The speaker

If there is one word that would most accurately describe me, it would be "writer." It suits my nature just fine. I like having a loud voice on paper even while I am working behind the scene. I have never been comfortable speaking out, much less in front of many people. I always worry about my voice cracking, or blacking out, or my audience poking fun at me for not being engaging enough, or not knowing what I am talking about.

It appears, however, that I might really know a few things after all. This year I have gathered a number of certificates, all in appreciation of my agreeing to be "speaker."

Yesterday I was in Tagaytay talking to the staff of The New Crossroads, the school paper of the University of Caloocan City. I talked about feature writing and conducted a very short workshop to those college kids.

Two weeks ago, I was in UST for the same thing. At that time, I spoke in front of a group of accounting majors who were members of the College of Accountancy's publication. I learned it was a separate entity altogether from The Varsitarian.

The previous week, I stood in front of 400 high school kids, all campus journalists like I once was, and talked about news gathering and news writing. I was supposed to handle only the contest in Filipino -- it turned out the resource person for English could not make it so I took care of that as well.

In August, it was editorial writing for Pasig City students. Earlier that month, campus journalism in general for eighth- and seventh-graders of a science high school in Caloocan. (a former teacher dropped by and said hello).

Earlier, I was invited to talk about my career choice in my son Elmo's Career Day celebration at his school. Holding the attention of fifth-graders while talking about something as distant to them as having a career is something challenging, I realized.

From January to March this year (last school year in the kids' calendar), I talked about challenges to media, handling peer pressure and violence against women and children at a Catholic high school.

That last talk stood out because as I was talking about violence within the confines of the home, a seventh-grade girl started sobbing - I later learned her dad beat her up when she obtained low grades. I knew better than call attention to her. I let her seatmate quietly comfort her.

I learned, too, that speaking, after all, is not so bad. After a while you overcome your self-consciousness and are able to focus on your desire to make an impact, to help just a little bit, even if all you have is an hour or two.

And one really does not get these gigs unless through word of mouth, so I like to think whatever I'm doing, I'm doing quite decently. It works because I have stopped thinking of "speaking" as the work of an infallible expert. It's just me -- I am just sharing how I get by in this job I love, and I am actually quite enjoying it.