Melissa Luz Lopez
Issa, Mel, Ice, Baby, Magic Shorts.
Journ senior. Iska.

An aspiring writer and an enthusiastic learner. Hopes to be a piano major in the future.

Cheerfulness is my disease, and I intend to start an outbreak.

photo by a great friend, Jodesz Gavilan


It’s been 10 days since graduation day. As of April 27, 2014, I have successfully earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

Sometimes, I still can’t grasp the fact that I am now a graduate and an official bum until further notice. 

Despite the blistering heat and dead-tired feet (I wore three-inch heels for nearly 12 hours!), I believe everyone looked particularly stunning that Sunday. Never mind the smudged makeups and creased barongs; we now hold a degree that we can be truly proud of. 

Though this post is quite delayed, here I am sharing my graduation day in photos. I may not have a photo with Oble or with the sunflowers along University Avenue, but I am more than happy to have spent graduation day with these people. Congrats to us, Batch 2014! 

Photo credits: Karissa Villanueva, Toby Roca, Molen Fernando, Bryan Cruz, Brylle Mostacho 

Pre-graduation wishes

Tomorrow, I am finally earning my degree in Journalism from the UP College of Mass Communication. 

It still isn’t quite sinking in that I’ll be a graduate (read: unemployed) come Sunday afternoon. I have a lot of questions and doubts about the future. What will a 19-year-old do in the professional world? Which path will I be taking? Are my life goals realistic? Will I get a job that will require me to take the MRT? No, please. 

I have a lot of feelings, but I can’t seem to find it in me to write about them hours before the processional. You see, I am not good with goodbyes. So instead, I will be leaving my wishes and requests here in bullets. This shall serve as a reference for the future Mel (and maybe as a source of gift ideas for the kind ones out there? Hahaha.)  

  • No rain. Cream dresses, stiletto heels and jusi barongs are not made for a wet look. 
  • Sunflower. I generally don’t like uprooted flowers, but the sunflower really would brighten up the day even more. But I don’t want to be a Univ. Ave. plant killer :(
  • Photos with everyone (and everywhere) I know! TC, JCers, Block Twowitter, TNP EdBoard and staff, CMC profs, GE profs, previous (non-freeloader) groupmates, happy crushes, campus friends, Ate Raqs, Ate Irene, Kuya Rey, Plaridel’s bust, the Oblation, by the Oval, near CASAA, Plaridel Hall steps, Skywalk… the list could be endless!
  • Food. I’ll be attending two ceremonies tomorrow and there’s barely time to grab a good bite. I’ll be dressed as early as 7AM, so there’s really no hope to eat to my tummy’s content, so I am looking forward to a heavy, heavy dinner. Feed me, please. 
  • Answers to questions. I may have earned a degree, but I sure have a lot of questions still in my head. I want to know the seemingly unknowable, learn the unlearned, reveal secrets. Consider it a closure of all sorts, iykwim.
  • Know the anonymous(-es). I don’t think there is a plural for that, but let’s suspend grammar rules for a moment. Who are you/they?
  • Secure job. Frankly, I am getting sick of the bum life. The job hunt starts real soon!
  • Writing for the heart. While I am at it, though, I hope I can still continue writing about the things that really matter. I hope to cover issues of great importance and not the rest of the fluff in mainstream media now. 
  • Grown-up stuff. I hate to admit it, but I will soon be needing blouses and blazers and more dress-up shoes. Makeup will have to be a regular thing, too. *sigh*
  • Cash. To finance my last-of-summer trips. Teehee!
  • Fulfilled promises. I am starting to lose hope in promises. I hope they don’t break it now, or else… :(
  • Keeping in touch. I do not want to lose touch of my closest college friends ever. 

I don’t think I’ll get much sleep tonight due to my excitement. After all, it’s my last night as an undergraduate student. 

See you tomorrow, fresh grad Mel! 

Feelings, repressed.

Bilib ako sa bawat isang tao na nagsulat dito. Tayo ay matagumpay bagama’t sawi. 

Ipagdiwang ang kahusayan at kasawian — na kahit may iniindang pagtangis ay nakalikha ng sining. May talento sa gitna ng pagdurusa. Ibigin na lamang ang panitikan kaysa tao, pagka’t ito’y siguradong ‘di tayo lilisanin.

Iniibig ko ang sining mo, UPJC. 

Basahin: Journeys 2014, literary folio ng UP Journalism Club

Something I wrote two years back for Journeys, the literary folio of my beloved UP Journalism Club.
I wonder how much I’ve changed, and in what aspect. I’d like to believe it was all for the better, at least. 

Something I wrote two years back for Journeys, the literary folio of my beloved UP Journalism Club.

I wonder how much I’ve changed, and in what aspect. I’d like to believe it was all for the better, at least. 

Throwback: JS 101

As the current EdBoard is preparing for the upcoming Editorial Exam for the next editor-in-chief of Tinig ng Plaridel, I stumbled upon this personal feature that I wrote over a year ago. I remember it as if it was only yesterday, haha. 

I still can’t believe I survived a year with Tinig ng Plaridel. It wasn’t at all easy, but it was really fun and worth it, all thanks to my dedicated colleagues in the editorial board and our writers and photographers. :)


The language divide may well be blamed for making a student eat paper.

Since our Japan Studies class couldn’t afford to visit the country for a cultural immersion, my professor thought of the next best thing: she invited Japanese students to attend our class for two weeks.

The 13 delegates from the Yokohama National University arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, and we had to host a welcome dinner. After several awkward hellos and ohayous, I found myself behind the serving table, placing pieces of lumpiang sariwa on each of their plates. With a smile, I explained what the lumpia is made of, and I was careful in asking if they wanted peanut sauce. I wouldn’t want to trigger any allergies on their first night in the Philippines.

 “Remember to remove the paper first before you eat, okay?”

Before I let them move down the line, I would give my warning with a warm smile. I was aiming for a good first impression.

They would smile, and in a quick fashion, they would nod and walk closer to the barbecue tray.

Things were fine – they understood me. Or so I thought.

A classmate who was going around serving drinks tapped me in the shoulder and said, “May nakakain ng papel doon.

For a moment, I got frustrated. I thought we had it going all along; but clearly, we weren’t. The Japanese are too polite to ask a second time, said my professor, who laughed at me when the incident was brought up the next day.

After the line finished, I went to sit with the Japanese students. I tried to strike a conversation, but with more care than usual. Minus the lumpia mishap, I was grateful to hear that they had a nice time. If it’s any consolation, at least I made quite a lasting impression.

Moving pictures: the Nazareno crowd


Text and photos by Beata Carolino, Tinig ng Plaridel

There has, so far, been no study which correlates the attendance in the Jan. 9 Feast of the Black Nazarene to the actual living conditions in the country.

An estimated three million people were present during the overnight vigil and procession at Quirino Grandstand and Quiapo Church – around three percent of the country’s population.

The Black Nazarene is over 200 years old. A statue given as a gift by the Spaniards in 1606, it is said to have been brought by a Mexican priest aboard a ship which caught fire. The statue turned dark, but otherwise remained in good condition. People since believed that the Black Nazarene performs miracles to those who are able to touch it, thus it has been revered by many since 1787.

The scene from below was this: families lined up, most of them sleeping on the grounds of Quirino Grandstand in Manila. A few had tents and blankets, a lot had food to sell, and many others built shrines to house Black Nazarene replicas which they brought from their homes. Children ran along the narrow spaces between rows of sleeping bags and banigs at 12 midnight until dawn.

Some hundred meters away stood the stage where a program was ongoing. Priests were reciting homilies about the importance of prayer and faith, which were welcomed by only a few ears.

White and green fences divided this rather “peaceful” section of the attendees to the ones in front. There were entrances at both sides of the stage to host the line of people who patiently and unshakingly waited for their turn to have a glimpse of the Poon – a line which extended to Roxas Boulevard until Luneta Park.

Devotees also flocked around the many Black Nazarene replicas near the stage, throwing towels at the children who wiped them — a practice done for more luck, said one devotee. In this section, as well, were many of the so-called “legitimate” devotees of the Black Nazarene. They were only a few hundred, and were clad in uniforms per group and were barefoot. They called themselves the Hijos del Nazareno – “frontliners” who did the actual salubong – the protectors of the Black Nazarene.

Onstage, people rejoiced at the thought of finally approaching the Poon. The elderly who were too weak to line up talked to some members of the Hijos to allow them to touch the relic. There were infants—some looked like they were born just the day before—as well. There were children. There were students still clad in their high school uniforms.

And finally: the Black Nazarene’s cross and foot, which everyone anticipated to touch. After hours and kilometres of lining up, they were allowed only a few seconds to spend with the Poon.

There were at least two protectors that regulated the crowd which swarmed Jesus’ image. Children were carried to kiss the foot. Some carried tens of towels to wipe by the Poon’s foot, which they will bring to their families at home. Some wheelchairs users were even carried just so they could touch the image.

Many of them cried right after and refused to leave, which caused a commotion.

“Bilisan po natin, marami pa pong gustong humawak sa Poon. Wala sa tagal iyan—nasa dasal! (Let’s make it fast; other people also want to touch the Poon. It’s not about the length of time (you touch), it’s in your prayers!), yelled one of the protectors.

The view from atop the grandstand was spectacular. To the right was Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle celebrating the holy mass, prior to which he made the devotees promise that they would finish it, to which they replied to him a resounding “Viva! Viva!”

To the left were many of the uniformed devotees fueled by their burning intent to come closer to thePoon. But the line which led to the foot of the cross was cut short to make way for the mass, which angered the group. They reeled at the three rows of protectors who guarded the fences with their lives, alongside policemen and military.

In a few moments, their will won over the strength of the barriers as they stormed their way into the stage. Archbishop Tagle began singing The Lord’s Prayer and the Nazareno’s hymn to try to calm the mob, but to no avail. The crowd surged towards the Poon, ignoring the archbishop’s plea.

How could they calm down? It was that moment for them: that moment where they were all together, strong enough and willing enough in trying to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. After all, it meant only a touch, long hours of suffocation and a few kilometres of endurance to feel the spark of even a little prosperity, to have a chance to cure a disease, or to be protected from disasters.

They were willing to go through even the sharp criticisms of those who weren’t there, those who say that their devotion is a false one because the devotees couldn’t even finish the mass or listen to the bishop’s words, all for the sake of touching the image of Jesus in his sorrow, in his darkest. For in that way, they thought, they might have even a little hope closer to the light.

Year 2021 marks the 500th year of Catholicism in the country. The prayers during the time of the Spaniards stands the same today: calling for salvation from the present, the end of oppression, and the triumph of the weak.

The heavens has been hearing the same desperate cries for centuries. Given the years that have passed, it’s a wonder why the very same picture of oppression remains.


Today in history: On December 29, 1896, Dr. Jose P. Rizal was read his death sentence. The rest of Rizal’s day would be composed of visits by priests and by his family. To his sisters, he would give away his possessions—and it was to his sister Trinidad that he would bequeath an alcohol burner (lamp) with a copy of “Mi Ultimo Adios.”
Learn more about the last days of Dr. Jose P. Rizal.
Above photo: Rizal’s cell at Fort Santiago.


Today in history: On December 29, 1896, Dr. Jose P. Rizal was read his death sentence. The rest of Rizal’s day would be composed of visits by priests and by his family. To his sisters, he would give away his possessions—and it was to his sister Trinidad that he would bequeath an alcohol burner (lamp) with a copy of “Mi Ultimo Adios.”