I'm proud to report that I was chosen to receive the Outstanding Novo Ecijano Award for journalism. They call it by the very Joson acronym TATANG Award, ostensibly standing for "Tanging Alay sa Tanging Anak ng Nueva Ecija." Where "Nueva Ecija" is in "TATANG," I have yet to figure out.

Anyway, there I was on-stage on September 2, to receive the award from GMA herself who looked unpresidential and truly impeachable in an Igorot costume, as she had to rush to Nueva Ecija from a previous appointment in Ifugao. Ever thought of acquiring a roomier chopper so the President can comfortably change clothes while in the air?

No, I didn't exactly receive the award from GMA.  She just stood there looking at the bank of cameras below while Gov. Tommy waited to hand her the trophy so she can hand that to me. I had to speed things up and get the trophy directly from the Gov.

But she did shake my hand -- limply, may I add, while managing to break into a Mona Lisa smile. She must be tired, I thought... or as hungry as the thousands of people packed in the Nueva Ecija Convention Center who were made to wait for nearly three hours until way past noon, before her arrival was heralded by a moving pack of still and video cameras held aloft. That's all you can see from afar as GMA never juts out from a crowd for a reason that need not be elaborated.

Wished I could be as excited as the housewife on that government TV spot at the prospect of being in the presence of the President of the Philippines. But hunger compounded by boredom while the emcees tried to stretch the program while waiting for GMA to arrive had taken its toll. I was starting to feel a throbbing headache. I just wanted to get things done and over with.

Now that the trophy sits on a side table in my living room for occasional visitors to marvel at ("Look! Parang Jurassic Park! May tunay na uhay ng palay na naka-embed sa loob ng clear green plastic sculpture!"), my reaction?

I do treasure the award.  After devoting over 30 years in the media in Nueva Ecija and serving the province and Novo Ecijanos in my own little way, I find it truly touching that my work has been recognized by the Nueva Ecija provincial government

It's like a parent patting his child on the head and telling him "Son, you did well."

And to that, all that this son can say is "Thank you!"

[September 30, 2005]