I was 11 years old when Cebu Daily News (CDN) I first saw print in 1998. I was a Grade Five pupil in a small village called Libas in the Town of Merida in Leyte province when CDN launched itself as Cebu’s third English newspaper.
I started reading the Philippine Daily Inquirer when I was 13 years old, a high school student at Saint Peter’s College of Ormoc. I bought back issues of the paper in a newsstand that I pass almost every afternoon when I walked from school to the Ormoc City Bus Terminal, where I rode a bus or a multicab that took me home on school days.
Fast forward to college life in 2003, it was Prof. Mayette Tabada, who introduced me to CDN. In our Journ 101 class, we were required to think of story ideas and pitch them in class. There were countless consultations with Madame Tabada and I ended up with a piece which aimed to tackle the hardships encountered by students due to the lack of classrooms. I was 17 years old, quite aggressive but lacked the network of sources. I was just armed with my UP student arrogance.
Instead of a feature story, which is produced from interviewing teachers and students and officials of the Department of Education, I ended up with an opinion piece in English. My raw copy was swimming in a sea of red marks and “love notes” from Madame Tabada. I settled on rewriting the piece in Visayan and submitted it to Sun.Star Superbalita. It came out three weeks later with my name on it.
I contributed articles for Sun.Star Cebu and The Freeman after that. I wrote stories on child labor and child work, lifestyle pieces and articles which landed on the Kid’s section. Later, I wrote for Sun.Star Weekend magazine with Myke Obenieta as my editor.
In 2006, I was on my third year in college when our internship adviser, Ian Vincent Manticajon announced that we will be assigned to a particular newspaper instead of the usual practice of picking out a newspaper where we want to intern with.
I was confident that he would assign me to Sun.Star. After all, I was already writing for the paper. But I guess, Sir Ian saw my future. He told me that I was assigned to CDN.
I was disappointed.
The only time I wrote for CDN was in 2005, when I contributed a piece for the paper’s Student Power Section. That was it. I did not know anyone. It was not my comfort zone. I dreaded every day leading to the date that I was supposed to start my internship.
But the day came.
Along with five other classmates, we went to CDN’s new office building at the North Reclamation Area. I stood outside of the building thinking, “How could I write something worthwhile that will get the editors’ nod and publish it in the newspaper?”
I was 19 years old, aggressive but insecure about my skill. Connie Fernandez, then managing editor, interviewed me and fellow Mass Communication interns. We were all intimidated and scared of her.
I was assigned to the paper’s business page. I was disappointed. Again.
I thought that I should be assigned to the political beats so I will land on the front pages of the newspaper. I could literally see my dream of landing on the newspaper’s front page disappear right before me.
But I did not give up that easily.
I did not have a senior reporter to guide me in learning the ropes of covering and writing business so I turned to then Enterprise Editor Irene Sino – Cruz for guidance. Miss Connie was my mentor in framing and writing my features.
Still, none of my articles landed on the front page. But I covered several press conferences on insurance, business chambers, economic zones and retail which taught me about the role of business and economic coverage in making people understand what is going on around them.
I learned that people seldom read the business page of a community newspaper like CDN because the issues were too focused on national issues. I
learned to write more local stories. I learned to ask questions such as: “What is the impact of an oil price hike to the jeepney drivers of Cebu?” Economic stories landed on Page 1 when we started asking this type of questions.
I became a correspondent after my internship. It took a while before Miss Connie convinced me to join the paper as its business reporter after college graduation. I wanted to work for a non-government organization. But the pull of CDN was stronger and so I let myself to get suck in.
Even after I resigned from full-time work in 2009, I continued to write for CDN. When Opinion Editor Stephen Capillas asked me in 2015 to write a column about being a young mother in this modern times, I hesitated because I was not sure if I would give justice to the space. But perhaps I can create some noise in this weekly column enough to inform, inspire and involve people. One and a half years after writing “Nanay Says,” I am still far from that goal. But I will continue writing. You never know who’s reading.
These days, I am in the newsroom three times a week handling desk work. On other days, I write features and news stories. I try to write anything except for subjects such as fashion (only Clint Potestas can do that!) and sports(the Hidilyn Diaz feature was an accident).
CDN was my playground when I was a young lass uncertain about what she wanted in life. Right now, I am still undecided on what I want to be when I grow up, but I have trimmed it down to three so I am getting somewhere.
CDN has been instrumental in molding me into the person that I have become. That is why my heart is happy to be in the CDN Nest as it turns a page and celebrates its 20th anniversary.
I will always be grateful for the warmth and comfort that this nest accorded to me even when I flew away and left the nest more than a dozen times.
Daghang salamat CDN! Soar higher Siloys!