No matter how many times a reporter walks into Malacañang Palace, she/he will always feel a sense of awe and wonder.
How could so much power be concentrated in one relatively small building?
The Palace is the starting point for a lot of things, with its bottomless pit of news. It is the greatest fishing ground for reporters, since it has everything.
It is here where it all starts — the pivot point of everything: personalities and the people who are responsible for how our country lives
It is like a blueprint of who is doing what and where they are all there: political overtures, the busiest birds of prey, the collector of good and bad news that make reading the newspaper essential to survive — just like eating or breathing.
Newsmen here are in their early 20s or mid 60s. They are either a fashion plate or a fashion joke, quiet and soft-spoken or an object of mock terror. They have one thing in common though: the pursuit of news and the quirks of the high and mighty.
They are a breed all on their own. Some are flashingly good-looking and well turned-out.
Others show the wear and tear of much hard work on their faces and in their wardrobes — this canny breed all on their own, who never miss a trick. They happily exploit any avenue that may lead to news, in a wide range of subjects, leads and personalities.
Women labor like plow horses by day and are expected to look like butterflies after dark. Men muscle around, vain like peacocks.
Some are extraordinarily nice, others are downright man-eaters.
There are those who take themselves so seriously, they lose all sense of humor.
For this newshen, the key was look to like a girl, think like a man and work like a dog.
Never mind if the pay was relatively little for their lab. Their reward is a ringside seat at the best show on earth — a pope’s visit, a royalty drop-by, world celebrities, and occasionally, getting a cabinet member, the vice president or the president as principal sponsor in one’s wedding.
How do they get their stories and from whom? On the telephone, behind their laptops (typewriters in my medieval era), and in the corridors.
But they write what they think, not just what, when, where and how. People around the country form their opinion from what the columnists say of the president.
The president seeks them out for advice. The first ones to ask get a nod, when they ask a question at a presscon.
The newshen (compared to men who are strident) could get faintly hysterical.
But individually, however, it is a different thing. Some are so feminine — they’re known to burst into tears when emotionally immersed with an issue. No fate could be worse than facing an irate editor, outscooped (no true confessions, please.)
Otherwise, they mostly maintain the detachment traditionally associated with press people.
The tools of the trade remained basic and simple: stamina, flexibility and affinity for hard work. A developed source could come up with a good story.
They do not pry on the cost of keeping the President staffed, housed, protected, transported, rested and in touch, wherever he is.
They appreciate super open press methods, and put up either asking the right questions or losing the game. It could be perilous.
Reporting was always based on who makes the news.
Everything was subject to change – you can be important on Monday, and utterly non-important onTuesday.
We had nine years of imperishable memories in that Palace.
I know I’ll never be a great columnist. I am not ruthless enough to be great. I don’t have the talent to be jugular. I certainly know how to do it, but I don’t have the grit.
My first inclination is to protect people.
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