Category Archives: Prompts

Behind the Sins

(I was supposed to post this for Daily Post WordPress Challenge but I’m already three days late. I hate to send this on the bin though. The question is this: Do you prefer being behind the camera or not?)

In those rare moments when I reveal to someone that I’m a journalism student, always, one reaction would spring out: “Oh, we can’t wait to see you on TV soon!”

I guess it’s understandable in some level. Filipinos love their media and what most of them usually see, they usually love. I can’t speak for the aspirations of other journalists as I am only fresh in the industry myself, but I can understand the expectations and misconceptions other people mostly associate with us and I bet those successful ones, both off and on-the-camera, heard the same words over and over again. Words like, “Oh you’re gonna be a famous reporter” or ‘maybe “OMG! We’ll see you on TV soon!” or something to that effect.

In every career there is, the ultimate form of success is something society would impose on you. It goes the same thing in journalism and media, a field most people overlooked and taken for granted. Ironically, the great minds behind the media, behind the newscasts, behind the special effects you see in TV and behind those teleseryes you can’t wait to watch in prime time are rarely exposed to the public. What the people usually see are the actors, the live reporters, the news anchors and hosts and this forms a predominant belief that being in front of the camera is the ultimate form of success for journalists. Nobody can blame us, the society. The people on-cam are the ones who get to travel around places, rub elbows with politicians and celebrities and get their faces exposed in TV or their voices aired in radio every day. Filipinos are hungry for media exposure (Just watch those variety shows every noon and Youtube videos) and for them, being granted this opportunity is too good to be true.

Those working behind the scenes are virtually unknown to the great public. The names of those editors, video crew, researchers, writers, graphic artists, photographers, videographers, directors, etc. are only seen in the credits but their work and craftsmanship are present throughout the finished media segment. In one of her talks, acclaimed documentarist and GMA News Anchor, Kara David, said that the awards she reaped for her amazing documentaries are not of her work alone. It is the collective effort and product of the whole team. People off cam are as important as the people in front. It’s amazing how the little black camera sitting atop a dolly could draw the line.

Some people deliberately shy away from the spotlight out of choice and preference. There are journalists out there who declined getting caught up in the limelight for many reasons and some do actually enjoy the production work and I am one of those people who fell in this category. From the start, in production works, I never like being shoot at; I prefer holding the guns, which are my camera and recorder. I don’t want to be fussed over. As narcissistic and self-centered I am, I can’t even write a decent piece about myself or some sort of autobiography. I also hated being questioned.  The half-completed autobiographies I tried to create can pass off as horse crap. I hate being the center of attention. Not out of shyness or reservations, I just enjoy the creativity behind the camera and the writing and I guess those journalists before me feel the same exhilaration and thrill of having to work by the sidelines, gratefully away from the horrors of the camera.

Now as media continues to grow and develop in a much faster rate than any of us could imagine, as it grows dirtier and uglier, as it continues to push for changes no matter how much of a mess it will get into just to inform and influence the people, the challenge of having to work in production is getting narrower. With the advent of social media, anyone with a camera and a lot of guts can be instant famous and I hope through this, people will eventually realize the joy of the experience of production works, and yes, it can be worth it to work in the sidelines. To work behind the scenes and sins.

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Looking up to the Coconuter

Over the years, the internet has become a source of wonderful inspiration for aspiring writers like me. Earlier back in college, one of my compulsive habits is to snoop on blogs of other people when I am searching for a particular topic on Google. For example, when googling ‘Batanes’, I would click on the blogs containing the name. When the blog seems interesting to me, I would read all the other posts (overtime, I would eventually forget about ‘Batanes’) and learn more about the writer.

I never actually thought of starting up my own blog then. I guess I’m just seemed content with the idea that there are people out there who share the same sentiments and thoughts like mine. I enjoyed reading and listening to other what people have to say than writing my own thoughts and voicing my own opinion.

All that before I stumbled upon the http://coconuter.blogspot.com/ aka David Poarch.

For those who haven’t discovered him yet, David Poarch is a Filipino-American software engineer (he’s currently pursuing a triple-degree on some ivy league college at the States). He graduated valedictorian in his class back in highschool, and had once worked in NASA. He seems to have all the things any guy would want for the great American dream: brains, good lucks, guts, and determination, but on February 2006, he turned his back from all these things, including his own family, and returned to the land of his birth: the Philippines. There, on a farflung province at Zambales, he settled on his grandma’s old house and led a life of a humble rural farmer, a far cry to the sophisticated and comfortable lifestyle he left in the States.

David’s reason for going to the Philippines may not be understood by some. Others even thought he was outright crazy and ridiculous. Ironically, his reason is simple enough. He was born and raised on the Philippines for years, and he chose to come back because he wants to reconnect with his homeland. It was as simple as a son returning home to visit his mother. Another thing is that, the Philippines made him ‘alive’.

David Poarch and his farm here in the Philippines. Screen grab from Youtube

I had the pleasure of interviewing David for one of my assignments in Rappler. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to meet him personally because he was studying in US that time. He’s already a father of two and if he wants them to have a good life he had to do his best to get a degree and find a good career when they all come back here in the Philippines.

“Life in the US has its comforts and stability, but it can oftentimes lack heart, purpose, meaning and spirit, which can lead to gradual desensitization and disconnection with the natural world around us” he said from the email interview. “Having been born there (Philippines) and having spent my childhood years there, in my mind the Philippines was a safe haven I could run to, and so I did”

To chronicle his journey in the Philippines, David created a blog called the Coconuter. It was his personal journal detailing his quest for the great ‘Coconut’ which will fall from the heavens and ‘hit’ him in the head. It symbolizes his quest to find his purpose in the world. It also allowed him to touch other peoples’ lives, Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike.

Doing what he likes best, no matter what the people say. Photo courtesy from his blog

What stirred my heart on the Coconuter’s posts is that how he sees the special to the mundane. His sentiments of the Philippines and his identity as a Filipino are something you would like reading over and over again because they crawl in to your core until you found yourself on him. His pictures reveal a simple and rustic glimpses of the Philippines which will make you feel reminiscent of your hometown. Unsurprisingly, his blog became a hub for OFWs who longed for home and found comfort on David’s words. Armed with his handy digi cam, David did the impossible and brought the Philippines to them, no matter where they are in the globe.

Although his love for the Philippines is the main focus of his blog, David’s story is universal to all of us, regardless of nationality or race. As human beings, we are inherently searching for our place in this world. Putting aside our materialistic desires, our quests for fame and fortune, our priorities and goals, we are all unconsciously looking for a place where we belong. We may have different perspectives on finding it, taking different paths to chase it, but David showed a way few of us are brave enough to do, and that is returning to where we began and starting over again, even if it means sacrificing our old lives and leaving all those behind.

The important thing is we feel ‘alive’.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Be inspired by the Coconuter: http://coconuter.blogspot.com/

If you want to check out my article on him for Rappler, here’s a link: http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/7499-the-journey-of-the-coconuter

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