The moment I officially became one of the high editors of our student publication, I knew it was going to be over anytime soon. It was only a matter of time before I march on my university gymnasium’s stage and get a grip on my diploma that will eventually be my key to a good future.
It was going to be over soon and I was not ready to let go.
The Kingfisher, the official student publication of Southern Luzon State University, was my second home. Even though I lived in the town where my school was located, I spent most of my time reading the daily newspaper and talking to my cowriters on what coffee shop served the best macchiato, who Janet Napoles added on her long list of legislators, and what concept was best for our oversized photos to be featured in the annual magazine.
I was always in my comfort zone whenever I visited the publication office. It was my frustration in high school to be one of the best writers in my league. Of course, I failed a lot. I couldn’t accept the fact that I couldn’t win the hearts of the readers and the judges of the competitions I joined in. Most say I have the potential to become a good writer, so I pursued such craft in the collegiate level.
Determination was what made me pass a series of exams on my first year. I became an intern and then a junior staff member the semester after. I utilized my knowledge and learnings as a student of BA-Public Administration and adapted such in my ways of writing for the readers of my institution.
Effective and efficient I was every time a high editor gave me a task on writing the news on who won in the recently held elections for the Supreme Student Council Federation, or even producing a fancy personality sketch featuring the student athlete who won at the national level after failing the try-outs the year before.
It went well for me. For the next few months, I somewhat gained artificial respect from the society I once belonged to—a cult of readers who longed for more releases from our publication. I gained the respect I had always wanted since high school and was rewarded with praises and recognitions. I have never felt so good.
This is one of the main reasons why I love the family that is the student publication. It has given me a career as a student. With it I conquered regional and national stages I only once dreamed of.
Being a member of The Kingfisher truly has its perks. But as every principle of life goes, it also has its setbacks. There are unwritten rules and regulations in my student publication. One is that you submit your assignment even before the deadline as a sign of respect for each other’s time. Another is to comply with school tasks no matter what happens. Being a student finishing a requirement for a major subject is no excuse because everyone in the publication is trying to keep up with school as well. Last but not the least, don’t use “love duties” as a reason for failing to meet a deadline—or better yet, don’t fall in love with or commit to someone who is also a member of the same student publication.
I have complied with every unwritten rule stated. Maybe that’s what made me effective. I never missed a deadline. I always found time to balance writing a politically-oriented term paper for my majors and finishing the editorial for our tabloid. As for the last part, I think I was able to manage well, with restrictions of course.
For three years I have been consistent. I met every deadline for every assignment, passed my subjects in order to focus on our publication as well as individual competitions, and loved only to the point that it would not hinder my performance as an editor of our publication.
But I broke down on my last year.
It was chaotic. I was no longer the writer I was—no longer the critical thinker who made articles strictly confined to the standards of our students. I became ineffective at one point, even dragging down the publication and affecting its releases for the students. I again felt how it was like to be a loser.
Maybe because I lost my purpose, or because I no longer knew how to do things wholeheartedly. Maybe because, on that last year, the girl, who I once had a handshake with at the height of the college council elections and eventually fell in love with, uttered the words “ayoko na.”
Yes, it’s funny how love works.
It lasted only a year and half. We weren’t even in a formal relationship, but a mutual understanding just the same. But every story, like the ones I wrote, had to end. It even crossed my mind that it was also the end of my writing career as a campus journalist.
Of course, there are resolutions in the stories we tell. One day you’re on top of the world feeling you have everything. The next day, you’ll stumble down because of a petty little heartbreak. But that is not how it must end.
For a while I remained silent. Until someone who suffered the same fate understood what I was going through. We talked, laughed, shared cups of rice and coffee. We became good friends.
Like a good campus journalist, I found ways to fix an article that was poorly written. I explored new grounds and eventually started writing properly again. I became functional again. I turned the page of a chapter I no longer wanted to remember and eventually stumbled onto the one that made me happy again.
But it was all a bit too late. I was at my last year as a member of the student publication and I was about to leave my newfound love. It was going to be over soon and I was not ready to let go.
So I frequently came back.
Since graduating, I find time to go back to the place I once called home to visit the office that gave me a career—the one that I am enjoying today. I find time after work to knock on The Kingfisher’s door and see a former junior staff member who has now become my girlfriend. I find time to visit a cowriter who has shown me the light on those days I was about to give up on my campus career.
At the end of the day, I’ll always find time to give thanks and love to the ones who never gave up on me—The Kingfisher and Joyce Ann Alayan.
Why? A true campus journalist does so.
Archiebald F. Capila, a community affairs officer for the provincial government of Quezon, is “a writer by heart, for writing has given me an avenue not only to express myself through opinions but also to show my readers how I see the world.” He says the great love of his life, Joyce Ann Alayan, has changed him in ways he cannot elaborate.