Memoir of a Linker

My high school life was far from the usual.

But no, I wasn’t first honors, second, or any other honors. Yet I had the best sense of achievement one could ever had. While some had to beat the deadlines for their projects, I had several to deal with.

I, for my whole high school life, was a Linker.

The idea of becoming a student journalist had not crossed my mind until the day my friend Siara Jose, back in sixth grade at the almost-century old St. Andrew’s, recommended that I join the grade school student publication. I was writer for all sections; with an opinion column as my first. I also wrote for News, Literary, and surprisingly —Sports. I wasn’t an editor back then. I was a typist, hence my ability or if that’s what we may call it, to type fast even without looking at the keyboard. But in that one year, I learned a lot.

And so with what I had, I crossed borders and jumped to the neighbor school St. Paul’s College, a much bigger institution compared to that of St. Andrew’s, founded in 1945 just after the American soldiers left the lot to the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartes.

During our freshmen year, I joined the high school student publication called ‘The Paulinian Link‘, which, at the first time I stepped in to join, had no idea I would be the harbinger of change to the newspaper organization. I was with my batch mate Brandon Nones, who was the grade school News editor back in sixth grade. Our advisers were Ms. Benny Rose Ubas and Mr. Eric Ocampo, and legendary Tiffany Elamparo was my Editor. I attached the word legendary to her name because of what she has done: she was Editor for three straight years. I had no idea how she carried such tremendous responsibility.

I didn’t understand the screenings back then. They just let us write articles for News, Features, and Sports. The day came and to my surprise, I was named as Features editor, for the article I wrote about how the community was very welcoming to its new students. We were only 12 members in the organization that time, 14 if you count the advisers. Nothing much happened during my first year as editor; besides the congratulations after the first issue being released, and earning some of my batch mates and teachers’ praises.

Sophomore year came and the number of students grew. I was once again given the position of the editor for Features, and the Beadle as well. What was different in that year was that The Paulinian Link or PL for short, was given a Publication Office as per recommendation of the advisers. It was Room 207 at the second floor of the Mere Marie Michau building, where the high school classes were held.

But it was in February of 2013 that an issue sparked up. My Editor, an incoming senior, was seeking the post of the Presidency for the Student Council at that time. We call it the Student Coordinating Council or the SCC. I remember Ms. Ubas telling us that she can’t serve as Student Council President and Editor-in-Chief at the same time, so someone in the publication had to assume the position. The catch was, you had to be two years in the publication prior to that time. And at that time, those who were two years in it were seniors Associate Editor Therese Castillo, Sports Editor Juan Barcelon, Literary Editor Monica Sanchez, junior Correspondent Bianca Nery, and apparently, me.

I don’t want for it to seem as if I’m bragging, but at that time, if my Editor won and decided to vacate the post of her editor-being, I would’ve to succeed her.

She lost, however. But she was named as Honorary Vice President. The role of the Vice Presidency eventually became hers during her senior year, because the Student Council Vice President-elect Alfred Abanto, batch mate of mine, had to leave the institution for San Beda College, Tanay, Rizal for a scholarship for sports. Thank God she didn’t decide to leave her editor-being; I just don’t think I was really ready for such responsibility.

The thought of becoming an EIC terrified me. I saw her during my freshman year typing some sort of document in a computer of Mr. Ocampo’s office, only to realize later that it was a crossword puzzle she was making.

But during my junior year, I could’ve taken a different road. I had decided to join a newly formed club called the Gliterattis, an English club handled by the high school Academic Team Leader for English, Ms. Marie Sol Pangan. (She is Mrs. Reyes today)

I had no idea why I wanted to leave though. I guess I wanted to try something new, and journey the life beyond of a writer. But then I decided to stay, and upon arriving at the classroom where the publication met, I was named Associate Editor. The student publication’s vice president. I wanted the position of the News editor that time, a position lower than the Associate, because in junior year I became a News junkie. I started being fond of reading and listening to news, be it local or international.

During my term as AE, I already had my Creative Team, which started in February 2014. It composed of three members: the AE, a photojournalist Agatha Ramos, and the Entertainment editor Jasper Solomon, both of which are very creative people and are very close friends of mine. The team’s first work was the student council elections’ poster, sponsored by the student publication. It was the first brainstorm I had with them, from the design to the words that it contained.

But before the year ended, I learned from my only adviser that time that she was leaving for next year. She was leaving when I was to become the Editor. At first I felt fine with the thought of succeeding my Editor, because I know I’ll have with me a good mentor. But then she left, and I didn’t know what to do.

Senior year came, and thus, my term as the second male Editor-in-Chief (next to Jeano Cruz back in 2011), began. I handled Volume XXII of the publication, the best one in all the volumes yet.

I had loads of plans for the publication though. A new adviser came to us in that year, Mr. Jayson Sombrero, a Chemistry teacher and my junior year class adviser. The Sister-Principal that time granted us the Publication Office again, after losing it during my junior year after a class had to occupy it.

To ensure that we get good writers, I specifically requested to hold screenings for those who aspired to become student journalists. We had screenings for those who wanted to become editors, correspondents, cartoonists, and photojournalists. We accepted a lot of applicants that year —the highest number of members the publication has ever had in its whole existence. We were 37, and in those 37, 10 were part of the Editorial Board, three were cartoonists, seven were photojournalists, and the rest were the correspondents.

I requested Leann Ignacio, a junior at that time, to become the Associate Editor, knowing that whoever was in the post had to succeed the EIC. I saw that she was responsible and that she had the potential, so without any hesitation, I raised my recommendation to Mr. Sombrero to make her the AE. Today, she is the EIC of the student publication.

Pauline Salazar, a very close friend of mine, was News editor together with Dolores Merano, Aleksa Litan was given the Features, the post I had for two years, Brittany Aguilar for the Literary, sophomore Mara Castro for the Entertainment, another close friend of mine, Ailsa Agustin for Sports, Agatha Ramos as the chief photojournalist and Katrina Cruz as the chief cartoonist. They consisted the Editorial Board which I’ve sat and discussed together with, all the works of PL during that year.

We were known for our creative works and designs during my term, relying on Jasper Solomon as the Layout Artist, together with my best friend Annel Ramones, President of the Young Environmentalists Society or the school’s resident environmental advocates. Annel was the one behind the Aperture section of the second issue of Volume XXII, where a year-ender was made to summarize the Top Trends, Deaths, Issues, and Stars for 2014.

PL was also known in social media in 2014. I requested the creation of a Twitter account to Mr. Eric Ocampo, the Clubs and Organizations Team Leader or COTL of the school, and to my surprise, he allowed us. Since then, PL has been bringing the news to the Paulinian community; mostly of class suspensions, schedule advisories, breaking news such as the extension of the stay of St. Paul’s in La Huerta until 2028 by Bishop Mercado, the wins of the different organizations which represented the institution such as Pas des Tous, Himig Bulilit and the others. Photos and videos handled by the Photojournalists team were also posted. PL changed a lot in that year, and I’m proud to say I’ve led them to that change.

We also had several accolades, namely the first and third of Brittany Aguilar and Katrina Cruz for Science and Health writing and Editorial Cartooning at the Regional Secondary Schools Press Conference, respectively. Both represented the NCR at the Nationals, and Aguilar brought home the fourth place for the NCR.

We’ve had lots of seminars, but I think UST’s The Varsitarian’s invitation was the best. The official student publication of UST invited us to their annual campus journalism fellowship named Inkblots, and I could not have been any happier to have read the invitation for the first time.

I couldn’t have been any more happier than when I got to step in their Publication Office, because The V was the goal. The Varsitarian is my ultimate dream ever since I was in my senior year. I had college student publication standards in managing PL, and I guess that’s why we had good content and design. The Varsitarian was and continues to be my inspiration as a student-journalist. I abandoned my dream of becoming a laywer just to apply for the University of Santo Tomas, and pursue the dreams of becoming a journalist instead because I fell in love with Journalism and how it works. How selfless and fulfilling it is to be able to tell the story and not mind about yourself.

I finished my term as the Editor on April 17th 2015, when the final issues of PL were released. It was a third broadsheet issue, together with a supplement magazine called Legacy. That was a first for the 22 years of existence of the student publication that a supplement was released.

But the road to finishing it was hell. The hardest and the busiest, most especially for me because I had two issues to mind, and not to mention that I was a graduating student at that time. I skipped graduation practices just to get the job done. For two weeks, the Creative Team, now composed of the EIC, the AE, Jasper, Agatha, another senior and close friend Lorenzo Pineda, and a sophomore Diego Valencia, were at the Pub brainstorming and doing the layout for the issues. We also had the photoshoots for the people we placed in the magazine, and getting the right angle was never easy. I remember very well that I had to travel to Bacoor in Jasper’s house to work on the layout. It was the day before the commencement exercises, and it was her 17th birthday, and yet there we were, working our asses off just to get the job done.

Above all, being an EIC was good and at the same time hard. Good, because people were very generous with sharing information with me. That counts the members of the academe such as the Faculty, or even the Sisters as well. Hard, because I had to maintain good image. I couldn’t risk to involve myself in fights or get myself in cases because I know that they would bring up my Editor-being. I knew very well that everything I do, or say, would reflect on how I manage the publication, and the publication itself. Being an EIC thought me discipline, so to speak, even in social media.

I was, to say, the least of all the EICs. I wasn’t an honor student, far from being one actually, unlike my predecessors such as Patricia Acido, Catherine Pascual, Trixie Elamparo, or even the one I succeeded. I was at the brink of failing Physics and even Trigonometry and Advanced Algebra. If some say you first have to balance being a student then being a journalist, I placed being a journalist first, second, being a student.

I guess what struck me the most during the last day of my term was when I went to Mr. Ocampo’s office, and the first thing he did was to congratulate me. It was not the usual congratulations I got from him during the past issues; he stood up this time, still with the same smile on his face, shook my hand, and called me ‘the greatest Editor-in-Chief‘ PL has ever had.

At home, I do not have the issues of PL from my freshmen year up to my senior year. I submitted and left them to the Publication Office for documentation, thinking that it’s up to the readers if they’ll remember the ones who made the paper they’ve read. Selflessness was a trait I got in becoming an EIC. I’ve always reiterated to the Linkers that they’re not the story, but are the mere humble people who tell the story.

And so that’s it. In my heart, I will always be a Linker. And I’ll always look at the Linkers with a sense of pride and achievement for what I’ve contributed to its formation. I know I didn’t fail myself and my predecessors, and that I left PL better than when I came to it.

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