Personal Letters

Sara Espiña – The LaSallian Editor in Chief, 2002-2003

In 1999, I was a freshman at 17 years old, a perfect lifetime ago. In those days, TLS was housed on the 3rd floor of the SPS Building, in one long room together with the Malate Literary Folio and Ang Pahayagang Plaridel. One or two bulky desktops littered the space on the long table and desk, with an occasional typewriter hidden underneath, together with backpacks, folders, and bags. There was hardly any room to move around, and true to our youth, we didn’t really care. We’d squeeze in together after our classes, hanging out, eating McDonald’s fries, turon, or spaketchup from the SPS canteen.

Viewed through the lens of a current global pandemic, it seems scandalously care-free.

I was interviewed by a panel of the senior editors, including my first University editor, Niño, who asked, “Passion or excellence?” I don’t remember my answer (likely embarrassing), but they accepted me and put me to work. Being in the office with the more experienced writers and editors helped, even if you weren’t writing or doing anything related to student journalism. I’d liken it to knowledge by osmosis: just sharing space with them would clear up the cobwebs of your head, and you’d be gingerly feeling out the new mind growth with some curiosity. I’d listen more than I talk, content to hear why I should be reading Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” series, or why William Bernhardt was more compelling than John Grisham in writing legal drama.

TLS was always a hive of activity, never more than during press week. Everyone scurried – there was no time for long, leisurely conversations, and you had to make sure your articles were submitted well before then. I interviewed someone and didn’t get her last name correctly, which was then pointed out by my EIC after it was printed. It was a lesson in getting details right, and while I’d love to say it never happened again, I’d trip up now and then, and at the highest level to boot.

I once interviewed DLSU system president Bro. Roly Dizon and was gently reprimanded after calling him “Sir”. “How long have you been here?” he asked, and when I answered three years, he smiled and said I should know better. I smiled back and said, honestly, I should have, Sir- I mean Bro. He is dearly missed.

When I ran for EIC in 2002, I was again interviewed by the outgoing senior editors, and true to form, I still don’t remember half of what was answered. We had young, vibrant candidates up for the editorial board, and we had a clear idea of what we wanted to do to shake things up. That included the controversial changing of the TLS masthead, which came with a lot of criticism from the older editors and senior writers. I understand now, as I couldn’t then, that a major change needs input from all stakeholders, no matter who was in the current editorial board.

It’s strange, the things you remember. After finishing press week on my very first issue as EIC, we had a late dinner at Jollibee, and the Chickenjoy felt like food fit for a queen. It’s been almost 20 years, but I can’t remember a warmer meal after a more exhausting week. It had rained a bit, and the air was as fresh as it could be in the middle of a dense Taft Avenue.

Months down the line, my phone beeped at around 3 am with a text from Ate Teta, our adviser, attending a college publication contest in Seattle. It’s been years, but the first words of that text were, “I have some good news. You won Best Non-Weekly Newspaper in the Associated Collegiate Press!” Thrilling news, and it was wonderful to win, but even then I remembered that in the issue we submitted for the competition, there was a typo in the photo caption on the front page. Details, people. Details.

Happy 60 years, TLS. You’re a young senior citizen of the student journalism world.

Sarah Espina is a senior manager with a consumer technology company based in Makati, and is owned by three rescue cats.

Sarah Espiña

By Sarah Espiña

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