Archive for June, 2013

Last May 10th, a Friday, was a very, very long day. It started off with our coverage of the MMDA conversion of the Airport Road in Paranaque City, from a one way road to a two-way one—as part of the preparation for the construction of the EDSA-Taft flyover. The people we usually see in the MMDA public information office, the reporters that are in the MMDA beat and interns such as myself and Trish were at the location at 11 a.m. Actually, Trish and I got lost for a little bit. It was quite embarrassing for me since I live in Paranaque City.

There were MMDA traffic constables all around the area—assisting motorists to get around the new traffic scheme. Trish and I hitched a ride with the MMDA PIO head, Ms. Candy de Jesus, when the launching of the new traffic scheme was about to start. The camera crews of different TV stations were on board a pick-up truck—leading theway as we all passed through the newly converted two-way Airport Road. We stopped right at a gas station where we interviewed MMDA Traffic Engineering Center (TEC) Director Neomie Recio. After the interview, the MMDA staff gave us a ride back to the MMDA office. We were instructed by Sir Mike to proceed to the ICRD, or the building near Makati City Hall. ‘Cause later on that day, we were going to cover the Miting de Avance of Jejomar Erwin Binay.

On the way to ICRD, we heard a report from the radio about a multiple vehicle collision near C5 Kalayaan. We got to the ICRD quite early. If I remember correctly, I think it was about 1:30 or 2 p.m. While we wait for the Miting de Avance to start, which was frankly in a couple more hours, I called the MMDA Metrobase and the Makati Traffic to get some details regarding the multiple vehicle collision. I didn’t get the complete details yet, since the collision has just happened very recently (1:31 p.m.), and the MMDA and Makati Traffic has just responded to the scene.

While waiting for some updates regarding the collision, I called Makati Police Chief Manuel Lukban to ask for some updates regarding the MRT suicide last Wednesday. I overheard from some of the reporters in the ICRD that the victim has already been identified. T’was a bummer when the police chief told me that he didn’t get to see the report on the identification of the suicide victim yet. My second option was to call the funeral parlor where the body was brought. It’s a good thing I knew where it is. Fortunately the funeral parlor has all the information, such as the victim’s name, his age, where he’s from and who identified him—his cousin. It was such a relief to know that the case is now closed, you can only imagine how it feels to be given the privilege to be there when the story started, and be there when it finishes.

I called the Metrobase and Makati Traffic a couple of times again before I got the complete details. After I wrote an article about it, it was around 4 p.m. already. The reporters in the ICRD were getting bored. There was basically nothing to do anymore but to wait for the event to start. The article about the vehicle collision was written and so was the update article about the suicide victim. A couple of minutes later, they all decided to order some pizza. Sweet. They decided on a 15-inch Yellow Cab pizza. Even sweeter. Haha. After we all got to eat, the event was about to begin.

We didn’t linger around the event grounds that much—which was in this case, the lot in front of the Makati City Hall. Sir Mike told us that the story wasn’t on the grounds. Mayor Binay and his teammates will just give speeches, basically anything to convince the people one last time, to vote for them. All of us—actual reporters and interns—went inside the city hall and waited for Mayor Binay to arrive. All we have to do is get a statement from him, get some answers to some controversial questions and we can all go home. It was too bad we got to go home early. I expected we wouldn’t be able to go home till 11 or 12 midnight, but I got my dad to pick me up by 9 instead. Lesser hours equals disappointment. Anyway, after waiting for Mayor Binay for a while, he finally arrived. The reporters from both print and broadcast media regained their energy and adrenalin when the Mayor walked in. The reporters began to ask him a couple of questions, some asking for a comment on the ones who said Makati needs a new set of leaders, some asked about his reaction on his sister, Nancy Binay’s “popularity” on the Internet, and a couple of others that are related to the election. The strongest quote we got from him was, “let the people decide.” This was his comment on the first question that I mentioned. Sir Mike told us that what we got in this event will probably appear as background paragraphs in another reporter’s article. But it was alright. We got to subtract 10 hours that day after all.

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On May 9th, Thursday, Trish and I were prepared with a set of questions to ask Chief Lukban before going to the Makati Central Police Station. Other than the updates in the John Herra Case and the one regarding the suicide in MRT Guadalupe the day before, we were supposed to ask him about the preparations the Makati Police are doing for the elections. But to no avail, we were not able to talk to t police chief that day. He had a lot of people going into his office, and later that day when we came back from lunch… well, let’s just say he was having a bad day, and was not accepting visitors in the meantime.

We went to the CID instead to ask for updates on the suicide incident. We had the chance to talk to one of the policemen who went to the crime scene. Other than telling us that the victim was still unidentified—though there were a lot of calls for missing persons—he showed us some pictures he took on the station. I’m not going to describe the pictures in detail, since some might find it gross. But he had pictures of the victim underneath the train, in the funeral parlor and a picture of his intestines even. It had no effect on me whatsoever, since I’m used to seeing those kinds of stuff. Trish on the other hand, was feeling nauseous upon seeing the pictures. Though people find it weird that I don’t get grossed out with those kind of things, I take it as an advantage when I become a police reporter in the near future. I was thankful for the opportunity. I didn’t get to see the actual crime scene, but pictures will do fine. The policeman allowed me to get a copy of the photos, provided I will not post it on any social media platform. I kept my part of the bargain.

Other than we searched for the phone numbers of Makati and Taguig Comelec, in preparation for our Election Day coverage. Then we went to Coffeebean as we monitor the news, then later on to Starbucks in Glorietta 5 to meet with Sir Mike.

I’m sure almost everyone has heard of what happened on May 8th, in MRT Guadalupe station. That morning, an unidentified man jumped in front of the moving train—killing himself in the process. I was in the Makati Police at that time, looking for Maj. Garduque as usual. I received a text from Trish that she will be late. She was told that the MRT will only reach Shaw Station because of the incident, and because she was already in the area, Sir Mike instructed her to go to MRT Guadalupe Station to get details and interview concerned authorities. After a couple of minutes, I received a text from Sir Mike, telling me to head down to the station as well. I could feel the adrenalin rushing through my veins. I got to go to an actual crime scene again. So cool. It’s been years since the last time I’ve been in one.

I joined Trish and the other reporters at the MRT Guadalupe southbound stairway. The press wasn’t allowed to go inside yet, and we are all patiently waiting to be called. I got a heads-up from Trish about what happened here before I arrived. Chief Lukban was there earlier, as well as some of the cops we talk to in the CID. A couple of minutes later, some cops went out from the station—which was locked like a prison cell by the way. One of the cops was carrying a plastic bag, containing what seems to be a pair of shoes and some clothes. I wasn’t that sure, I only got the chance to glance at the bag for a quick second. I followed the cops and a reporter that was trying to get some information out of him down the stairs. The reporter—who, by his get up, looks like a radio reporter—asked the cop which funeral parlor did they bring the body. This gave me the impression that the body was no longer there. Bummer. I won’t be able to see it in person. Oh well. The cop answered, “Veronica Funeraria.”Cool. That’s a scoop, sort of. As of that moment, only me and that reporter knows that the body was brought to the funeral house in Pasay City.

A few moments later, a security guard called all media men—indicating that we can all go in. I could feel the adrenalin rush all over again. That feeling wherein you have to run inside and secure a good spot next to the MRT General Manager, Al Vitangcol before he delivers his statement. I managed to stand directly behind him, which makes me wonder if I’m going to be seen on TV—not that it matters. All the cameras were in front of him, so yeah.

Five minutes have passed and the Genaral Manager Al Vitangcol was finished with his statement. We were given the chance to loiter in the station for a little bit. As I look around, I can tell you that there was really nothing left when we were allowed to enter. The closest thing I got to a crime scene was the sight of a staff cleaning the railway, and he was almost done when I got to see him. I didn’t see any sign of blood or anything. Oh well.

Trish and I went to Coffeebean for some drinks and to write the article, of course. We thought the day was starting to slow down—no more adrenalin rush moments, nothing more to excite us, all that’s left is to write the article and to monitor the news. But we thought wrong. Later on that afternoon, if I’m not mistaken, it’s around 2:30 or 3 p.m., when the electricity went out in various parts of the Metro and in various parts of Luzon as well. I could feel the rush creeping up on me as I monitor the tweets and the Facebook posts of reporters. The blackout was controversial, since it happened only a few days before the elections. Many speculated that it might be a preview of what might happen on Monday, the 13th. The Coffeebean has its own generator, I suppose, that’s why we didn’t notice the blackout at first. But when I looked around, there really was a blackout. The stoplights along Ayala were not functioning. Some reports say that three power plants had malfunctioned, thus resulting to lack of electricity supply in various places in Luzon. But the people’s speculation was still strong. Some wondered why of all the days, the blackout happened just days before the election, and wondered why three power plants malfunctioned at the same time. Hmmm.