On supertyphoons and journalistic dreams

Posted on November 11, 2013


610x335x1463602_10151959765078396_1724635463_n.jpg.pagespeed.ic.rU5d8bRm1JThe strongest typhoon of the year just left an absolute hellhole in my country and it made me think about my life.

Disclaimer: Wannabe super-journalistic-article-worthy-of-a-Pulitzer follows.

The news about a disaster-stricken Philippines caught the attention of the world. We were on CNN headlines.  International news agencies and even freaking Buzzfeed reported on the devastation brought by Yolanda, also known by its international name Haiyan. In this country, no one bats an eye on storms so much. We’re used to it. We prepare to some extent but basically we just have to sit around and wait for the next storm to hit and leave behind a lot of pissed off people and class suspensions. These fuckers get to be national media stars from time to time. Now that even the international media jumped in on the Philippine weather hullabaloo, you know shit just got serious.

Because I am a truly excellent journalism student, I’ll just tell you guys to Google typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda for  background information. You can check Philippine news agencies like Inquirer.net, Philstar.com, GMA News Online, ABS-CBN News.com, TV 5, or Rappler.

For even more hopefully reliable information, here is the Typhoon Haiyan Wikipedia page. Also, this fucking article that will make you so fucking sad and angry at everything happening to the Philippines these days.

Little something about typhoons.

Typhoons are powerful storms occurring in the northwestern Pacific with wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour (119 kilometers per hour). It becomes a supertyphoon once it hits 150 miles per hour (241 kilometers per hour). 

Source: National Geographic Daily News

I have to admit, at first I thought that all this “one of the biggest, strongest typhoons possibly recorded in history like, ever” hype is all just typical media sensationalism. When the typhoon hit, I was safely inside my dorm awaiting the announcement of class suspension by my university’s dean. It wasn’t even raining in my area. I was just lying on my bed, waiting for social media updates, and getting fatter with 7-11 food. I did not know that hell opened in the Visayas or central Philippine regions. I thought that this was just one of those Philippine storm days, you know, floods and shit. Fallen trees, posts, and the occasional flying roof. I did not know that Yolanda left so much shit. “Hindi ko po alam” (Napoles, 2013).

As I was writing this post, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported that the death toll in the Visayas region have reached over 900 (source). A few days ago, the number of deaths was expected to be around 10,000. Even more unsettling, corpses are scattered on the streets along with debris brought by the storm surge which looks more like a tsunami wave. Ay dios mio.

It was a tale of utmost desperation. No food, no water, no medical help, no communication – even the most decent of people would go batshit insane. In Tacloban, looting is rampant and law is absent. People are battering down the doors of a grocery store for food. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are being wrecked. The local government of Tacloban is requesting for a martial law. There are possibly worse situations in nearby areas which we haven’t seen yet. As I watch the news, I feel as though I was glimpsing a foreshadowing of apocalypse.

At this point, I should discuss the role of mass media during Yolanda and how I am affected by all this. The bravery and dedication of reporters sent to cover this super fucking ginormous storm (see: Atom Araullo) deserves so much praise. These people have my respect and admiration. They make me both want and not want to be in the journalism profession.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always had mixed feelings towards journalism. The naive, idealist schoolgirl me wants to be one. The more practical and rational me, however, steers me away from the journ life. But because of the Yolanda thing, I am reminded once again of the reasons why I wanted to be a journalist as a schoolgirl.

I am not content with just sitting in one side while things are happening around me and there are people who are not aware or simply do not care. I just have this constant feeling that people have the right to know. People have to know how what the fuck is going on and why they should be as alarmed as I am. I want people to know that there is something wrong.

I want to help. I want to feel relevant. Since I don’t have the scientific or mathematical skills to contribute, I only have my supposed gift of (mostly written) communication to offer. I can relay information to help people. The journalism profession is gratifying when it comes to social relevance.

It’s easy to be critical on the government if you’re a journalist. With UP training, especially. As I assume the role of pseudo-online journalist these past few days (retweeting, sharing, commenting on government failure, etc.) I expose myself on Yolanda’s aftermath and just feel disdain and hate. I hated Napoles et al for stealing my countrymen’s money which should have been used for disaster preparedness, basic social services, rebuilding the affected areas, and many other things much more important than a pair of Louboutins.  I am annoyed with our president for constantly blaming people when he could have given us concrete answers and solutions instead of leaving us in the dark. I am annoyed with other lawmakers who pass irrelevant and stupid laws, ordinances, etc. while the laws that people will actually benefit from (see: Freedom Of Information) are kept hanging. And of course I am very mad at governments who do nothing when people are in dire need of help.  Anyare? Nganga! You just find it hard to trust people in power these days.

All I’m trying to say here is that I feel like I will feel more fulfilled if I choose to go into the journalism path after college. Yolanda reminded me how much people need the mass media industry, and I can choose that path if I want it enough. I have enough education to get into the profession. But I know that the journo job won’t be just handed to me like a goody bag: my journalistic skills would need a serious makeover. If I called myself a brilliant would-be journalist, I’d be a walking insult to journalists and the journalism department of the UP College of Mass Communication. And UP in general.

As I browse through the comments section of one Yahoo! article re: Yolanda, I saw a comment from a mass comm graduate who feels guilty for choosing the corporate slave life when she could have been one of the reporters covering Yolanda, therefore helping more people and not just the elites who get richer by the minute.

That comment became my inspiration for writing this. I am leaning towards the less journalistic career path of public relations or advertising but I still have the broadcast media and magazine journalism in mind. But mostly I want to go into less journalistic pursuits because I want a stable, well-paying job where I won’t have to risk my own life more often than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends. I wish I could just say, “let’s see what happens” but it’s pretty damn unnerving when you don’t have a concrete plan.

I’ll let you in on something: I am actually considering music journalism before Yolanda hit. I guess the journalistic career path is winning my heart back again. Or maybe it never really left? I don’t know. Hindi ko po alam.

Just give me a few months to finally decide. Maybe I will rise and become that great person I keep on pretending to be. Maybe Tacloban and other badly hit areas too will rebuild themselves, rising from the rubble ready to take on the world.

If you have information on missing Yolanda victims or if you want to look for survivors in the affected areas, you can use this Person Finder.