When death is near

SUPERBALITA reporter Sheila Gravinez was in the Provincial Capitol when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake (“linog ” in Cebuano) hit Cebu in February 2012, leading to the cancellation of the Capitol press conference.

Monitoring the developments along Osmeña Blvd. near the Capitol before going home, she saw people running as rumors started going around that Cebu had been hit by a tsunami and that the water was already near Robinsons Fuente, just a kilometer away.

She ran as fast as her feet could carry her, away from Fuente and toward the Capitol, praying the “Apostles’ Creed” and “The Lord’s Prayer,” and seeking forgiveness from God for her sins, between frantic sobs. Unable to reach her father over her cell phone, she assumed the tsunami had taken him.

It turned out to be a false alarm. Her father was fine, and so was her story published the next day on the tsunami that never was.

Too close for comfort

AT THE new clinic of the Calayan Medical Group, veteran newspaper columnist Roger Serna was so chatty with the owner that when it was time for the media to transfer to a restaurant for the press conference, they continued talking and sat near each other.

Unfamiliar with the members of the media, a mass communication intern asked the Calayan matriarch, 83, how many years she had been married to her husband, pointing to Serna.

The roomful of journalists burst out laughing, as Serna was decades younger than the matriarch.

Showing one’s true self

AFTER a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Cebu in 2013, a male TV reporter was covering a press conference of the Cebu Provincial Board and beaming it live from the top floor of a building when an aftershock hit.

As journalists covering the event raced to get out of the building, the male reporter failed to notice that his cameraman was still taking footage.

The footage captured him in his distress screaming in a shrill tone, “Ayyyyyyyyyyy!!!!” as he ran down the steps, shattering the veneer of masculinity that he had always projected on camera to prevent his strict parents from suspecting that he was gay.

‘Elvis Presley’ arrested

A PRESS conference was held after the 1995 arrest of Elvis Villanueva, one of the suspects in the kidnap-murder of businessman Henry Lumakang.

Sun.Star Cebu reporter Oscar Pineda relates that during the press conference, while reporters from tri-media were thrusting their microphones at then Philippine National Police Regional Director Jose Andaya, a neophyte reporter from Bombo Radyo asked his fellow reporters, “What’s the last name of Elvis?”

Pineda replied, “Presley.”

The neophyte reporter asked Rene Borromeo, a reporter from another media outlet, to confirm. “Presley,” Borromeo said.

With this, the Bombo Radyo reporter immediately went on air to broadcast the arrest of “Elvis Presley.”

His radio station anchor interrupted the reporter: “Klaroha na, re-check. The Elvis Presley we know was a singer.”

(CJJ11 was published in hardcopy in September 2016.)