Last week I received a text message from Irma: "Inviting you for the tenth anniversary gathering of Metro Post this coming April 9. I hope you can make it." Being now stuck in Davao, I can't, but....
Has it been ten years already? My jaw drops as I write this. In today's parlance: O.M.G. Ten years?
Credit Danah Fortunato for getting me started on this writing gig. Back in 2000, I also had a weekly technology column for the online edition of Philippine Daily Inquirer. Perhaps I should consider writing for a local paper, one "Dumaguete Metro Post?" Oh, sure, why not? I visited Irma in their office downtown, and dropped off a floppy disk (remember those?) with a few articles. In keeping with my work then, I opted to write about technology issues, and thus "Rational Technology" came into being.
Take note: these were the days before Facebook, before broadband Internet, before the BPO boom. Cellphones and Internet cafes ruled the local technology landscape. I tried to make the most out of the confined space I had boxed myself in, but I wasn't sure if I was getting through. A distant cousin summed it best with a backhanded compliment: "I really like your articles, although I don't understand what you're talking about." Yeah, sure, cuz: thank you...I think.
Ultimately, I just had to break out and write about other things. Among the early memorable ones: the grand opening of Dunkin' Donuts in Dumaguete. Remember that? It was a Friday, as I recall, and they closed off an entire section of Perdices St. so half of Dumaguete could pay their respects. T'was a time before Pizza Hut, Shakey's, McDonald's, and even Jollibee. Finally, we had a big name chain open in Dumaguete! We have arrived! Hear, hear!
You don't remember? Oh, I understand if you've blotted it from memory: recalling it now, I still feel embarrassed.
But really, that's the thing with Dumaguete, a place that, to me, is perpetually odd. It's a small town with big city aspirations, and not afraid to show it, nay, demand for it. On the one hand, it wants to move forward and change; and on the other, it wants to cling to the genteel past and remain the same: to partake of the pista in the afternoon, and report for call center shift in the evening. Dumaguete is idiot savant: at once spectacularly brilliant and rustically naive. If there's any contradiction between the two, well, blithely sweep it under the rug and go on our merry ways. Chalk it all up to charm.
Were it not for the weekly Metro Post column I struggled to write, all this would've remained under the surface. Because I wrote, I observed. Sometimes the prognosis turned out wrong, but, hey, I'll sweep that under the rug and go my merry way. Chalk it all up to charm.
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Saddest moment: Alex and Irma announcing the Metro Post for lack of sponsors (July 2006). Happiest moment: Alex and Irma announcing a week later that Metro Post, having found new sponsors, would go on (August 2006). Well, I did say Dumaguete was odd, didn't I? I wrote a bittersweet "Goodbye" for the former; and a delighted "Hello" for the latter. I took that opportunity to change the name of the column from "Rational Technology" to "Village Idiot Savant."
Runner-up for happiest moment: Metro Post in the running for Best Edited Paper, Best Editorial Page, Best in Science and Environmental Reporting, Best in Business and Economic Reporting, and Best in Photojournalism (May 2008). And to think that, just months prior, the paper had almost shut down. The honor is Alex and Irma's really, but I was happy to have been part of all that.
That's really why Metro Post means a lot to me: because I'm part of it. I'll admit, it's partly from vanity: ten years is a long time, and Metro Post, in a way, has been a personal record of my own phases and events: of corporate life and small town life, of writers workshops and biking trips, of births and deaths. But mostly, I like to think, because it's built friendships I would have otherwise missed: with Irma and Alex; with Jong and Danah; with Veneeth, Fred, and Dean, with whom I worked with on the BPO campaign for Dumaguete; with fellow columnists Gilbert, Nikka, and Ian; with my Valencia biking buddies Alex, Dean, Cobbie and Dale; with students Michelle, Drig, and Marianne. If there's any I forgot to mention, well, you know who you are.
As I look back on all of this, I can't really say much more than: has it been ten years already? O.M.G.
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Here's looking to another ten years...and more.