“Sige na, naka-pearls ka naman eh…….. at memorize mo na yung platform natin,” so goes my good friend and AKBAYAN media officer Clang, the second part of her statement sounding more of an afterthought than anything else.
And so it came to pass that last Monday, 6pm, I had my very first live studio appearance at ANC and was interviewed by Ricky Carandang — owing largely to the fact that none of our leaders were available at the time and I happened to have a hearing that day so I was in a suit and not in my usual tanktop-shorts ensemble.
“Sheht, ayoko talaga, Clang”, I whined a few hours before. And it wasn’t one of those fakey-pakipot whines. I wasn’t scared of not knowing what to say. I know our platform by heart, having sat in countless meetings and sessions of refining-this and developing-that. It was your simple, garden-variety stage fright. I had been on TV only once before, interviewed in TV Patrol as counsel for Inday Garutay, and a mic was just shoved in front of my face the butterflies in my tummy did not really have time to spread their wings and fly. (Of course, TV patrol being TV Patrol, the whole barangay seemed to have seen me, including the gay parloristas in my neighborhood salon who gave me a free pedicure for championing their rights [the “championing their rights” part is, of course, my own conclusion]). In this TV appearance, I had lots of time to conjure scary scenarios in my head and bite my nails in panic and consternation.
But then, there really wasn’t much of a choice, so off I went with Clang to the ANC studio where I was immediately whisked off to the make-up room. Who was having his make-up applied when I got there? Jovito Palparan. He whose hand had slain hundreds of activists was meek putty under the hands of the no-nonsense but cheerful make-up artist who told him to “look up” and “look down”. I found myself wishing I brought my own make-up equipment. Now, I am forever connected to the Berdugo ng Mindoro by a dirty foundation sponge and Revlon Concealer in Natural Beige.
After the make-up part, I was then brought to the actual studio, where everyone was seated already and I was the only one they were waiting for. I stole a glance at the other guests. No one was below forty except, well, me and Ricky Carandang. To my right was the Bayan Muna chairperson, a solemn-looking professor with an assortment of notes in front of him. To my left was a guy in a really tight black shirt from ANAD (“I am wearing black because I mourn the decay of this country in the hands of the communists”, he thundered later on, during his spiel. “Eh ser, bakit po tight-fitting?“)
Then it started. One minute presentation for each speaker. Easy enough. I belong to a party with a concrete AND clear platform, plus indubitable achievements in its nine years of legislative participation, so I felt confident. Then the questions from the panelists. Tough and challenging, but nothing completely from left-field. And just when I was getting the hang of it and actually enjoying myself, tapos na. We removed the mics from our lapels and were asked to sign some sort of completion form. They gave all the panelists wrapped gifts. Mine was a book entitled “Dealing with Personal Bankruptcy.” (WTF?! I guest on your show and get a judgment on my life?!)
I went back to HQ, raring to shed off my blazer and grab a beer with my friends at Uncle Tats, a dingy bilyaran along Matalino Street. In the taxi on the way, I got a text from my dear, sweet Mommy: “Bakit di ka nakahikaw?!”