I had two options after high school: Creative Writing in Silliman University or Mass Communications in UNO-Recoletos.
I landed in neither.
To make the long (funny and confusing) story short, I was stuck with a degree in Education bound to end up falling more deeply in love with Language and Literature. However, my muse of being a writer never gave me a rest. They say I take after my father who was a newspaper man and a broadcast journalist. I wanted my dad, the late Satch Conta, to believe that as well, but he was the one who talked me out of walking down his path because he said “you learn journalism from the streets.” I thought back then he was only trying to discourage me from pursuing Silliman University because he had no money to send me to college (he even threatened to disown me if I insist on studying away from home—not like I had inheritance to look forward to after all), or he was only trying to let me see the piercing reality that we were indeed poor because there is no money in journalism.
To make another long story short, I did not fight for my dream to be a writer. To be a journalist.
Or so I thought.
Fast forward to a year after college graduation, I entered UNO-Recoletos High School and met Starlight. At first it was like high school all over again, writing and competing for the school publication. Yet, as I spend year after year with different set of editors and writers, I was given the opportunity to reconnect and rediscover the muse buried somewhere in my heart: it was still wielding a pen.
Year after year with Starlight, I have been constantly reminded to come to terms with the realities that my father had wanted me to face about writing and journalism. Each year has been a journey of unfolding passion and truth. Year after year, dreams and aspirations have come alive. For 13 years, I have been a mother to a growing family of writers voicing out their unique truths and expressing their rare passion. This must have been the “journalism from the streets” that my father was talking about, or maybe he was really talking about the raw realities taking place in the streets at the turn of the clock.
To me, Starlight has been “my street” from where I have learned a great deal of unexpected realizations.
Being with Starlight has never been about merits, although achievements came naturally for the many Starlight writers who have poured their heart out in constant commitment to developmental and responsible journalism. As I always tell them, “it is never about winning but in believing you have done your best to give justice to your craft and to your truth.”
This has made Starlight more than a publication. Starlight is home. Starlight is family.
It is a home that makes you remember more the horror story of “The Feather Pillow” or of “The Decapitated Chicken,” and the inside joke of “Snow White and the 7 Dwarves” or “Cigarettes,” rather than coming home from the regionals empty-handed. It is a home that imprints in the memory more of the pigouts in Breakthrough and takeouts from JD rather than the unexpected blow of facts from the competitions back in Punta Villa. It is a home to my symphonic snore and sweet sarcasm. It is home to convos and critiques that came with fact sheets, shutter, literary folio and tabloid. It is home not only to unmet expectations and deadlines but also unsurpassed loyalty and love. These are just the few things to be missed with my life with Starlight.
I believe I have enough memories to last a lifetime to remind me that some dreams never die. I once dreamt of being a writer; I ended up taking part in the dreams of hundreds of writers I have spent with my journey through campus journalism. For this, I am forever thankful.
Being considered one of the best advisers in Western Visayas for three consecutive years is my only token of gratitude to Starlight and all the writers who have been part of it during my term as adviser. Thank you for believing in writing, in your truth, in journalism, in Starlight. Thank you for allowing me to realize that I do not have to be the one wielding the pen in order to be a writer. I am beyond blessed to have been behind the ones who are wielding the pen as they speak their truth because it is in the honor of being a mentor that I have been able to hold dearly my own truth and passion.
Thank you for the honor of being your adviser. Thank you for speaking your truth.
Loqui tui veritati, always.