Remembering the Fallen: A MAGDALO War Story part II

(Note: The following is a continuation of an article that was first published in MAGDALO, Vol XXI No 1. However, due to space and sensitivity issues, the staff and the author have agreed to publish it in a more abridged form. The complete version can be found in the author’s blog (http://mysecondbloghangar.blogspot.com) and the MAGDALO contributors’ blog (http://magdalo_media_group_ii.blogs.friendster.com/my_blog/). Thanks for reading. -JSL)

by Jonas S Lopez

“You have to hold on to a dream, you have to hold on to your ideals and never lose sight of it. And though there are pragmatic considerations in every situation, you have to stand by what you believe in, not only in words but in action, no matter what the cost is. It sounds simple but it can be difficult at times. However, it can be done and I think it’s worth it.” -Cecilia ‘Che-Che’ Lazaro, President and CEO, Probe Productions, Inc.; Host, PROBE

“For the people who fought hard but fallen, it is still a good fight. Losing the fight is far better than not fighting at all and ‘dancing to someone’s music.’” -from a Friendster testimonial by Juan Paolo Navarro, RMT (BS MedTech ’04) Staff Writer, July 2000-June 2001; Managing Editor, July 2001-December 2002; Editor-in-Chief, December 2002-June 2003

“A journalist, particularly a columnist, should stand by what he or she perceives to be the truth and suffer the consequences if need be. The aftermath of telling the truth could come in the form of a libel suit with the possibility of going to jail, or harm to his person…Which is worse, being stupid or being cowardly? I’d rather be a stupid columnist jailed for his convictions than a free man without a backbone. A cowardly columnist, no matter his eloquence, loses his credibility sooner or later.”-Ramon Tulfo

IT’S ALL ABOUT…

The MAGDALO is about service, loyalty, brotherhood, camaraderie, teamwork, and friendship. To belong in this elite squadron requires a great deal of sacrifice, the courage to write and report the truth, the whole truth and nothing but, the desire to spend long hours working on it, and the strong willpower to not become beholden to anybody. Some only want to sign up for the scholarship, because they have friends among the staff, and think of the power and feeling of adventure that joining MAGDALO would give them. These are not legitimate reasons, and if those are yours in case you want to apply here, I strongly advise you to be honest with yourself first before signing your name, because this might not be the place you have in mind. This paper doesn’t need people who get appointed to cushy positions, disappear from the office for weeks at a time…and do not change their ways after being demoted and promoted. (Oh I’m sorry, did I burn you? You ought to be ashamed of yourself!)

Some newbies proudly aspire for high positions in the staff, but when they pass and don’t land the post they desire, they try negotiating to get what they want. For example, neophytes who want to become editors-in-chief without proving his/her mettle first-who eventually quit because the Board won’t give in to any demands, and the person won’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Rodolfo Pio Valdez Jr, who was the 2005-06 Managing Editor for only two days, is the best example of this. I remember an SA from PT/OT, Matthew Allianza, who actually passed the Qualifying Exams but never made it past the panel interview…twice! Probably for all his writing skills and intelligence, he was dismissed as nothing more than a ‘freak show’…my two cents. Good thing he saved himself the embarrassment of a “Strike Three.” I wonder how INXS’ Tim Farriss would have said it: “Sorry mate, you’re just not right for MAGDALO.”

Given the situation happening nowadays, you cannot present any incoming batch as THE NEW MAGDALO when the paper is plagued by the same old problems(Yeah, I’m looking at you, Aurora Yumul!). Believe me, some previous batches have called themselves as such and they turned out really crappy, propagandist stuff. To be honest, it would be better if new staffers simply started out on the bottom rung of the ladder and worked their way up with the help of old hands, rather than being thrust into higher editorial posts on the first try. In short, seniority should take precedence. High scores in the editorial exams can never tell you how the person could really fare. ‘To give everybody the chance to become editors,’ as one adviser put it … What crapola.

Honestly, if you think passing the Qualifying Exams and landing a spot in the Editorial Board is hard? HAH, getting in is just half the fun. It’s staying in that is harder. Much Harder.

A MAGDALO staffer’s job is a sacred duty all its own, about looking after your colleagues and being there for them if they can’t handle the job on their own, because in time, they will do the same for you if you got stuck in a tight fix yourself. It’s about standing by the truth even if the odds are against you, and you have that desire to go the extra mile. It’s a thankless job, but if you could manage the time for your studies and publication duties, it will definitely be worth the effort you exert during vacant periods or after class hours, even during sem breaks and holidays when instead of enjoying the vacation like everyone else, people will find you in the office typing that important article, hustling to beat the deadline for lay-outing that latest issue or out in the field following up some leads, just like real journalists. If unforeseen circumstances pop up, don’t worry-shit happens. Remember, bad news is acceptable if you have done your very best and still failed, while lying or shading the truth to look good is a sin far worse than failing…more like sacrilege.

I’d rather respect one staff writer who did not score well but puts in additional hours after classes to produce cohesive, well-written articles and has rock-solid integrity than a senior editor who knows nothing and has no balls to fight for what is best to make the publication a better place for everyone. You can’t also expect the staff to learn if you keep sending them to seminars not in line with campus presswork as the recent trips to OSSEI, Rizal Youth Leadership, and the YMCA National Congress attest too clearly. They are nothing but junkets. If you want to go there, run for the CSC; it would be a better choice for delegates.

“The time is over when writing for MAGDALO used to be just a game,” the editorial from Vol. XXI-1 read, but is it really over? Maybe…and so are the easy rides to a scholarship, where you bag monster tuition fee deductions by doing nothing. One piggybacking fool made off with 75% cuts per sem for three out of four years…by hanging up his umbrella at the office and being ‘an adviser’s pet.’ Got an idea who it is? Look inside the gym or the RadTech office, hard to miss.

“I’LL BE AT YOUR SIDE, THERE’S NO NEED TO WORRY…”

One of the most important lessons I learned in my two tours of duty with MAGDALO was about appreciating the true value of a second chance, the same way my parents gave me when I looked for another school to study in, and actually excel in a course of my own choosing-enrolling in and graduating from EAC was the product of that quest. Yes, second chances are lucrative and tempting, but not everybody deserves such an opportunity, especially if they’ve screwed up the first time and washed their hands of any responsibility. I know you might ask me the same thing, but here’s something for you that I speak for all of us who have ‘Been There, Done That:’

Yes, we fucked up, we fell on our swords, but took responsibility for our actions as professionals and incurred more than our fair share of flak. Some things are better resolved among ourselves, and the damage is ours to bear alone. What pisses us off the most is that those who also should share part of the blame preferred to save their own skins first. They proudly claim of having gone ‘From Hell and Back!,’ when they simply had no idea of the hardships their colleagues went through, and they got the guts to show their over-fattened faces in the office and praise the staff all of a sudden? Ha, where were you when we needed you!? Some had the balls to apply again despite a tarnished record that no promotion nor demotion can wash away, no matter how ‘good’ that person is. If you’re an Emilian who gets PO’ed when sometimes the writings are not worth the read, the production of one issue takes too long, and the money you spend on it every sem is too much for such a few pieces of paper, imagine the behind-the-scenes politics…and guess what? It’s the advisers who are manipulating them, as if they really know what is best for the publication.

I do not speak as if I committed nothing wrong as part of the staff nor write to win any literary award, but some of the things I’ve done that my colleagues never approved nor understood why were in the interests of protecting our publication from those who wanted to bastardize it – and if defending MAGDALO’s dignity and honor is a crime, I’m guilty.

The Boss (from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) said it best about loyalty, dedication, and service:

“Scholars tell us that the first spy in history was the snake in the Bible. Just because soldiers are on the same side now doesn’t mean that they always will be. Politics determine whom you face on the battlefield. A soldier is a political tool, nothing more. There’s a saying in the Orient: ‘Loyalty to the end’…Devoting yourself to your country. People are not the ones who dictate the missions; the times do (sic). People’s values change over time, and so do the leaders of a country. The enemies we fight are only enemies in relative terms, constantly changing along with the times. Yesterday’s good might be tomorrow’s evil. As long as there’s ‘loyalty to the end,’ there is no more point in believing in anything…even in those we love. The one thing we can believe in with absolute certainty…is the mission.”

To those who believe in spreading the truth and made the ultimate sacrifice for it, our hearts go out to you…and for those who would dare to rewrite history for their own evil benefit by suppressing the truth, better think twice, it is as powerful and hard-hitting as any smart bomb or sniper rifle. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Wolverine, who rose to fight again after being left for dead by the Hellfire Club, could not have said it any better either: “All right you suckers, you’ve had your best shot! Now it’s MY TURN!”

NUNQUAM ITERUM

Never again. Written on the side of a tank near Gate 1 of Camp Aguinaldo, those words perfectly speak of the kinds of people who should not contaminate the paper ever again. If betraying the paper and damaging its reputation and integrity is punishable by death, I’d love to see them garroted by piano wire from the EAC Bridgeway.

Never again, must the MAGDALO have:

1.    Editors-in-chief (Editors ‘n’ Cheats or Editors ‘n’ Thieves are more apropos) like Malou Manuel whose only qualification was to kiss the advisers’ asses months prior to appointment…but alienate their own colleagues to the point that they resign in disgust, make the paper a laughingstock before the EAC community and the CEGP, and go on vacation to far-away places like Cebu on the paper’s dime, but have nothing to show for it. These people are on the same league as JocJoc Bolante, Virgilio Garcillano, Romulo Neri, Yolanda Ricaforte, and Maj-Gen Carlos Garcia when it comes to shirking from accountability when the time for it arrives. They are also the type who put down the current batch’s work as ‘basura‘ and stick their previous stint in the staff’s faces, proudly making disgusting, bold-ass statements such as “I was the EIC of the MAGDALO before, you should read my articles!” when their own articles were actually worse than they would ever admit. These people do not deserve to even talk to any present staff, drop by the office, or browse any MAGDALO issue for even one second!

2.    Judas Iscariots like JP Jimenez and Mike Viado who stay on the team for years, but nowhere to be found come crunch time, who sell out and denounce their colleagues just to stay one more year…and they are instructors and coaches? The nerve to show up at the office, pick up a copy of the latest issue, and say, “Ang swerte niyo, ang swerte niyo!” How hypocritical can you get? Oh, and threatening to kick your kumpare’s ass just because he outed you as a pro-admin hack shows you are a fucking coward.

3.    Corrupt advisers like Nelida Lares who deliberately sabotage the paper by denying one staff the resources they need to complete their missions (and give all support to another, because they are ‘reliable’), yet poke their noses in the staff’s manuscripts even when they are no longer advisers. They even accuse MAGDALO of ‘dividing the EAC community’ with what they’ve written and expect them to toe the Party line. To quote the Dean, “That’s why the MAGDALO is mad at me because I dared to speak the truth.” Yeah sure Dean, if deceiving PACUCOA through cosmetics and mental conditioning is your thing. By God, no wonder all of the advisers in the last three years came from your office-they’re also as retarded as you. Same goes for advisers like Leopoldo dela Cruz who think they are above the Editorial Board, question everything they write, and hold back production of perfectly good issues because of unnecessary revisions. Sound familiar? Too bad karma on the LRT can be very, very painful. More so for asswipes like Armando Paras who even try to erase whatever institutional memory that was built in the publication and hold back the staff’s creativity by destroying copies of student publications from other schools (all of which if I may add, were tirelessly collected by the staff over the years), eliminating any chances of learning a thing or two from them. How dare you even discourage the staff from being friends with some of the veterans ‘for their own sake,’ you fat son of a bitch!

“YOUR LOVE IS ALL WE NEED TO BRING US TOGETHER. DON’T LEAVE IT TO ME, NOTHING’S FOR FREE, IT COMES DOWN TO US…”

I remember a line that rings in my mind every now and then: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Yes, my time had long since lapsed, but nothing really matters more for me than to see the friends and colleagues I’ve come to call ‘mah dawgs’ continue the legacy passed down to them. The best thing to do now is to observe them as they do their thing and offer unsolicited advice once in a while-in the meantime, let them be…In due course, they will have their places in the sun and cherish it as much as I did. I believe in what they can do and the powers they are yet to unleash. You can get another boyfriend/girlfriend, a new circle of friends, create more accounts in Friendster, MySpace, Multiply, or Facebook, even shift to another course, but you can simply never get another MAGDALO. Take us out of MAGDALO, fine, do your worst, but no one will ever-EVER-take the MAGDALO out of us, especially me. I am very happy that the lessons I learned from the paper are serving me well in my job.

THE BEAUTIFUL SUNSET…

For that, allow me to thank some of the people that turned my stay in MAGDALO into the best years of my Emilian life:
The ex-advisers I came to call my friends: Sir Rommel Lopez, Sir Bryan Tengco, and Mam Lourdes Ebilane, thanks for your inputs; hope I made you proud as one of your ‘grasshoppers.’

The Editors-in-Chief I worked under: Jei Alenzuela, JP Navarro, and Jai Baldomero. JP, you were right about everything. It rang so true. I’m sorry I caused you guys some nasty migraines with all the things you didn’t like me doing, but went ahead anyway.

The staffers who earned my respect in all our years together at the ‘frontlines’, people who stood out: Irene Navarro, Carlo Alvarez, Chris Laquindanum, Lanie Liberato, Janette Garcia, Bai Reyes, She Earnhart, Mac Basilio, Don Salcedo, PeeJay Catacutan, and Archie Talaue. Some of you barely saw eye to eye with me, but it’s been an honor to work with you all…and if there were some I didn’t mention, I apologize, but I also thank you. Its times like these that I appreciate the essence of “At Your Side” by The Corrs-and not because I play it most of the time at the office. Your courage and dedication to the job is something that could inspire the new peeps to be all that they can be – the reason I wrote those Testimonials. You proved that we’re not just the staff of a publication; we’re also one ‘big, happy family-and family is about being there for the good and the bad. I’ll miss our boodles at Aling Tuding’s and our ‘Fellowship’ session at Luneta! Much love also goes to the staffers I’ve met in recent years, such as Levi Azarcon, Jigs Ong, Rosal Clarino, Danica Laigo, Wilma Varona, Kris Job, Rachel Francia, Sittie Cabuntalan, and Gelai Corpin, proving that a common bond regardless of batch affiliation is indeed possible.

To Jai and Irene (again), thanks for coming back then to give this ‘gig’ a second try. I believe our lives were spared for a reason: To lead the fight back. We have indeed recovered all that they stole from us.

To the ex-staffers who told me the lies peddled within: JM Razote, Blen Velonza, and Livie Villanueva, thank you for the revelations about those people.

To those unrepentant snakes who drove MAGDALO to the brink of annihilation but did not lift a finger to reform themselves after JM and company’s resignation (I know every last one of you, and some of you are still here in EAC.), like JP, Mike, Malou, Dhang Esusan, Mae Mediavilla, and Reginald Nipas … thanks but No Thanks for allowing us to repair the damage your stupidity caused. You think you had us? WE’RE STILL STANDING HERE, YOU B@$+@&%S, because ‘You Gave MAGDALO A Bad Name!’ You embarrass yourselves by sitting on the screening committee. (Oh, Sliver of Existence, don’t play dumb, you are a part of the scam too, like that coach and instructor. You think showing up again makes you a cool dude? Well, you’re a joke compared to us and only got 1/8th the dignity we have.)

To Mam Che-che Lazaro and the wonderful people at Probe, you’re an inspiration to all of us here at MAGDALO in searching for the truth, no matter how pleasant or ugly.

To Castle, Spectre, and the rest of the mercenaries fighting in the Chaos March, thanks for showing the staff that all work and no play really makes Emilio a dull boy.

To the people who call themselves angel of death/devil from heaven and eacdevil, whoever you are: rant all you want, I don’t care, but you will never bring me down. I am much stronger than you ever will be, and if you think I’ll just shy away because you said so, boo-hoo-hoo…as the Rogue Warrior, Richard Marcinko, would say, I have some nice beachfront property to sell you outside Mesa, Arizona. Want to take me down? Go ahead, I got nothing to lose. It’s amazing how some speak ill of you when they never joined you on the staff for even one day.

To the student journalists I made friends with through the CEGP: If you’re reading this, I want to tell you that I had a lot of fun hanging out with you guys, even if you screwed me over back in Naga. I just hope that you will also extend to the other MAGDALO staffers the same courtesy and friendship you gave me. You definitely opened my eyes to what a student journalist is all about. The knowledge I got from all the events I ever attended was worth the time and money. Keep up the battle we wage with what we write and not let our fellow students down. Why? Because we’re doing this for them.

And lastly, to my brothers and sisters ‘in Emilio’: Thank you for keeping MAGDALO alive these past 24 years, in spite of all the ups and downs. MAGDALO’s definitely gone a long way from the sorry state it was in before July 2004. If the publication was a warship long scuttled by the then-crew, you’re the workers who helped the succeeding batches repair it and made stronger. Without your support and feedback, it would not be where it is today. You are the true stars of the publication, and all the support you can give will be appreciated. MAGDALO’s Great Journey is underway and you will be a part of it, whatever happens. The MAGDALO Experience is worth remembering for as long as you are here in EAC. It will change your life in so many ways, believe me, because I was not even half the person I am today when I picked up my first issue (Vol XVI No.3, January-Mar 2001) on the very first day I stepped into EAC eight years ago this May. I hope what I’ve written here can help you understand why I am angry at the school for corrupting our paper and at the staffers who did the inside job. I yearn to see the day that our publication will rise above the mill of praise releases some people in the administration are trying to turn it into. Malo ‘Aupito, Fa’afetai Tele Lava, Meitaki Ma’ata, and Vinaka Vakalevu (‘Thank you very much’ in Tongan, Samoan, Cook Islander Maori, and Fijian).

As I look back now at everything that happened during my stay in MAGDALO and EAC, I dedicate this article to our fallen comrades who were betrayed by their own colleagues in the name of the paper’s political subjugation and to the journalists permanently silenced over the years by individuals afraid of the cans of worms they opened. They are martyrs to a just and noble cause.

I came back to MAGDALO hoping for a shot at redemption and vengeance. I believe with the chance I was given, that mission is complete, now that I have written my last article for the publication that was my home in EAC for two years. Now, I can finally move on with my life, to see my wandering MAGDALO spirit soar home in peace…but just because I’m leaving doesn’t mean it’s the end. I will always be watching.

To my beloved MAGDALO … First, Last, Always.

On that note, I am Jonas Lopez, MAGDALO Editorial Board 2002-2003 and 2004-05, leaving you now with the words of Rorschach from Watchmen: “For my own part, regret nothing. Have lived my life, free from compromise…and step into the shadow now without complaint.”

STOP THE SENSELESS KILLING OF JOURNALISTS AND THE SUPPRESSION OF CAMPUS PRESS FREEDOM! UPHOLD STUDENT RIGHTS!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jonas Lopez graduated as a member of EAC BS Mass Communications Class 2005. He is the Mass Communication Department’s first Academic Awardee under the College of Liberal Arts, and is also the first-ever Emilian to undergo on-the-job training at Probe Productions Inc., as an intern for the sports-magazine show GAMEPLAN and the lifestyle show Good Finds. One of the more fiercely idealistic staffers in the publication’s history, he served in MAGDALO for two years: as a Staff Writer from 18 July 2002 to 4 August 2003, as a Correspondent from 9 September to 18 November 2004, and back again as a Staff Writer from 19 November 2004 to 29 June 2005. He is now a News Writer/Editor for NewsLink Services-Philippines, a group of e-publications catering to seafarers.

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Comments

  • jeibiatch  On August 26, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    I know I have promised to send my take on my stint as the EIC @ Magdalo. This is still a work in progress… I will feed it back tou you as soon as I finish it. Thanks for all the work and dedication you have given to the publication. You will soon hear my story… Why I left so suddenly and what caused all of me just disappearing in the scene. Good riddance!

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