Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 A.D.)
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
— Maya Angelou
THIRTY years ago, I started as a reporter for the defunct broadsheet Times Journal of the Philippine Journalists Incorporated, or simply the Journal Group of Publications, and also the publisher of newspapers tabloids People’s Journal, People Journal Tonight and People’s Bagong Taliba and its magazine Women’s Journal.
I was taken in by then TJ editor-in-chief Manolo ‘Noli’ Jara, erstwhile editor of DepthNews, who took me under his wing as a struggling writer and newspaperman, who really didn’t know anything about the ‘ropes’ of being a media man and a journalist.
That was thirty years ago . . .
Some would think or consider me as a veteran newsman, but the truth is far from that when we speak of knowledge and knowing the ethics of journalism. Still, it may be true about me being a veteran when we talk about experience and the number of years I’ve practiced being a journalist.
Looking back through the past years, I realize I owe a lot to my teachers in San Beda College and Philippine College of Criminology during my grade school and high school days, among them Mr. Racho, Mr. Cutiongco, Ms. Pilar, Mr. Liwanag, Ms. Benilda Rodrillo, Ms. Perlita Foz, Ms/ Pilar, Mr. Mora, Ms. Luisa Espino, Mr. Cruz, Ms. Nenita Mallari, Mrs. Felina Co-Young, Mr. Blanco, Ms. Tess Arcadio, Mr. Ato Badolato, Mr. Nuguid and several others.
I consider that the writing skills I have now stemmed from the training and knowledge imparted to me by my teachers and mentors, particularly Ms. Rodrillo and Ms. Pilar who both taught me skills in speed reading and the value of understanding what I read, respectively, and from Mr. Cutiongco and Ms. Espino, literature, and Mr. Cruz, Filipino grammar or balarila.
I guess these lessons the children of the present generation or no longer aware of—especially balarila or gramatika.
And there is an underlying factor in reading and writing that must be remembered. For me, I have inculcated in my beliefs that whatever I write should have a positive impact in my readers. We realize that we should give importance to what impression people have concerning the articles we write about because it somehow creates how others will look at us and how they will remember us a part of human society.
In ancient Greece, the Greeks cared about what others thought of them—really cared—and in fact, they had a term for it: kleos.
Kleos is often translated to ‘renown’ or ‘glory’ but this interpretation misrepresents this essential and insightful term. Kleos is actually related to the word ‘to hear’ and carries the implied meaning of “what others hear about you.”
Greek heroes, such as Achilles and Odysseus, earned kleos through accomplishing great deeds or rather on others talking about those great deeds.
The emphasis, you probably noticed, is on what people hear about a person, rather than the actual act itself. This is a little strange to our modern ethical sensibilities because our kleos–potentially—doesn’t have to have been honestly deserved. Indeed, the wily Odysseus often gets it by trickery or straight out lies!
Meanwhile Marcus Aurelius laments in his diary, The Mediations, “Now they see you as a beast, a monkey. But in a week they’ll think you’re a god.”
But dealing with slander or bad gossip doesn’t just happen to philosopher-kings or philosopher-slaves, even the humble workings of great philosophers isn’t immune to a bit of libel now and then.
Looking back when I started to write some thirty years ago, it was my mentor and editor in the literary page of long gone Diyaryo Filipino under then Daily Globe, Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) awardee and Batibot head writer Rene Villanueva, who gave me the breaks.
I never considered myself as having the proper education to be a writer and a journalist at that. But Boss Rene encouraged me to do my stuff—and it worked.
This is where I wonder why some of our friends in government, particularly our policemen who are supposedly college graduates, fail in expressing what they mean in writing.
I have seen and read police reports and likewise some correspondence and press releases written by public information officers in several government agencies, including those in the barangay and up to the national level, I’m afraid I really do not comprehend why they fail in their grammar and writing.
I am not saying I am perfect but at times my eyes, ears and mind bleed when I read and hear what they say. This is the untold story I share with you today. (AI/MTVN)