Year nine


Tonyo Cruz

Today, I mark my ninth year as a Manila Bulletin columnist.

Since I started writing columns on Jan. 4, 2014, I may have already written about 500 columns. Exactly how many pieces I’ve written and got published, I don’t know. What I’m sure about is that I’m grateful for this opportunity and for the readers of this column.

I have tried my darn best to write about the freshest topics and to always use a progressive point of view. Apart from current events, I’ve written about plays and movies, books and poets, revolutionaries and candidates. But since there’s a consensus that politics seems to be the most problematic area in our nation, I have endeavored to focus on political topics.

The truth is, I owe my stubborn progressive bent less to my activist background. Contrary to popular myth, activists don’t simply choose to be radical. It is always the situation that compels radical thought and action. The persistent activist tone of this column is simply my response to people, events and places that I see and take a look at. Sociology also helps, as well as my brief stint as reporter, and my work in digital strategy.

I also think that the paper’s readers also stand to benefit from a progressive take on current events. We may not agree on everything or even a lot, but we can agree to discuss even the differences, if only to understand the contexts and pretexts and perhaps along the way discover common ground.

This new year, I hope to be able to travel again to enjoy the country, meet new people and experience new things to write about. I miss going around. As we all know, travel has been a casualty of the pandemic, with lockdowns messing with everyone’s travel plans. While it also doesn’t help that fuel prices and inflation are going up, there might be invitations coming my way, which I may always be inclined to accept if only to temporarily flee from the sordid Metro Manila situation. More opportunities for travel mean more material for this column.

Hopefully too there will be more invitations to speak and share about column-writing, especially from students and campus journalists. It is always great to be in touch with young people and to get to know what makes them tick. While I share with them the tools of analysis and skills training, the students keep me up to date about what’s in the minds of the next generation and remind me why I chose to be a writer.

I don’t wish to make promises that I cannot keep, but I plan to write more about history. It is an area where we could find a lot more about our identity and of course the root causes of the many problems that we face. Let’s see if we could have a special series of columns focused on history.

I’m also thinking of reviving my blog or starting a new one, perhaps joining the podcasting community, or writing a book. There are a lot of stories to tell, issues to discuss and a lot of people to talk to. It could just be a matter of time, resources or dedication whether I could pull one off.

This wish list is what’s on my mind this first week of 2023 and as I mark this column’s ninth anniversary. I’m not unlike you who’s setting your sight on accomplishing or attaining something this new year. This sense of hope and aspiration is something that keeps us going despite many challenges, personal and political. We give ourselves something to aim for and to look forward to.

(Today, Jan. 7, is Christmas Day for Orthodox Christians and other believers who follow the Julian calendar. Let’s wish peace for the Ukrainian and Russian people, many of who are Orthodox Christians. Merry Christmas!)