It wasn't only my first love, but it became a huge part of both my elementary and highschool life. I look back and remember, I was in Grade 3 when I first started to join the prescon. But since the scope of Albay Division was too broad, I didn't even qualify for the cluster division. I can clearly remember that my category was Editorial Writing in English. I was still studying in Malilipot then.
When we moved to Legazpi, my parents enrolled me in St. Agnes' Academy. I joined a club called Little Writer's Club, and I was shocked the moment our moderator, Sir Sixto Orzales, told me he has chosen me to compete for the Division Schools Press Conference (DSPC) and that my category would be News Writing Filipino. I wasn't really expecting it. But I believe he trained me well. He asked me to read more news in Tagalog and to always watch news programs at night. I got used to it so much that it became a habit until now. I qualified for the Regionals Schools Press Conference (RSPC). But my Dad didn't permit me. The venue was only 2-3 hours away from Legazpi and yet he didn't permit me. Digital cameras were not yet in the scene that much. :)
When I was in Grace 6, I joined the same club, but its name was changed into Young Journalist's Club. Sir Six didn't want me to join anymore since according to him, I wouldn't be permitted to travel even if I qualify. But my Mum, who also had her share of presscon experience during her highschool life, told me that I go tell Sir Six that I would be permitted to travel in case I qualify for the regionals this time. Well, I did qualify for the RSPC in Casiguran, Sorsogon way back 2005. I didn't know what happened that time. I qualified for the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Surigao. I still burst out in laughter everytime I remember that scene! I was crying while wearing my medal and holding my certificate on stage. 3rd place, same event. I wasn't actually crying because I won. But I cried because among my co-delegates, I was the only one from our school who qualified. That time, Ms. Amelia Ariola, the moderator of the school publication in the highschool department of our school told me that I would still compete for the same event the moment I enter highschool. I didn't win but I was still very happy. Imagine travelling to Mindanao with all expenses shouldered by the school (except for the pocket money of course). But then again, digital cameras were not yet "in". And sadly, I lost my printed pictures of that NSPC experience because of Reming.
1st year high school. I entered the school publication in our highschool department. Unfortunately, I wasn't selected to compete since there was another person older than me that was selected for the category. So I had to wait for next year.
2nd year. My position went up to News Editor compared to being a regular staffer in our school paper. I competed for the DSPC, got the 3rd place. I qualified for the RSPC which was held in Polangui General Comprehensive High School, after the Reming tragedy here in the Bicol Region. I was able to retrieve only a few files from my Friendster of this event. LOL.
This is me and KC in our quarters before going to sleep. Her event that time was Feature Writing Filipino.
Ate Mitch (and a guy I can't remember. :)) ) during the banner raising for each division.
I got the 2nd place so I was sent to Baguio, together with Ate Mitch for the NSPC. I didn't win again. :( But here are a few pictures of that wonderful Baguio Experience.
This is Ms. Amy, me (I know. I was so fat and nerdy back then!) and Ate Mitch. I still competed for the same category which was news writing and she was for Photojournalism Filipino.
Us wearing Ifugao costumes!
Legazpi City Division delegation that time.
And these two guys I met then! Lorenz and Doods, which were from Marcial O. Ranola Memorial School (MORMS). I actually knew Lorenz way back in elementary. Back when we were both obese, but I doubt he could remember that. :))
3rd year. Still the same event. During the DSPC, I was shocked that I was called on stage to lead the Journalist’s Creed that time. There was actually another person which was more deserving. But I was chosen instead.
I qualified for the RSPC again. I can't remember what place I got in the DSPC though. I was elected BASSCAW Secretary and I was one of the representatives for radio broadcasting that time. I got 2nd place, which meant that I was qualified for the NSPC, but my Mum didn't permit me to go to Cotabato because of some issues I just don't want to remember anymore.
My co-delegates. I'm not in the picture since I was the one who took it.
Up until now, though, I wonder. What could've it been like to go to Cotabato? My Mum had a deal with me this time. That if next year, the same scenario happens, she still wouldn't allow me to join no matter how hard I beg.
4th year. My last year! Still the same event. DSPC was sooo fun! We had a change of moderators and there were a whole bunch of new faces for the presscon. Radio broadcasting was also included in the DSPC unlike the past years. I got the first place and more than half of us qualified for the RSPC which made it more fun!
Venue for the RSPC was in MORMS. The last day was epic! I was actually not feeling good then. And the morning of that day was my scheduled time to take the Bicol University College Entrance Test (BUCET). So I told myself that it was going to be a very bad day. The moment me and Amabelle went back to MORMS after taking the BUCET, it was already the awarding ceremony. I swear, I only felt worse. I was very nervous since the emcess didn't call me for the 3rd place. 2nd place, still I wasn't called. I was used to getting either 2nd or 3rd, and never the 1st. "Aww. No more NSPC on my last year." I lost hope and that was what I told myself while I cringed in pain inside the quarters praying to feel better. What surprised me was when I heard the emcee say, “And the best News Writer in Filipino this year is from the Legazpi City Division..” I said to myself, oh, drop all the hopes, Rej. “…St. Agnes’ Academy…” My co-delegates were shouting with joy and jumping up and down outside. “…Regina Pia B. Relova.” I was hesitating to stand up, but I did. And my co delegates pulled me out of the room. I went up the stage feeling better, as if nothing ever happened. That was also the first time in years that our division was proclaimed champion
Naga was the venue for the NSPC. And although it was only a few hours from our place, still, I enjoyed every single moment of that presscon. I didn't win, but it just didn't matter to me anymore.
That's all. My presscon life was really fun. My experiences? They are incomparable! I would be a hypocrite if I say that winning didn't matter. I knew every awarding ceremony I attended, there was a part of me wanting to be called on stage. But it's not just about winning or going home not even having something to bring home as beacon to your region or division or school. Here's the thing about presscons: you meet a lot of people, you get to hone your talent, you get to travel for free, you laugh, you cry, you become a better person. And those were what I won: friendship, experience, and moments. I believe that no other memory in my highschool life can have the same impact the way campus journalism has affected me. I know I may not have continued being a journalist now that I am in college. But I feel it with my heart, deep inside, I'm still a writer. And whatever happens, I will still carry with me an important lesson that I learned those days: write to EXPRESS, not to IMPRESS.