black has long been associated with evil, similar to the night being ludicrously associated with horrific and terrible things. But we know that these are mere impressions—unjust generalizations of many ambiguous things in life.

I heard once from Discovery Channel that animals (humans too, I think) instinctively refrain from eating food that is blue, black or of any unorthodox color, which are often related to poisonous and harmful substances. Nevertheless, man was equipped to overcome this mere technicality in nature’s design with a simple philosophical concept called “rationality”—one that suggests that man is a “thinking animal.”

Thus, humans have the power to create “black” but good things—like (arguably) rock music, and “white and beautiful” but terrible things—like cloning.

But there are those who take a unilateral stand, like Sigmund Freud who claimed man’s only purpose is sex, and Joseph Conrad, who in his acclaimed novella, Heart of Darkness, claimed everyone is instinctively evil and that reality is ambiguously “dark.”

Chinese philosophers like Mencius and Lau Tzu have dealt with this problem as well. The first said that man is inherently good, but the latter claimed otherwise.

This also stems from the age-old biblical question, “God is good. God created man. But why does evil exist?”

Similarly, the name of this column, “charcoal,” is a metaphor for the irony that despite its polluting nature, coal is fuel to fire, one of man’s universal energy sources.

But in my case, it wouldn’t matter if man indeed has “evil” or “selfish” instincts since his rationality, or his ability to choose his actions, would dictate the effect.

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***

In bidding farewell to UST and the Varsitarian, two institutions that have changed my life, I try to keep in mind how very much like “charcoal” life is. As such, I can choose whether to be of good use to society, or a liability.

And my family has helped me reach that decision. No one urges me to make right choices as much as they. My friends and colleagues will always be my role models, for they too share my burdens. And my mentors, who painstakingly taught me everything I know, will be a bright star on cloudy nights.

Still, there are too many names that have touched my life. Some have inspired me, others have challenged me, many have lifted me up, and even more have kept me going despite trying times.

At one point, I was disheartened by the thought that the Philippines is one of the most dangerous places to work in as a journalist. Having graduated with a degree in Journalism last March, this frightened me. But recently, a veteran journalist told me that Philippine journalism needs good men.

The question is, will I be one of those “good men”?

In the media, I expect to meet corrupt politicians, unethical journalists, and even journalist-killers. There may come a time when somebody would hand me an envelope full of money to bribe me, or when fellow journalists would ask me to reveal information I promised to keep, or when I would be threatened with a bullet in the head.

But when that time comes, I hope the “soot” won’t blind me from making the right choices.

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***

Thank you and God bless you all.

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