Weak but strong


This post should have been a poetry. But I guess a poetic message is an overstatement for my feels tonight.

We are going strong. It’s been almost two months and we have been through storms, tides, and sometimes, fine days. The two months of togetherness seemed like a year.

Every time we meet, every time we open our mouths to speak, we talk about a thousand topics, a thousand words, and we draw out a thousand laughter. I have made you cry and you have made me weep as well.

And yet, we are going strong, afraid of goodbyes, as I will always be.

My greatest asset are my words, my charms, and my smile (without the braces). I do not have the physique, nor the bulky muscles that entice women — not even an athletic body.

I’m not into sports though I bike and swim when necessary, that is, during summer getaways with family and friends.

I do not play basketball and therefore, unable to make strategies that work best for a team. But my strategies will always be for the better.

When we dance, I could be satisfied with the both of us swaying on the dance floor, under dim lights, with a slow music on the background. I could do waltz but I am uncertain if I can lift you up as long as you want.

When you are drunk and tipsy, all I could do is to lay your arms on my shoulders as we walk to my car, and offer you cups of coffee. I could not carry you like a groom does to a bride when they are about to leave the church.

But one thing, I could be the strongest person you could ever meet. A person who listens, a person who understands, and a person relates to your sorrows. I could hold your tears as long as you want. And when you want to be happy, I could pull off a smile from you.





If you think you know a lot about snorkeling, think again


Half-submerged in the raucous sea with our marine masks on, we battled the droplets and lines of rainwater hitting the transparent goggles, then dripping down. It was a few days before the coming of the strong monsoon – habagat – rains, and we were just in the nick of time, or else we might be swept away.  But still, we never defeated the surge of waters coming from above. Occasionally, we had to remove our masks and wipe out the droplets of water stuck on them. It was a fight we would never forget: a fight with the storm. All for Marine Science 1.

The time it took for the bus to take the road to Lian, Batangas where it all occurred was almost entirely negligible. We travelled without seeing a ray of the sun, only the dim lights coming from the bus’ ceiling. Almost everyone was trying to catch lost sleep, paying the debt. I myself was part of the team. I only opened my eyes for a few seconds to see the scene outside from peeping through the tiny window covered with curtains. The sun has risen but I saw, apart from the blurred views of the houses and trees, was fog. The bus crossed the foggy path.

Next off, we were able to get hold of snorkeling devices. I was amused when I saw people excited as they were already wearing the snorkeling goggles on their faces even before stepping into the sea. I used to snorkel in El Nido, Palawan and in Bohol with my family but what the tour guides taught us about snorkeling was just a about a percentage of what I learned from the field trip. I did learn a lot, seriously, on snorkeling alone. I didn’t think such a simple way of swimming would require a lot of patience.

Lesson number one – treat the snorkeling gear with respect

You heard it right, like how fencing athletes treat their weapons with respect, and like how taekwondo stars place a high regard on their belts, people who do snorkeling must do the same. On my experience, I have seen people throw the gear to another person or hit the gear on a boat. When at sea, the gears become your friend.

 Lesson number two – no toothpaste? Use your saliva

Fogging masks are a common problem of amateur people who snorkel. To avoid it, be prepared with a drop of toothpaste and spread it on both sides of the mask completely. Once done, wash it moderately with water until the seen toothpaste marks are cleared. Toothpastes are considered hydrophilic or they prevent water from staying on the masks. No toothpaste? Use another hydrophilic substance like your saliva. Just make sure it’s your personal snorkeling mask.

Lesson number three – learn how to wear it properly, with poise added

A no-no: placing the goggles on your face at the same time pulling the straps and putting it on. The proper way of wearing the mask is to first place it on your face and get the perfect position. Then you can now pull the straps over and wear it on.

Lesson number four – do not put your snorkeling gear on your head

If you’re dreaming of becoming like Catwoman who likes to put her goggles on her head when it’s not use, then the sea is not a good place for it. Placing the masks on your head or on your forehead while resting, is a signal that the swimmer is in distress and needs SOS. So don’t raise a false alarm. Wear it off and hang it on your neck.

Lesson number five – snorkel, don’t walk

Many people, especially those without background in swimming, or those who always want to swim like a drowning dog, would just bow their heads down on the water with the goggles on and look at the beautiful fish and marine creatures. But the fish is not the only creature underwater, the corals too. People usually step on and walk on the corals and when they do, the corals die instantly. When you get off a boat, make sure you hover horizontally on the water, and swim or paddle to avoid falling on your feet.

Take heed of these lessons. Enjoy snorkeling!

Poems on finding true love

Here’s a poem I wrote after a French film (The Artist) successfully inspired me last June.

The Artist

Finding true love is
like watching a number
of films.
Each film lures one
until the very end,
tickling the imagination,
captivating feelings,
and adoring senses.

Like love, movies may
be everywhere but as soon
as a film ends, it comes
switftly, that feeling
that you’re just hit
the right note, seen
a great film.


Meanwhile, here’s another poem I wrote on my phone’s notepad while on my bed one Thursday night, only hearing music coming from my brother’s Android.

The Perfect Moment

One Thursday night
while hearing the cackle
of confused chickens outside
the window, seeing my mom
and siblings already in
deep sleep, I found myself
lying beside the music.
Only she and I are awake.
Music playing. Forget You.
The beat of drums, the
saxophone wooing me like
fingers caressing my arms.
They tickle my ears. Another
song played. I closed my
eyes as I wait for the perfect
rhythm, the perfect moment.
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my blog about why The Dark Knight Rises is a propaganda film. Watch out for it! 🙂

It’s AI’s Jessica Sanchez versus X-Factor’s Melanie Almaro

Just taking a break from my loads of work when I found a viral video of Melanie Amaro, a 20-year-old singer who won X-Factor USA in 2011, singing “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston. Her voice is amazing, and I can’t help but compare her to Jessica Sanchez singing the same song during the last weeks of American Idol Season 11.

Here are the videos. Take your pick! Who’s got the better rendition?

Just some tale of the tape…

Jessica Sanchez

Age: 16

Racial Mix: American, Mexican, Filipino

Biggest Breakthrough: American Idol Season 11

Achievement: 1st runner-up to Phillip Phillips

Melanie Amaro

Age: 20

Racial Mix: American, British Virgin Islands

Biggest Breakthrough: X-Factor USA

Achievement: Winner



Don’t open the history tab: My internship aftermath

I left my office desk with the web pages left in the history tab — from Facebook pages, fantasies and pages that tried to look deeper into the story, the fingerprints left on the keyboard keys, the daily sound of the time card clicking inside the Bundy clock, the pizza treats from generous office mates, the voices of the editors, the voice of Jessica Sanchez every Thursday and Friday morning, and the official website of GMA News Online itself…

These I would never forget from the days of my internship period. GMA News Online was not actually the company I would fall into. I preferred working in a magazine firm or in a company specializing in television production. I was so glad when GMA News Online called me up to inform me about my internship interview.

But there are so much things that I would not forget from my internship experience more than the motherly (or fatherly) love of my editors. I would have to admit I learned a lot.

Several people say fresh graduates or students who step onto the field of real work (world) are idealists. But a month in a news organization would probably erase the idealism students have. Working with GMA News Online is not about idealism, but learning the true meaning of journalism – being fair, balanced, responsible, and accurate. The common values a journalism student has learned in a class called Ethics.

These values are intertwined that achieving one may put another to a risk. One day, I was tasked to write a story filed under the news site’s business section. It was a story about the amount of oil and natural gas reserves in the Malampaya Gas Field, a gas field found near the disputed Spratly Islands. I was writing the lead when I sifted through the pages of other news sites which have reported about the story first. The news organization’s key now lies in my hands and the decision is whether to rush the publication of the story or make it comprehensive for the readers to understand. I chose the latter.

Writing the story involved digesting the numerous figures and percentages within the sources. It involved extracting the most important facts and details. I noticed how other news organizations (I’m saying sincerely, not just to uplift GMA News Online) reported the story. The facts and figures were carelessly enumerated, and it was number-heavy.

The moment I submitted the story to my editor, I came to realize that at times, the real game is not about speed, not about how fast you have uploaded the story, but rather on being comprehensive and accurate. It is by this time that we have conveyed the message clearly to the readers.

Of course, I’m saying these statements minus the idealism. 🙂 I have learned to give up some idealism when I started working with the news organization.

The moment I opened my email account, I was welcomed by the slugs submitted by the editor of the Pinoy Abroad page of GMA News Online. I could remember my first story: a story about a Pinoy making a name in the international scene. Another thing I’ve learned while working with GMA News Online was Filipino pride. Most news organizations fail to look at the bright side of reporting. There were a lot of stories I’ve found over the web that exemplifies the achievements of Filipinos worldwide – from Francis Libiran’s gown worn by the contestants of America’s Next Top Mode, Rajo Laurel’s gown worn by Tyra Banks herself, to Fil-Am actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle who starred in Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana.

That despite all the negative reports circling the Philippines, there is an equal array of good news that makes us more proud of being a Filipino.

I’ve also written inspiring stories that sought to help cultural minorities such as the Aeta and the story moved me a lot. It was about an Aeta community near Mount Pinatubo seeking for the help of the government for rehabilitation, food aid, and health care. I was able to talk to a nun who runs the rehabilitation center and one could really feel her passion to her work.

But more than the stress, more than the telephone calls, and behind every story is the friendship between the people in the news room. It may not be the noisiest newsroom, the fiercest newsroom, or the most active one. Most of the time, the newsroom was quiet with only the sound of keyboard keys pressed and mouse clicks heard.

I must admit I never appreciated the value and the plot of the impeachment trial until every afternoon in the newsroom with people glued on their seats (or not, as they would jolt from their seats with the voice of Miriam Santiago) watching the trial. Now, I am waiting for Chief Justice Corona in the witness stand tomorrow as eager as waiting for Jessica Sanchez’s performance or waiting for the Miss Universe pageant.

Three of my articles (which I am very proud of) were included in the “Staff Favorites.” “Staff Favorites” is a segment in a twice-a-month staff meeting headed by our editor-in-chief Howie Severino where articles written within the past two weeks are handpicked by some staff members as the best-written stories among the rest of the articles.

My article on Tony De Zuniga, the day it was announced that he suffered from stroke was my first story chosen as a staff favorite. The next two were my story on the Aeta community and my story on Harvy Santos, a Pinoy miller who won a contest in United Kingdom.

If you want to read all my articles published by GMA News Online, log on to http://www.gmanews.tv and search for my name on the search tab: Jon Lindley Agustin.