Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My First Job - A News Reporter #OFW8

My First Job - A News Reporter #OFW8

I continued living my life in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, in which I have had more courage and experiences to depend upon. Other thing that I wanted to do was to help my brothers and sisters. Now, that I finished my college education I had responsibility for my parents to aid whatever I could extend to them. I tried my very best to find a job, but economic recession of our country continued and slowed down steadily. Negros Occidental’s sugar industry was in the verged of collapsed due to some other problems in importation. Sugarcane field workers and land owners were totally affected that the economy faltered to survive.

My bank accounts continued to decrease as time went by, drained by my easy-going lifestyle, trying to find a job that could helped me survive, and could help my family in whatever way I could, at Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, my hometown. I sold all my possessions that Danielle provided for me. It’s very hard for me to find a good job with the best remuneration so far.

Let me tell you what I worked for...where I started my first job...for the past months after my graduation. An amazing story indeed! Or amusing instead?

I am a Chemistry graduate, right? But I was accepted as an extra news reporter of the newly founded TV station. At the end of my shift one Monday morning, Arthur Jimenez, the sports director at News TV 717, said, “Marco, this Friday night there’s a boxing championship fight in the Pagla-um Astrodome. You’ve been bugging me for a break, so here’s your chance. Today, around noon, I need you to get me a three-minute interview with Billy the Kid. If you do a good job, that interview will be fed to all TV stations locally and nationwide. Getting to be heard countrywide amounts to decent exposure, wouldn’t you agree?”

How could I not? Man, talk about excited! After sometime, I had finally landed a weekends only, graveyard-shift job at what, with great payment check. Hopefully, this job would provide opportunities to climb further up the ladder. Arthur made sure I understood a deadline existed. “To have enough time to edit and distribute it, we need the interview tape back by one. Are you up to that challenge, Marco Fernando?”

“Marco Fernando is your man Mr. Jimenez,” I answered back with laurel on my head.

Having closely followed Billy the Kid’s career when I was in college, I knew a few things about him. His stats: undefeated after 20 professional fights with 18 KOs. His reputation: one of the fastest, strongest Ilonggo fighters in the Philippine history, liked to chase women and punch annoying reporters. If you wanted an interview, and expected to walk away unscathed, you had to abide by his rules: catch him before the workout started, or when he reemerged from his dressing room after his rubdown. Arriving at the makeshift training camp in the Pagla-um Astrodome exhibition hall, a number of prominent boxers scheduled to be on the upcoming fight card were working out. Noticing a crowd of people watching Billy the Kid jumping rope, I gulped. Without notifying the media, he had begun his workout early, meaning only one chance remained to get an interview. To make matters worse, the post-workout interview period might not start in time for me to get the cassette tape back to the station by one.

Billy the Kid finished jumping rope and moved to the light bag, designed to improve a fighter’s ability to keep throwing punches and keep his hands and arms raised, even when tired and sore. After that, he punished the heavy bag; each thunderous, potentially bone-crushing punch, sprayed beads of sweats in all directions. The sand-filled bag jerked and jangled at the end of its chain like a condemned prisoner gangling from a hangman’s rope.

Finally, he climbed up onto the canvas apron of the ring and ducked through the ropes to spar. At the end of each three-minute round, a new, leather-helmeted patsy would climb into the ring, as his predecessor was being helped out. Rather than trying to beat Billy the Kid, these men were simply being paid to simulate the style of Billy the Kid’s upcoming opponent, the top contender, Flash Robotic.

When the fourth sparring partner collapsed in the corner nearest to where I stood, Billy the Kid announced, “That’s enough head busting for today!” He slipped into his yellow satin robe, and blew kisses of appreciation to his cheering fans. His ego sufficiently massaged, he stepped through the ropes and headed for his private dressing room with me in hot pursuit. I knocked on the already locked door to Billy the Kid’s retreat less than 30 seconds after it closed behind him.

From inside came angry words and the sound of the door’s latch being undone. Billy’s corner man, fifty-year-old Manuel Duran, poked his graying, crew-cut head out. “What you want boy?” he demanded.

Trying to remain confident, I replied, “I’m Marco Fernando, TV News 717. I’ve been sent to get an interview. Billy the Kid started his workout ahead of schedule, so I missed getting to talk to him. I’ll probably have to leave to get back to the station before he comes back out to conduct his post-workout interviews, so I need to see him now, for just about three to four minutes.”

Annoyed, Manuel Duran shouted, “Billy won’t go to see you.” He stared at me like I’d lost my mind. “He doesn’t see anybody until after he gets dressed. That’s the rules!” the door slammed in my face.

Frustrated, but unwilling to give up, I did a little boxing of my own, pounding the door until it opened again.

Duran’s poked his head back out. “Listen,” he said, sounding even more annoyed, “Billy wouldn’t talk to reporter today!

“Come on,” I pleaded, undaunted by the declaration of discrimination, “Pretend I’m not a reporter for a minute. If I don’t get this interview, it could cost me my job. There must be some way….”

“You got a woman with you?” Manuel Duran asked. A lecherous smirk spread across his face. “Billy would let you in if you had a pretty woman with you.”

Sexist issue aside, my chance to get this interview was about to be TKOed. How could I possibly find a woman on such short notice? “How long is Billy going to be in there?” I asked.

“About thirty minutes, or so, “Duran shrugged, “depending on how he feels.”

Thinking faster than Billy’s celebrated fists moved, I calculated the time it would take to reach the station, grab Myra, the new receptionist who was a knockout, and drag her back here to act as my ticket to get in that dressing room. With luck, it might only take twenty-five minutes. I turned and ran for the parking lot.

Myra Montes sat at the receptionist’s desk when I burst through the station’s front door. In front of her lay the station’s appointment book, her black-leather Bible and a bottle of cotton candy nail polish. Playboy pulchritude with a puritan persona, she was wearing a V-necked, cashmere sweater, revealing a less-than-innocent amount of cleavage.

“Come with me,” I panted.

“Why, where are we going?” She asked, her mascara-coated eyelashes fluttering in bewilderment.

“We’re going to go to interview Billy the Kid.”

“I can’t go,” she protested, “I have to ___”

“You have to help me get this interview,” I interrupted. “If anyone says anything, tell them I made you do this. Now, come on.”

Grabbing her arm, I dragged her to the elevator. Thank goodness she wore flats. Fashionable, five-inch heels would have slowed the mad dash we made from the station to the car, and then, with her complaining the entire way, from the car to Billy’s dressing room.

Resuming my assault on the dressing room door, I prayed that Billy hadn’t left. Standing next to me, Myra fluffed her newly-dyed Blonde hair with one hand as she stared into her compact mirror to be sure she looked presentable.

When Billy’s corner-man peered out, he didn’t exactly welcome me back with open arms. “I thought I told you….” Noticing Myra, his gruff words hated abruptly and changed to “My, my my,….” as he performed a head to toe, and back up again, inspection of the angelic vision beside me. Myra’s sparkling brown eyes projected a “what-am-I-doing-here” kind of uncertainty and the overall aura of someone who usually had less on her mind than yours truly had in his overdrawn checking account.

Eager to get my interview and return to the station, I reminded Manuel Duran, “You said, if I brought a woman….” I added. “She qualifies, don’t you think?” He nodded, and stepped aside.

Contrasting with the bright lights and noise of the exhibition hall, the small dressing room was dark and quiet. The sounds of training fighters vanished: The clang of heavy, free weights, the whoosh of jump-ropes cutting through the air and clicking rhythmically against the concrete floor, the grunts and groans accompanying thrown punches and the smack of gloved hands against human flesh, or heavy leather bags.

Sweat and liniment lingered in the still air. One dim light with a dark green, metal shade hung from the ceiling, providing just enough illumination to get around. Stretched out on a seven-foot-long, flat table was the thirty-year-old, Billy the Kid. Other than the white, modesty towel draped over his hindquarters, the well-chiseled champion wore nothing. A Chinese gentleman kneaded Billy’s massive hamstrings, while Bruno Bautista, Billy’s trainer, rested on a metal chair in the corner, sipping a can of diet soda. Lying on his rock-hard stomach, Billy appeared as lifeless as a stiff in the morgue. His face turned away from the door, his arms lay against his sides. His hands, which reached just beyond the point on his thigh where the white towel stopped, were relaxed and open, rather than tightly clenched into the fists that had earned him millions of pesos.

“Billy,” Duran spoke softly, “Champ, you got someone here to see you.”

Without moving a muscle, Billy replied, “Billy the Kid, the Champ doesn’t ever see anybody during his rubdown. Duran, you know that.”

Manny Duran cast a nervous glance at Myra and said, “I know you doesn’t normally see anybody, Champ, but you want to see this body, trust me.”

My gaze shifted from Billy the Kid to Myra Montes, whose owl-like eyes were riveted on Billy; her expression, one of shock or embarrassment.

At last, Billy moved. Without rolling over, he raised his head, and turned it towards us. He began to undress Myra with his eyes. That had been inevitable, but I felt bad, anyway. Even in the dim light I could see her face turning red. The more his eyes moved up and down, the length of her body, the redder her face became. Intending to start the interview and stop the torture, I pressed record on my cassette player. Prepared to ask my first question, I held the Sony out in front of me, but Billy beat me to the punch.

“Are you a boxing fan?” The Champ asked.

If Billy wanted to ask a few questions, no problem, as long as it helped move things along. “Sure am, Champ.” I replied. “I’m Marco Fernando, TV News 717. Followed your career since you won the Gold medal in the Olympics….”

Billy interrupted, saying, “I am not talking to you, Sonny.” An amused snort came from the corner of the room, where Duran stood.

Determined to take control, I said, “We’ve got a hundred TV stations nationwide and a thousand radio stations nationwide too, waiting to hear what you’ve got to say….”

“Then shut up and listen.”

“But, what about the interview we were supposed to….”

“Don’t make me get up from this table, kid, I said, shut up and listen.” He sounded serious.

“I, uh, yes sir. I apologize.” Like an injured fighter, leaning against the ropes, I fought to regain my wits.

“Alright,” Billy nodded. “Now then, young lady, I asked a question. Are you a boxing fan?” Myra glanced at me, seeming unsure as to whether she should answer, or what to say if she did.

“Go ahead, Myra,” I encouraged her. “Answer the Champ..."

“Well…” she squeaked. If she had been auditioning for the role of a tiny mouse in an animated film she’d have won the part, for sure.

“Well?” Billy asked again. “Are you"

“Not really,” Myra admitted. “I don’t like violence.”

Hanging my head in dismay, I hit stop on the recorder and thought, “Thanks Myra. If you’d said you were a fight fan, we could possibly get this interview back, but no.”

From the metal chair where he still sat, Billy’s trainer said, “Bet she never seen a knockout, Champ.”

“You know what, Bruno, I bet you’re right. Is that true, little lady?” Billy asked.

I sensed something fishy going on, but didn’t know what until Billy got up and let the towel fall to the floor.

“Well, now you have,” Billy leered. “Isn’t that a knockout?” Billy planted his hands on his hips and stretched way over to his left, from the waist. Then he repeated the motion, towards his right. As he stretched from side to side, something began swinging and swaying, back and forth.

Billy’s exhibition could have been a scene for a sleazy film, The Pit and the Organic Pendulum, based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic horror story. The bizarre sight inspired feelings of awe and inadequacy, conjuring memories of being a young boy at the zoo with a peanut in my little hand, reaching through the metal bars towards the extended trunks of the giant elephants. However, in this case, I didn’t have a peanut to offer, and I didn’t want to be anywhere nears that trunk. My boss’s words earlier that morning about decent exposure flashed into my mind. “Decent exposure?”

As Bruno Bautista, Manuel Duran, the Chinese man, and Billy laughed. I cringed. I was a dead man, for sure. The way Myra looked reminded me of a cartoon where the blood rose in a character’s face, resembling a thermometer about to burst. Her eyes threatened to pop out of her skull. She made little choking noises for a moment and then cut loose with a blood-curdling scream. While Billy the Kid and his entourage howled with delight, she wrestled with the locked door, fumbled desperately with the latch, got it open, and ran from the dressing room.

Over the chuckles and snorts, I said, “Oh, thanks. Thanks very much.” Pointing towards the opened door, I made sure they knew what they had done. “I have to work with her, you know.”

“Maybe not anymore,” Manuel Duran quipped, generating a new outburst of guffaws.

“Guess who has to drive her back to the station? She’s going to kill me!” I exclaimed.

“Oooooh,” Billy shook his head. “You’re in trouble than Flash Robotic.” Wiping laughter induced tears from his eyes, he said, “I guess I owe you a good interview.”

A quick glance at my watch showed the time to be twenty-thirty-five. Once again thrusting my trusty Sony towards The Champ, I said, “Let’s do it.”

During our interview, Billy opened up to me in a way he hadn’t with any other reporter. Calls came in from everywhere, praising me for eliciting such candid responses from such a tough guy. The interview floored my boss. That Friday, Billy did the same to Flash Robotic, KO him in less than two minutes of the second round. I got promoted to a full-time position on the day shift and received a fat bonus, to boot. Myra got a well-deserved bonus too. After all, Billy never would have seen me if she hadn’t been such a knockout.

I resumed working as a reporter, knew some beautiful women around, and got hooked with drugs. Edward was there to remind me always, extending his time for whatever ways he could give to me. Even Lydia Leynes, beautiful lass who won Miss Bacolod City, from the north of Negros Occidental became my lived-in partner, which gave terrible problems with my job. Really, just another hell-of-my-life. I was out-of-the-job instantly; I was totally broke and Edward Ramirez, again, brought hope onto my life.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.

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  1. Oh, Myra didn't become your girlfriend? Lol. You have a lot to thank her for. :)

  2. You have a great life! A busy and hectic schedule life. Being broke can sometimes leads us to another opportunity. It's an awesome thing you got an item in the news industry. As I see it you have a real-complicated and yet interesting life.

  3. Notice: Just click the + sign at the topmost portion of this page, and your link will appear. Thank you.

  4. Edward Ramirez sounds like a really good guardian angel of sort to you.

  5. That's a really interesting first job as you get to cover sports and the news.

  6. Is this really a true story? I got scared for Myra.

  7. What kind of interview is that need a girl? Really?

  8. Interesting and you got me wondering, "Was this an actual event in your life?" This makes a good short novel. :)

  9. Looking forward to the continuation!

  10. Edward is always there for you! you're very lucky to have someone like him

  11. Is this based on a true to life experience? Nice ^_^


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