A Shot at the Star

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and does not reflect that of the Philippine Star

Though it seemed impossible at first to even get near the Star, the universe seems to have conspired to get me in it.

As junior year ended, I felt pressured to get into a prestigious publication for my On The Job Training (OJT)/ Internship. We were required to get into the country’s print and online media companies and experience the real world, a year before we actually set foot in it.

With not much time in my hands, on top of the pressures to actually get into a publication where I can actually work and be read, I spent some time lurking around on the Internet, and later found out that I can get on board to still join the Philippine Star‘s PhilStar Boot Camp Batch 2. 

Without any doubts, I told myself I needed to chase the chance to get on the Star, and so I did.

On the 31st of May, I took the shot. It was nerve-wracking. After a written exam and an interview, we were good to go. Waiting for the results was even more agonizing. The anticipation I’ve built up in just a span of a couple of days wore on me a bit.

One afternoon, as I anxiously pressed F5, it has been confirmed– I was finally on board.

For two days, we underwent rigorous writing workshops that helped us prepare for what we can expect during our internship. From Features, to Lifestyle, to Crime Reporting and on to Investigative Journalism (even Photography!), we were told of how we should wade through the trade and not get lost along the way.

It wasn’t long enough until we had to choose our respective beats. We were asked to choose from Health, Education, Environment, Crime, General Assignments and Social Media.

I, together with my buddy (and best friend) Xave, chose the path no one wanted to take- the Crime beat.

It was an exciting time to report about crime in the country. When we started out, President Duterte stood firm in his remark that he will eradicate drugs, criminality and corruption– and based on magnitude of crimes and other police-related news I was able to report about– I’m pretty sure he’s set his eyes on wiping it off of the face of the earth.

At the Manila Police District (MPD), we were welcomed like we have been in the industry for so long. The veteran journalists and photographers at the MPD Press Corps were like parents to us, and the police actually took us seriously and with regard to our dedication as Rookie Reporters.

I found myself working side by side the journalists whose works I usually read or whose faces I usually see on TV. I found myself rubbing elbows with the men behind the stunning photos of daily newspapers. I didn’t expect to find myself in a new family.

During our internship, we were not limited to crime reports. I personally had the chance to cover two lifestyle events (both of which were related to fashion), the Metro Manila Shake Drill, and the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Inauguration. All of which I enjoyed, of course, as it gave me chances to expand my writing capacities.

Being a journalist truly is a calling. When certain conditions demand you to leave your emotions at the back of your head and just face a story (breaking or not) head on, you just have to suck it up. Reporting about people whose basic social liberties could be withdrawn had me thinking, “What if I’m on the other side of this situation? What if I was the one being reported about? What if I am the news? What would people think of me?”

However, not all of the news spell bad intentions. We were given a chance to write about stories that give hope, one of which is the story of the Home for the Golden Gays, the group of elderly gay men who are still looking for a permanent place to call home. Though much of what they’ve went through has been known, telling their story once more surely goes a long way, especially in a time when more and more people struggle to get through life’s challenges.

And what better way to cap off an internship? A printed byline, of course! Though it was just a short stint, having the chance to be published in the Philippine Star is a *HUGE DEAL* especially if you’re one who’s still building up your journalism career. The feeling of seeing my name on the paper felt amazing, as it felt as if I was already cementing my name in an industry so fast– it’s either you go with the flow or be left behind.

As of the moment I am still hell-bent on answering the question if I am really going to pursue journalism as a life-long career. There’s a part of me that’s still hesitant, despite enjoying and loving everything that has happened in the past two months.

Nevertheless, I am deeply grateful to the Philippine Star, especially to the reporters and editors who took us under their wing, for giving me an opportunity to thrive in a world I once feared of entering. Despite my fears and hesitations, I still dream of getting on board the Star in the long run and be part of the continuing quest for truth, one story at a time.

Here’s a slideshow of some outtakes during my internship:

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P.S: I hope to post more updates of my life and other “kahanashans” through the weekend. Thanks for putting up with me, haha!


‘Til the next!

-Marla 🙂






The Trio in La Union

It’s been three years since I last went back to La Union (it was the trip that helped me launch this blog), and last June 10, I decided to go and get some R & R before I hustle for OJT and more mature roles (more of that in another post).

Originally, I was supposed to take my co-workers to La Union but due to unwanted circumstances, that didn’t push through. Luckily, I had Sam and GD to come travel with me. At first, it felt a bit unbelievable for the three of us since we’ve been planning to take a trip for so long, and now, even if it was on short notice, natuloy rin kami! 

I couldn’t wish for more, I was too happy to be spending time with some of the people that mattered the most to me.

Weather forecasts told us that we’d have to expect localized thunderstorms in the Northern part of Luzon, so we were really anxious that we may not have the chance to go to the beach. However, when we got to Pandan Beach, it was sunny and the waves were calm enough. It was as if everything went according to plan.


It felt so nice to be back there, thinking that things were a lot more different than they used to be from the last time. Last June, everything was a blur– senior year was coming up, my OJT loomed, my career is taking off in ways I never have imagined, and being in La Union with my closest family and friends felt like a reward.

Photo by Sam Somera

The trip was filled with road trips  and discoveries, as it was like rekindling an old flame. I never knew that in such a short span of time, La Union would progress this much and it would be better known now more than ever. La Union has been my secret gem, because it was a bit unheard of and low key. But looking at it now, La Union has bloomed, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We explored Luna’s famed “Bahay na Bato”, a place filled with wonderfully-made rocks and rock sculptures by a Korean artist commissioned by the place’s owners. Everything was literally rock, and each work of art was unique and meaningful. I didn’t know that much could be done with simple rocks we usually find just hanging around the shores, but these rocks sure are an exception.

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We also went to the local weavers of Bangar. The local weaving of “Inabel” fabrics that are turned into table runners, place mats and blankets are usually exported to different parts of the country and even abroad. Most of the local weavers in Bangar have carried the tradition of Inabel weaving and they are passing it on to the younger generation to preserve the rich, skillful and intricate art of Inabel– one that is genuinely and proudly Ilocano.

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And, of course, who would forget about the great food I always *LOVE* to come home to every time I’m in #elyu? The infamous tupig, the fresh AF seafood (of course, at Bacnotan’s Riverfarm Restaurant), and many, many more. A trip to La Union definitely isn’t complete without eating to my heart’s delight

Though I may not know when’s going to be the next time I’m gonna travel up north, one thing’s for sure– this trip is definitely one for the books. It may have been just a 3 days, 2 nights getaway, but everything that I’ve done and discovered definitely would linger in my head more than it should.

‘Til the next!

-Marla 🙂





It’s been a while since I last posted here.

I always start of my posts like this. If I told you before that school was crazy, well, it has been A LOT CRAZIER now. It’s been eating up my time, my energy, my financial resources and sometimes even slivers of my sanity.

But the thing is– everything is rewarding.

However, despite the crazy levels of fulfillment this devil of a job requires from me, I cannot avoid to ask myself so many questions about my competence, about how I fair with all the other writers that came before and will come after me.

As someone who chose something so technical yet so practical of a job, I cannot think as to what extent do my readers view my capabilities as a writer. I feel out of place and out of league in the industry sometimes, maybe because I just can’t get out of the thought bubble that has clouded me ever since I started taking things seriously.

I feel like I’m a burden to my mentors. A burden to my editors. A burden to my writers. A burden to the people I am able to work with.

I feel incompetent. It’s greatest now more than ever.

I think that though I extend help I wouldn’t be able to get things right and make my superiors’ jobs easier, as the way it should be. I feel like there has to be some more pushing, some more drive, to get me out of this.

Which gets me to another thing.

It’s been 10 days since my birthday. And after 6 years, this is the only time you were not beside me when I blew that candle (or took that tequila shot).

Well, celebrating a 19th birthday doesn’t merit anything grand, anyway.

The mere thought of you, being able to remember me in the only day I feel celebrated was the only thing I asked for. It was my only wish- yet it didn’t come. Maybe it’s true that not all wishes are granted- regardless of depth and simplicity.

I cannot muster enough will power to even say that I’m happy for you now. I know you love her, the way I wish you could love me. I know this wouldn’t change anything, and it is a known fact that you will not be able to read this either. But I just want to let you know how self-destructing it is to still love the same person for more than a hand’s worth of years.

No matter what, no matter how crazy or pathetic it is, it is still you. The man behind the drive that drives me, the man behind the drive that drives me crazy. The man behind all these years of putting up a strong facade, the man that I think watches over my every move– wherever I go, thinking you’re someone so omnipresent that there’s not one thing in my life that I can not associate with you.

Maybe people’s hearts and brains get overused. And to me it proved to be true.


Marahas ang Maynila sa’yo, Mahal.

Marahas ang Maynila sa’yo, Mahal. 

Doon kay Maynila, lahat ay nakikipagsapalaran, lahat ay may kanya-kanyang pinagkakaabalahan. Bawat tao’y may sariling interes, at bawat tao’y mistula bang nagmamadali.

Lumaki tayo malapit kay Maynila. Kamakailan lang nang nakita natin ang isa’t-isa na hinahasa ang ating mga sarili para suungin ang pagsubok ng tinatawag nilang “real world.” Hindi kalaunan, sumabak na tayo sa malaking mundo ng urbanidad, sa malaking mundo na tila ba walang puwang para sa tulad nating mga bagong salta, tayong mga sanay sa kalinga ng maliit nating mga probinsya. Si Maynila ang naging daan natin tungo sa mga ito.

Labag man sa ating kalooban, bawat araw pipilitin nating harapin si Maynila. Pipiliting puntahan kahit ayaw, pipiliting paghandaan bawat araw. Gigising tayo na tila ba mga robot na may sinusunod na mekanismo. Pagsapit ng dilim, uuwi tayong pagod na pagod, at mabubuhay na lamang na hinihintay kung kailan magiging maamo sa atin ang marahas na si Maynila.

Subalit, kahit ganito si Maynila sa ating dalawa, may utang na loob ako sa kanya. 

Kung hindi dahil kay Maynila, hindi kita makikilala.

Kung hindi dahil kay Maynila, malamang ay hindi magku-krus ang landas nating dalawa.

Kung hindi dahil kay Maynila, hindi natin maihahanda ang ating mga sarili sa mga pagsubok na balak dalhin ng buhay.

At higit sa lahat, kung hindi dahil kay Maynila, wala tayong pagkakataong magkasama.

Hindi maipagkakaila ang dinulot ni Maynila sa kwento nating dalawa. Si Maynila rin kaya ang magiging panira ng istorya? 

Nakikita ka ni Maynila na nag-iisa. Ganun din naman ako. Alam ni Maynila na parehas tayong nahihirapan, pero pinipilit nating maging matatag. Bagamat mga dayo lamang, pursigido tayong maging matagumpay sa buhay. Maraming kilalang ganito si Maynila, pero wala siyang pinipili.

Marahas si Maynila sa lahat. Lalung-lalo na sa’yo, Mahal. 

Ilang beses ka na niyang pinagod, pinaasa, pinahirapan. Bumabangon ka araw-araw para harapin siya, umaasang gaganda ang trato niya sa’yo, subalit hindi siya marunong magpahalaga. Handang-handa kang manatili kasama siya, pero tila ba mas lalo siyang naging mailap sa’yo.

Minahal mo si Maynila, Mahal. Kailan kaya ako? 


Here’s to feeling useless

At the time being, I feel useless.

I’ve done nothing productive, nothing that’s really worth acknowledging.

I anticipated that this summer I’ll do the things I wasn’t able to do whilst I was in school, but guess what, none of those plans materialized.

Plans that are similar to some dreams that never came true.

I feel ashamed because I wasn’t able to grab that city hall internship because I was clinging to this seemingly pointless apprenticeship I once thought will give me a hefty paycheck after months of actually putting legitimate effort into.

I feel sad that I refuse to go out and see my friends because I constantly thought that “nobody really wants to see me anyway.”

I feel awful for not taking care of myself anymore. I grew tired of exercise and I continue to eat like a horse, well, unfortunately, much to my parents’ dismay.

I feel useless. I feel like I’m something worth disposing just because I wasn’t able to maximize all this vacant time in my hands.

I keep reasoning out that this time is my “much needed rest” because the tougher years of college are on my way.

I even grew tired of pretending I’m doing something worth bragging about, because the truth of the matter is, I am not doing anything at all.

Yes, I maybe well-rested but I feel like I’ve done the world a wrong thing.

I don’t really know what to feel. I have no words. I feel a certain kind of self-decay.

Everything seems pointless to me. I think I have nothing and no one to look forward to anymore.

So, here’s to feeling useless.


To The One Who (Really) Got Away

Dear You,

Ours was a different kind of love.

We, polar opposites, started out as unlikely friends with unclear intentions and different hopes and dreams.

Polar opposites that seemed to attract in a way even reason will find hard to justify.

You were the type who’ll choose to stay inside your room and play the games you’ve always enjoyed, while I was the type who’ll prioritize work more than anything else when I’m not idle.

You were the type who’ll choose to listen to all my endless blabber and chit-chat and I was the girl who was not used to a man who listened intently like you did.

You were the guy who was not driven enough because you felt out of place. I was the girl who’ll do anything to get to where I want.

Despite all this, you were the guy that I imagined a future with.

To be the man I’ll be with for the rest of my life, the type who will stick to me when things get rough.

The man I want to wake up to each morning, the man I’ll care for when we both age.

The man who’ll teach my kids to ride a bike, the man who’ll fix the faucet when it breaks.

The man who’ll give way for me when we’d argue, the man that I’ll trust.

You may not know it, but yes, you were the unlikely man of my dreams.

With you I felt safe and secure, with you I felt cared for.

You were the only one who didn’t made me feel like I was taken for granted.

Unfortunately, for the unlikeliest of reasons, I chose to pull away.

I chose to leave without saying a word because I felt scared.

I felt scared that you would change, that I will run out of things to say.

I felt scared that I will not be able to entertain you anymore.

I felt scared that maybe a time will come when I’ll forget that you’re with me because I chose other things over you.

I felt scared that our attraction to each other will die out like the spark that led us to where we got.

All of what we had was uncertain.

I took cues but I didn’t want to misinterpret them.

I didn’t want to assume that you liked me, because I was scared to lose you the same way other men in my life before did because of all these “presuppositions.”

I chose to wait for you to tell me straight up what you felt for me.

But, I got too overwhelmed. After the time that we had, we drifted apart, each clinging to our own interests and goals.

I let everything slip away because I was too afraid to hurt you.

I knew that hurting someone as fragile and important as you was not something I nor anyone is entitled to do.

I was not in a position to hurt anyone’s feelings just because I was unsure of my own.

I wanted us to end in good terms.

It took me a while to realize that you were the one who really got away.

A lot of people wondered what happened to us, intrigued about why we choose to leave our story unfinished.

Maybe we’re destined to not finish our story anytime soon. Maybe at some point in our lives, we will. And I’ll live for that.

I’ll live for the day we’ll bump into each other and rekindle the spark that we’ve left at a locked chamber within the both of us.

I’ll live for the day we’re the right people for each other, filled with self-love we’ll be willing to share intimately.

I’ll live for the day we’re both mature enough to come to terms with what we both feel.

I’ll live for the day I’ll love you with my all, the day I’ll be certain I won’t let you get away no more.

I guess we shall leave and live our story just like this.

Love like ours for the second time will be a different kind once more.

Do know that I will be waiting.

Yours and yours always,


Here’s To More Mature Roles

30th of May, 2015.

It was such an eventful day, jam-packed with errands to do and meetings to be in. It was also the same day we, almost half of the staffers of The Flame, will be going to Tagaytay City to formalize the editorial turnover for the next publication year.


To cut the long story short, it was a day of embracing more mature roles.

It was all fun and games until our posts were announced.

Our editors and seniors– mentors we loved to work with and learned to cherish as family have graduated from the University and eventually would have to take on more mature roles like they believe we’ll do.

Like the rest of the staffers who have been attached to each of their editors and seniors, I guess words aren’t enough to express how much your presence in the little workplace we call home will be missed.

Feels have taken over us individually, making it even harder to let go of the strong bond even more solidified by our memorable Tagaytay trip.

But, it’s an evolution, I guess.

Evolutions in which we grow together, learning to coexist to continue to keep The Flame burning.

Evolutions in which we learn from each other, continuously finding ways to ignite our readers’ intellectual senses.

Evolutions in which normal students like us, choose to tread the path of which we believe we can spark change.


As you venture into the crazy realm of the “real world,” I hope all the memories we’ve had be forever etched in each of your hearts.

All the little things too cheesy to specify, all the little milestones we’ve had while keeping The Flame blazing.

As we move on to live our lives separately as society tells us to, I hope we could still work together and make each other proud.

I appreciate all the love, support, trust and many other values you have shared with me and my colleagues in this “family” that’ll connect us even beyond our years. F


On a final note, I say, “Here’s to more mature roles!”