When we are out there in the dark
We’ll dream about the sun
In the dark, we’ll see the light
Warm our hearts, everyone.
By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – In the time of coronavirus, Cebu journalists of The Freeman Newspaper have proven (to themselves) that they too can sing. They’re unstoppable, hypertensively eager, with an attitude that yes, “if our voices could stop COVID19, we would.”
In one week, the project with the TF women journos #wehealasone is born. Stepping up are singing journalists: Niña Sumacot Abenoja, Vanessa Almeda, Lorraine Mitzi Ambrad, Preciosa Bacalso, Jessica Pareja-Cal, Jean Marvette Demecillo, Marigold Lebumfacil, Iris Hazel Mascardo, Marivir Montebon, Stella Palomo Monteño, Katherine Navarro, Malou Inocando-Tabar, Lesley Caminade Vestil, May Czuzzette Villaflor, and Jessa Agua-Ylanan.
Their singing is foremost for fun while on a lockdown. And existentially to make sense of time – to relay a message of hope and unity in these weird times.
Inside the noisy chat room of the TF Divas, as it has been called by producer TF editor Joeberth Ocao – the electrifying energy is contagious and nostalgic. What with 15 women journos between ages 60 and 25! It’s a fire ball of talent and energy waiting to explode into a song.
Produced by Clandestine Productions, the five-minute rendition of “If We Hold on Together” is now trending on social media.
And why not? Their red lipstick is as prominent as their heartwarming, passionate singing. It becomes a tear-jerker when front liners are flashed as they do their jobs. And there’s that sweet message of hope and love, as well-behaved-enjoying-the-song baby Gent Sahia is kissed by singing mommy Nina Sumacot Abenoja.
The ladies chose between the theme song of Land Before Time or the much older Wizard of Oz’s Somewhere over the rainbow. They picked the safer vocal range, which is the Diana Ross song, a suggestion by this writer, in memory of her daughter Nikki Auxilio, digital editor for OSM! Online Magazine who passed on in November 2019.
And they practiced while chatting away memories of their days at The Freeman, the oldest community newspaper in the Philippines.
Most of the journalists are still with TF while the others were, at some point in their lives, worked as reporters or editors, and are now living outside Cebu, either in Manila or New York. The older journos say it with pride – if you survive TF, you’ll survive anywhere.
The project instigators are TF editors Joberth Ocao and Aldo Banaynal and with sparkling editors Aldo and John Lindsey Banaynal, their post-production is simply heartwarming and honest.
Joeberth and Preciosa Bacalso seamlessly coordinated the singing journalists as their video clips poured into their email accounts, beating the deadline as true blue professionals.
Take a listen.