Archive for the ‘OJT Days: the Adventures of a Journalist-in-Training’ Category

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 was my last day of internship. Oh how the time has passed. I went to the place where I first started: the MMDA press office. All that Sir Mike instructed me to do that day was to monitor the news, check for updates on cases—as if it was a regular day. But for me it really wasn’t. The only reporter there in the office was Ma’am Lizel of Bulletin. She actually congratulated me upon knowing it was my last day.

Surprisingly, there was not much activity that day. All I picked up was a wing van and motorcycle accident, leaving one dead on the spot, but it wasn’t used since the accident happened near Manila. Trish arrived a couple of minutes before lunch. She was going to have her evaluation and articles signed too.

Since there was nothing to do, we went on ahead to meet Sir Mike at Starbucks in Glorietta 5 after lunch, where he will sign our evaluation forms and basically wrap up our internship. There he gave us last guidelines, last tips for the road about the field, about what to do in the future, about what to expect after graduation. It was all very useful and I appreciate every bit of it. I also did appreciate Coffee Jelly he bought as a treat, as it will probably be the last. After he signed the evaluation and sealed the envelope, I was actually having graduation goggles. It’s like I don’t want the internship to end, and it feels like I don’t want to go to school anymore. I was getting used to the routine of going to police stations, talking to officials, monitoring news, writing articles and meeting deadlines.

I guess the best thing this whole experience left me is to be excited for the real thing. I am thankful for all the experiences, thankful to Sir Mike for the mentoring and thankful that I had the privilege to cover stories and events and was part of bringing the truth to the people. The internship is done. That’s one step towards being a real journalist. After 27 days of being a journalist-in-training, I’m looking forward to the future even more.


That Monday, May 20th, was I think the first time that I was completely late for work. The call time was 9 a.m., I arrived 20 minutes late. I blame the shuttle van I rode that day. It had a lot of mechanical problems that we had to stop in the middle of the road. Twice. Good thing I was not reprimanded by Sir Mike that much. Whew.

Anyway, that day the MMDA launched a new project called “MMDA Traffic Monitor”. This system enables motorists to see the actual traffic situation on the road, using their smartphones and tablets. The launch was attended by MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, traffic czar Yves Gonzales and other representatives of the developer of the program. The traffic monitor basically gives anyone who has an internet access to see what the Metrobase sees, but on certain areas only. Upon the launch, motorists can see nine different locations at once. In the middle of the press conference, there was actually a road accident in one of the areas featured. The purpose of the program was very much met. People at the press conferences, and those who were viewing the website that contains the program at that moment all saw a live broadcast of what’s happening in the road. It would very much warn motorists of the traffic situation and give them the chance to take alternative routes.

After the program launch, all reporters followed the Chairman to his office for interviews. They asked him more about the project and also questions regarding the issue on his SALN. After that, we all enjoyed lunch provided by the MMDA for the reporters in the conference room. It was awesome to have to sit near Chairman Toletino at lunch. For me, he was actually very humble. He’s not like some government official who is unreachable and somewhat snobby. No. He instead sits down with reporters, have lunch with them and enjoy a casual talk and laugh with them. Awesome. Truly awesome.

That Saturday, May 18th, was my first time to work on a Saturday. Well, technically I wasn’t really in the field at that time, so I guess it was okay. Every Saturday, Sir Mike takes a lot of load. Other than his regular beats—MMDA, Makati, Taguig and SPD—he also covers Rizal, Eastern Metro Manila and also NCRPO during Saturdays, so I guess the monitoring would help him at the very least. I started monitoring the news since 6 or 7 in the morning and ended at 5 in the afternoon. There were only a few notable things that happened that day. One was the fire in Marikina City that took place at 6:44 a.m. and second was the news about International Museum Day. Working on a Saturday was really not much of a hassle, although it was kind of uncomfortable to have to listen to nothing but AM radio the entire day. Still, I got a couple of hours off of my remaining time, so it was worth it.


May 17th, a Friday, was my co-intern Trish’s last day of internship. That day started out as any other. We went to the Makati Central Police HQ to ask for updates, but Chief Lukban was busy and Sir Garduque was nowhere to be found. When we went down to the complaint desk, there were a lot of people lined up so we can’t take a look at the blotters. The only option we had, since we had no access to our basic sources, was to monitor the news. Sir Mike told us to stand by and monitor any activity in Makati and Taguig. And so we did. Trish and I went our usual stop: the Coffeebean near People’s Support and turn on the AM radio and opened the Twitter accounts of various news organizations in multiple tabs. There was no significant activity whatsoever.

Weird. It’s like a free day. Since we were practically doing nothing, we spent the time conversing about our OJT journey, how time flew so fast. It seems like yesterday it was our first day, and now it’s our last. Well, hers anyway. My last day won’t be until the 21st. Anyway, looking back, it was a great journey so far. Other than the experiences of being in the field, meeting new people and going to different places, it’s nice that I made a new friend. It’s really one of the best things about the internship.

Anyway, since there was nothing that big to report, we thought we were going to be stuck in Coffeebean till the end of the day. Not that we mind. I personally like hanging out there. But the day was far from over. If I remember correctly, we received a text from Sir Mike around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, telling us to meet him at the MMDA press office. He said he will sign Trish’s evaluation there.

One funny thing though. Trish forgot to bring her evaluation form, so Sir ended up wrapping things up with her time card. She’ll have her evaluation signed on my last day. Cool. While we’re there in the press office, we computed our total hours and settled all stuff related to that. Sir Mike was kind enough to let me take a couple of hours off of tomorrow, even though it’s a Saturday. I’ll be helping him monitor news and call some sources for details if needed.

After getting everything settled, food, drinks and a karaoke machine arrived in the office. It seems like there was going to be a celebration. As it turns out, it’s the MMDA PIO head Ms. Candy de Jesus’ birthday on the 19th, and is having an advance celebration with the public information officers and reporters. And that includes us interns too. Cool. Trish’s last day includes free food and drinks. Lucky her. Haha. It was fun, really—having to see reporters sing their hearts out and dance around with the PIOs. Work is work, but when it comes to times like these, everyone just has fun. I can’t wait to experience such friendship and such bond in the field. I guess it’s another thing to look forward to.

The highlight of my day on May 16th was the story on the hit-and-run incident last May 12th. We were supposed to ask Chief Lukban for updates as usual, but as far as I can remember, there was no one to talk to in the Makati Police. So we all went to one of the usual places we go to in making articles. That day we stayed at Starbucks in Glorietta 5 with Sir Mike. We worked on the hit-and-run incident article, calling Makati Traffic for details. Thankfully they were very responsive. We called about 3-4 times just to complete the details that we need, but still they were patient and very accommodating.

The hit-and-run incident happened on the 12th, but it hasn’t been reported yet due to the Elections. The victims, two males (a 19-year-old and a 14-year-old) died because of the incident. They were riding a motorcycle without helmets early morning in Makati city, and were hit by an unidentified Honda Civic. Poor guys.

Sir Mike was pleased with the angle I used in the story. Instead of the usual “someone died because of…” angle, my lead started with “The Makati Traffic are on the look-out for the driver of the gray Honda Civic that hit a Suzuki Skydrive motorcycle—causing the death of two young men early Sunday morning in Makati.” Cool. I guess my angling is improving.

            By two days after the Election Day, May 15th, our itinerary and routine—as Sir Mike would put it—was back to normal. It was actually a bit frustrating when I went all the way to the jeepney terminal that drives through the Taguig City Hall area, only to find out that Lani Cayetano has already been declared as the mayor-elect of Taguig at 2 a.m. And thus, there was no use in going to Taguig anymore, and we were instructed by Sir Mike to go back to Makati and ask for updates as usual. There were barely any stories that day, since the elections just ended. There was no action coming from the camp of Rica Tinga, no petitions whatsoever. We didn’t have anything to do that day, basically. Trish and I just went to Coffeebean as we monitor the news. But till the day ended, nothing significant really came up.

            Still tired and sleep-deprived, I forced myself to wake up at 8 a.m. to make it to the Taguig City Hall by 11 a.m. The canvassing was still not over. Seriously, it was slow in Taguig. Other cities have declared mayor-elects as early as 11 p.m. the night before. The latest count was held at 2:07 a.m., the canvassing was only 53.05% complete. The stats given to me by the Taguig PIO were:


Cayetano – 68216

Tinga – 42495

Congressman (1st district)

Cerafica – 28066

De Mesa – 16794

Congressman (2nd district)

Cayetano – 34494

Duenas – 27179

Other than getting these stats, there was nothing to do. The next canvassing will resume at 2 p.m. I just forwarded a press release the Taguig PIO gave me to Sir Mike. Other than that, Trish—who was instructed by Sir Mike to join me in Taguig—and I just waited. Well, we did ate lunch and desert at a McDonalds nearby and chatted with some reporters and the ever-so-accommodating public information officers.

At last 2 p.m. came. Something frustrating happened though. Trish and I already stood by the building where the canvassing is going to be held as early as 1 p.m. We were literally waiting by the table where some local guarding cops are situated. But by 2 p.m., when a lot of volunteer poll watchers and television reporters came, we were taken for granted and almost weren’t allowed to enter. I mean, seriously? I thought their policy was a “first-come-first-served” kind of thing, but I guess I thought wrong. It seems that they would prioritize people prominent people instead. Of course, us mere interns are nothing compared to established TV reporters. Thankfully, one of the public information officers recognized me as he was on the way to the canvassing, and helped us get in.

Again, I could not stress it enough: the canvassing was taking a while. And now I know why. It turns out that some PCOS machines were not able to transmit votes, and two or three machines were not able to feed ballots. The transmissions and ballot-feedings were done manually in that canvassing room, in front of a committee. So you can only imagine how long it took. I admire transparency in government activities, I really do, but at this time, I came to dislike it. The mere opening of the envelope, what are the contents of the envelopes, who are examining the envelope and so on were stated publicly. It was a long process.

By 4:36 p.m., the progress was only 62.33% with only235 out of 377 clustered precincts have transmitted the results. We waited there till 6 p.m. and the total progress hasn’t moved that much. Sir Mike decided we’ll just return tomorrow to get the final number of votes.