Illustration by Alexa M. Remalante
WHENEVER I read newspapers back in high school, I never really give attention to the names of the writers in the paper. In the first place, what filled most of the pages of the paper were not the repetitious vain-glorious names of the writers, but the way the writers conveyed events and emotions coupled with pictures to effectively give a clear view of who, what, when, where, how and why.

In my sophomore year, I entered the Varsitarian and it was like shooting blindly in the dark. It was on a dare that I tried for the publication, and luckily, I passed. I was one of the ten or so people out of around 70 applicants who passed the specialized exams held until the evening of Oct. 21, 2007. I was given a writer position, but I refused, knowing that I couldn’t handle the responsibilities as a writer and a student at the same time. Thus, I asked to become a regular contributor.

Immediately after that day was Inkblots 2007, the ninth national campus journalism fellowship annually organized by the paper. Call time was set at 5:30 in the morning, and I was really shocked. Nevertheless, I tried my best to follow all the instructions given to me, staving off the exhaustion and hunger to give the best I can for the organization.

At the time, people called me by the name written in the staff ID used for the event: Luigi. Truth be told, I introduced myself to the staff with that name and it was a very personal way of calling me. At the time though, I felt I did not want any personal ties with any of my co-staffers; I just wanted to cover an event, write, edit as needed and get out of the room as quickly as I came in. As I saw it, being freelance and ruthlessly efficient was the best way to reach the top.

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When classes resumed after the semestral break I came back to the office and everyone suddenly started calling me “Alphonsus”, a name which I never used, save for the most formal occasions. When our then Special Reports Editor, Ate Jenny, called me up, she addressed me as Alphonsus. Eli, my co-writer in my first article for the December issue of 2007 also started calling me Alphonsus. Then Executive Editors Kuya Ketch and Kuya Tonying also called me by that name. Even Sir Lito, our Publications Adviser, called me Alphonsus.

I achieved what I aimed for: professionalism that does not deter because of personal relationships. Until now, I believe that everyone is like a bit of literature and art that tends to be judged based on other people’s pre-biases, and that when these pre-biases are destroyed, objectivity is achieved. They can evaluate me with as much honesty as possible.

The months rolled on—October, November, December came, and this notion of mine quickly began to dissipate. Although I was doing what I wanted (though not in tip-top form), I felt the longing that I wanted to reach out to the people I worked with. The times I tried to get into their circle were countless, but it still seemed as though they shrugged me off. I was saddened and wanted to resign because of the pain, feeling that I could not mingle with the other staffers.

I tried to back-up the Alphonsus name-calling as a term of endearment that the ‘V’ affixed onto me, in the same manner that people call their significant others by pet names.

Possibly this drove me to keep going, hoping that one day, I could mingle with them; that probably I could forge anew with both the incoming and incumbent staffers with a clean slate. To some extent, it did but something still did not feel right—only my girlfriend, Aya, was the only one among the staff who called me “Luigi.”

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A year and a few days since I joined, Inkblots 2008 just finished. They told me about what happened last year, that I almost “cancelled” Inkblots by telling the EdTech personnel that we do not need the reserved sound system anymore.

I reasoned that they did not want to let me in their circle because of what happened then, as well as not follow the way I wanted them to call me.

I was saddened by the fact that they did not tell me about their misgivings to me. I don’t even exactly recall what happened. But nevertheless I felt sorry for what I did and got me thinking that maybe I should do something better for the publication and give my best by lending all the skills I learned from school and beyond. I strove to give my best just so my co-staffers would think better of me in terms of work ethics.

In giving better output, I got more than just better feedback from my superiors, but I also gained their trust and friendship. Sometimes we would hang around the office doing our school work until the office closed at around ten in the evening. At times, we would go around campus for the heck of it. We share closely guarded secrets and even talked about our insecurities.

But the staff calling me Alphonsus didn’t last for long. During our retreat at Caleruega last April, I observed that Eli seemed quite hesitant to call me Alphonsus while introducing me to the new writers of our section. It seemed like he was finding the right way to call me. Eventually, people started calling me Luigi from time to time. I don’t really know if it’s because Luigi is faster to say or faster to register in one’s head, but I don’t care. It feels nice when people from the Varsitarian call me by my personal name. Not that I want to discard vestiges of my past, but it would indeed be nice to call me Luigi from time to time.

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Ever thought of the names of the writers you see on paper? All of them have stories. It’s when we transcend the writing style and find the tales of these people that we realize how wonderful it is to be called by your name, and how big an impact we made on other people by making simple marks on paper.

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