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:

Mayor

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.

                Last May 13th, was a very exciting day of coverage. It was historical and we were very lucky as interns to be part of the body that informs the masses that day. It was no other than the long-awaited coverage of Election Day. That morning, though I lacked sleep, I was excited and giddy—overwhelmed with adrenalin and energy. As early as 7 a.m., we were already in reporter mode. Trish and I were already in San Antonio Elementary School in Makati, waiting for the Binays to arrive and vote. TV and radio reporters were already standing by. Some were practicing what they were going to say in front of the camera, some were just beginning to set up their equipment, some were interviewing voters, some were taking pictures of disabled and aged voters who insisted to go up the fourth floor—where their precinct is located—to vote. Everyone was busy, but I noticed print reporters were the least busy while waiting for the Binays. I actually fell asleep a couple of times while waiting. I barely got any sleep the night before. Other than finding out how many clustered precincts are there in that school, we had nothing else to do. After waiting for hours, they finally arrived. Everyone gathered up around them, even those who are not reporters. Some voters took some pictures with the Binays, and of course, the occasional kissing-on-the-cheek-of-a-politician-as-if-they’re-some-kind-of-celebrity scenario. Probably the most notable thing that happened when the Binays were voting was when the Comelec people in that cluster are going nuts because they run out of markers. One woman’s voice was about to crack when she told another Comelec staff that the markers they have are out of ink. One guy, who is really tense at that moment, was asking the other voters in the room if they’re through using their markers. There was panic, but it eventually died down when the Binays had markers in their hands and finally casted their votes.

The Binays were surrounded by a pool of reporters—with each reporter trying to get a statement out of them. It’s quite admirable how tolerable this family is—answering questions side by side. It was about 11 when we finished our work in San Antonio Elementary School. But the day was far from over. I remember Sir Mike telling us that ordinary people can go on ahead and enjoy the holiday after casting their votes. But journalists basically can’t go home until the election is over. Man, this is bittersweet. I have to face the fact that if I do pursue journalism as my career in the future, I wouldn’t experience the joys of any holiday. Ever.

After lunch, there was really nothing to do but to wait for 6 p.m., where we can start monitoring the status of canvassing in Makati and Taguig. And by “wait,” I do mean monitor the news and any suspicious activity while sipping a 155 peso coffee in Coffeebean. Trish and I actually made it to two rounds of coffee and a single order of a lemon square because of the long wait. There was nothing much bizarre on the tweets that we monitored. Just some reports of some flying voters from Quiapo, Manila being brought to Taguig to vote for a “certain mayoral candidate,” or so the tweet says. We really didn’t get the chance to verify that. We also took the time to admire the silence that rarely surrounds the Ayala area. There were barely any cars around, as in close to none. There were no MAPA and MAPSA officers in sight; the streets were deserted. It doesn’t feel anything like Ayala that day. One of the busiest places in the country turned into a ghost town.

When the clock struck 6, the long wait was over. We all packed up our stuff and got ready to face the night. We drove to Taguig first. Sir Mike told me they’re going to stay there with me till 9, and then they’re going to Makati for the canvassing. When we got to the Taguig PIO office, I got settled in. There were free snacks and coffee, and the information officers, reporters and a couple of interns from other publications were really friendly. I suddenly didn’t mind being left there till midnight.

To be honest, there was barely any action that night. The only thing we did was to wait for the announcement of the number of votes. Print journalists were just taking notes, while internet, radio and television reporters are busy as bees—doing reports and updates every 15-30 minutes. The canvassing in Taguig was slow, really. As of 10:50 p.m., these were the stats:

Mayor

Cayetano – 51599

Tinga – 31545

Vice Mayor

Cruz – 44301

Papa – 34946

Congressman (1st district)

Cerafica – 18699

De Mesa – 11205

Congressman (2nd district)

Cayetano – 28896

Duenas – 22686

By that time, only 40% of the total votes were cast. There were a couple of barangays who haven’t transmitted their votes yet. The canvassing was really taking a while. By that same time in other cities, the total canvassing was already in 70-80%. Looks like I have to go back tomorrow. Sir Mike instructed me to go home at 11:30. The PIO of Taguig was so kind to offer me a ride home—as in from the city hall to my doorstep, for free! Cool. Haha.

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.

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.

Last Tuesday, May 7th, we were invited to this press conference hosted by the Makati Medical Center College (MMCC). This school is kind of new to the ears, but is actually 38-years-old. It was formerly called Remedios T. Romualdez Memorial School and later on to Makati Medical Center College of Nursing. They called on a press conference to let the people know the “new direction” the school was taking, with its brand new set of administrators and new course offerings.

Anyway, I have to say, that in all of the press conferences I’ve attended so far, this one is the best (in my opinion, of course). Why? First of all, they’re very welcoming when it comes to interns. Others are not that accommodating upon knowing that we’re just trainees. Second, their snacks are just Nagaraya nuts, Tostiallas chips and a bar of Sugus. Regular snacks which I appreciate so much. Third, their press kit is awesome. It almost felt like I was a student there. The kit, other than press releases, contained an MMCC tumbler, MMCC notebook with pen, MMCC automatic umbrella and a big folder with brochures of Makati Medical Center inside. It was so cool. Fourth reason was the president and CEO of MMCC, Ms. Ofelia Odilao-Bisnar was very warm and friendly. Based on her presentation, one can say that she’s a very “hands on” president, and she does, at the very least, really care about the students. (Again, this is just my opinion.) Fifth, we got to be toured in their building, which is so cool. Fully air conditioned, new facilities and awesome vending machines that made me want to try buying stuff from it every time. And of course, the lunch was great. The best thing about this press conference is what happened afterwards. When the other reporters were on their way out, and only me, Trish and Mark (intern of Manila Bulletin) were still finishing our lunches, the president sat down and talked with us. Man, she’s so friendly. She reminds me of our Sociology professor, Ma’am Pepin, who sort of looks like her as well. When we finished talking, she took a few more minutes to pose for a picture with us. On our way out, she wished us good luck in our final year of schooling. Again, how kind is she.

After the press conference, we went to Starbucks just behind the Makati Medical Center to write the article. My siblings were all over the stuff I got from the press conference when I got home. Best press conference. Ever.