Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: One step backward, three steps forward


2016 was a cruel year to a lot of people. It was a year of disappointments, of worries and fears, of day-to-day surprises. 2016 was a year of so many things negative, both online and offline, and it seemed like there was no escape.

I had a preview of what the entire year would be during the election campaign season. Heading a lean social media team of one of the country’s leading broadsheets, election season is always the toughest coverage. It was literally a race of getting the news first and bringing it out online, following all campaign trails, understanding the candidates’ platforms and agenda, analyzing their similarities and differences, figuring out survey results and trying to crunch numbers, going in-depth on the issues, etc. This was just the beginning, trying to tell myself that there is more stress to come.

Before elections, I thought of quitting my job at the publication for another offer in the corporate world. I’ve to admit: It was tempting, considering the light workload matched with a really good salary. I really wanted to leave – because I don’t want to get through the very rigorous election coverage online – and choose a simple job instead.
PhilSTAR Social Team during the Election coverage

But after much thought, I realized the exact same reason why I joined The STAR in the first place: it was because of the daily challenges I encounter, and how unconventional working for a news company’s social media team is, and how important it is to be part of a team who delivers information to people. It wasn’t about the money, yes. It was about fulfilling my passion and fanning the fire within.
Interviewing Sen. Win Gatchalian after elections
This year, I was given the go signal to work on my first project with The STAR: the PhilSTAR Boot Camp. Boot Camp was the STAR’s intensive internship program for journalism and communication students. In a rigorous writing and oral examinations, only 12 have made it to the pilot batch. These 12 rookie reporters wrote stories for our digital edition, and were asked to cover the elections.

Just imagine: I was too afraid to cover the elections because of its stress (considering how lean our team is), but didn’t realize that this project would help me solve that problem. Most of the times we are consumed by our emotions we forget to address the problem. We linger too much on our worries and find an escape – and it didn’t solve anything at all.

The Boot Camp, which was originally conceptualized as a once-a-year project, became so successful we mounted a second one. Two successes in a row, and there’s a long way to go.
The PhilSTAR Boot Camp alumni, Batches 1 and 2
In July, I was tapped by my boss to help conceptualize the company’s CSR project for its 30th year. She wanted a more sustainable, more meaningful community project that would encapsulate who we are as a company. Veering away with the usual, I tried to conceptualize a project that will merge what we do best (journalism) with community service – and that was when I came up with PhilSTAR Journalism Hubs. The Journ hubs are meant to be placed in public elementary and high schools to become the center of journalism development. Aside from the facility, we also conducted trainings and seminars to school paper advisers and journalism students to further their knowledge on the industry.
 
One of our PhilSTAR Journalism Hubs
Work never ends, apparently. Aside from maintaining our social media assets and the two projects, we still have so much to do. This year will be a year of so many firsts, and I am excited to roll out our next projects.

Maybe one thing that made me happy this year was when I and my boyfriend finally became workmates. To those who didn’t know: He lives in the south and I am from the north, which made it logistically impossible to see him frequently. He also has strict parents, so for about five months, we see each other once or twice a month. It was enough, at first, but of course nothing beats you being with your boyfriend most of the time.

My relationship with him was the greatest thing that happened in 2015, and it became even happier this 2016. We weren’t perfect, of course. We had a lot of arguments, we had a lot of disagreements, but that only made us even stronger. We’ve been together for a year and one month now, and we’re very excited to face 2017 together.

This year, I have also been invited to some school events to give a speech or a talk; about things I am passionate about – community service, leadership, journalism, and even career. Perhaps the most memorable was when I was invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference in my alma mater – Malabon Elementary School. This was where the writer me was unleashed by the great Lucia Cahanding. Being able to be invited as the guest speaker in the place where you figured out who you want to become felt like coming to full circle.
Talk on social media management at UST #YokoNaPagodNaKo
Maybe what I missed this year was traveling and hiking. Due to my busy working schedule, I have to set aside traveling. The wanderlust me wanted to climb mountains but obviously can’t because I don’t want to faint (again) up there. This year, I’m planning to travel five local destinations and one international trip. Would it be possible? Yes, hopefully.

This year, I realized that yes; life will have some steps backward, but there will always be more steps forward, only if we choose to move ahead than look behind. Maybe we all just have to see what’s out there waiting for us, rather than linger on things that didn’t go our way. Only by learning this, we will have a happier outlook in life.

2016 was obviously marred with too many things – politics, heartbreaks, losses, but there will always be more reason to celebrate positivity.

Like anyone else, I still don’t know what 2017 would be like, but all I know is that my plans for next year are the plans that I want to take shape. Reroutes will be there, sure, but that only makes the journey makes more exciting.

2016, thank you for the backward steps, I learned to make more steps forward.


2017, I am even more ready to make more forward steps, and I am excited. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

23 #Hugot lessons I learned from Maranat climb

Last long weekend, I was tagged along by Gillian in a spontaneous overnight hike at Mt. Maranat in Bulacan. I’ve been longing to climb mountains again (but plans get postponed because of the weather), and with his invitation (and knowing how “beast mode” he is) I didn’t say no. Also, this is our first climb together, with some of our workmates.

As we climb the mountain, thoughts have been tickling my mind and there is no better way to share them but this blog. So, here are the 23 things I learned from Maranat Climb.

1. Bago ka umakyat, make sure you’re ready. Dahil mahirap magdalawang-isip kapag nasa kalagitnaan ka na.

2. Siguraduhing wala kang nakalimutan bago ka umakyat. Hindi magandang kapag nasa taas ka na, saka mo mari-realize na may kulang pala, dahil hindi laging mayroong pupuno sa kakulangan mo.  

3. Alalahaning maigi kung ano lang ang dapat dalhin. ‘Wag sobra, masyadong mabigat; ‘wag kulang, masyadong magaan. Importanteng ang dala mo ay sapat lang.

4. ‘Wag kang masyadong magmagaling dahil hindi mo alam ang lahat ng bagay. Mag-hire ng guide.

5. Pero kung trip mong magmagaling at ayaw mong mag-hire ng guide, edi go! Kapag naligaw ka, ito ang tandaan mo: Wala kang ibang dapat sisihin kundi ang sarili mo. Akala mo kaya mo nang mag-isa? That’s the price you pay for thinking you know it all.


7. There is a trail for a reason. Kahit dito man lang, matuto kang sumunod.

8. Be nice to people you meet along the way. Nice lang ha, ‘wag malandi. #DyanKaMagaling

9. Pahinga ang solusyon sa pagod, hindi pagsuko. Kung pakiramdam mo napapagod ka dahil sa dami ng ‘ups and downs,’ pwede namang magpahinga, hindi ‘yung susuko ka agad. ‘Di ganun ‘yun, bro.

10. Kung gusto mong magpahinga, magsabi ka. Para hindi ka iwanan.

11. Madaming assault, pero kaya.

12. Gusto mong makarating ng campsite? Kailangang mag-zipline. Matakot ka na sa lahat, wag lang sa heights.


14. Lahat ng magagandang bagay (kagaya ng campsite at summit), dinadaan sa tiyaga.


16. Pero kung madapa ka man at masaktan, tumayo ka agad. Tuloy lang ang lakad.

17. Magkakasugat ka, pero maghihilom din yan, naturally. Ni hindi mo mamamalayang nasugatan ka pala.

18. Invest on the right things. Tent, bag, shoes, ganyan. Hindi yung puro emosyon ini-invest mo, sa mali pang tao.

19. Leave no trace. Applies to all aspects of your madramang life.

20. Kahit gaano mo kagustong mag-stay sa tuktok, dadating talaga yung oras na kailangan mong bumaba to face the reality.

21. Kapag pababa ka na ng bundok, mas nagiging maingat ka kasi naranasan mo nang matumba, madapa, at masugatan. Ayaw mo nang maulit yun. Unless super tanga mo edi g lang.

22. Hindi ka pagsasamantalahan sa “Mini Stop” store sa Maranat. Biruin mo, sa bundok ka pa makakakita ng hindi mananamantala sa’yo.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

A letter to my 20-year old self

Dear 20-year old self,

First of all, I would like to say it has been a tough journey, but all tough roads lead to memorable, life-changing experiences. It was a crossover to two different yet interconnected roads - and you have, by far, traveled really well.

The past two decades have been really memorable, and it marked the end of your "young" journey. You graduated from college, got and lost your first job, explored a new horizon in an attempt to make a change, but the system was too strong to be ideal. Finally, you've been tricked by life and brought you to your first love - in fact the reason why you took communications as your degree - writing.

You've been an active part of the society. You've fought a lot of battles, some of which you still continue, and you are fighting for the right reasons. At a young age you learned how important it is to have principles, and it is more valuable than any amount of material possessions the world could offer.


You've told the world how proud you are being gay, and that there is nothing to be ashamed of most especially if you're trying to be a responsible person. You understood that being accepted in a conservative country is a crusade, but you never lost hope that one day, people won't judge you based on the gender you have chosen but based on how good you tried to live.

You've made big mistakes, sure it had repercussions, but you managed to make that an instrument to step up and be better. As a person who actually is afraid of committing mistakes, it's very unusual for you to accept that you did wrong, and that you're willing to learn to produce better results.

You've loved and lost, you gave your all and were shortchanged. You were underestimated, under-appreciated, sometimes forgotten, but you still give the same love - despite all the bad possibilities it could pose. You were ready to get hurt, because you believe that it is part of the process, but you are doing what you can to keep the relationship in good shape.


It has been a tough journey, but all tough roads lead to life-changing memories.

Thank you for being weak, you learned how to be strong.

Thank you for making mistakes, you learned how to get up and keep going.


You are not perfect, but you are enough. 


To a great year ahead, 
Vberni

Monday, February 16, 2015

Better, not Best

Growing up, I was told by my parents to be the best in everything I do. Like what I always say, I think I won the parent lottery because my parents are pretty much supportive in all the things I go into. Well, honestly, my mom wanted me to become a nurse, but later on decided to support me in pursuing what I really wanted to become – a communicator. My dad was always there to drop me to school when I needed to be early (or when I was too lazy to commute), or pick me up when I needed to go home very late. They were too supportive practically because they see me exerting every inch of effort I have in everything I do, and they were proud of my achievements.

Truth is, I am afraid of making failures. I am afraid of committing mistakes especially when people are looking at me. Maybe most of my group mates in various courses and activities could attest. For me the culture of "being the best" is very important, in fact necessary. If there are room for improvements, if we can still think of anything better than what we did, I would demand an overhaul even up to the last minute. I cry so loud when I see my team not doing things the way I wanted it to be. I don't believe in plan Bs, because only plan A would work.

I lived in the thought that I can only be the best. I was drowned in the noise of applause, thought that everything's for me. Then I woke up one day, realizing that people behind me have already left, practically because they think I'm not the best, because I can never be the best if I'm not even good to begin with.

That's the truth. You can never be the best if you're not even good to begin with.

I was too afraid to make mistakes I didn't realize it's human to make one. I was too afraid to be judged as a weakling, or a loser, not realizing that I am not living to please others but myself.

I came into deep reflection. I lived life the way it should be. I entertained criticisms, even the most painful ones, because listening to others telling you that you make mistakes humbles you and makes you strive for the better. I listened attentively to tips and advices, and tried to learn day by day.

The experiences and mistakes have made me realize to always strive for the better - not best. Every day I wake up and pray that I become a better version of myself. I stopped comparing myself to others because it doesn't help me get closer to what I want to become.

I guess being able to accept that you make mistakes and you can be better than who you are are signs of becoming more matured. And now, I am more than willing to commit mistakes, learn from those, listen to criticisms that matter. I am willing to change the person that I was to the person that I can become - a person oozing with potential once he admits he's never good enough until he learns.

Now, I'm trying to make my parents even prouder by being me. I hope being better is being the best for them.


Here's to becoming better and better, one day at a time.