BEHIND the bylines, there are infinite stories to tell.

I was busy tinkering with the Varsitarian office computers when a guard suddenly burst open the doors, exclaiming that a car theft just happened right outside the Tan Yan Kee building. Not only was I a newbie staffer, I was also a naïve freshman, so waves of panic and anxiety washed through my already frazzled brain. Was I supposed to cover this, or should I leave it to my superiors?

Given that most of the staff was on their mid-year planning in Subic, I and my fellow freshman staffer, Reniel Tiu, were thrust into the complex art of reportage—armed with no less than a 1-megapixel phone camera, a residency of only one semester on campus, and, to make matters worse, a lack of any considerable journalistic experience.

What was supposed to be a mere day of cleaning the whole Varsitarian office turned out to be a crash course on the degree I was pursuing, devoid of complicated communication theories and concepts, with only common sense and gut feel to back me up.
Though scared to our wits, we interviewed the people involved in the crime scene while jotting down each and every quote we could use for the potential story. My shaking hands fumbled for the recorder of Reniel’s phone, while also using it to take pictures of the car’s busted window. Still raring to get more beef for our report—we were idealistic and enthusiastic freshmen after all—we got as far as boarding the police car where the captured suspect was sitting, along with a bunch of policemen who were eyeing us with much curiosity.

Limestone wonder

Among the eyes watching us was from the suspect. One could already trace the malignant look on his face, dazed from the capture, wondering how he could strike next. I chose to tear my gaze away from him, concentrating on the police car’s deepening route to the Sampaloc suburbs. As we halted by the police station, we were instructed to get off and wait outside.

Cries of pain resounded from the police station after the suspect was dragged inside. Reniel and I heard every beating so clearly as it matched with a deluge of moans begging the blows to stop.

At that moment, as Reniel tried to console me for the harrowing scene, I realized the horrors the art of journalism could possibly bring; be it to a big-time network reporter or a simple campus journalist like I was. Behind every journalist’s story was an even bigger story—the side which the audience rarely sees, the side which gives it its vulnerable, human face.

Tucked at the rightmost corner of the Tan Yan Kee building is a roomful of even bigger stories from a staff forced to be grown-ups at a time when they should be having the time of their lives, celebrating their youth. Inside this office, we have a million other stories to tell; beyond the editing marks, the deadlines and the stringent rules we had to follow.

Most importantly, behind these bylines, I found home.

To my Varsitarian family, I have seen myself grow in the midst of people entering and finally leaving the premises. I will never regret that fateful day when I filed my application as a freshman who was just looking for an avenue to write. I will be forever thankful to have met such a wonderful bunch of artsy, sometimes bipolar, yet highly intellectual individuals.

They make 'Darna' fly

To my mentors, Sir Lito, Sir Ipe, Sir Ian, and also Sir Jere, your guidance has made me to who I am today.

To Cliff Venzon, whose earnest exterior hides a rather charming EIC, thank you. For my numerous lapses, you still believed in me.

To the future Literary staff, especially Azer Parrocha, aspire to always inspire. Keep honing your craft—not everyone has the talent of yielding such beauty in words as you do.

To my fellow section editors, Jem, Robin, Ramon and Rose-An, as well as my JRN2 friends, you have been my pillars in moments of instability, when the pressures of balancing ‘Varsi’ and academics have been too much to bear.

To the next batch of staffers, an issue or extra-editorial executed well, warts and all, is still a testament to your enduring strength as a unit. Remember that in your hands lies one of the most respected campus publications in the country; handle it with utmost care.


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