winning, I’m up against great tech blogs.

One of the finalists is the blog of tech journalist Chin Wong of the Manila Standard Today. Of the three teachers in my Diploma in Online Journalism course, he was the best. It was under him that I wrote one of the articles I liked the most, which was printed in the Cebu Yearbook of Sun.Star Cebu.

His is the type of work you try to set as standard for your own.

The finals come as I got yet another warning from my web host that I’m nearing my bandwidth allocation. It seems I need to upgrade hosting plans again. A major headache of hosting your own blog is the technical work that comes with it. But this is the type of headache I welcome. I’d like to think I’m no masochist but I get obscene pleasure, at times, with technical problems.

What does not destroy my blog, server, PC, or phone, makes me wiser.

I have been blogging more lately, and my drafts of blog posts continue to grow. You can say I have found my blogging mojo. But I think it’s because of the lifting of a fog of gloom that had been over me for nine years.

In 1997, I joined The Independent Post, a cooperative newspaper in Cebu City. All my apprehensions at transferring to a new newspaper were set aside by a gung-ho excitement at doing something radical, revolutionary even. The group was headed by pillars of Cebu media and I worked with some of the best journalists, writers, and artists.

I love the idea of a newspaper being owned by its readers. “Reader-generated” content is all the rage nowadays but back then, we were already letting stakeholders in the community, including citizens, have a say on the coverage. We invited non-journalists to help us cover the news.

And we did things differently. When Richard Gomez married Lucy Torres in Leyte, we sent Myke Obenieta. He had a hard time getting into the venue because reporters needed to be accredited. Myke, despite this and other problems such as writing in a backyard Internet café with a group of rowdy men drinking, sent in an excellent piece. His article on the wedding was written from the point of view of another Lucy, a local resident who (if memory serves me right) lost her slippers during the festive event.

When I joined the newspaper, you could not leave me in front of a PC. I was scared stiff even at the process of turning it on. But a geek in our group, Kreth Faustino, not only taught me how to turn it on, he later taught me how to remotely control PCs in a network, create web pages, among a lot of things. I had fun restarting PCs or opening applications in computers of reporters who were chatting during deadlines.

We were broke and hungry. The newspaper managed to pay a full month’s salary only once. One of us nearly got jailed when, while inside a store and finding the call of nature too strong to resist, he pocketed a small tissue pack because he did not have even the P5 he needed to pay for it. He was caught. But it’s something to be admired—even at the depth of his desperation, he did not have the guts to use our newspaper to wipe his butt (a joke, he didn’t have one with him).

Yet we were happy. We didn’t have much but we lived off road stand burgers, food on credit, noodles, and each other’s hopes and dreams—and choice of music.

There was one particular song that I associated with my stay in The Independent Post. I had forgotten it for years but part of its melody would haunt me once in a while, when I get into that IP mood and recall my stint at the paper. Two days ago, I finally got into contact with Xiomara Demeterio, the artist who kept playing it in the newsroom.

Of all the songs in the world’s musical database, The Ballad of Tom Jones is the least likely to bring you close to tears. But it did me. I was listening to it for the first time in years and just minutes after reading a message from a former colleague that a legal case over a deal we signed for IP was, by all accounts, settled.

Not a month passes by since the Internet had become more widespread that I wouldn’t ask myself how things would have been different if we were to do it today, and online.

I feel a surge of energy in me. What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

Independent Post staffSome members of the now defunct, there I can say it, Independent Post. 1998 was a bad hair year for me. Hosted on Zooomr

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9 responses

  1. I am all choked up , Max. That was beautiful. IP and the Ipians made an impact on me like a massive comet does to a planet and shifted it off its orbit.

    IP was one of the best experience of my life…albeit full of vissicitudes but as you ended your blog, what doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger…One thing for sure, IP may not be there anymore but the dream is very much alive in all of us who were a part of it… question is, would you do it all over again? My answer is, if it is with the same people, fuck yeah.

  2. congratulations. indeed, just being among the finalist is already an honor

  3. Ha ha, makaluha man pud ta’g tagok ini.:) Giapil pud unta to nimo ang television episode padung sa prendahanan.

  4. astig. stuff like that, when you manage to overcome it — they make you a better person.

    congratulations on being a finalist 🙂

  5. Good luck sa PBA tom!

  6. Thanks Jorge, Aileen 🙂

  7. Hi Max,
    Congratulations! You won! Too bad you weren’t around to accept the trophy.

  8. Hi sir,
    Thanks. It would have been a great time to meet other bloggers. Now I have to find a way to have the plaque sent to Cebu 🙂

  9. panu ba mag destroy ng isang private server turuan nyu namn ako ohh plsss…ang angas ka c ng player d2 ehh

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