Of value

If the stuff I write here is of no value to you, dear reader, then I might as well make myself useful. I might as well make you clicking this link and reading it more worth your time.

All right, how do we do this...

Shalla and I regularly watch videos on Facebook. It's really her thing; I don't even have autoplay turned on, even for wifi - what a waste of battery, what a waste of data. There can be gems. It can be fun. But I'm always the first to point out that a video uses emotionally-manipulative music so I can feel things about what really is a perfunctory video about some animal being rescued from the clutches of these terrible, terrible humans. It happens often, but you know, they're animals! You must feel more for them!

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No value

I haven't written for nineteen days. It's another one of those stretches, where I do try to write, going as far as composing paragraphs in my head, like I always do - and yet I don't type them down, until they disappear forever.

And they do disappear forever. I haven't written about my trip to Malaysia with Shalla - and that was in November two years ago. I haven't written my self-designated flagship essay about our trip to Seoul - and that was in December three years ago. All they were are plans, paragraphs in my head, never laid down.

Yeah, this is me writing about my lack of writing to fill a gap caused by my lack of writing, again. And you will argue that I have been writing a lot still, but in other places. Sure. I have. I would usually say that is the reason. But for this nineteen-day stretch, something is different. Something else is bouncing back and forth in my head.

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We called it "Hershey's gates".

It was brown, and, well, it did look like a bar of Hershey's milk chocolate. At one point we jokingly tried to snap off a piece, but that was it. We did not try to eat the gate itself, to bite into it.

What we did have were Indian mangoes. Faith's mother always served up Indian mangoes whenever we did school work at her place. There are a lot of mango trees in our subdivision; more so in our street. There used to be one at my backyard, but it died and had to be brought down. Never mind that. There are always mangoes at Faith's place, just fifteen houses away from mine.

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Six ways to defend press freedom

Buy an actual newspaper. It doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum it leans, if there's such a thing as a political spectrum in the Philippines to begin with. Whether it's low-key Dutertard or out-and-proud yellowtard, buy a newspaper. Buy one regularly. Get a subscription if you can. Just get a newspaper that makes an effort to invest in proper journalism, rather than one that just pushes a preferred narrative, something you often see when new newspapers pop up in the months leading up to an election.

Turn off your adblocker. You don't even have to do this to every news website you visit. Sometimes the best of sites have ads that can harm your device; these things can be tricky these days. Just keep in mind that journalism is expensive. Even me writing an essay explaining the latest industry trends involves me going out and about to experience the thing I'm writing about, and that means money. What more time? A lot of time goes into journalism, whether it's from a beat reporter, who has to cultivate relationships over a long period of time, or from an investigative reporter, who has to sniff leads and spend weeks digging through trawls of material.

Change a few perceptions. We've been raised to think that journalism should not take a side. That's both true and false. Yes, journalists should be fair and objective. Journalists should present all sides whenever possible, as equally as possible - although calls for "equal time" are tricky. But a journalist is there not to just tell us what one side said, and what the other side said. A journalist is there to figure out what's true and what isn't, and most times that means one side will get stepped on. And that side will call "bias" and "fake news". That's where things begin.

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Be absolutely infallible

The message, in a nutshell, is "agree or be shut down".

Arguably, however, the message is more insidious than that.

It's also a little bit more complicated. But then, that is our shortcoming. We're too eager to paint one side, broadly, as a villain, and the other as a hero. But then, that is convenient. With so many things going on, so many things to juggle, who has the time to sit down and think? Or, who has the motivation to sit down and think, especially now that thinking is, for all intents and purposes, frowned upon? For every one person looking to unpick a complicated web, there's three, maybe five, who has arrived at a conclusion and will hold firmly to it no matter what. And that doesn't apply to every situation.

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